On Friday 4 November, I attended the IEU’s Reality Roundtable, alongside Federal Early Childhood Education Minister Dr Anne Aly (Love doesn't pay the bills).
Chaired by journalist and Early Childhood Consultant Lisa Bryant, we heard from esteemed speakers including Dr Leanne Gibbs and Dr Marianne Fenech.
The roundtable was opened by IEU NSW/ ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam.
Audience members ranging from student teachers to experienced directors shared their stories. Key themes were:
- Attracting and retaining new teachers to early learning settings - many stories of student teachers skipping early learning settings and moving straight into schools.
- The quality of education institutions educating our future educators and teachers.
- The chronic shortage of early learning staff - many speakers spoke of vastly increased workloads which affect the quality of their programmes, with children suffering and staff burning out.
- Ambiguous and subjective interpretation by authorised officers during spot checks and the Assessment and Rating process. Cloudiness around regulatory requirements, for example, centre enrolment forms and policies.
Dr Aly was a present and gracious listener and speaker, acknowledging the dire plights of the early learning sector. She gave up a generous amount of time and showed genuine interest and concern in the important work that is the early learning sector.
She invited further feedback around action to address the concerns highlighted. We look forward in seeing these acted upon in the coming months.