The federal government announcement yesterday of increased funding for childcare centre staff is a good first step, but the sector requires further and greater investment to attract and retain qualified professionals, according to Charles Sturt University (CSU) academics.
Ms Carol Burgess, course director (Early Childhood) at the CSU School of Teacher Education
in Bathurst, and NSW State President of Early Childhood Australia (ECA), said the federal government’s commitment to national quality reforms
is a welcome response to the sector’s concerns about workforce issues.
“The wage increases announced yesterday are a move towards addressing the current inadequate wage rates in the sector, however more work will need to be done to address wages and conditions for all within in the sector,” Ms Burgess said.
“From a substantial body of research, we know that a strong relationship exists between the education, experience, and compensation of early childhood educators and the quality of teaching and care in early learning programs.
“Families, the government and the early childhood sector more broadly want quality early education for our children. Without sufficient wage increases for all educators it is difficult for the sector to attract and retain qualified staff.
“The government initiative to fund wage increases for early childhood educators will help attract and keep qualified educators in the sector. The benefits to children of good quality education and care in their early years are immediate and lifelong.
“The government announcement will assist some services to be able to deliver the early learning experiences that children deserve and is a good first step, but the sector requires further and greater investment if we wish to attract and retain qualified professionals.”
The Head of the CSU School of Teacher Education, Professor Tara Brabazon, said, “It is important to remember that early childhood education, in Australia and internationally, is going through a revolution in accreditation, credentialing, methods of learning and teaching, and expertise.
“One way to recognize the scale of this transformation is to affirm the expertise and efforts of early childhood staff.
“It is crucial, therefore, that early childhood educators be treated as innovators in learning and teaching. There is no doubt that teaching, caring for and respecting the learning journey of young Australians is pivotal to the nation’s future development. Therefore we need to acknowledge, through our actions, the professionalism and respect so deserved by our early childhood educators.
“Australia has an opportunity to be world-leading in early childhood education. There is no doubt that this country is developing some of the most remarkable research and teaching in this area. I am lucky, as I see the development of these theories and strategies every single day at Charles Sturt University.”
CSU has enhanced the delivery of courses to help childcare centre staff upgrade their early childhood education qualifications, and has made a number of changes to how the Bachelor of Education (Birth to Five Years)
course is delivered. Traditionally, this course is offered fully by distance education, but from 2013 face-to-face support is now embedded into the program to increase the level of engagement and personal connection that regional and remote students have with the study experience.