Whanganui East School will house a new type of kindergarten taking babies from birth. Photo/ Bevan Conley

A new kindergarten opening in March promises new jobs, extended hours and will take children from birth.

When the Te Puna Ako Ki Totara Puku – Whanganui East Community Early Learning Centre — opens its door in March it will be the first kindergarten in the city offering places from newborns to children up to the age of five.

Trish Taylor-Pope, general manager of the Whanganui Kindergarten Association said Waiouru had been operating similar services for a while but Whanganui East was a brand new facility which signaled other “firsts” for the association.

The early learning centre is on the same grounds as Whanganui East School and was a trend central government was keen to see develop. And it was also a unit opening to cater more specifically for the needs of families in the suburb.

A sea change for early childhood education in Whanganui, as well as enrolling children from birth, the new centre will operate all year round, opening from 7.30am-5.30pm Monday to Friday.

Historically, kindergartens operated during the school year, adopting the same terms as primary schools, and teaching children from aged two and-a-half until they were ready for primary school at age five.

Catering for the extended age group has, until now, been the domain of privately-owned day care centres.

With longer operating hours and extended roles, the association needs seven qualified staff to work in the unit, and six of them will be full-time appointments. The seventh position is for a 12 month contract period.

Ms Taylor-Pope said they would not have any problem filling the positions as there was a significant number of qualified teachers in Whanganui.

The Whanganui East centre will have a roll of 45 with space for 15 children under two years old.

She said the new centre was set to open on Monday, March 19 with a community open day held before then to give the public, and especially parents, a chance to see what the centre is offering.

The association already has a kindergarten in the suburb, in Nile Street, offering six hours a day free education but run on normal kindergarten lines.

“The Wanganui East centre is a totally new venture aimed at a different market altogether. We were aware of a need for this sort of service in the suburb with a lot of working parents living in the area.”

And she said the new learning centre did not signal a change across all the association’s kindergartens but again was a direction government was keen to see associations around the country take.

“This is about need for a particular area and it will be part of what will be a community hub in the suburb,” she said.

“This is exciting times for the kindergarten. It means the new staff can walk in there and create their own structure and environment.”

Source: Wanganui Chronicle

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