Swinburne Online offers Marisa abundant opportunity
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > In a time where ECTs are in high demand, Assistant Director Marisa is making her move

In a time where ECTs are in high demand, Assistant Director Marisa is making her move

by Freya Lucas

May 09, 2023

Marisa Cerri is one of the many satisfied students who will soon graduate from Swinburne Online’s innovative Graduate Diploma of Early Childhood Teaching, saying the flexible study format has been the key to unlocking her long held teaching dream. 


In the 16 years since she joined the sector Marisa has seen a lot of change. 


“I started in high school when I was doing a Certificate 3,” she explained, “then I came out of school and went straight into my early childhood journey. It’s been interesting, it’s done a bit of a full circle – before it was all about the natural environment, then plastic, now we’re back to the naturalness of the environment and supporting children more, getting down on their level and just being involved, being a part of their journey, more than just supervising.”


It’s the lessons she’s learnt along the way which have allowed her to crystalise what it is she really wants to do in the sector – be an early childhood teacher (ECT), and take her own kinder class at the family-owned early learning centre where she currently works as assistant director.


Flexible learning option tailored to a workforce under pressure


Prior to learning about Swinburne Online’s Graduate Diploma of Early Childhood Teaching, Marisa had contemplated doing her Bachelor of Education but was put off by the five (or likely six years) it would take to complete her degree while also working full time. 


Thankfully Swinburne Online’s model sees preservice teachers completing their qualification using an innovative accelerated model which puts them into a teaching role in just 12 months, something which Marisa said was “a very big drawcard”. 


When creating the course Swinburne Online considered feedback from the ECEC sector, with educators sharing that unpaid time away from work and heavy study loads were a barrier to becoming a qualified ECT. 


Instead of more traditional study approaches, the Swinburne Online  Graduate Diploma of Early Childhood Teaching model helps students to gain their qualification through a workplace based internship model, with alternative setting experience. 


The course has been created to cover essential topics in only four units, three of which are completed in the existing workplace, meaning students can ‘earn while they learn’ and preserve the important relationships they have with children and families. 


Each course builds on the knowledge educators have gained through their time in the sector, building their skills, capacity and understanding through carefully curated content.


Each unit in the qualification also comes with a classroom placement, which gives students”real world” opportunities to teach literacy, numeracy, creative arts and science while addressing the unique and specific needs of children in the first five years of life. 


Using her experience to support the growth of others


“In some ways I think more respect is needed for the profession,” Marisa said, reflecting on the “why” behind her choice to pursue further study. 


“Some people think we just go to work and play with children for the day. It’s so much more than that. Early educators play a crucial role in helping shape a child’s learning in those first five formative years.”


Now that she is almost a fully qualified teacher Marisa is on a mission to share her knowledge with others. 


“Being ECT qualified will provide me with extensive knowledge to complement the hands-on knowledge which comes from 16 years in the sector,” she explained. 


“It’s somewhere I know I want to stay.”


Advice for others who want to follow their dreams


“My advice to anyone – if you have a passion for children and being part of their growth and development then go for it,” Marisa said. 


“Do the extra study. It’s so rewarding to be part of a young person’s learning. The first five years are the most important years of a child’s life and to play a role in their lives during that time is a huge privilege.”


Completing further education not only supports individuals, she continued, but also the sector as a whole. 


“I truly believe the more people who complete this course, then the more qualified workers there will be to help close the skills gap,” Marisa explained.  


“It’s a game changer to complete a graduate diploma in 12 months while completing the majority of your practicum in your own workplace. And it’s hyper tailored to early childhood, so all the learning is incredibly relevant.”


In fact, the Swinburne Online course has been specifically designed to meet the needs of those who intend to work exclusively in the early childhood sector, something which Marisa believes will attract top tier early childhood candidates who are passionate about using their skills to grow and develop the early years sector.


“Because this qualification only qualifies you to teach in early childhood, I think the people who sign up will do so with the right motivations,” she continued. 


“The quicker we can get people on board to start this Graduate Diploma the quicker we’ll have a larger pool of qualified teachers working in the sector.”


Support with the cost of study


Marisa received additional support from the Fraser Foundation which gave her financial support to help meet the costs of study. 


The Foundation supports those who are passionate about a career in early childhood, and aims to provide financial assistance to aspiring educators seeking a rewarding career that shapes the minds of future generations. The grants and scholarships provide successful applicants with access to tertiary studies and research in the field of early childhood education.


Resources and next steps 


Learn more about Swinburne Online’s Graduate Diploma of Early Childhood Teaching here. For more information about scholarships and financial support through the Fraser Foundation see here

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