ELACCA welcomes first cohort in bespoke degree at UOW
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > Diploma qualified educators take the next step with bespoke UOW degree

Diploma qualified educators take the next step with bespoke UOW degree

by Freya Lucas

July 17, 2023

The Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) has proudly welcomed the first cohort of Diploma qualified early learning professionals to a bespoke new degree that it co-designed with the University of Wollongong (UOW). 


The Bachelor of Education (The Early Years) is an accelerated degree which will see students complete 12 weeks of a professional experience program across two years, with flexibility around the timing of placements.


Made possible thanks to support from the New South Wales Department of Education, the degree will boost the number of early childhood teachers by removing barriers to study for those who are already working in the sector. 


This is significant at a time when workforce shortages continue to place pressure on all parts of the early learning sector, with thousands of qualified early learning educators and teachers needed to meet existing vacancies.


More than 270 educators are in the initial cohort. ELACCA organisations represented in the cohort there are: 


  • 88 educators enrolled, with representation across seven states and territories
  • a quarter of ELACCA’s enrolled educators are based in regional or remote areas
  • 50 early childhood teachers in the mentor program, sharing their knowledge and experience, while building their own leadership capacity.


UOW Academic Director of the Early Years Associate Professor Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett said the subjects will be offered online and can be studied at times that suit educators best to support continuity for the services in which they work.


“We’ve designed our assessments to continually support the elevation of quality practice across the organisations in which educators are currently working,” she explained. 


“We’re exposing them to practices that will make a difference for the children and the families and the communities in which they’re embedded.”


Genuine partnership was an integral part of the design of the qualification, ELACCA CEO Elizabeth Death added, saying “there is no other program that has been designed like this in Australia.”


“This is a genuine partnership and a program that is ground-breaking for the sector, that considers the realities of working day-to-day in early learning and care and how the organisations and the university will genuinely support and empower these scholars to achieve and to build their careers”.


“This is a unique opportunity to connect government, universities, and providers,” she continued. 


“It is our intention to use this process as a broader commitment to building early childhood workforce capacity and ensuring quality in our sector. We see the opportunity to participate in this pilot program as the beginning of a longer and substantial partnership.”


ELACCA expressed its thanks to the NSW Minister for Education and Early Learning, Deputy Premier Prue Car, and the NSW Department of Education, for their ongoing support and investment in this highly valuable new degree.

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