Thursday, October 3, 2013

What Next?

You know I was planning on writing a post about the fear in the Early Childhood sector here in Australia over what the new Conservative Federal Government might have in mind for the future of ongoing changes to the sector.

What I find however, is our very own regulatory body, Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) has plans to recognise primary trained teachers as Early Childhood Teachers. To be fair, these teachers need to meet all three of the criteria set out by ACECQA. Here is the relevant section from their site:

In September 2013, ACECQA determined that a person who holds ALL of the following will be recognised as equivalent to an early childhood teacher:
  • a primary teaching qualification that includes at least a focus on children aged 5 to 8 years old (e.g. a qualification with a focus on children aged 3 to 8 or 5 to 12) AND
  • teacher registration in Australia (or accreditation in New South Wales) AND
  • an approved education and care diploma or higher qualification (e.g. approved graduate diploma) published on ACECQA's qualification lists.
Now it can be quite beneficial to recognise the abilities, skills and knowledge of others, and welcome them into our profession. The problem I have is that this appears to be an attempt to address the apparent shortage of ECTs available, particularly for casual work.

Not only does this seem short sighted in my opinion, it also doesn't look at the problem it will cause when any teachers willing to make the switch from primary schools to Early Childhood Sector will be removed from a system that itself regularly complains about a shortage of teachers.

It is a sad fact that in both sectors there is an unfortunately high attrition rate amongst their educators. However, a measure such as the one prescribed by ACECQA does little to remedy those attrition rates or encourage people to consider the Early Years workforce as a viable career option.

Also, I am sure there are many high quality primary trained teachers who are willing to make the switch to Early Childhood. Yet I fear that most will not be prepared to take the pay cut that will be required to make the transition from Primary to Early Years.

That also begs the question who will want to make that change? Like I said, there will be those who simply want to make the change and will add to our profession. Nevertheless, I worry that many will be those who are unable to hold down a teaching job within schools for whatever reason. It is these additions to our stocks that I fear will be of detriment to the quality of care and education provided, and the Early Childhood profession at large.

Why not assist those already in the sector with Diploma and Cert III qualifications to upgrade? Many of these people have invaluable experience, knowledge and skills that cannot be picked up in a heartbeat. We also need to keep the great teachers we already have and encourage the best people to become Early Childhood professionals.

I hope I'm wrong and I am in no way bagging the teachers currently engaged in the primary school system. It is striking however, that the vast majority of individuals who gain Early Childhood Teaching degrees decide to go into the school systems rather than prior to school settings.


Finally, all this conjecture may be for naught if the Federal Government stop the ongoing changes to our sector as is predicted by many.

I suppose the bottom line is that any decisions that look at reducing the cost for families as a higher priority than the quality of the professionals and the quality of their practices will be to the detriment of all stakeholders.