New Zealand Kindergartens Te Putahi Kura Puhou O Aotearoa Inquiry into Pacific languages in early childhood education

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1 New Zealand Kindergartens Te Putahi Kura Puhou O Aotearoa Inquiry into Pacific languages in early childhood education Submission to the Education and Science Committee June

2 Index Introduction Transitional effects from non-compulsory to compulsory sector education, and the implications of this on academic achievement and links with the Pacific education plan The overall framework for resourcing Pacific languages in early childhood education including local and international evidence of best practice The outcomes that are currently achieved based on the present resourcing of Pasifika early childhood services Are enough partnerships and opportunities for Government, the private sector, and the community and voluntary sector to collaborate in the early childhood education sector to improve the prevalence and quality of Pacific languages Are there sufficient mechanisms to inform the early childhood education system, using research and feedback on the current uptake and quality of Pacific languages in Pasifika early childhood services Pathways to address the findings and recommendations of this inquiry. 14 Conclusion Recommendations summary

3 Introduction Kindergarten profile New Zealand Kindergartens (NZK) Incorporated, Te Putahi Kura Puhou o Aotearoa, is the umbrella organisation representing twenty-nine regional kindergarten associations covering over 435 kindergartens and early childhood education services. Nationwide kindergartens provide services for 37,000 enrolled children 1 as well as support for their families and whānau. Over one-third of all four year olds enrolled in early childhood education in New Zealand attend a kindergarten. 2 For nearly 125 years, kindergarten has been committed to providing exceptional early childhood education. Employing qualified teachers, involving parents and making kindergarten accessible to all families have been the hallmarks of kindergarten since the first service opened its doors in Dunedin in Kindergartens are community-based, not-for-profit services and have strong knowledge of and ties to local communities. All funding received by kindergartens goes directly to providing high quality 3 early childhood education. Kindergartens are child-centred and the needs and aspirations of children are at the heart of what we do. We work with children before they start school and may be the first contact children and families have with the formal education system or a community organisation. Kindergarten is at the forefront of interacting with young children and families. Kindergarten is inclusive and responsive. This is reflected in our ability to offer over 30 different models of services to meet diverse communities needs while maintaining our core values and professionalism. In 2011, kindergartens nationwide provided services to 2,917 Pasifika children, parents and families. Kindergarten, alongside education and care, has the greatest percentage of Pasifika children (8%) attending among all children enrolled in our services. Among all of the Pasifika children enrolled in a licensed early childhood education service, twenty-two per cent attend a kindergarten. While we use the term Pasifika throughout this submission to describe people who identify themselves with the culture and islands of the Pacific region (excluding New Zealand), we recognise that within the term Pasifika there exists many unique cultures and languages including the cultures of Samoa, Cook Islands, Tonga, Nuie, Tokelau, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. NZK recognises within Pasifika there are multiple world-views with diverse cultural identities... 4 Total Pasifika enrolments in licensed ECE services 2% 2% 4% 22% 70% education and care kindergarten home-based playcentre kohanga reo 1 Ministry of Education (2011) Education Counts, Annual ECE Summary Report. 2 Ministry of Education (2011) Education Counts, ECE Enrolment Data. 3 Research points to common features of successful early childhood education programmes. In this submission, high quality refers to the inputs into an early childhood education service or the common conditions which help ensure positive learning and social outcomes for children. These conditions include: a welcoming environment, employing 100% qualified, registered teachers who provide opportunities for child-centred discovery and learning through skilful interactions with children, low adult:child ratios and small group sizes. 4 Pasifika Education Plan Key Messages, Ministry of Education, p.3. 3

4 Significance of language NZK acknowledges the significance of language as children grow and learn. Language skills contribute to a child s sense of belonging and their cultural identity; language skills give a child the ability to interact with and make sense of the world around them. Language and cognitive development are intricately and inextricably connected and intertwined. 5 Language is a vital part of communication. In early childhood one of the major cultural tasks for children is to develop competence in and understanding of language. Language does not consist only of words, sentences, and stories: it includes the language of images, art, dance, drama, mathematics, movement, rhythm, and music. During these early years, children are learning to communicate their experiences in many ways, and they are also learning to interpret the ways in which others communicate and represent experience. -Te Whāriki NZK welcomes the opportunity to provide this submission. The benefits of participating in high quality early childhood education that supports the language and cultural aspirations of families are wide ranging and long term and deserve sufficient inquiry and investment. 1. Transitional effects from non-compulsory to compulsory sector education, and the implications of this on academic achievement and links with the Pasifika education plan. NZK recommends: Including targets and actions in the new Ministries of Education and Pacific Island Affairs Pasifika Education Plan that relate to developing and coordinating Pasifika-medium education in each of the seven primary Pacific languages spoken in New Zealand (Cook Islands Maori, Fijian, Niuean, Samoan, Tokelauan, Tongan and Tuvaluan) alongside the further development of ECE services supporting Pacific languages. There are a growing number of early childhood education services where Pacific languages are spoken. From , the number of ECE services where Pacific languages are used has increased by 49%; the number of services where a Pacific language is spoken over 50% of the time has increased by 23% 6. ECE services supporting Pacific languages can encourage increased participation in early childhood education among Pasifika families a key goal of the government - by offering services that are relevant and welcoming. However, Pacific languages in early childhood education should not be offered only as a tool for increasing participation in ECE, but an important aspect of promoting and respecting Pacific cultures and languages, supporting bilingualism and multilingualism, and nurturing a rich culture and society in New Zealand. Whether a Pacific language is the primary language spoken at home, or if families want their children to learn a Pacific language to connect with their culture, an ECE service supporting Pacific languages can meet the needs and aspirations of families. In New Zealand, Pacific languages in early childhood education can be discussed primarily in the context of bilingualism. It can be assumed that the majority of children who speak a Pacific language 5 M. Skerrett with A. Gunn, Literature Review: Quality in Immersion-bilingual Early Years Education for Language Acquisition FINAL REPORT, August University of Canterbury, pg Ministry of Education (2011) Education Counts. Pasifika in ECE. 4

5 will also be exposed to English, at least to some degree, in everyday life. The majority of Pacific language ECE services use both English and a Pacific language. 7 A significant amount of research has been conducted around bilingualism and educational achievement. The research has key implications for the education sector and how it can work toward providing optimal environments for bilingual learners in both ECE services and schools. Children entering the mainstream school system who communicate primarily in a language other than English are likely to be viewed as having a disadvantage as compared to children who speak English as their primary language. There is a need for a philosophical shift where bilingualism is seen as an asset which allows a child to realise his/her full potential. It is essential that the government and policy makers recognise the richness a child brings to school when they are transitioning from a Pacific language ECE service. Viewing bilingualism as a desired outcome for Pacific children, and building education policy and programmes around this outcome, will greatly improve the education sector s ability to be responsive to Pasifika children and families. Among most teachers, there is a willingness to support bilingualism and children achieving in languages other than English, but there is often limited or no access to the resources necessary to do it effectively. The training, resources, infrastructure and leadership needs to be in place so teachers can provide the conditions in which bilingual learners can reach their full potential. A comprehensive literature review from 2011, Quality in Immersion-bilingual Early Years Education for Language Acquisition 8, states the following: Research overviewed in Ka Hikitia: Key evidence (Ministry of Education, 2009a) shows there are many benefits to speaking more than one language, including the ability to think more creatively and laterally, an appreciation of differing world views, a stronger sense of self and cultural identity, and a capacity to participate in more than one culture. It is important for students to get an early start in high quality immersion education and that they stay in a quality immersion setting for at least six years if they are to become fully bilingual and accrue advantage from being bilingual (May, 2010). A child entering school with greater proficiency in a minority language [in this case a Pacific language] will be most successful if they are supported with an appropriate bilingual education programme. Research states that instruction through a minority L1 [first language] does not appear to exert any adverse consequences on the development in the majority language [English in the NZ context] and may, in fact, have considerable positive effects (Cummins, 2000 cited in May, Hill, & Tiakiwai, 2004). 9 New Zealand research by Hampton (1992) found that the key to Samoan students success in reading in English is being able to read in their L1 [first language] Ministry of Education, Education Counts, Number of services by service type, percentage of time that Pasifika language is used and year. 8 M. Skerrett with A. Gunn, Literature Review: Quality in Immersion-bilingual Early Years Education for Language Acquisition FINAL REPORT, August University of Canterbury, pg Ibid, pg Hampton (1992) as cited in Ministry of Education (2004) Bilingual/Immersion Education: Indicators Of Good Practice: Final Report to the Ministry of Education. New Zealand: S. May, R. Hill, S. Tiakiwai. 5

6 Potential models for Pasifikamedium education in schools: total immersion classrooms within English-medium schools. bilingual classrooms within English-medium schools. total immersion Pacific language schools based on the Kura Kaupapa Māori model. bilingual Pacific language schools based on Māorimedium education models. In the context of transitioning from ECE to school, this means that children who are building proficiency in a Pacific language at an ECE service should be supported to continue to develop their Pacific language skills and fluency when they enter school. This will ultimately result in greater fluency in English as well and overall increased cognitive abilities and educational achievement. It would be useful for the new Ministries of Education and Pacific Island Affairs Pasifika Education Plan to include targets and actions that relate to developing and coordinating Pasifika-medium education in schools in each of the seven primary Pacific languages spoken in New Zealand (Cook Islands Maori, Fijian, Niuean, Samoan, Tokelauan, Tongan and Tuvaluan) alongside the further development of ECE services supporting Pacific languages. As there are currently very few primary schools offering Pasifika-medium education (a total of 22 in New Zealand as compared to 477 ECE services supporting Pacific languages), 11 it is most likely that a child will transition from a bilingual or immersion ECE service to a school without any instruction in a Pacific language. Anecdotal evidence and limited research 12 suggests that in some schools in Auckland transitions from Pacific language ECE services to schools are effective. New entrant teachers who have an understanding of Pacific languages and cultures, a good relationship with Pacific language ECE services, the capacity and capability to support bilingual children, and assessment practices which reflect how bilingual children acquire languages can result in good transitions. These successful transitions do not seem to be widespread. They appear to occur because of the strengths and resources of individual teachers who also have support from the school leadership. Continued research and good practices guidelines for successful transitions from Pacific language ECE services into mainstream schools should be developed and should inform sector wide policy and resourcing. Underpinning successful transitions for all children, and especially for children whose primary language is not English, is better connections and collaboration between the ECE sector and the school sector. A research study published in 2002, Picking Up the Pace 13, found that an integrated approach to literacy achievement which involved direct, intense collaboration between ECE services and schools was highly effective. Joint professional development, high expectations for children and teachers in the ECE services and schools, and teachers in each setting knowing and understanding individual children including their language and culture - were key factors in the successful outcomes observed for children. The research endorses an approach to providing education along a learning continuum, rather than addressing education in discrete sectors. This integrated approach is especially relevant for bilingual learners. 11 Ministry of Education (2011) Education Counts: Pasifika-medium education. 12 Ministry of Education (2004) Early Childhood Centres of Innovation (COI) Action Research at the A oga Fa a Samoa. November. Podmore, V. with the A oga Fa a Samoa. 13 Ministry of Education (2002) Picking up the Pace: Effective Literacy interventions for accelerated progress over the transition into decile one schools. Auckland, New Zealand: Strengthening Education in Mangere and Otara (SEMO), Phillips, G., McNaughton, S. & McDonald, S. 6

7 Meeting the cultural and language aspirations of Pasifika families is critical to supporting Pasifika children becoming competent and confident lifelong learners. This requires the education system to build authentic, trusting relationships with Pasifika families and communities and to ensure Pasifika families are included and cultural perspectives and languages are respected. These partnerships should begin at early childhood education services and be sustained through the education system. 2. The overall framework for resourcing Pacific languages in early childhood education including local and international evidence of best practice. NZK recommends: The current funding mechanism for early childhood education services be maintained. Funding for ECE services supporting Pacific languages should reflect a commitment to bilingualism and should go beyond serving as a mechanism for increasing participation in ECE. The framework for resourcing Pacific languages in ECE should ensure that resources are available to meet good practice indicators for bilingual/immersion programmes in early childhood education and throughout the education sector. There is currently some funding to support Pacific languages in early childhood education. There is equity funding for services to support children speaking languages other than English. Component B of equity funding is for children with Special Needs, and Non English Speaking Backgrounds and component C is for Language and Culture other than English (including Sign- Language). In the 2012 budget there was an additional $47.9 million over 4 years in equity funding to promote increasing participation in early childhood education among Māori and Pasifika children and among children from low income communities. ECE services accessing equity funding could use the additional funding to support the use of Pacific languages in their service. It is important to recognise that Pasifika and Māori children attend early childhood education in all communities. Equity funding should be allocated in a way that reflects and is responsive to this reality. Services could also apply for funding to support the use of Pacific languages in ECE through Ministry of Education grants aimed at increasing participation. Grants through Engaging Priority Families or Targeted Assistance for Participation (TAP), for example, may enable a service to expand their capacity to provide Pacific language services. It is important to note that these grants are competitive and involve a lengthy application process which presents a barrier for some services especially stand alone and not-for-profit services with limited resources. It is also important to point out that in order to be responsive to the unique cultural and language aspirations of all families and ensure high quality services, the current funding mechanism for early childhood education services must be maintained. However, the universal levels should increase to reflect the costs of service provision and enable planned provision. Since 2008, overall funding covering the costs of early childhood education has been cut, and this year s budget did not include the annual increase to the overall universal rates paid to early childhood services to meet increased costs. Reduced funding has put services under considerable pressure; any further funding reductions could result in lesser quality services and diminished resources for services to be responsive to families. 7

8 In the past there has been an intention to support increasing the number of Pasifika teachers through funding initiatives such as incentive grants to ECE services for covering the cost of staff upgrading qualifications. 14 There is currently a target in place in the Pasifika Education Plan to increase the number of qualified, registered Pasifika teachers. The government predicts the target will be met. There is no target or funding in place related to increasing the number of Pasifika teachers who speak a Pacific language, nor is there specific funding to support for engaging more Pacific language speaking support staff in ECE services. A 2002 report by Professor Stephen May, which contains a review of international and national research on bilingual/immersion education, made recommendations for good practice bilingual/immersion education in New Zealand. While the research was done in the context of Māori-medium education and the school setting, the report states that indicators of good practice can also be applied more broadly to other bilingual education contexts in Aotearoa/New Zealand, such as Pasifika bilingual education. 15 A 2011 literature review, Quality in Immersion-bilingual Early Years Education for Language Acquisition 16, also presents findings around what constitutes quality immersion programmes. Both reports reach similar conclusions which have implications for resourcing Pacific languages in ECE. Good practice indicators include: leadership that is effective and informed about bilingual education; a commitment to equality and realising the benefits of bilingualism; teachers who have primary language or near-primary language fluency in two languages and an understanding of second language development; professional development for teachers in bilingual education including assessment practices; comprehensive bilingual/immersion teacher education programmes; appropriate language resources for teaching and learning; and continual collaboration and connections with parents and the community. Research suggests that a framework for resourcing Pacific languages in ECE should exist within a broader plan for Pacific bilingual/immersion education in New Zealand. Funding for ECE services supporting Pacific languages should reflect a commitment to bilingualism and should go beyond serving as a mechanism for increasing participation in ECE. The framework should ensure that resources are available to meet good practice indicators for bilingual/immersion programmes in early childhood education. Resourcing should also support building stronger connections between ECE services and communities as well as more opportunities for effective collaboration between ECE services and schools. There should be better connections generally across policy frameworks for all areas of the education sector. Individual areas for improved resourcing are discussed throughout this submission. 3. The outcomes that are currently achieved based on the present resourcing of Pasifika early childhood services. An increasing number of Pasifika children are enrolling in early childhood education. Since 2007, Pasifika enrolments have increased by about 30% which is a positive step forward. However, because the Pasifika population is growing each year, the increase has not been enough to increase the overall rate of participation significantly. The participation rate in early childhood education has increased by only 3.3% for Pasifika children during the same time period. It is still significantly lower 14 Ministry of Education (2002) Pathways to the Future: Nga Huarahi Arataki: A 10-year strategic plan for early childhood education. Wellington. September. 15 Ministry of Education (2004) Bilingual/Immersion Education: Indicators Of Good Practice: Final Report to the Ministry of Education. New Zealand: S. May, R. Hill, S. Tiakiwai. 16 M. Skerrett with A. Gunn, Literature Review: Quality in Immersion-bilingual Early Years Education for Language Acquisition FINAL REPORT, August University of Canterbury. 8

9 than the participation rate for NZ European children and lower than the participation rate of all other ethnic groups. While the ECE participation rate for Pasifika children has not increased significantly, it is important to note that more ECE services where Pasifika children are currently enrolled have become responsive to Pasifika families. There has been an increase in the number of services supporting Pacific languages and cultures. Toru Fetu Kindergarten in Wellington, for example, has been widely acknowledged for being the first purpose built Pasifika Kindergarten promoting the Niuean, Tuvaluan and Cook Island language and cultures. The Wellington Kindergarten Association writes: The idea was born out of the common goal of three existing playgroups - Niue Aoga Tama Ikiiki, Cook Islands Te Punanga Reo Kuki Airani Porirua and Tuvalu Akoga from the Porirua East Communities. Each group has its own cultural space with an emphasis on coming together for shared play and meal times. Although we want to acknowledge cultural diversity, we also want to promote shared learning and an appreciation of each Pacific Island group. 17 The success of innovative services like Toru Fetu should inform other ECE services as they strive to engage Pasifika families in ECE. International reports show a significant disparity in educational outcomes between high and low performing students in New Zealand. Pasifika learners are over-represented among low performing students as are Māori learners. 18 The high disparities and rapidly growing demographic profile of Pasifika learners in the New Zealand education system indicate a need for some reorientation in terms of meeting the needs of this diverse group of learners. -Alton-Lee, A Ensuring that all Pasifika families have access to ECE services that meet their cultural and language aspirations and prioritising good coordination and collaboration between ECE services and schools will help reduce disparity in education outcomes. Research, including the Picking up the Pace study, has proven that successful learning outcomes for children can be realised when there is an integrated approach to learning across the ECE and school sectors, high expectations for teachers and learners, and culturally responsive education programmes. 17 Wellington Kindergarten Association. Toru Fetu Background Information Document. 18 Ferguson, P.B. et al, (2008) Literature review on the experiences of Pasifika learners in the classroom. Report to the Ministry of Education. New Zealand Council for Educational Research. 19 Alton-Lee, A. (2003). Quality teaching for diverse students in schooling: Best evidence synthesis. Wellington: Ministry of Education. 9

10 4. Are there enough partnerships and opportunities for Government, the private sector, and the community and voluntary sector to collaborate in the early childhood education sector to improve the prevalence and quality of Pacific languages? NZK recommends: Establishing baseline data on how many current qualified ECE teachers are fluent in a Pacific language and developing targets around increasing the number of qualified teachers who are fluent in a Pacific language. Promoting the teaching profession within each of the major Pacific communities in New Zealand. Supporting the provision of more Pasifika initial teacher education programmes which focus on Pacific languages. Strengthening components on teaching and learning for bilingual children and language acquisition for all teachers through pre-service teacher education and on-going professional development. Support from the Ministry of Education for developing leadership roles for teachers with specialist knowledge of Pasifika languages and cultures in ECE, primary and secondary schools and opportunities for these leaders to work together and to share information. Improved partnerships between Pasifika communities and early childhood education services. Government support for effective partnerships between mainstream ECE services and Pacific language ECE services. The government should ensure effective consultation with Pasifika communities on education policy development and funding decisions. To improve the experience of Pacific languages in ECE services, it is essential that more Pacific language resources be developed and distributed. Further opportunities for partnerships and collaboration should be explored, particularly in the areas discussed below. Teaching Workforce In order to meet the language aspirations of Pasifika communities, promote bilingualism, reduce the educational achievement gap, and increase participation in ECE among Pasifika children and families, it is important to have qualified teachers. Research evidence illustrates the importance of employing qualified teachers to achieve successful outcomes in education services including in early childhood education. 10

11 effective teachings are the main factor in raising the achievement and fostering the ongoing engagement of students Effective teaching is recognised as the most important lever for improving educational outcomes for students. 20 Currently, 20, people are employed in licensed teacher-led services. Of these, 14,271 nearly 70% - are qualified teachers. Of those qualified teachers, 1,124 about 8% - are Pasifika. Approximately 66% of all Pasifika staff employed in ECE services are qualified teachers. By increasing the number of Pasifika teachers, the sector would be better able to meet the aims and aspirations of Pasifika children in early childhood education services, to support more early childhood education services specifically for Pasifika families, to promote Pasifika leadership in early childhood education and to support the expansion of bilingual and full immersion early childhood education services and schools. Increased numbers of Pasifika teachers would also enhance the broader understanding of the profession as a whole. Increasing the number of Pasifika teachers is a target under the current Pasifika Education Plan and the government expects to reach its target. There are no current targets around increasing the number of qualified teachers who are fluent in a Pacific language nor are there any statistics on how many current teachers are fluent in a Pacific language. This is important information to gather and set goals around. There should be funding and support to recruit Pacific language speakers into the teaching profession. This may require working with Pacific community leaders on the best methods of promoting the profession within each of the major Pacific communities in New Zealand. Professional development Enhancing the teaching workforce to support Pacific languages in early childhood education and schools: In addition to working with teacher education providers to build the capacity and prevalence of Pasifika initial teacher education programmes which focus on Pacific languages, initial teacher education for all teachers should include enhanced components on teaching and learning for bilingual children and language acquisition. There should be improved on-going professional development opportunities for all teachers to expand their knowledge and resources in order to meet the cultural and language aspirations of bilingual children and families. There should be support from the Ministry of Education for developing leadership roles for teachers with specialist knowledge of Pasifika languages and cultures in ECE, primary and secondary schools and opportunities for these leaders to work together and to share information. These regional networks of leaders will promote the education sector being more responsive to and inclusive of Pasifika families and will also support smoother transitions into school for children and families. The networks would support stronger connections across sectors, community engagement, cohesive strategies and shared resources and expertise. These networks may need to evolve around specific more qualified teachers who speak one or more Pacific languages. more support staff who speak one or more Pacific languages to work alongside teachers. community-based networks of teachers and support staff who speak Pacific languages who travel to work in multiple schools and ECE services. cross-sector, regional leadership networks for teachers who speak Pacific languages. 20 Education Workforce Advisory Group (2010), A vision for the teaching profession. Education workforce advisory group report to the Minister of Education. Final Report. New Zealand Government. April. 21 Ministry of Education (2011) Education Counts. 11

12 Pasifika cultures so the unique cultural and language aspirations are represented. This may not be possible in a single forum. Partnerships between Pasifika communities and ECE services There is a need for improved partnerships between Pasifika communities and early childhood education services. There is an important role for support staff from the community who speak Pacific languages to work alongside and in addition to qualified teachers, especially where there are not currently qualified teachers at a school or an ECE service who speak a Pacific language. Currently, some Pasifika-medium education units are staffed by qualified teachers who do not speak a Pacific language but who work in close partnership with a fluent support worker. Developing genuine partnerships with families and communities is a fundamental value of kindergarten as well as a principle of the early childhood education curriculum Te Whāriki. While kindergarten prioritises partnering with parents and families on all levels, from governance to teaching and learning, and strives to make services welcoming and culturally relevant for all families, we acknowledge the need to develop a deeper understanding of the needs and aspirations of Pasifika families and to build more meaningful relationships with Pasifika communities. A recent report from the Education Review Office, Partnership with Whānau Māori in Early Childhood Services, found that while a significant proportion of early childhood services built positive relationships (78 percent) with whānau, only 10 percent had built effective and culturally responsive partnerships 22. While this is a report on partnerships with Māori families, there are important finding and recommendations that would be beneficial to improving partnerships with others including Pasifika nations. Recommendations in this report include working in partnership to ensure programmes promote children s language, culture and identity, reviewing the quality of partnerships, and promoting the professional development necessary to improve partnerships. It seems logical that these recommendations would be applicable to establishing effective partnerships with Pasifika communities and comments from kindergarten associations about how to effectively engage Pasifika children in early childhood education reflect this. In addition to ECE services taking responsibility for establishing new partnerships with Pasifika communities, NZK also recommends that the government support effective partnerships between mainstream ECE services and Pacific language ECE services, like the one between Wycliffe Nga Tamariki Kindergarten and Upu Amata, a Samoan immersion early childhood centre, in Napier. This partnership was supported by Centre of Innovation funding which no longer exists. Supporting ECE services and teachers to realise effective and sustained partnerships is essential. In addition to supporting cross-cultural knowledge and understanding, these partnerships may also be useful for sharing expertise and best practices. For stand-alone Pasifika ECE services, a partnership with an umbrella organisation like a regional kindergarten association could offer support for effective governance, management and teaching practices. 22 Education Review Office (2012) Partnership with Whānau Māori in Early Childhood Services, Wellington. 12

13 Consultation It is important that the government effectively consult with the Pasifika community on education policy development and funding decisions. The unique needs and aspirations of each of the major Pacific cultures should be represented and given voice. It is important that individuals with knowledge about specific Pacific communities, and the education needs of those communities, be included in discussions about the provision of ECE services and the education system. Resource development and distribution To improve the experience of Pacific languages in ECE services for children, teachers, parents and other adults, it is essential that more Pacific language resources be developed and distributed. Currently many teachers in early childhood use Pacific language resources created for use in primary and secondary schools. These are not necessarily age-appropriate for children, nor do they necessarily align with Te Whāriki, the early childhood education curriculum. Developing language resources for early childhood education is an area where the government, the private sector, the community and voluntary sector can collaborate. Community members, teachers and parents who have cultural and language knowledge can contribute or take on a leadership role to develop language resources for use in ECE services. These efforts should be supported by the sector and the government. There is a need for language resources that are appropriate to use with children, parents and whānau in an ECE setting and support language acquisition for children and adults. It is common for adults to learn alongside their children in a Pacific language ECE service. There is a need for ready-access resources in a range of medium for teachers, children and adults in the ECE setting and for professional development. 5. Are there sufficient mechanisms to inform the early childhood education system, using research and feedback on the current uptake and quality of Pacific languages in Pasifika early childhood services. NZK recommends: Research into the quality and effectiveness of ECE provision for Pasifika families, including the uptake and quality of Pacific languages in early childhood education and transitions to school. Research on how Pacific languages are effectively integrated into the curriculum in the ECE setting. There is a need for further research on a number of topics related to Pacific languages in early childhood education services. There is little research focused generally on the quality and effectiveness of ECE provision for Pasifika families including the uptake and quality of Pacific languages in early childhood education. A report, Improving Education Outcomes for Pacific Learners 23, was recently released by the Education Review Office. This report focused on Pacific learners in schools. At a recent meeting, NZK recommended to the Education Review Office (ERO) that it produce a linked report focused on Pasifika learners and their families in ECE. The report should include a focus on Pacific languages in ECE and the transition from ECE to school. 23 Ministry of Education. (2012). Improving Education Outcomes for Pacific Learners. Wellington: New Zealand. Education Review Office. May. 13

14 There is a need for baseline data around the number of qualified teachers and support staff in ECE services who speak one or more Pacific languages and who are capable of teaching those languages. This can inform future policy goals around the Pasifika teaching workforce. There is a need for research on how Pacific languages are effectively integrated into the curriculum in the ECE setting. Models of effective Pacific language teaching practices should be developed and integrated across the education sector. 6. Pathways to address the findings and recommendations of this inquiry. NZK recommends: The findings and recommendations of this inquiry should be incorporated into the Ministries of Education and Pacific Island Affairs Pasifika Education Plan. A national plan for the provision of early childhood education should be developed so that participation rates can be increased and community needs met. These findings and recommendations should be incorporated into the Ministries of Education and Pacific Island Affairs Pasifika Education Plan and should be considered when developing education policy and budgets. The recommendations should be included in a national plan for the provision of early childhood education. Developing a national plan for early childhood education service delivery A national plan for the provision of early childhood education should be developed so that participation rates can be increased and community needs met. This is especially important considering how the New Zealand population will change over the next 15 years. For example, through 2026, the Pasifika population is expected to grow significantly, by 2.4 per cent a year. A comprehensive plan is needed to meet the government goal of increasing participation in ECE to 98% among new entrants and to address the future needs of an increasingly diverse population. While we welcome initiatives being implemented by the government to increase Māori, Pasifika and low-income participation in ECE, we are concerned that services are sustainable, high quality, and able to meet the long-term needs of the communities they are serving. There should be an overarching plan to addresses the provision of ECE services across the country in the long-term which includes a focus on Pacific language ECE services and transitioning children from ECE Pacific language services to schools. In collaboration with the early childhood sector, a national process must be established to chart current provision - including capacity - and to determine and plan current and future community needs. This should include inter-agency collaboration such as with Statistics NZ, health, building and housing, social welfare, and local and regional territorial authorities. Conclusion NZK believes sustained participation in high quality early childhood education can make a significant contribution to the wellbeing of Pasifika children and families. 14

15 In this submission, NZK has made recommendations and comments on Pacific languages in early childhood education, transitions to school, and improving partnerships to promote strong, connected Pasifika communities and competent and confident Pasifika learners. Evaluation shows that kindergarten is responsive to the needs and aspirations of children and families enrolled in our services. We would like to expand on our successful partnerships with Pasifika communities and enhance our ability to meet the language and cultural aspirations of all families. There are many examples of services successfully supporting Pacific languages in early childhood education and models of effective transitions from ECE services to schools which can be reinforced and shared. While there is a need for some further research, there is sufficient evidence to begin implementing best practices and effective approaches. 15

16 Recommendations summary NZK recommends: Including targets and actions in the new Ministries of Education and Pacific Island Affairs Pasifika Education Plan that relate to developing and coordinating Pasifika-medium education in each of the seven primary Pacific languages spoken in New Zealand (Cook Islands Maori, Fijian, Niuean, Samoan, Tokelauan, Tongan and Tuvaluan) alongside the further development of ECE services supporting Pacific languages. The current funding mechanism for early childhood education services be maintained. Funding for ECE services supporting Pacific languages should reflect a commitment to bilingualism and should go beyond serving as a mechanism for increasing participation in ECE. The framework for resourcing Pacific languages in ECE should ensure that resources are available to meet good practice indicators for bilingual/immersion programmes in early childhood education and throughout the education sector. Establishing baseline data on how many current qualified ECE teachers are fluent in a Pacific language and developing targets around increasing the number of qualified teachers who are fluent in a Pacific language. Promoting the teaching profession within each of the major Pacific communities in New Zealand. Supporting the provision of more Pasifika initial teacher education programmes which focus on Pacific languages. Strengthening components on teaching and learning for bilingual children and language acquisition for all teachers through pre-service teacher education and on-going professional development. Support from the Ministry of Education for developing leadership roles for teachers with specialist knowledge of Pasifika languages and cultures in ECE, primary and secondary schools and opportunities for these leaders to work together and to share information. Improved partnerships between Pasifika communities and early childhood education services. Government support for effective partnerships between mainstream ECE services and Pacific language ECE services. The government should ensure effective consultation with Pasifika communities on education policy development and funding decisions. To improve the experience of Pacific languages in ECE services, it is essential that more Pacific language resources be developed and distributed. Research into the quality and effectiveness of ECE provision for Pasifika families, including the uptake and quality of Pacific languages in early childhood education and transitions to school. 16

17 Research on how Pacific languages are effectively integrated into the curriculum in the ECE setting. The findings and recommendations of this inquiry should be incorporated into the Ministries of Education and Pacific Island Affairs Pasifika Education Plan. A national plan for the provision of early childhood education should be developed so that participation rates can be increased and community needs met. 17

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