Wearing masks – time to reframe our thinking?

Is it time to reframe our thinking on wearing masks in early childhood? Many early childhood teachers have felt nervous about wearing masks in their centres as they wonder about the impact it will have on the children.

If we continue to focus on protecting children’s innocence by sheltering them from the pandemic, we silence difficult emotions and experiences, says Pedagogical Leader Karla Wintle in an article for Community Early Learning Australia (CELA). What’s more, we may be missing crucial learning opportunities.

When the Victorian Government made wearing masks mandatory – but optional with small children – researchers and teachers could tune in to how children thought and felt.

The way young children have reacted has been very open and honest, opening up conversations about their favourite superheroes and how we can stay safe. For young babies and toddlers, seeing people in masks may take time to get used to, as they are so reliant on facial gestures and signals for language development and to feel safe.

As relationships are at the core of early childhood teachers’ work, how does wearing masks change pedagogical practices to ensure every child feels safe and secure? It is reasonable to be concerned about children’s wellbeing, however, there is also the argument that if we shield children from sadness, grief, fear and disappointment, we could be denying them the opportunity to learn about resilience.

Visit CELA for more information: cela.org.au

NSW early childhood teachers – accreditation update

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, NESA has temporarily extended the time for Provisionally Accredited early childhood teachers to become Proficient (normally three years if employed full time or five years if employed part-time).

The IEU is aware that a number of members have been unable to have their Accreditation Supervisor observe their practice. There is also some inconsistency in the timing of allocating an Accreditation Supervisor to a Provisionally Accredited Teacher.

If you are experiencing delays to the finalisation of your Proficient Teacher Accreditation or have any questions about the process, we recommend you contact the union for assistance.

The IEU is aware that a considerable number of Proficient Teachers in early childhood, whose first maintenance period finishes in July 2021, have not completed the required 100 hours of professional development. According to NESA’s Maintenance of Teacher Accreditation Policy clause 6.1, a teacher will fail to maintain their accreditation if:

  • their practice does not meet the applicable Standards and/or
  • they fail to complete the professional development requirements by the end of the maintenance period.

  • If a teacher fails to meet the professional development requirements at the end of their maintenance period, NESA can revoke or suspend the teacher’s accreditation 14 days after the end of their maintenance period.

    In 2020, the IEUA NSW/ACT Branch is offering early childhood teacher members free access to more than 70 hours of NESA Registered professional development. We invite you to explore these options to maintain your accreditation. (See “Maintaining teacher accreditation”)

    Queensland Lutheran Kindergarten members secure some of the highest wages in the sector

    Teachers and assistants employed by Queensland Lutheran Early Childhood Services (QLECS) Sessional Kindergartens will be paid more than many of their sector counterparts under their new collective agreement.

    The new agreement, approved by the Fair Work Commission, contains several other wins for QLECS employees, including retention of an adjusted Senior Teacher allowance and the introduction of paid domestic and family violence leave.

    The collective action and strength shown by members was essential to achieving improved wages and conditions in QLECS centres.

    QLECS employees will benefit from wages that are above the going rate in the Queensland community kindergarten sector.

    The new agreement contains a 2 per cent wage increase for 2020 and 2021, with a 2.25 per cent increase in 2022.

    This means at 1 July 2020, the commencing salary for teachers under the new agreement would be $72,165 per annum, compared with $68,029 at C&K.

    At Band 3 Step 4, the QLECS rate would be $100,292 compared with $93,817 at C&K.

    New Closing the Gap National Agreement targets early childhood education

    A new National Agreement on Closing the Gap will focus on strengthening the early childhood education sector. It includes a Priority Reform to build First Nations community controlled services.

    More than 4000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and 50 community controlled peak bodies participated in engagements to help guide negotiations on what should be included in the new National Agreement.

    The Chair of the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), Muriel Bamblett, said the Closing the Gap New Agreement took positive steps towards improving outcomes for First Nations children and families.

    “The Priority Reforms in the Agreement focus on partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, building the capacity of our community controlled services and improving data to make sure we are capturing a true picture of the lives and wellbeing of our children,” Bamblett said.

    Although the importance of achieving 95 per cent enrolment of four year olds in preschool is to be commended, she said, it is essential to focus on improving outcomes for children aged zero to three years in order to close the gap.

    “As we work together on policies and programs that impact the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, we are reminded of how far we have come, and how the future of our children rests on us moving forward together,” Bamblett said.

    For more information: snaicc.org.au
    see also “Opening up about Closing the Gap”