Aotea Early Learning Centre in Claris recently opened its doors for the first time to a group of 12 young faces, and now needs two teaching assistants, relievers, a centre administrator and a cleaner.
For more than two years an early learning centre was the goal of the Aotea Education Trust, supported by Aotea/Great Barrier Local Board.
“One of the missions of the Aotea Education Trust is to be able to deliver community-owned learning,” says local board chair, Izzy Fordham.
“The opportunity this has created for locals to get teaching experience and start a career in education on the island is fantastic.”
The only teacher-led early childhood education centre on Aotea / Great Barrier Island is running on a one-year pilot designed to show an on-island early childhood centre is viable long-term.
Licensing would not have been possible without collaboration and partnerships with Aotea Island Playcentre and Kaitoke Primary, and although it took longer than anticipated to launch, the centre is now open for three to five-year-olds three days a week during school terms.
“We’ve had to jump through some hoops together like creating three different lease agreements to involve all parties. We also modified the bathroom to meet compliance for a teacher-led service, meaning we can accommodate more than 15 children on any given day,” says Aotea Early Learning Centre manager, Bonnie Henare.
“Working with Playcentre has been amazing, but parent-led centres have different regulations to teacher-led ones, so it has been a time-consuming process.”
She welcomes both parents and prospective employees to get in touch.
“We encourage parents to support the centre and bring their children along. We’re happy to work around timings that suit families; tamariki are welcome to join us for one, two, or all three days each week. There are different types of funding available to parents, depending on income, and those with children aged three and up can apply for 20 ECE-funded hours a week when they enrol.”
The social development and education ministries are supporting recruitment and professional development during the pilot, and anyone wanting to train would also be supported by three registered and experienced early childhood educators.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for anyone thinking about a career in teaching,” says Bonnie.
Aotea Early Learning Centre is based out of the Playcentre building on Kaitoke Lane in Claris, Tuesdays-Thursdays from 8.30am-4.30pm. Call 09 429 0600 during that time.
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