Vic ECEC educators leaving in droves, study shows, citing low wages, heavy workload
A study on the workload of early childhood education and care (ECEC) educators has revealed some “alarming trends” including long weeks, career uncertainty and high stress levels, potentially leaving the Victorian Government’s three-year-old kinder rollout in jeopardy.
The study has been produced following a survey conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and shows that early childhood teachers (ECTs) are working, on average, eight unpaid hours every week which is contributing to 66 per cent of teachers considering leaving the sector.
Australian Education Union (AEU) Victoria branch president, Meredith Pearce, said the numbers were “worrying but not surprising” and reflected consistent feedback to the Union from educators saying their workload has a negative impact on their ability to consistently provide high quality teaching.
“Seeing these numbers on a page is sobering, but this is not a new trend. Early childhood educators are working too many hours, and this is affecting the quality of teaching and learning Victoria’s children are receiving,” Ms Peace said.
With estimates showing that the Victorian Government will need to recruit an additional 4,000 early childhood teachers and 2,000 educators to support its statewide three-year-old kinder rollout, the report is being used by the Union to advocate for change within the sector.
“Heavy workloads, high stress levels, poor work life balance and low pay all make a career in early childhood unattractive,” Ms Pearce said.
“If the government is going to recruit more staff, it needs to respect and value the work of early childhood educators and provide the resources and conditions needed to support the workforce.”
AEU is currently in negotiations relating to the ECEC sector’s enterprise agreements and has warned that conditions will need to improve if the sector is going to attract the workforce needed to successfully rollout three-year-old kinder for all Victorian children.
The point of comparison, between the work undertaken by ECTs and those who work in schools is a long standing “pain point” for many in the sector, with teachers working in schools receiving better pay and conditions.
Fairer bargaining agreements, the Union argues, will not only support the Victorian Government’s key policy on three-year-old kindergarten, but will also create more jobs, particularly for women, as the state begins to rebuild from the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have obviously seen major job losses over the last six months, and we know that women have been disproportionately affected. As a predominantly female profession, and one that has been deemed essential during the pandemic, ECEC presents a fantastic opportunity to help get women back into the workforce,” Ms Pearce noted.
Other key findings from the study include:
- 71 per cent of teachers do planning and preparation work on weekends.
- Just 13 per cent of teachers think their workload is manageable.
- 43 per cent say their workload has a negative impact on the quality of their teaching.
- 77 per cent of teachers were stressed in the last month.
For more information about the Australian Education Union, please see here.
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