South Australian universities have responded quickly to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Early Childhood and Education and Care.

Both UniSA and Flinders University have worked closely with government and industry to develop new industry-leading study pathways to create a strong foundation of educational excellence – ensuring better outcomes for young children during their first 1000 days of life.

UniSA’s new three-year Early Childhood Education degree – the Bachelor of Education Early Childhood (Birth to Five) – will focus on effective pedagogies for the developmental needs of birth-to-five-year-olds, encompassing diverse cultures and backgrounds to ensure inclusivity for all children across the state.

The course will run concurrently with UniSA’s four-year Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (Honours), which focuses on the education of children from birth to eight years.

“When you have to include the primary years, there is a lot of extra work to familiarize our students with the Australian Curriculum and the further developmental needs of five-to-eight-year-olds,” says Professor Anne-Marie Morgan, dean of programs, Education Futures, UniSA.

“A three-year degree that focuses on young learners can be targeted to their needs.

“We will be working with the diversity of children and their backgrounds, making sure there’s more time to work with community and government agencies that connect into early childhood provisions, so it’s shared across all the areas that affect young children other than just education.

“We’re bringing the latest research on brain development and neurodiversity, on adapting to post-traumatic situations – a range of information and research that impacts what we do in our programs. So it’s updated and expanded, with that real focus on young learners.”

Having received ACECQA course approval, UniSA now awaits a regulatory change being pursued by the government to enable the Teachers Registration Board of South Australia to register graduates of ACECQA-approved qualifications to teach in early childhood settings.

Some other states accept this qualification for teacher registration.

Professor Morgan is hopeful the Bachelor of Education Early Childhood (Birth to Five) will be added to UniSA’s degree list in the near future. Once established, the degree will offer maximum flexibility to attract students from all walks of life.

“We want school leavers to be entering but we also and do already accommodate those who are working in Early Childhood who may have a TAFE diploma, for example,” Professor Morgan, pictured above, says.

“We also like to recognize years of experience of working in childcare centers, because they pick up a lot of skills and knowledge through that experience.”

Meanwhile, Flinders University’s new suite of early childhood degrees and qualifications – set to launch in 2025 – will likewise set students on a course to make a difference in young lives.

Professor Deborah West, Flinders vice president and executive dean, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work, says the new qualifications will ensure students will be “ahead of the curve” with skills that support the early years learning.

“Whether students are seeking careers as early childhood teachers or upskilling from a diploma through shortened or accelerated degrees and qualifications that recognize prior learning, Flinders University will provide a range of study options that ensure students are ready to support the sector’s transformation and advance their own careers,” Professor West says.

“Which is why we’re excited to offer new degrees that focus on birth-to-five education and care in alignment with recommendations made by the Royal Commission.

“The three-year early childhood degrees and birth-to-five qualifications that Flinders will offer will be taught separately to our school-based teaching degrees, so that pre-service teachers can specialize in the essential aspects of young children’s play, learning and development.

“Flinders University also has a specialized Early Childhood teaching space and we look forward to welcoming students into this space when the new early childhood offerings are launched next year.”

UniSA is working with the State Government and industry to increase the teaching workforce and address current and future skills shortages.

“There’s an incredible shortage of teachers in early childhood, and if we expand preschool to all three-year-olds, there’s going to be an even greater need,” Professor Morgan says.

“We’re working with the government, the education department and childcare centers to get the best opportunities to increase this workforce while at the same time ensuring the integrity of our programs and the quality of the learning our students have.”

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