Review of the Early Childhood Sector

  • Anne Meade
  • Carmen Dalli


The year 1991 continued to be a time of change for those in the early childhood sector. This was no surprise, because 1990 had ended with two significant announcements. The first was that the Minister of Education had promulgated revised guidelines for the recently introduced charters. The second announcement was that all educational services were again to be subjected to a series of reviews – four of which would be in the early childhood sector. These announcements followed hard on the heels of the promulgation in September 1990 of the Education (Early Childhood Centres) Regulations 1990. Changes in early childhood qualifications and training were also being implemented and teething problems were becoming evident. Meanwhile, debate about the proposed introduction of the “Parents as First Teachers” (PAFT) project continued. Overall, at the end of 1990, the early childhood education sector was still undergoing great change and was described as in need of some stability and consolidation (e.g., Dalli, 1990a).

Stability and consolidation were indeed what most early childhood organisations and their users had been hoping for in 1991. However, the general desire that 1991 would give the early childhood sector time to concentrate on growth and development of quality had to be quickly pushed aside (Wells, 1991).

The first half of 1991 was spent writing submissions to the review teams dealing with early childhood issues, digesting the new regulations and waiting nervously for the Budget. Anxiety mounted when the first convenor of the funding review team resigned (presumably in protest) and an independent member, Crispin Gardiner, filed a minority report (Dominion, May 3 1991). Subsequently, officials’ activity on early childhood funding shifted from the Ministry of Education to the States Services Commission.

The Budget announcements included first-phase realisation of the “Parents as First Teachers” policy and news that many had feared about reductions in funding ($18 million less for under 2 year olds) and in quality requirements for charters. As well, bulk funding of kindergarten teachers’ salaries was announced. A complete surprise was the reduction of funding for advisory support and in-service training, and the tendering out of a sizeable proportion of the work of the Early Childhood Development Unit.

In this paper, we propose to comment on the revised guidelines for charters for early childhood services (the Statement of Desirable Objectives and Practices), and on some aspects of the reviews and the Budget announcements made following those reviews. We particularly consider early childhood qualifications and training developments, and comment on the new policy “Parents as First Teachers” (PAFT)...


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Author Biographies

Anne Meade
Carmen Dalli
How to Cite
MEADE, Anne; DALLI, Carmen. Review of the Early Childhood Sector. The New Zealand Annual Review of Education, [S.l.], n. 1, oct. 1991. ISSN 1178-3311. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 21 oct. 2020. doi:


Early Education Education