Hidden side of Early Childhood Educators Day – peak bodies combine to share a message
While many educators across the country enjoyed a day of recognition and acknowledgement yesterday for Early Childhood Educators’ Day, more needs to be done to secure the long-term future of the early years workforce, early childhood education and care (ECEC) peak bodies have said.
Early Childhood Australia (ECA), Goodstart Early Learning, the United Workers Union, and Thrive by Five collaborated to share a message that Early Childhood Educators Day is more than just morning teas and artwork displays, it is an an opportunity for parents, political leaders and the whole community to join together and thank educators for the essential work they do educating and caring for Australia’s youngest children.
“As well as thanking educators, we are calling on the Federal Government to prioritise the early years workforce for COVID-19 vaccination, develop a plan for better pay and conditions and address long-standing early childhood education workforce shortages,” the group said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a range of pre-existing early years workforce challenges to the point of crisis,” Thrive by Five CEO Jay Weatherill said.
“Early childhood educators are essential workers. Without them, children do not enjoy the benefits of a high quality early childhood education and parents are not able to work as effectively which slows the economy significantly.”
Early Childhood Australia CEO Sam Page agreed, noting that the ECEC sector has been a backbone for children, families and communities during COVID-19.
“The sector deserves a more substantial investment to keep educators engaged and employed,” she said.
“There is still a lot of work to be done to further improve conditions for early childhood education and care, including developing a plan for better pay and addressing why educators are leaving the sector.”
Goodstart Early Learning’s Pedagogy and Practice General Manager Sue Robb OAM said the important and valuable contribution made by educators to children’s development and education deserved to be recognised by all Australians.
“As an educator and teacher, I have worked in school and early childhood settings,” she said, “and I know that it is qualified educators in the early years who make the biggest difference to children’s development. High-quality early learning sets children up for a lifetime of learning by giving children the skills and the passion to learn.”
Despite this, she continued, teachers and educators in the early years are valued less, heard less and paid less than their professional colleagues in schools. That needs to change.
Helen Gibbons, Executive Director – Early Education, United Workers Union said that turnover in the sector is unsustainable.
“There is no early childhood sector without educators, and they simply can’t afford to hold the sector together anymore,” she said.
“Throughout the pandemic, educators have worked tirelessly to support children, families and communities. Early Childhood Educators Day is not a day for empty words of appreciation but of action.”
“The Federal Government must step up and finally recognise educators for the vital role they play in our society, and address the real issue that drives educators out of the sector: low pay.”