Unintended Consequences: the Montessori Story of the Early Childhood Education Qualification Requirement - 2000-2007
In 2002, the Ministry of Education in New Zealand released Pathways to the Future: Nga Huarahi Arataki. This 10year strategic plan for early childhood education was the culmination of years of advocacy, research and consultation within the early childhood sector. A key component of the plan is a staged requirement for teachers in early childhood centres to have a Diploma of Teaching ECE or equivalent qualification. The study analyses the impact on the Montessori early childhood sector of the requirement that teachers in a centre be qualified with a Diploma or equivalent. This thesis draws on the results of a qualitative study involving interviews with key policy informants and focus groups of teachers and the story that emerges describes the complexities, frustrations and positive outcomes for centres and their teachers. The story points to a need for support, intervention and creative strategies to ensure no part of the early childhood sector is left behind, and diversity within early childhood education in New Zealand is maintained. The final outcome of the study raises the dilemma faced by the Montessori community; how can the approach accommodate the current ideas of early childhood education brought to centres through the policy requirement and remain identifiably Montessori?