The new VECTEA is here….in the nick of time
The new employment arrangement for Victoria’s community kindergartens – the Victorian Early Childhood Teachers and Educators Agreement (VECTEA) 2020 – comes into effect this week.
It has a strong focus on supporting the workforce to provide quality early childhood education and care including provision for worker access to a Wellbeing Support Program.
The agreement comes at a pivotal time for the sector, when workforce shortages are hitting and levels of anxiety are heightened due to COVID-19.
Educator wellbeing is important –wellbeing relates to program quality as stressed educators find it more difficult to build relationships with children. A recent study of educator wellbeing shows over 80% of educators felt the pandemic had negatively impacted their wellbeing. Educators are supporting an increasing number of vulnerable children and families, and this takes its toll.
Educators are often ill-equipped to cope with families in turmoil, and many experience bullying from families. Access to a wellbeing service that can provide counselling and advice will help educators develop strategies to manage the stressors of their workplace. Given COVID is continuing to impact our communities – and Early Childhood Education and Care centres remain open as essential services – it is vital that additional support is provided.
“Access to a Wellbeing Support Program is also important as our job can be quite stressful at times. It is of great importance because when educators have a strong sense of wellbeing they are better equipped to support and scaffold the wellbeing of young children,” said Liz Bandy, Educational Leader, ECKA.
VECTEA 2020 is about more than maintaining the workforce. It is about acknowledging and building the profession – from building the capacity of provisional teachers, to developing mentors, providing shared planning days for all staff and funding professional learning leave.
Providing professional wages goes hand in glove with professional conditions. The wages under VECTEA 2020 see educators and teachers all earn above award, and additional classifications provide a career structure.
The updated Agreement also provides educators and teachers with time to plan and time to reflect, growing their own practice and supporting children’s outcomes.
“The VECTEA recognizes the value of teachers and educators and has created career pathways in the early childhood sector. As an early childhood teacher, the pay increase has been welcomed to give us pay parity with teachers in other sectors. The work of the Educational Leader and Nominated Supervisor is beginning to be given the recognition it deserves for the work involved in these roles, with the allocation of an extra hour each week, “ said Ms Bandy.
The importance of the Early Childhood Education and Care sector is widely acknowledged. It Is vital that we have a quality, well trained workforce to support children in their most formative years. The VECTEA 2020 paves the way that other sectors should aspire to.