ACECQA modifies 4th year final placements in light of ‘extraordinary circumstances’
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic within the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector has been significant. Much of the immediate focus has been on ensuring children are protected and cared for, families supported, and employees able to work.
Along the way, there has been significant disruption to the standard mode of operation, with services having to change and adapt to new policies, procedures and recommendations.
One such recommendation relates to limiting the number of visitors on site, which has meant a number of services unable to support student placements at this time, with higher education institutes and students also indicating that they are unable to facilitate and undertake scheduled placements.
These circumstances leave final year pre-service early childhood teachers (ECTs) in an especially vulnerable position, unable to graduate without completing a final professional experience placement.
In recognition of these extraordinary circumstances, and to minimise the impact on workforce supply, the ACECQA Board has agreed to modify the supervised professional experience requirements for final year students in the current calendar year as follows:
Supervised professional experience requirements (for final year students in 2020):
- Undergraduate ECT programs must include at least 30 days of supervised professional experience in early childhood settings, including a minimum of 10 days with children aged birth to under 3 years old (0–35 months).
- Postgraduate ECT programs must include at least 20 days of supervised professional experience in early childhood settings, including a minimum of 10 days with children aged birth to under 3 years old (0–35 months).
This decision is similar to modifications being implemented by a number of state and territory teacher regulatory authorities.
Although the professional experience guidelines have changed, pre-service ECTs must still fulfil all required course outcomes, including any state and territory teacher regulatory authority and skilled migration requirements relating to supervised professional experience days, ACECQA said.
Higher education institutions are also expected to facilitate placements for pre-service ECTs where and when possible and appropriate, ACECQA said.
In lieu of the traditional placement experience, ACECQA “expect higher education institutes to conduct other meaningful forms of technology and scenario based assessment, such as tele-presence, simulations and work-integrated placements.”
“Supervised professional experience remains a vital component of initial teacher education, allowing pre-service teachers to develop and demonstrate their skills in a real life education and care environment. In its deliberations, the ACECQA Board focused on achieving a balance between a practical and pragmatic response to a public health emergency without unduly compromising quality standards,” a statement from the regulator read.
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