Early learning organisations have welcomed a greater commitment to supporting early educators following the announcement of free university courses to upskill, but are concerned not everyone will be eligible.
The initiative will offer early years teachers free university courses to improve their skills and practices.
Early Childhood Australia, Tasmania Branch president Jo Walsh said the child care sector has once again been forgotten.
“ECA is disappointed that the government has failed to include or extend the initiative to those early childhood educators who are required to have the same degree in child care settings,” she said.
“A fair and equitable initiative, using tax payers money, would have included all educators and teachers working with children under five years old regardless of the setting in which they work.”
Currently child care centers with more than 25 children must have at least one qualified teacher.
“In 2020 this requirement will be increased to two degree qualified teachers in some services,” Ms Walsh said.
Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff said the initiative is part of the government's commitment to meet the National Quality Framework, something Ms Walsh said the education and care sector has been meeting since 2012.
“ECA supports the government’s commitment to ensuring that the teachers who are teaching our kindergarten children are able ... to meet the requirements of the National Quality Framework, which specifies that teachers who work in Kindergartens and other Early childhood settings should have a teaching degree with an early childhood specialisation,” she said.
“This is something that was introduced in 2012, so it is positive the Tasmanian Government has now moved to make this a reality in their Schools.”
Early Childhood Educators of Tasmania president Annette Davey welcomes the initiative, but also hopes it has a broader application.
“One would hope that … this would be available not just to kindergarten teachers but also teachers on prep,” she said.
Mr Rockliff said, “Prep teachers will also be eligible for the initiative, however our initial priority is our kindergarten teachers, to ensure that they are all four year qualified early childhood specialists.
“This aligns with the requirements of the National Quality Standards, which all kindergartens will be formally assessed against from 2020.”
Ms Davey said more qualified teachers will result in greater learning outcomes for children.
“Research tells us that the most important component of a child’s learning in early childhood centres or classrooms is the qualification of the educator,” she said.
The initiative is part of preparation for plans to lower the school starting age voluntarily.