NewsThursday 04 Aug 2016

TAFE helps early childhood educators push for local rep

A group of early childhood educators from across the Mid North Coast met at the Port Macquarie TAFE Campus last Thursday, July 28, to try to establish a Regional Group of NSW Early Childhood Australia.

TAFE Early Childhood Head Teacher Gayle Beddoe says a Regional Group would help to bring professional development expertise into the local area that would benefit early childhood educators and directors.

“At TAFE, we want to ensure that our local early childhood educators have access to the highest quality education and then once they’re working in the profession, they need to be able to access professional development,” she says.

“The meeting on Thursday was a great opportunity for TAFE to collaborate with people working in the early childhood profession and hear about their needs and what we can do as the lead training organisation to meet those needs.

“We are pushing for the Regional Group to help educators to get the support they need but also so that our teachers can access more specialist expertise and then they will pass it on to our students and give our students an edge.

“With the help of a Regional Group, we could continue to bring early childhood experts in as guest speakers for our classes.”

The group of local educators were joined on Thursday by Carol Burgess, President of the NSW Early Childhood Australia (NSW ECA), who strongly supports the push for a Regional Group.

“We need to hear the local perspectives because often we sit in Sydney and say we can do this, or we can do that, but if we are to meet the needs of regional groups we have to be informed of their needs,” she explains.

Carol says professional development is coming up as a big priority for educators on the Mid North Coast.

“In regional areas the access to professional development can be quite challenging and ECA NSW can help with that.”

“If we are able to offer expert advice at a local level, then maybe two staff members can attend training activities instead of one, and they can take that back to other staff at their centre.

“Overall, we are all just trying to improve education for young children.”

Rebecca Minter, Children’s Services Director at Kempsey Children’s Services, has been leading the steering committee to establish the Regional Group.

“Our group identified that there were a few gaps in the support that early childhood educators could access in our region, which goes from Buladelah to Bellingen,” Rebecca says.

“Some of the areas we are looking at include how to advocate for the rights of children and supporting children with greater learning or emotional needs.

“Our local surveys have also indicated that we need to support new people in the profession and to prepare staff for higher positions, such as a centre director, which requires training in business and management, so that’s about succession planning.

“The networking side of things is really important too, because the industry can be isolating.

People don’t get to leave at lunch and see other people, so the meeting last week was great.

“But of course one of the hardest things is getting people together so that we can set our strategy.

“TAFE has been extremely supportive of the venture, providing videoconferencing support and a venue for our meeting, so it’s great to have them on side.”

Photo caption: Gayle Beddoe, Carol Burgess and Rebecca Minter discussed early childhood education needs at the meeting at TAFE last week.