Early childhood teachers in NSW to be accredited like their primary school counterparts: Minister

Phoebe Moloney
Published: January 12, 2016 – 5:38PM

Early childhood teachers will be required to have qualifications from government approved universities and complete ongoing professional development to maintain their accreditation.

NSW Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli​ announced on Tuesday that early childhood teachers will be subject to stricter standards to gain teaching accreditation.

In 2014 the NSW government introduced reforms making accreditation by the NSW Board of Studies mandatory for all primary and secondary teachers, the reforms will now be uniform across the sector.

“Early childhood educators have been pushing for this for many years,” Minister Piccoli​ said. “It is recognition that like primary school and high school teachers early childhood teachers are also professionals, who are university trained, with high standards to meet.”

Under federal law early childhood teachers must be present in childcare services for prescribed ratios of time. For most services catering to over 50 children, an early childhood teacher must be present for six hours of any given day of service.

Previously, an early childhood teacher was anyone who had attained the qualifications set out by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), usually requiring at least a diploma level degree in early childhood education.

The new measures implemented by the NSW government will make accreditation multifaceted, requiring qualifications from training organisations approved by ACECQA and the Board of Studies, and a review of accreditation every five years. The review will require teachers to complete 100 hours of ongoing professional training to keep their accreditation.

Minister Piccoli said the requirements will ensure a high standard of early education is maintained across the state.

“Currently, you could leave university and no one will check up on your skills or development until you retire, now you have to continue to have your skills assessed to be re-accredited,” he said.

“Those who do not have qualifications approved by the Board of Studies, for example if they trained overseas, will have to go through a process of having their qualifications recognised in NSW.”

The changes come in the wake of federal government concerns about the quality of early childhood training.

A report published last year by the Australian Skills Quality Authority found that most Registered Training Organisations (RTO) they surveyed offering the Certificate III in Child Care and the Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care were having difficulty in meeting assessment requirements based on the Australian Qualifications Framework.

The report found that often courses were too short to deliver required skills and that practical experience in early childhood centres was not being carried out to the required standard by many RTOs.

On Tuesday Federal Minister for Education Simon Birmingham also announced the development of two education initiatives targeting preschoolers.

The trial of an interactive app that teaches 4-5 year-olds a second language was expanded to continue through 2016 at 1000 childcare centres. He also announced the creation of a similar app to teach basic STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills to preschoolers.

“What we have seen in both languages and maths is a decline in outcomes by Year 12 and we are trying to arrest that decline by introducing these skills to kids early,” Senator Birmingham said.

“It’s central to innovation to give children the best capability in maths and science, and it’s central to Australia’s place in the world to give them the best foundation in language skills especially those languages in our region, like Indonesian and Chinese.”

Director of Top Ryde Early Learning, Nesha O’Neill, who has been implementing the trial of the Early Learning Languages App at her centre, said the iPad app had garnered a “remarkable” response from children.

“If they can translate this technology to a STEM app, it would be phenomenal for kids to get early foundation skills embedded, and set up neural pathways before school,” Ms O’Neill said.

Senator Birmingham said the apps will utilise existing technologies pre-schools have invested in. Funding has not yet been allocated to provide preschools with iPads.

“Having the technology and hardware behind it is what’s going to make it fly,” said Ms O’Neill.

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/early-childhood-teachers-in-nsw-to-be-accredited-like-their-primary-school-counterparts-minister-20160112-gm49r6.html

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