Pathways to the Future: English plan and translations
This document sets out the Government's direction for early childhood education over the next 10-years. The version on this website is a text only (there are no graphs or pictures). The plan is available in English and Maori. Summaries of the Plan are available in English, Maori, Samoan, Tongan, Cook Islands Maori, Tokelauan, Fijian, and Niuean. These are all available as PDF downloads at the end of this document. Hard copies can be requested by contacting us.
Goal: increase participation in quality ECE services
"Early childhood care and education services assist children and their families to develop independence and to access the resources necessary to enable them to direct their own lives."
We need to increase participation in quality ECE services so that:
- children develop and enhance strong early learning foundations through participation in quality ECE services
- children, parents, families and whänau can access ECE services that meet their needs (including training, education, and employment needs of parents, and cultural and language aspirations of children, parents, whānau and wider communities).
Children can develop and build on strong early learning foundations in a number of settings, including their own homes. A child's early learning foundations are further extended when they take part in quality ECE. For children from disadvantaged backgrounds, participation in quality ECE is particularly important, as they may not be exposed to high quality early learning experiences in the home.
The education of children under the age of six is not compulsory. Parents, families and whānau therefore have to actively choose to involve their children in ECE. To make this choice parents need information about why ECE is important for their children. They need to know what quality ECE looks like so that they can choose a quality ECE service.
To have such a choice in the first place, parents, families and whānau need information about, and access to, quality ECE services that are responsive to their needs and those of their children. Further, if parents, families and whānau are to keep their children attending ECE services, those services need to be sustainable.
The plan's strategies to increase participation, outlined in the table opposite, will:
- focus on communities where participation is low, particularly Māori, Pasifika, low socio-economic and rural communities
- be driven by the needs of those individual communities
- increase the government's role in facilitating access to quality ECE services
- support ECE services to be more responsive to the needs of children, parents, families and whänau.
A focus on the participation of Māori
Two factors sharpen our focus for the future of Māori in ECE. Firstly, Māori children do not currently participate in ECE services at the same rate as other New Zealand children. Secondly, Māori children will form a larger proportion of this country's birth-to-five-year-olds within the next 10 years.
Whānau, hapū, iwi and communities are best placed to know the barriers Māori encounter in taking part in ECE services. Our efforts under this goal will focus on working with Māori to uncover these barriers and to develop strategies to foster greater involvement. This will include researching what factors in ECE make the most difference for the development and success of Māori children.
Access to quality ECE services is of prime concern and the government will be more actively involved in ensuring Māori have a choice of ECE services that best meet their needs.
This support will take the form of establishing and supporting community-based services run by Māori for Māori. Support to establish such services might range from use of the discretionary grants scheme to directly providing a building to lease. Ensuring such services have the support to continue operating will also be addressed, especially for stand-alone services operating without support from umbrella organisations. The review of funding and regulatory systems will include a focus on how best to support Māori ECE services in terms of governance, management, quality and responsiveness.
As many Māori children attend mainstream ECE services, ensuring these services are responsive to their needs and those of their whānau is also a priority. The emphasis here will involve working with both ECE services and teacher education providers to improve ECE teachers' understanding and appreciation of the Treaty of Waitangi, biculturalism, Te Reo and Tikanga Māori so that they can support and encourage the learning of Māori children and the involvement of Māori parents.
A focus on the participation of Pasifika peoples
Pasifika peoples share a number of the same challenges as Māori - fewer Pasifika children attend ECE services than other New Zealand children and they will comprise an increasing proportion of birth-to-five-year-olds over the next 10 years. However, the solutions to these challenges may not be the same.
Pasifika communities are to play an important role in determining the strategies to encourage more Pasifika parents to involve their children in ECE services. Once the barriers to participation and suitable solutions are identified, the government will work more actively in partnership with Pasifika communities to ensure they have ready access to ECE services that meet their needs. This will include supporting the establishment and ongoing operation of community-based Pasifika ECE services. This support might focus on financial aspects with funding provided through the discretionary grants scheme, or it might involve offering such services as the use of government-owned buildings.
Pasifika ECE services are often stand alone, lacking the support of larger umbrella groups. The government will work especially with such stand-alone Pasifika ECE services to ensure they receive the advice and support they need in governance, management and professional leadership to build their long-term viability. The education and care needs of Pasifika children attending mainstream ECE services will also be under the spotlight. The government will work with mainstream services to ensure teachers appreciate the particular heritage, cultural and language needs of the Pasifika community.
A vision of access to quality ECE services in 2012
The problems some New Zealanders have faced in gaining access to quality ECE services are fast disappearing. These problems have varied: the lack of established services in the near vicinity; available services not meeting the needs of children, parents, families or whänau; only sessional services provided where full day care is wanted; a lack of choice for cultural and language development.
Today, ministry facilitators are key in solving these problems and have ensured many more New Zealand children have access to quality care and education through ECE services. The facilitators work with communities to decide on the services most needed. Sometimes communities establish their own ECE service; other times the facilitators work with existing services to lift their game in meeting the community's needs. Then there are solutions developed to meet very specific needs of individual families or whänau. These solutions are sometimes as simple as providing transport to other ECE services better equipped to meeting the children's needs. All, though, see greater numbers of children developed and extended in quality ECE services.
- Build on the Promoting ECE Participation project to find and address barriers to ECE participation in local communities.
- Raise parents' (and the wider community's) awareness of the benefits of participation in quality ECE for children's educational and social success
- Give parents and whānau information about what quality ECE is like.
- Research to provide information for ongoing policies to address barriers to access and participation.
- Research to provide information for policies to encourage ECE participation at levels that will achieve the best results for children.
Improve access to responsive, quality ECE services
- Involve government in facilitating access to community-based ECE services in communities where participation is low. This includes working with communities to gain access to ECE services through planning, provision of property for new ECE services, or providing advice and support to improve the quality and responsiveness of existing ECE services.
- Assign facilitators in Ministry of Education regional offices to work with targeted communities to find solutions for providing property including:
- expanding the Discretionary Grants Scheme
- providing a `design-and-build' scheme for ECE services to establish new centres
- providing access to land on school sites
- converting excess school classrooms
- leasing government property (buildings and/or land) to some ECE services
- providing government property directly (buildings and/or land) to some ECE services.
- Develop innovative solutions to ensure rural communities have access to quality ECE services.
- Give the Ministry of Education the responsibility for the co-ordination of advice and support for governance, management and professional leadership.
- Assign facilitators to work with community-based ECE services identified as lower quality ECE and/or not being responsive to the needs of children, parents, families and whänau. This work will involve linking them into advice and support services.
- Introduce funding and regulations that support ECE services to deliver quality ECE that is responsive to the needs of children, parents, families and whänau.
- Provide funding to support access to affordable, quality ECE services.
Improve sustainability of ECE services
- Provide equity funding to promote access to quality community-based ECE services through acknowledging additional costs faced by ECE services in some communities.
- Introduce funding and regulations that better support quality ECE services to meet the needs of children, parents, families and whānau.
- Ensure that advice and support for governance, management and professional leadership are available to all ECE services. The Ministry of Education will undertake this work with ECE sector umbrella groups and organisations.
A vision of advice and support in 2012
While some services have always enjoyed the advice and support of groups such as Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust, kindergarten associations, playcentre associations, Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa, Early Childhood Development and the Early Childhood Council, all ECE services now have access to comprehensive and co-ordinated support to meet their needs.
The ministry is an effective central support nexus, linking ECE services in need of help with support providers. Governance, management, responsiveness and quality are the prime concerns of support mechanisms as these factors most critically affect ECE services' long-term health. We are now seeing the results of this support. Concentrated support provided especially to communities where participation in ECE services is historically low, is paying off as the trend reverses. Concentrated support is also ensuring ECE services that previously struggled under the weight of governance and management issues are stabilised and regaining strength. The Education Review Office and the ministry maintain supportive watch for at-risk services. Their interest is to ensure these services receive the support and professional development they need to continue.
A vision of quality ECE in rural New Zealand in 2012
Life in New Zealand's rural communities no longer means limited access to ECE. Fuelling this is the higher number of qualified ECE teachers who have made use of the greater flexibility of distance learning options for ECE teacher education. Greater flexibility features too in how families in isolated areas can access ECE services. In some cases The Correspondence School works closely with parents involved in playgroups; in other cases rural communities use mobile ECE services, or receive support for transport to services in other areas. Changes in government regulations and funding have created a framework that makes quality ECE a reality in rural New Zealand. Increased support from the ministry means ECE services have access to practical solutions on governance and have less difficulty employing enough qualified staff.
Goal: improve quality of ECE services
"Quality early childhood education lays the foundation for children's later learning, through an enriching environment that facilitates the development of cognitive skills...[It] contributes to the development of self-esteem, as children gain understanding of their emotions and establish the basis for relating to others...[It] is one of the ways by which social and cultural values are reinforced and passed on to the next generation. Therefore, the quality of early childhood education today influences the well-being of citizens and society in the future."
Children only benefit from participation in quality ECE services. That quality is achieved through a number of interacting factors. ECE research shows that quality is the result of the interaction of the ratio of trained adults to children, the number of children (or group size) and, in some services, the qualification levels of teachers. Collectively, these factors form the foundation on which quality ECE is built.
This foundation supports quality interactions between teachers (in some services, parents and whänau) and children. In turn, it is this quality interaction that leads to the effective implementation of the curriculum (Te Whäriki). The desired result of the strategies outlined below is that ECE services will implement Te Whäriki fully and effectively. This means having:
- teachers, ratios and group size that support quality
- teachers who are responsive to children from all ethnic backgrounds, languages and cultures
- quality interactions between teachers/parents and whänau and children
- quality practices in teaching and learning.
A focus on quality for Mäori
Building a stronger framework for the delivery of quality ECE services is a main foundation of the strategic plan. This presents opportunities for Mäori. The plan places a greater requirement on ECE services and teachers to be responsive to the care and education needs of Mäori children. Key to this is the effective delivery of Te Whäriki, which is an explicitly bi-cultural curriculum.
The requirements are made equally of Mäori and `mainstream' ECE services. As such there will be opportunities for Mäori parents and educators to influence teacher education, professional development and other programmes and initiatives that support ECE services and teachers to be more responsive to Mäori children. We will specifically focus on initiatives improving understanding and appreciation of the Treaty of Waitangi, and the use of Te Reo and Tikanga Mäori.
The solution to improving quality sector-wide is to increase the number of professionally trained teachers responsible for providing education and care to children. Mäori children will benefit generally from this but the target of having all ECE teachers professionally qualified requires us to explore and take into consideration the special characteristics of community-based Mäori ECE services. Kuia and kaumätua are integral to the education of Mäori children in Mäori ECE services, not only for the teaching of Te Reo and Tikanga Mäori but for their leadership. Mäori tell us that field-based training of ECE teachers best matches the learning style of Mäori and produces teachers most suited to Mäori ECE services. The Government will work in partnership with Mäori to develop a teacher education course for Mäori immersion ECE teachers. Our overall aim will be to ensure that lifting ECE quality overall doesn't come at the price of the effective education of young Mäori.
Partnerships will also form an important element in determining how quality is achieved in parent/whänau-provided ECE services such as köhanga reo. Our partnership will include work with Te Köhanga Reo National Trust to identify and support quality in these services.
A focus on quality for Pasifika
A drive to improve quality in ECE services offers Pasifika communities both opportunities and challenges. Overall, the increased number of professionally qualified teachers will benefit Pasifika children. As for other New Zealand children, having more highly trained teachers means a better quality of education.
Increasing the number of professionally trained teachers poses challenges for Pasifika peoples. As fewer Pasifika peoples currently hold the Diploma of Teaching (ECE), Pasifika ECE services could experience more difficulty in meeting the teacher registration targets. The registration requirement also impacts more broadly on the unique nature of Pasifika ECE services. In implementing the change, it is also important that elders continue to play a role in ECE services and that field-based training remains a viable option. The Government will need to work with Pasifika communities to overcome these challenges, building on the progress they have already achieved together. Such progress includes the development of the Diploma
of Teaching ECE (Pacific), the next stage of which is for teacher education providers to deliver this qualification.
The Government and Pasifika communities will also need to work together as we seek to identify and promote quality teaching and learning practices within Pasifika ECE services. An emphasis on being more responsive to the needs of Pasifika children in pre-service training and professional development will ensure that Pasifika children in mainstream ECE services will benefit from improved quality across the sector.
A vision of support for ECE services provided by parents, families and whänau in 2012
New Zealand's proud tradition of closely involving parents, family and whänau in the early education of their children flourishes. The Government has worked with these services to ensure that the provision of quality ECE is supported. We know what specific activities used by parents, family and whänau are effective. We know which activities build quality education for their children. We also know the resources they need to continue providing these activities. We recognise, too, that their needs differ. In place is a regulatory system that supports the broad range of parent-led ECE services. It is a system that particularly encourages the involvement of parent-led playgroups in areas not covered by established ECE services. In knowing they have access to both resources and support, parents, families and whänau are informed and keen education providers to their children.
Increase the numbers of registered teachers
- Build on the direction created through the establishment of the Diploma of Teaching (ECE) as the benchmark qualification for licensing in ECE by 2005, to increase the number of qualified ECE teachers.
- Pay parity for kindergarten teachers. The flow-on effects of this to the rest of the ECE sector will make ECE teaching a more attractive career.
- Extend current requirements for all teachers in kindergartens to be registered to other teacher-led services so that by:
- 2007 50 percent of regulated staff in every teacher-led service are required to be registered teachers
- 2010 80 percent of regulated staff in every teacher-led service are required to be registered teachers
- 2012 all regulated staff in every teacher-led service are required to be registered teachers.
- Develop an implementation plan for the regulation of teacher registration requirements that includes the establishment of mechanisms that allow centres to continue to employ elders and students in training for teacher registration qualifications.
- Review in 2005/6 the progress against teacher registration targets (above) and the effectiveness of policies to achieve these targets. Recommendations on further steps will be made as needed.
- Monitor progress of Mäori language immersion ECE services and Pacific Island Education and Care Centres in achieving registration targets. Further steps will be taken if necessary to increase teacher supply.
- Increase teacher supply through:
- introducing incentive grants to ECE services to meet some of the costs of having staff upgrade their qualifications
- Recognition of Prior Learning schemes to allow those needing to upgrade their qualifications to receive credit for their skills and knowledge
- promoting ECE teaching as a career to people who are potentially interested in ECE teaching, and groups that are underrepresented in the ECE teacher workforce
- offering scholarships to attract people into ECE teacher education
- providing mentoring and/or support to students undertaking ECE teacher education
- requiring 0.1 teacher release time for provisionally registered teachers as they work towards full teacher registration.
- Build on work underway with the establishment of the Tertiary Education Commission, the New Zealand Teachers Council and the development of the Diploma of Teaching ECE (Pacific) to work with teacher education providers to:
- develop foundation or bridging courses to help people, particularly Mäori and Pasifika peoples, meet entry criteria for teacher education courses
- ensure that ECE teacher education courses meet the wide range of needs of adult learners and the ECE sector
- ensure that teacher education courses support all ECE teachers in the use of Te Reo and Tikanga Mäori
- develop teacher education courses that are suitable for ECE teachers who work in Mäori immersion services
- develop teacher education courses that meet the needs of distance learners
- develop teacher education courses that allow primary teachers to upgrade their primary teacher qualifications to ECE teacher qualifications.
- Research ECE teacher supply and workforce issues including barriers to teacher education and retention of qualified teachers.
A vision for mainstream services more responsive to Mäori in 2012
The strong working relationship between the Government, ECE services and whänau, hapü and iwi has fostered and developed a mainstream ECE sector genuinely responsive to Mäori. Mäori children attending mainstream ECE services have their learning and
development extended by teachers who are competent in Te Reo, at least being able to pronounce Mäori names correctly. These teachers understand and acknowledge Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Mäori cultural values. They work in partnership with local hapü, iwi and
the Mäori community generally to deliver effectively to Mäori children in their service.
Providers of teacher education and professional development firmly foster this understanding of the needs of Mäori. These providers are clear about the importance of teacher responsiveness to Mäori and their responsibilities in lifting the skills of teachers so they can respond.
Support quality in ECE services provided by parents and whänau
- Research ways to support parent and whänau-led ECE services and develop policies to maintain and enhance quality in these services.
- Review regulations to support the quality of ECE services where parents and whänau are responsible for providing ECE.
- Review funding of services where parents and whänau are responsible for providing ECE, to promote quality.
- Provide information and support (such as professional development and other training) to promote the delivery of quality ECE in services where parents and whänau are responsible for providing ECE.
Improve ratios and group size
- Review regulation of ratios and group size so that it supports the provision of quality ECE.
- Reduce progressively under-two ratios and group size and over-two sessional ratios and group size.
Promote the effective delivery of Te Whäriki
- Legislate Te Whäriki as the curriculum for all ECE services.
- Review and strengthen the provision of professional development so that it is aligned with the Government's strategic goals and all ECE services have access to professional development that meets their needs.
- Undertake a follow-up review of professional development in 2005.
- Provide leadership development programmes to strengthen leadership in ECE services.
- Research ways to better support Te Reo Mäori immersion ECE services and develop policies to maintain and enhance quality in these services.
- Research ways to better support Pasifika language immersion and bilingual ECE services and develop policies to maintain and enhance quality in these services.
Establishment of, and reflection on, quality practices in teaching and learning
- Build on work such as the Early Childhood Learning and Exemplar Assessment Project to further develop exemplars of effective practice.
- Research aspects of quality to provide information for development of quality practices.
- Develop and implement self-review processes that reflect on quality practices and contribute to the external review processes.
- Establish six Centres of Innovation on a three-year cycle to showcase excellence and innovation in ECE. The emphasis in the first cycle would be on developing and distributing:
- quality practices in Mäori immersion ECE services (education and care centres and köhanga reo)
- quality practices in Pasifika bilingual and immersion ECE services
- improved linkages between ECE services, schools and health and social services
- quality practices in the use of Information Communication Technology.
A vision for shared innovation in 2012
We are constantly challenging and extending the depth of knowledge within the ECE sector. Centres of Innovation foster research and development in the ECE sector and reflect New Zealand's heritage of ingenuity and innovation. The centres capitalise on the experience of those most likely to produce the best ideas - the people working in ECE services. The programme sees ECE teachers combining their skills with the complementary skills of researchers. Their resulting work means innovation is quantified and tested before being captured in a format suitable for replication throughout the sector. The regular change in the research cycle allows the exploration, documentation and sharing of a diverse range of skills and practices that continues to extend the effectiveness of teaching and learning.
Goal: promote collaborative relationships
"Children's learning and development are fostered if the well-being of their family and community is supported; if their family, culture, knowledge and community are respected; and if there is a strong connection and consistency among all aspects of the child's world."
A child's learning and development depend not only on the ECE environment they experience, but also on their home and wider social environment. The coming together of children and families in ECE services provides greater opportunities for addressing health and social issues. Building stronger links between ECE services, ante-natal programmes, parents and whänau, parenting programmes, schools, and health and social services can also improve a child's educational achievement. Collectively, these services allow their learning and development needs to be met more holistically. Implementing the strategies outlined below will achieve:
- improved learning and development for children between birth and age eight resulting from strong links between ECE services, parent support and development, schools, health and social services.
A focus on collaborative relationships for Mäori
A child's journey from birth, their early education at home and at an ECE service, through to compulsory schooling, is a clearly defined path. But it needs to be a path that accommodates diverse services; one fostering strong links with other parent support programmes and providers.
Our efforts under this goal seek to create an environment where the wider needs of Mäori children, their parents and whänau are recognised and acknowledged. We will support ECE services as they seek to build strong links with whänau, hapü and iwi to generate opportunities for them to work with ECE services and help them be more responsive to the needs of Mäori children. As a result, ECE services will carve a broader role in parent support and development services. This approach recognises that a range of interconnecting factors affects a child's development. Our aim is to smooth the transitions between home, ECE and schools for all Mäori children, including those with special education needs. This may require more effort for Mäori children transitioning from Mäori immersion ECE to English medium schooling and we may need to develop specific policies and programmes to smooth their progress.
A focus on collaborative relationships for Pasifika
For Pasifika children to thrive in ECE we need to take care of more than just their minds. To achieve a more holistic result in meeting the needs of Pasifika families and their children we need to build strong relationships between agencies with an interest in young New Zealanders. From an ECE point of view our objective is to develop a smooth passage from home to ECE service and school for all Pasifika children including those with special education needs. In smoothing the steps, specific policies and programmes may be needed to help Pasifika children from Pasifika immersion and bilingual ECE as they transfer to English medium schooling.
Our efforts under this goal will place ECE services more firmly in the centre of parent support and development services. This will further build the holistic approach to educating and caring for Pasifika children. We will support ECE services to build links with local Pasifika communities so they can provide opportunities for Pasifika communities to work with them as they seek to improve their responsiveness.
Promote coherence of education between birth and eight years
- Link ECE and family policy such as family literacy, books in homes.
- Develop a policy framework for parent support and development that links it with ECE service provision.
- Build on work underway such as improving primary school teachers' knowledge of Te Whäriki, the Early Childhood Primary Links programme, and the early literacy and numeracy working groups to smooth transitions from ECE to school through:
- promoting better understanding between ECE teachers and primary teachers about the links between Te Whäriki and the New Zealand Curriculum Framework
- promoting better understanding between ECE teachers and primary teachers about the pedagogical approaches in ECE and schools
- distributing information about effective transition from ECE to school practices.
- Better align policy between early intervention in ECE and special education in schools.
- Research how and when to add English language for children from non-English language immersion ECE and develop policies and resources to support continuity in education.
Provide more integrated services to children, parents, families and whänau
- Build on current work between the Ministries of Education, Health and Social Development to improve links between early years' services.
- Distribute information to parents and ECE services that helps them link with other services for children between birth and age eight.
- Provide support for ECE services to strengthen links with whänau, hapü and iwi.
- Provide support for ECE services to strengthen links with local Pasifika communities and other ethnic communities.
- Provide support for ECE services to involve parents and whänau in teaching, learning and assessment.
- Provide parent support and development services from ECE service sites.
A vision for collaborative relationships in 2012
New Zealand parents and whänau are actively involved in their children's learning and development. They are well informed in their task as they are supported through access to a wide range of services and information. There are close links between ECE services and schools. Teachers from both regularly meet to discuss curriculum linkages, children's learning needs (including special education needs) and how best to manage transition from ECE to school. The Ministry of Education's links with other social agencies such as Health, Justice, and Child, Youth and Family Services, are fostering an environment where ECE services are developing as centres of comprehensive parental support and education. ECE services understand their role in this wider empowerment of parents and whänau. They have curriculum resources to help them in this work and are skilled to meet the specific skills needs of the parents and whänau in their own communities.
The promise of effective early childhood centres and schools - results from the Early Childhood Primary Links via Literacy project (ECPL)
Research on ECPL shows "that low progress is neither inevitable nor immutable. They demonstrate that it is possible for educators in early childhood and primary settings to pick up the pace of teaching and learning so that children in decile 1 schools are able to make accelerated progress in reading and writing over the transition to school. By the end of the first year of school their achievement can be like any other child in New Zealand. The interventions demonstrate what is possible."
Supporting strategies for implementation
To ensure success, the implementation of the strategic plan is to be supported by a further four, more broadly focused strategies:
- review of the regulations and rules
- review of the funding system
- conducting of research
- involvement of the sector in ongoing policy development and implementation.
Regulations and Funding
The plan includes reviews of both ECE-related regulations and funding. Both reviews will be carried out over the next year and will seek the expert advice of a number of ECE sector reference groups on particular aspects. The timelines for the reviews are:
- regulations review - July 2002 to December 2003, with the new regulatory system beginning at the end of 2004
- funding review - June 2002 to July 2003 with the revised system put in place in 2005.
The regulatory review is likely to result in a more integrated system, allowing the Government to better support quality across the diverse ECE services. The funding review is likely to produce a more differentiated system, which will allow the Government to better respond to the different needs of ECE services. The planned increase in government support raises the issue of accountability. The funding review will also include an examination of the ways in which ECE services should be accountable for the government funding and support they receive.
Principles for the review of regulations and funding
- reflects the diversity of ECE services in New Zealand
- continues support for improvement in the quality of ECE service delivery that reflects the educational and developmental needs of children, and the needs of the community
- recognises the value of ECE services that involve parents, whänau and elders, and reflect the culture, language and aspirations of communities
- is more responsive to the cost drivers faced by ECE services
- is capable of delivering funding differentially to address potential impacts of increased costs on disadvantaged groups
- facilitates the achievement of the Government's strategic plan and other Government objectives
- reflects best administrative practice by ensuring clear accountability in the use of public funds and minimising administrative and compliance costs.
Research into ECE in New Zealand will be ongoing and will be used to provide information for the development of policies and initiatives to support the goals of this strategic plan. Areas of research needed to support particular strategies are described earlier in the plan. In addition to these, a longitudinal research project evaluating the impact of all the strategies will track progress in achieving the goals as the plan unfolds. It will allow for the evaluation of particular initiatives as well as the impact of the plan as a whole. In this way the plan will be open to a cycle of continuous improvement, as the measurement of the strategies' success is fed back into ongoing policy work and implementation.
The value of research
Research has taught us much. For example we know that participating in quality ECE makes a difference in our children's development. But we need to know more. How long do children need to participate, how often and from what age? We need to know what impact these factors have on our children's education and development. We also want to understand how intensive their participation needs to be. Intensity is about adults and children exploring knowledge and understanding together. It's about including parenting programmes and health initiatives in ECE services. Even when we have the answers to these issues, they will raise more questions.
We also need further research to improve our understanding of quality. We need to have a better understanding of how services led by parents and whänau and home-based services achieve quality. We also need to know more about what quality is in language immersion ECE services. While research has taught us much, we still have much to learn.
Ongoing Development and Implementation
Both the ECE sector and the Government have worked together to develop this plan and the Government wants to continue the partnership, building on the joint vision for the future direction of ECE in New Zealand. The Government is committed to working with the ECE sector in the future to develop more specific policy. It will also work with the sector and wider community to implement the plan's strategies. It is by working together, that the Government, the ECE sector and the wider community can most effectively identify the best way to ensure "children grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body, and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society."