Government announces pay boost for early childhood teachers

A $170 million boost for early childhood education (ECE) teachers is set to help the sector "take another leap towards pay parity" with kindergarten teachers, the Education Minister says. 

It could see some teachers' pay go up 17 per cent.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the pre-Budget announcement would address "the obvious pay gap" with kindergarten teachers.

"It’s only fair that teachers with the same qualifications carrying out the same work get paid equally.

"These changes will address difficulties with recruitment and reduce turnover in education and care services as fewer teachers leave for higher pay elsewhere. This will help enable teachers to provide the consistent and secure relationships children need."

It moves up the minimum yearly rate from $49,862 to $51,358, with existing rates increased from July 2021. 

"Another set of higher funding rates will be made available from 1 January 2022, if services agree to pay teachers in line with the first six pay bands of the same collective agreement kindergarten teachers belong to," Hipkins said. 

"Such a change would benefit teachers earning from around $50,000 to around $65,000, with some getting increases of as much as 17 per cent."

The money will go to those pre-school facilities that have 100 per cent qualified teachers.

Last year, the Government put $151 million into early learning services to increase the pay of an estimated 17,000 ECE teachers. 

It intended to bring the minimum pay for ECE teachers up to $49,862 on July 1, from between $45,491 to $46,832 - at the time it was said it would bring them into line with kindergarten teachers. 

In July, 2020, an ECE teacher said despite the funding boost for ECE centres with 100 per cent qualified teachers, teachers couldn’t live on "empty promises".

Earlier this year, a New Zealand Educational Institute survey revealed the growing toll of the early childhood education teacher shortages.

Responses from 305 early childhood education employers and employees show 80.3 per cent think shortages have affected their ability to teach and 86.6 per cent feel the situation has affected the children they teach.