New rules rub out teacher's CV

By Jacqueline Smith

Anna Farrell is not qualified to teach in preschools, despite holding a bachelor of education degree in primary teaching and having worked in early childhood centres for 16 years.

In that time, she has gained a Playcentre certificate and a diploma in music for early childhood education, and done courses to keep her up to date with changes in the sector.

She has also raised a child.

However, because her bachelor's degree is not specifically in early childhood education, and she does not have a diploma in it either, she is not classified as "qualified" under the Ministry of Education's funding regime.

Mrs Farrell, of Mt Albert, began working in early childhood centres in 1992, and has been banging on the doors of her local MP and ministry representatives for some time trying to convince them that changes to the qualifications requirements are unfair.

But she has been stonewalled every time by a standard response: she must complete a further year's fulltime study to be considered qualified.

"It's like a cat chasing its tail."

It is because she loves the job and the children that Mrs Farrell has continued to work as a relief teacher and accepted an "unqualified" teacher's salary.

But next year, when the Government will require 80 per cent of early childhood teachers to hold the standard qualification, or by the end of 2011 at the latest, when 100 per cent of teachers must have it, she may not be accepted into centres because the ministry will not fund "unqualified" staff.

This is despite centres having to turn away desperate families because they do not have enough teachers to keep up with the ministry's teacher-child ratio of one-to-10 for youngsters aged over 2 and one-to-five for under 2s.

But Mrs Farrell says that at the age of 53, she does not see the point of forking out $5000 to study for a job she wants to continue only part-time.

"If you do not have the experience or the educational training to work with children from birth to 5 after all this, you might as well give up."

Mrs Farrell just hopes the Government will see that the present situation is "ludicrous".

She believes teachers like her are more than sufficiently qualified and the early childhood sector is in a dire need of them, but says if centres are not funded to employ them, they will have to turn them away.

- NZ Herald

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