Shifting the conversation towards quality preservice education
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > Shifting the conversation towards quality preservice education

Shifting the conversation towards quality preservice education

by Freya Lucas

August 08, 2019

Qualifications matter in early childhood education. They are one of the most important factors influencing outcomes for children.  It’s not a surprise then that in many early childhood services, educators can be heard sharing stories on the quality of the training that students and new graduates have received from Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).  


In recent times these stories have begun to raise concerns about the quality of this training.  Social media pages also play their part in gathering the mostly disgruntled commentary on what students know or don’t know about early childhood theories and practices. 


Anecdotally many services and experienced educators contest that beginning educators are not “up to standard” – that those new to the profession now require further support and education when commencing employment and employers have lost faith in the quality of some RTOs.


This concern, which primarily centres on a perceived decline in training standards, mirrors a growing interest by government authorities, and the broader sector including Early Childhood Australia and ACECQA, on increasing the quality of preservice education to equip beginning educators with the capacity to deliver positive outcomes for children’s learning.  

But can we spare a thought for our colleagues, the VET trainers and assessors out there, who are (mostly) doing their best in sometimes trying circumstances to teach students how to be effective early childhood educators?  

Catharine Hydon and Kerrie O’Neill have been doing precisely that. After too many conversations about assigning blame or reminiscing about how things used to be or, at their most troubling, refusing to take on students from certain RTO’s or altogether, Catharine and Kerrie decided to adopt a proactive approach.  Together they have created a unique professional learning opportunity for Early Childhood VET trainers, aimed at shifting the conversation towards quality preservice education and a respected standing in the sector. 


“By encouraging trainers to attend this conference, we hope to engage in critical reflection on the quality of training with those who deliver it directly,” said Kerrie O’Neill, Director at Early Childhood Hub.  “By bringing trainers and assessors together to explore and consider the issues that impact on quality training delivery for students, we reorient the conversation towards a more positive future where students are supported to be the very best educators they can be”.


Presented jointly by Early Childhood Hub and Hydon Consulting, this conference presents a unique opportunity, designed especially for trainers and assessors working in the Early Childhood Vocational Education Training (VET) space, to join with colleagues to consider contemporary early childhood practice and its relevance to the Early Childhood Training Package.


“We know the VET sector is competitive, and students have many options.  High-quality trainers with contemporary knowledge and recent professional learning will contribute towards a sector that provides quality experiences and improved learning outcomes for children’ said Catharine Hydon, Director at Hydon Consulting.  


“We also know that employers have begun to identify poor quality trainers and training and ‘black ban’ some RTO’s due to poor experiences with trainees and their trainers and assessors.  Investing in a trainer’s professional learning helps to re-build the confidence of the Early Childhood Sector and the reputation of the VET sector. 


Catharine and Kerrie are experienced trainers and consultants who are looking forward to offering a directed learning opportunity for Trainers and Assessors at the ‘Training our Future’ conference! They are bringing the event to three cities in 2019 intending to expand the reach in 2020.  


For more information about the Training our Future conference series, or to register, please click on the relevant city below: 


Melbourne – September 6, 2019


Brisbane – October 16, 2019


Sydney – October 17, 2019


About the ‘Training our Future’ presenters. 



Catharine Hydon


Catharine Hydon is the Director and Principal Consultant at Hydon Consulting. Over the last 10 years she has range of organisations and governments to understand and articulate quality and inspire change. With a Masters in early childhood education, Catharine has extensive experience in the early childhood sector beginning as a teacher to lead roles in a range of services and projects for children and their families.  


Catharine draws on her experience and ongoing practice research to consider how theory connects and informs practice.  Specialising in early childhood practice and pedagogy, quality improvement, policy and governance, the delivery of integrated services to engage vulnerable children and their families.  


Catharine’s involvement in the early childhood sector is an important part of her commitment to the outcomes for children.  She is a long-time member of Early Childhood Australia (ECA) currently serving as the Co-chair of the Reconciliation Advisory Group and is a regular contributor in ECA publications.


Catharine has been a member of the ECA Code of Ethics working group for the last two reviews and is a co-author on the recently published Ethics in Action Implementation guide. Catharine is also a member of the Respectful Relationship Expert Advisory Group for the Victorian Department of Education and the EY-10 Curriculum and Assessment Committee for the VCAA and has recently been appointed as a second-tier reviewer for ACECQA.     


Catharine is a dynamic speaker and collaborative facilitator and is skilled at engaging professionals in reflective dialogue and creative conversations.   


Qualifications: Dip Teaching (Early Childhood); MEd (Early Childhood Education) 


Kerrie O’Neill


Kerrie’s experience with the early childhood sector spans over 30 years. She has worked as a kindergarten teacher, a Director of an early learning centre, a Trainer and Assessor delivering the Certificate III and the Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care and as a tertiary level lecturer at Melbourne Polytechnic (formerly NMIT). Kerrie has worked for the Department of Education and Training in Victoria as both an Authorised Officer and as a Senior Policy Officer.


She is the Director and Principal Consultant of Early Childhood Hub. She works as an Early Childhood Consultant for a range of different organisations, coaching, mentoring and training.


Kerrie was a founding member of the Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange in 2000 and is a current committee member. Kerrie’s work in the early childhood sector has been profoundly influenced by the educational project of Reggio Emilia, Italy, since her first study tour to the city in 1996.


Kerrie has written training package for the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care and a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care.  She has also written a series of 18 textbooks to accompany these qualifications.


Kerrie is a passionate presenter whose vision is to deliver engaging, interesting and accurate information to early childhood educators.  


Qualifications: Dip Teaching (Early Childhood); BEd (Early Childhood) and MEd (Early Childhood).

Download The Sector's new App!

ECEC news, jobs, events and more anytime, anywhere.

Download App on Apple App Store Button Download App on Google Play Store Button