Injune Early Learning finds innovative interim solution to rural ECT shortage
As with many services around Australia, particularly in rural and regional areas, the town of Injune has faced challenges in securing the early childhood teacher (ECT) required to allow the town’s only early childhood education and care (ECEC) service, Injune Early Learning, to continue operating.
While the service celebrates the appointment of new teacher Marnie Leahy, who grew up in a small community north of Jackson, called Noonga, it is the innovative approach to workforce shortages taken by the service while it awaited Ms Leahy which is attracting attention.
Two years ago, with families leaving the service, and with no ECTs to be found, Origin employee, Maxine Thomas stepped in with an innovative solution that allowed the service to remain operational.
The solution involved Ms Thomas, with more than 20 years of teaching experience, taking volunteer leave through the Origin Energy Foundation and using her skills to remotely develop a qualified and approved pre-prep program that could be implemented by the qualified childcare educators at Injune Early Learning.
Ms Thomas has agreed to support Ms Leahy in a mentoring capacity over the coming months, helping the service transition to a new way of working.
“There is nothing more important than giving these children the best early start in life, helping them develop a love for learning and preparing them for school and beyond,” Ms Leahy told local publication Queensland Country Life.
“When you consider what that means in a rural area, where there are concerns around inequality of educational opportunity, it makes teaching these young children all the more meaningful.”
Ms Thomas said she was excited by the possibilities heralded by Ms Leahy’s appointment.
“I have lived in this area all my life; I know these people in the community and having Marnie join is a real coup for the centre and for this community,” she said.
“Marnie is an excellent educator, and I am looking forward to my next visit and continuing to support Marnie in guiding these children in their learning journey.”
When asked about her time working with Injune, Ms Thomas was candid.
“This is just a really tangible way that we support rural communities, no glitz and glamour, we just delivered a formal education program to little Australians who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access (it).”
The Origin Energy Foundation, Origin’s philanthropic foundation, supports programs that use education to help break the cycle of disadvantage and empower young Australians to reach their potential.
The Origin Energy Foundation’s skilled volunteering program encourages employees to ‘go beyond’ traditional volunteering and donate their time and professional skills to help partners and the community with fully paid volunteer leave.
To learn more about The Origin Energy Foundation please see here. For the original coverage of this story, see here.