Meeting the demand for qualified teachers

Monday, 24 April, 2023

Meeting the demand for qualified teachers

Flinders University has opened a new centre for early childhood education to help meet the rising demand for teachers and carers in SA.

The opening of the Pintya Kuu (Creative Room) Early Childhood Space builds on the teacher training experience at the College of Education, Psychology and Social Work, aiming to give early childhood pre-service teachers a place to plan, design and implement engaging play and learning experiences for children from birth to age eight.

Senior lecturer in Early Childhood and Care Rachael Hedger said the Education Building facility weaves Indigenous perspectives as a creative and supportive space for Flinders Early Childhood pre-service teachers to grow and develop their ideas.

“Contemplating early childhood literature and philosophy, Pintya Kuu is a space where theory and practice combine in order to create rich learning opportunities for children and educators alike,” she said.

The new training area opens in the wake of the SA Government’s interim report from the Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care, which highlights the need for more educators in the space.

The report identifies possible models and estimated costs for delivering preschool to three-year-old children. The report suggests a mixed model (government and non-government), along with investment in new facilities and commissioned places for disadvantaged South Australian preschool children.

  • The proposed approach will cost $162.7 million per annum and an estimated $101.2 to $111.2 million for capital investment to build the equivalent of 32 new early childhood education and care services to deliver universal accessibility. It will also make use of around 4700 empty places in government preschools.
  • Approximately 1000 children in areas of high need would be able to access 30 hours a week of high-quality preschool in newly commissioned services, integrating a broad range of family and child supports.
  • All three-year-olds in South Australia would be entitled to 15 hours per week of pre-school under the proposed model.
  • The final report is set to be released in August 2023.

“It is good to see that the interim report acknowledges the impact that three-year-old preschool will have on the workforce, especially as we are already experiencing a severe workforce shortage,” said Hedger, whose research focuses on how children learn science concepts through arts-based practices.

“Flinders University is well positioned to support the development of initial teacher education in early childhood education, and we wholeheartedly support quality training programs for early childhood teachers. For many families, staying at home to raise their children is not the reality.

“Recognising the importance of early intervention and setting children on a path to success that leads to improved outcomes for their future, and the resulting workforce and economy, means that we start to place our attention on the child and what’s best for them in this moment,” she said.

“The additional pre-school hours will be a relief to many families struggling to balance work and care arrangements. In addition, our most vulnerable children can access care and learning to support their development in safe and supportive environments.”

Image caption: Nick Golfis, in his final year of studying a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education/Bachelor Special Education at Flinders University, with six-year-old Rory at Pintya Kuu.

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