Ever wondered about working in Sessional Kindergarten?
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Ever wondered about working in Sessional Kindergarten?

by Freya Lucas

November 07, 2023

Sessional Kindergarten services, sometimes known as standalone preschools, or preschools, are typically run quite differently from long day care (LDC) services. 


Many educators are curious about what working in a sessional kindergarten entails, particularly those educators in Victoria, where many sessional kindergarten services pay their educators using the Victorian Early Childhood Teachers and Educators Agreement (VECTEA) 2020.


In the piece below, we explore some of the aspects of working in a sessional context. Readers should be aware that this information was correct at the time of print, however awards, terms and conditions do vary over time. 


Before making any employment decisions, readers are advised to conduct their own research, and consult broadly to ensure the decision is the right one for them. 


How do sessional kindergartens work? 


Many sessional kindergarten programs will group children together in weekly sessions of 15 hours, which can be held over two or three days (so two 7.5 hour sessions, or three 5 hour sessions). 


Programs can either be multi-age (three, four, and five year old children together), or single age (a three year old group, and a four/five year old group.) 


As states start to roll out funded kindergarten for three year old children, navigating the entitled hours with group session composition is shifting. 


Typically these programs run in line with the school terms, meaning educators are not required to work during school holiday periods. 


What hours do educators work? 


Typically educators will have paid rostered hours that are divided into session time (hours when they are working with children directly and actively engaging them) and planning time (hours when the children are not present at the service, for child free setup/packdown, planning and observation writing time). 


In a four year old program, where children are entitled to 15 hours of funded learning in the year before school, an educator’s time might be divided like this: 


Example 1: three day program


4 year old sessions are offered on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 08:30 AM to 1:30 PM (15 hours of learning per week). 


An educator and early childhood teacher (ECT) work together in this group, and an educator is rostered to work 18.75 hours each week – Mon, Wed, Fri from 8.15 am to 2.30 pm. 


The educator does their planning time with the ECT after each session, and has their lunch during their planning time. 


Example 2: two day program


4 year old sessions are offered on Tuesday and Thursday from 8:15 AM – 3:45 PM (15 hours of learning per week). 


In this scenario, the educator would have a 30-minute unpaid break, free of all duties, each day, and will have 14 hours of session time each week. 


They will be rostered to work 17.5 hours per week – Tue and Thu from 8.00 am to 4.15 pm, plus two hours on Mondays to do their planning time with the ECT.


Educators can work across groups to make up full time hours (if desired), or can work in more than one service. 

There are also options to cover the breaks of others, to pick up relief work, or to undertake additional roles in the service. 


What do educators do in a sessional kindergarten?


Working alongside the ECT, educators (either Certificate III or Diploma qualified) provide and facilitate play based learning, safety supervision, cleaning, planning, programming, liaison with families, the write up of observations and so much more. 


How does leave work? Can you still take leave outside school holidays? 


Each individual service varies in its policies, program and practice, however in general terms, educators who are working in sessional kindergartens have 10 weeks of leave each year, based on school terms. 


Typically, annual leave cannot be taken during school terms, and educators work under an ‘extended leave arrangement’ which means that leave is ‘purchased’ by working for a lower hourly rate throughout the year in order to be paid every fortnight across the year – including during school holidays. 


If an educator works the whole year, starting in Term 1, they will be paid 52 weeks for the year. If they start in Term 2 or later, their paid leave will be proportionate to the amount of terms they have worked (example – if an educator starts in Term 4 and works one term for the year, they will have accrued 1 week of annual leave). 

Learn more about the differences between sessional kindergarten and long day care here.

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