Editorial: Sector in the spotlight

Just when we thought the nation’s rolling crises – drought, bushfires, floods – had come to an end, along came the coronavirus.

The global pandemic has taken a strong swipe at the early childhood education and care sector. Teachers found themselves in the front line as social distancing rules proved next to impossible in classrooms. Pick ups and drop offs became problematic.

Worried parents kept children home and fee revenue fell dramatically. Governments state and federal stepped in with support packages to keep the sector from collapse. But not all businesses were eligible, and some teachers were stood down or lost their jobs.

Debate raged about whether young children, likely to be asymptomatic if they did get the virus, were carrying it to others. Confusion reigned: children could attend preschools and centres so their parents could work, but they couldn’t visit grandparents. Where did this leave teachers?

With the sector suddenly declared an “essential service”, dedicated teachers, lacking personal protective equipment, fronted up – risking their health and safety.

The media went into overdrive, revealing opposing opinions teachers encounter all too frequently: they’re “unskilled” yet require a university degree; they’re crucial to the economy yet undeserving of fair pay. See our in-depth analysis of media representations (A headline tells a thousand words).

It’s enough to make us all anxious. Young children who endured traumatic fires and floods are now contending with an invisible foe in COVID-19. We explore how anxiety manifests in young children and how teachers might manage it (High anxiety), and we offer members a special NESA-registered professional development session with psychologist Helen Tsamoulos (Upfront).

One antidote to children’s anxiety is getting into the great outdoors. Not only does nature play lift mood, a new study by researchers at the University of South Australia finds it improves children’s motor skills, learning capacity and social and emotional development (Into the outdoors).

We are here to support you through this pandemic. If you are concerned about your employment conditions or circumstances, we encourage you to contact us.

Mark NorthamTerry Burke
IEUA NSW/ACT SecretaryIEUA-QNT Secretary