21 May 2020
Early Learning Bulletin 21 May 2020

Message from Iona Holsted

Kia ora koutou

Early this week, and again today I have been alerted to social media content that is wrong and unnecessarily upsetting parents and whānau. The gist of the rumours is that the law passed on 13 May gives powers to Police and others to uplift children from school if they appear unwell and forcibly test for COVID-19, and administer medication including flu vaccinations.

As you already know, neither Police, Oranga Tamariki nor anyone else have been given any such powers. If a child is unwell at your service, school or kura, you contact their parents or caregivers in the usual way to collect them. If you have concerned parents or whānau, I know you’ll reassure them that there is no change to service or school practice.

Ngā mihi

Secretary for Education

In today’s early learning bulletin we will be covering the following items:

  • NZ COVID Tracer App
  • Taking the temperature of children and staff when they arrive
  • Budget 2020 initiative - $151.1 million boost to education and care service funding rates
  • Update to the minimum salaries’ for certificated teachers
  • Level 2 staffing survey - Friday 22 May
  • Weekly attendance data collection update
  • Kindness for Kaiako | Teacher Wellbeing
  • Online learning resources 
  • Catchy new song for children
  • Preparing for the 2020 ECE Census.

NZ COVID Tracer App

As noted yesterday, the new Government contact tracing App does not yet replace your requirement to maintain a contact register. We have also been advised that a bulk upload of data to MBIE for schools and early learning services is not possible in the short term (as it would take some weeks to undertake a system change to allow this).
However, we are continuing to work with MBIE to see if there is any alternative for you, to the manual process currently in place for all businesses and organisations. We will update you when we know more, including any future releases that could reduce the numbers of people required to be captured in your visitor register.

Taking the temperature of children and staff when they arrive

If someone is showing signs of a fever, you may want to take their temperature as part of your usual first aid response to inform medical practitioners and/or parents and caregivers. That individual can refuse to have their temperature taken and you may want to seek a parent’s or caregiver’s permission before you do so. 
Otherwise, you do not have a right to take children’s temperatures as a matter of course which may result in preventing their attendance at their service. Taking temperatures is not part of the public health requirements for COVID-19. It is also not an overly effective tool to screen for people who might have symptoms of COVID-19. The symptoms are varied and the majority of people only have mild symptoms, particularly children. Someone who has a fever looks unwell. You don’t have to take their temperature to suspect they have a fever.
As noted in the Alert Level 2 Guidance [DOCX, 94KB], service staff should observe children in attendance, checking for symptoms and those presenting as unwell, arrange for parents and caregivers to come and pick them up. 
Symptoms to monitor for are any respiratory symptoms such as a cold, a head cold, blocked ears, cough, sneezing, chills and a fever. Anyone with those symptoms should be isolated and contact Healthline for advice, which may include getting tested for COVID-19.  A service can ask a child does not attend if they believe on reasonable grounds they may have a communicable disease, which includes COVID-19.
Best practice to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, continues to be asking people to stay away if they feel ill, maintaining a breathing distance from others, good cough/sneeze etiquette and washing hands regularly.

Budget 2020 initiative - $151.1 million boost to education and care service funding rates

Last week the Minister announced a 2.3% increase to education and care service rates from 1 July 2020 and an increase to the minimum salary attestation requirement to $49,862. We’ve had a number of questions about this initiative. 

What are the expectations on services for this additional funding?
The funding is to support services to increase the salaries of teachers, but with a particular emphasis on the lowest paid qualified and certificated teachers. The only formal expectation on the funding is that all qualified and certificated teachers in education and care services are to be paid at or above $49,862. There is no expectation that every qualified and certificated teacher gets a pay increase. 
While the intention of the funding is to improve teacher salaries, services that already pay all their teachers above $49,862 are permitted to use the additional funding in other ways, should they choose – for example, on deferred maintenance or resources for children. 

Why was this amount of funding chosen?
The $150 million for this initiative was chosen because it represents a significant first step on the path towards funding parity between education and care services and kindergartens. The amount secured had to be balanced within an array of competing priorities within the Budget, both within early learning and outside of it. As the Minister has acknowledged, this increase is a first step only and there is still some way to go in this area.
Services should be aware that better information will be required in future to enable accurate costing of funding required for future additional steps on the way to parity. This includes a better understanding of the share of early learning costs borne by parents. These are data collections that Ministry is currently working on.

Update to the minimum salaries’ for certificated teachers

Teacher-led early learning services receive higher rates of funding if they attest that all ECE and primary qualified and certificated teachers employed, are paid at or above certain minimum salary levels, based upon their level of qualification. These minimum salary levels are published on the Education website.

As of 1 July 2020, the required minimum salary levels for certificated teachers in teacher-led early learning services will increase.  The new salary levels have been published on our website. 

Attestation of minimum salary levels for certificated teachers - Education website

Teacher-led early learning services must attest that they are paying their certificated teachers at, or above, these minimum rates on their RS7 Return. The attestation process is explained in the ECE Funding Handbook.

9-6 Attestation of certificated teachers' salaries - ECE Funding Handbook

Level 2 staffing survey - Friday 22 May

On Friday 22 May, we will add three staffing attendance questions to the SurveyMonkey. This is a one-off “pulse check” to help us understand staffing levels in early learning services under Alert Level 2. Responding to these staffing questions is voluntary, but greatly appreciated. The three questions are:

  • Please enter the combined headcount of your teaching staff or home-based educators who are working, as at 10am today (Friday 22nd May).
  • Please enter the combined headcount of your relief teaching staff who are working (if any), as at 10am today (Friday 22nd May).
  • Please enter the combined headcount of your teaching staff or home-based educators who are unable to work for any reason, as at 10am today (Friday 22nd May).

Weekly attendance data collection update

In our 14 May bulletin, we advised the daily SurveyMonkey attendance collection will be replaced with automatic weekly ELI attendance submissions via your Student Management Systems (SMS) or ELI Web.

Centre-based services
Please complete attendance records in your SMS or ELI Web by the end of each working week (i.e. each Friday, or each Sunday if you work on weekends).

Home-based services
We have listened to your feedback and understand the operational and financial implications of gathering attendance records from each educator and entering the data into your systems by the end of each week. We would like you to instead complete attendance records in your SMS or ELI Web following your usual fortnightly processes.

Kindness for Kaiako | Teacher Wellbeing

This webinar is focused on wellbeing for principals and teachers and will explore different dimensions of wellbeing in the context of schools and learning services.

As well as discussing conceptual frameworks, participants will discuss mindfulness, physical health, self-efficacy and connectedness, models such as Te Whare Tapa Whā and how they might be used in practice to support improved Hauora and resilience for everyone. 

Hosted by Jack Boyle, President PPTA, with Sarah Maindonald, Teacher and Guidance Counsellor, Mairehau School and Myles Ferris, Tumuaki of Te Kura o Otangarei and Maori Principals Association president. You can join the live webinar any time from 3.45pm for a 4pm start on Friday 22 May through the link below. You can also participate by sending questions you’d like the panel to answer through the live chat.

MOE: Kindness for Kaiako | Teacher Wellbeing -

Online learning resources 

Thank you to CORE Education Ltd Christchurch for providing some new Te Whāriki resources focused on learning from home. These have recently been made available to the TKI website and we have listed them below for you.

Let's imagine - TKI website
Ka hīkoi koe ka kite i te aha? | What can you see on your walk? - TKI website
Tamariki learning tikanga - TKI website
Nannie and Pūkeko - TKI website

Catchy new song for children

A new fun and interactive song resource has been released by NZ musicians Itty Bitty Beats and Music with Michael to help teachers encourage young children to say "Hello (Ways to Say Hello)” in non-contact ways. You can see the YouTube video through the link below. 

Hello! (Ways to say hello) - Music with Michal & Itty Bitty Beats - YouTube

Preparing for the 2020 ECE Census

The Early Childhood Education (ECE) Return week this year is from 22 June to 29 June 2020. All early learning services need to submit their fully completed and accurate ECE Return to the Ministry by 15 July 2020, through their Student Management System (SMS) or ELI Web. 

The information submitted in the ECE Return is crucial for early learning service monitoring and policy development in New Zealand. You can find the published results of the 2019 ECE Census on Education Counts.

Annual ECE Census 2019: Fact Sheets - Education Counts

Before submitting your ECE Return:

  • Early learning services submitting an ECE Return via their SMS must ensure the latest version of software is being used – new functionality released for the 2020 ECE Return won’t be visible in previous versions. Please contact your SMS provider if you are unsure about which version you are using.
  • Ensure you have completed your ECE Return correctly. All children must be allocated a National Student Number (NSN) and all enrolment, attendance and staff details must be up to date. In particular, services need to ensure their staff qualification and certification information is up to date for each staff member.

There have been three new changes which have been added to the 2020 ECE Return. These are outlined below:

  • Staff age band 
    Collecting data on the approximate age of staff members will help us understand the age structure of the early learning workforce. This change applies to ECE teachers, homebased coordinators, homebased educators and specialist staff. Staff age will be as at Monday of ECE Return week.

  • Total hours worked 
    Capturing the total hours worked by staff members during the ECE Return week, will help us understand the early learning workforce at a more granular level, than full-time vs part-time.

  • Three new Playcentre qualification codes 
    The Playcentre Federation have created additional qualifications for Playcentre educators which are now selectable for the ECE Return. 

Services not connected to ELI
Casual and hospital-based services and playgroups need to complete and submit their ECE Returns digitally. A copy of the digital 2020 ECE Return excel form will be available for download from the Education Counts website. A link will also be emailed to the email address that we have on file at the Ministry by 12 June.

Education Counts website

For common questions and answers about the ECE Return, including the new updates, please see the ECE Return section of the Questions and Answers page on the ELI homepage.

Questions and Answers page
For any questions about this information please contact the Ministry at or phone 04 439 5390.