Overview

In this evaluation, ERO investigated the extent to which 15 Pacific early childhood services[1] reviewed in Term 4, 2012 and Term 1, 2013 effectively used Equity Funding to support Pacific children’s participation in quality early childhood education. The findings are presented in relation to:

  • awareness of receiving Equity Funding
  • increasing Pacific children’s participation in early childhood education
  • supporting Pacific children’s language, culture and identity.

ERO also investigated the availability of Pacific language resources to support children’s language, culture and identity.

This report complements ERO’s companion report Use of Equity Funding in Early Childhood Services, October 2013 that presents the findings on the use of Equity Funding to support children’s participation in quality early childhood education in 147 early childhood services.

Equity Funding

Equity Funding for early childhood services was introduced in March 2002. The objectives are to:

  • reduce educational disparities between different groups in New Zealand
  • reduce barriers to participation faced by under-represented groups in early childhood services
  • support services to raise levels of educational achievement for these children. 

Pasifika Education Plan

The Pasifika Education Plan 2013-2017[2] (PEP) is one of the Government’s key education strategies. It sets out the strategic direction for improving Pasifika education outcomes over five years. The PEP also contributes to achieving the Government’s education priorities as part of the Better Public Services (BPS) targets for education.

The Government has a target of increasing the percentage of Pacific children starting school who have participated in early childhood education from 86.2 percent in 2012 to 98 percent in 2016. To meet this target, the PEP has an action: “Change funding policies to incentivise better support for and participation by Pasifika children”. 

Summary of findings in this report

Overall, ERO found that 11 of the 15 Pacific early childhood services reviewed were effective in their use of Equity Funding and understood the intended purposes of the various components of funding. In the remaining services the effectiveness of the use of Equity Funding was limited because of their lack of awareness of receiving Equity Funding, the intended purpose of the funding and/or its reporting requirements.

Equity Funding Component A and B[3] (for children in low socio-economic communities and for children with special needs or from non-English speaking backgrounds)

Four of the 13 services that received Component A and B funding were highly effective in their use of this funding. They had several initiatives to ensure that Pacific children had access to, and participated in, early childhood education. This funding was mainly used to subsidise fees, provide meals or transport assistance for children enrolled in their services and engage with parents, families and communities. These services also supported ongoing professional learning and development for their teachers. In addition, they used self review to evaluate the effectiveness of their use of Equity Funding.

Seven services were effective in their use of the Component A and B funding to increase Pacific children’s participation in early childhood education. They had a strong focus on developing positive relationships with the children and their families to understand their interests and aspirations. These services received informal feedback from parents and families. However, they did not always use self review to evaluate their effectiveness of their use of Equity Funding.

In two services the effectiveness of their use of Component A and B funding was limited. This was mainly because staff were not aware that their service received Equity Funding, the intended purpose of the funding, and/or the reporting requirements.

Equity Funding Component C[4] (to deliver more than 50 percent of their programme in a language, including sign language, and culture other than English)

Four of the 13 services that received Component C funding were highly effective in their use of this funding to support Pacific children’s language, culture and identity. These services used the funding to create a strong sense of family and cultural identity, to purchase and develop Pacific learning resources, and to employ staff with Pacific language proficiency or cultural interest. They also encouraged regular interactions between teachers and children in the relevant Pacific language.

Seven services were effective in their use of Component C funding in that their teaching programme offered opportunities for the children to be immersed in the Pacific language of the service throughout the day. These services were focused on developing strong relationships with parents and the wider community to support their teaching programme and children’s language, culture and identity. However, they were not evaluating the effectiveness of their use of this component for its intended purpose.

In two services the effectiveness of their use of Component C funding was limited. Although they had purchased or made some Pacific language resources, they could not show the impact this had on supporting children’s language, culture and identity.

All services indicated the need for more Pacific language resources to support children’s language, culture and identity. Some services said that the availability of Pacific language resources was limited or they were difficult to access. In most services, teachers, parents and communities helped to make Pacific language resources to support children’s language, culture, identity, and foster their literacy and numeracy skills.

Challenges raised by the findings

Based on ERO’s findings, this report’s conclusion discusses some challenges about:

  • the extent to which Equity Funding can be used by Pacific early childhood education services to target Pacific children who are not currently participating in early childhood education
  • the extent to which Equity Funding can support the PEP target of increasing the number of Pacific early childhood services teaching in a Pacific language or culture for more than 50 percent of the time by 2016
  • the availability, quality and relevance of Pacific language resources to support Pacific services to implement the early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki.