Defining quality in a divided sector: A review of policy and practice in early childhood settings in New Zealand from 2008 to 2018



Early childhood,, policy, teachers, standards


 This review examines major changes in the early childhood sector during the National-led government from 2008 to 2017, with discussion of the possible future under the new Labour-led government. The changing pattern of provision and access to quality early childhood services for families is critiqued, along with changes in funding models, qualifications, and professional development. The revision of Te Whāriki is examined, together with tensions between the revised curriculum and the early childhood centre regulations. Specific issues such as regulatory changes around group size and licences and choices for families are explored. This review concludes with an examination of the potential of the new strategic plan, highlighting the tensions within the terms of reference and consideration of directions for research that may help inform the vision for policy and practice laid out in the strategic plan.


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Author Biographies

Claire McLachlan, Te Hononga School of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Faculty of Education, University of Waikato

Claire McLachlan, Ph.D is Dean, School of Education at Federation University Australia and Honorary Professor in the Wilf Malcolm Institute for Educational Research at the University of Waikato. Her research interests are primarily in early childhood curriculum, teachers' beliefs and practices, assessment and evaluation.


Sue Cherrington, Faculty of Education, Victoria University of Wellington

Sue Cherrington, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the School of Education, Victoria University of Wellington. Her research is particularly focused on professional learning and development, early childhood teachers’ professional and pedagogical practices, and diversity in ECE contexts.

Karyn Aspden, Institute of Education, Massey University

Karyn Aspden, PhD, is a lecturer in Early Years Education in the Institute of Education at Massey University. Her current research is focused on strengthening pedagogical practices to support quality early childhood provision for student teachers and practitioners in the sector. Key interest areas include infant and toddler pedagogy, leadership in ECE, early intervention and inclusive practice, and professional practice.

Tara McLaughlin, Institute of Education, Massey University

Tara McLaughlin, PhD, is a senior lecturer in the Institute of Education at Massey University. Her research interests focus on (a) teaching practices that support children’s learning and social–emotional competence; (b) professional learning and development; (c) innovative data systems to inform teaching and learning; and (d) assessment practices in early childhood care and education.