Ratios, group size, space per child
What's the proposal?
New Zealand has very poor standards for teacher:child ratios, and for space per child both indoors and outdoors. We have a particular problem however when it comes to improving ratios, as New Zealand has a serious teacher shortage, largely driven by these poor conditions. This conundrum needs a carefully considered, phased solution.
Ratios and group size are absolutely interconnected, and both have primarily to do with relationships. If ratios are reduced to the point where supervision is the main function, then quality of education and care will be very low.
Ratios alone cannot ensure that all children are in secure relationships with adults through the day. Large group sizes increase relationship complexity beyond a point that is manageable, and may see some children lost in the crowd.
We also need to increase space per child, both indoors and outdoors. New Zealand's indoor spare per child results in overcrowding, noise and stress, and compares very poorly against other nations. Our outdoor space per child is also inadequate, restricting physical development and seriously limiting or preventing green space.
On this page we've given a preview of the proposed tables, but for a full explanation and rationale see the discussion documents (short and full versions) and video below. It's really important though to realise that these changes require funding, so please don't look at them as proposals under current funding.
Proposed tables for ratios and group size – teacher-led, age-grouped, centre-based. (As from 3 years after legislation is passed).
Proposed tables for ratios and group size – teacher-led, mixed age, centre-based. (As from 3 years after legislation is passed).
Transitional ratios and group size – age-grouped, from passing of legislation.
Group size definition
‘Group size’ means the number of children in a spatially separated group, with specifically allocated teachers (counted in ratio), applied for 80% of the operational day.
‘Spatially separated’ means separated from other groups by being in separate rooms, where a ‘room’ is a space divided from other spaces by a barrier at least 1.5m high.
Group size does not apply outside.
Group size doesn’t mean room size or centre size.
Space per child indoors with timeframes after passing the legislation (with funding)
These changes bring New Zealand in line with Australian minimum standards, allowing for the difference in wording (NZ = free from fixtures and fittings, Australia = clear floor space)
After 6 months: 2.75 m2
After 18 months: 3.0 m2
After 3 years: 3.6 m2
Immediate: 3.0 m2
After 3 years: 3.6 m2
Space per child outdoors with timeframes after passing the legislation (with funding)
These changes bring New Zealand in line with Australian minimum standards.
After 6 months: 5.5 m2
After 18 months: 6 m2
After 3 years: 7.2 m2
Immediate: 10 m2