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More public funding needed to raise preschool teaching standards

16 Jan 2012

More government-funded places in higher education are a critical factor in raising preschool teaching standards, according to NMIT's Head of Early Years Program, Dr Karina Davis.

Responding to details published in recent media reports regarding a government-funded national study into the quality of early education entitled E4Kids, Dr Davis says the early childhood profession needs more support if it's to meet the requirements of new national quality standards which came into effect on 1 January.

“The field has undergone rapid change in a short space of time. Everyone in the industry knows they need to move forward. There have been additional resources allocated. But there isn't enough funding for access to professional development or teacher education,” she says.

The introduction of the government's National Quality Framework will have a major impact on teacher qualifications and class ratios. One of the changes taking effect from next year will give every child access to at least 15 hours a week of preschool education from a teacher with a four-year degree.

But Dr Davis says there is already a shortage of kindergarten teachers and the new changes will only exacerbate this. “Unless we respond to the situation now, the industry won't be ready for the new reforms.”

Dr Davis heads up NMIT's (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) new Bachelor of Education (Early Years) program. Based at NMIT's Preston campus, the degree program is designed to give students the specialist skills they need to adapt to the policy changes. The course is also set up to support qualification upgrades for early childhood educators.

NMIT teaching graduates will be better equipped to deal with contemporary classrooms with diverse cultural identities and language competencies. The course also trains students to recognise and cultivate opportunities for intentional teaching.

“We need courses that develop a teacher's ability to recognise opportunities for learning - those moments when they can start a discussion around things like nature, interactions and friendship. Because this course is newly developed it's more responsive to current industry needs and incorporates the latest research in our field,” said Dr Davis.

Samantha Nicolaou is one of 40 students who recently completed the first year of the program. She described it as an inspiring experience, thanks to the work placements and stimulating classroom environment. “We spend three days a week in class and two days on a placement. We get to spend a lot of time with kids in the environment that we will eventually work in. I love it,” she says.

The placements at childcare centres, kindergartens and primary schools are a major component of the course and continue for the four years of the program. One of the benefits is that students get a better understanding of intentional teaching in a practical setting.

Dr Davis says the NMIT course offers a way of teaching and connecting with students that's rare in other Higher Education institutions. “The level of learning, commitment and engagement we see in our students is influenced so positively as a result. They are thinking, reflecting and engaging in their roles in impressive ways,” she says.

For more information about the Bachelor of Education (Early Years) contact Dr Karina Davis on (03) 9269 1390.

Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or

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Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on six campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north plus a regional campus at Ararat, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.

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