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Requirements for Early Childhood Teachers Within A Centre Based Service

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Under the National Quality Framework, it is a requirement to have Early Childhood Teachers (ECT’s) within a centre-based service for preschool children and under. 

The following article provides information on the access of ECT’s required for a service based on approved places, actively working towards an ECT qualification, ECT’s working directly with children and more.

Recognition of Qualification

Early Childhood Teachers working within a service must have an approved ECT teaching qualification to be considered an ECT.  In the National Regulations, it does not do not specify whether an early childhood teacher needs to be three-year or four-year trained.

The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) is responsible for approving early childhood teaching qualification. A list of approved qualifications is available on the ACECQA website.

Taken To Be An Early Childhood Teacher

In July 2019, the Education Council agreed to extend regulation 242 "Persons Taken To Be An ECT" of the National Regulations.  Under Regulation 242, you are ‘taken to be an early childhood teacher’ until 31 December 2021 if you:

  • are actively working towards an approved early childhood teaching qualification; and
  • provides the approved provider with documentary evidence that—
    (i) the person has completed at least 50 per cent of the course; or
    (ii) holds an approved diploma level education and care qualification

This extension has been included in NSW, QLD, SA, ACT and TAS. This means an Educator who is actively working towards an approved early childhood teaching qualification and provides the approved provider with evidence that they have completed 50% of the course or holds an approved Diploma qualification can be taken as an ECT until 31 December 2021.

Please note:

None of these provisions applies in Victoria and Regulation 242 does not apply in NSW if you are working in a centre-based service educating and caring for 30 or more children preschool age or under.

In reference to the Education and Care Services National Regulations it states the following:

242 Persons Taken To Be Early Childhood Teachers

(1) This regulation applies on and after 1 January 2014 and before 1 January 2020 (now extended in some States and Territories in Australia until 31 December 2021) to a participating jurisdiction other than Victoria.

(2) A relevant regulation applies to an education and care service as if a reference in regulations 130 to 134 to an early childhood teacher included a reference to a person who—

(a) is actively working towards an approved early childhood teaching qualification; and
(b) provides the approved provider with documentary evidence that—
(i) the person has completed at least 50 per cent of the course; or
(ii) holds an approved diploma level education and care qualification.

Access To Early Childhood Teachers within a Service

According to the National Regulations:

Fewer than 25 approved places

If the approved number of places for children preschool age or under at a centre-based service is fewer than 25, the service must have access to an early childhood teacher working with the service for at least 20 per cent of the time that the service provides education and care.

  • The ECT may be working with the service by means of information communication technology
  • The period that an early childhood teacher works with a centre-based service may be calculated on a quarterly basis. - to implement this requirement within your service you should calculate the total amount of hours that your service educates and cares for children across a three month period. Twenty per cent of the total from this calculation is the amount of hours you are required to have access to an early childhood teacher (ECT).  For example, in a five-week period, an ECT could work with the service for one day per week for five weeks, or for one whole week of the five. In both of these cases, the ECT would be working with the service for 20 per cent of the time. 

25 to 59 children

If a centre-based service provides education and care to 25 or more but less than 60 children preschool age or under on a given day, an early childhood teacher must be in attendance at the service:

  • for at least 6 hours on that day, if the service operates for 50 or more hours a week; or
  • for 60 per cent of the operating hours of the service on that day, if the service operates for less than 50 hours a week.

A centre-based service is not required to comply with the above points if:

  • the approved number of places for children preschool age or under at the service is 25 or more but less than 60; and
  • the service employs or engages a full-time or full-time equivalent early childhood teacher at the service.

60 to 80 children

If a centre-based service provides education and care to 60 or more but not more than 80 children preschool age or under on a given day,  an early childhood teacher must be in attendance at the service:

  • for at least 6 hours on that day, if the service operates for 50 or more hours a week; or
  • for 60 per cent of the operating hours of the service on that day, if the service operates for less than 50 hours a week; and

A second early childhood teacher or another suitably qualified person must be in attendance at the service:

  • for at least 3 hours on that day, if the service operates for 50 or more hours a week; or
  • for 30 per cent of the operating hours of the service on that day, if the service operates for less than 50 hours a week.

 A centre-based service is not required to comply with the above if:

  • the approved number of places for children preschool age or under at the service is 60 or more but not more than 80; and
  • the service employs or engages— a full-time or full-time equivalent early childhood teacher at the service; and
  • a second early childhood teacher or a suitably qualified person for half of the full-time or full-time equivalent hours at the service.

More than 80 children

If a centre-based service provides education and care to more than 80 children preschool age or under on a given day, an early childhood teacher must be in attendance at the service:

  • for at least 6 hours on that day, if the service operates for 50 or more hours a week; or
  • for 60 per cent of the operating hours of the service on that day, if the service operates for less than 50 hours a week; and

A second early childhood teacher or another suitably qualified person must be in attendance at the service:

  • for at least 6 hours on that day, if the service operates for 50 or more hours a week; or
  • for 60 per cent of the operating hours of the service on that day, if the service operates for less than 50 hours a week.

A centre-based service is not required to comply with the above if:

  • the approved number of places for children preschool age or under at a centre-based service is more than 80; and
  • the service employs or engages— a full-time or full-time equivalent early childhood teacher at the service; and
  • a second full-time or full-time equivalent early childhood teacher or suitably qualified person.

Does an early childhood teacher have to be working directly with the children at the service?

An Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) does not need to be working directly with the children at the service for the service to meet its requirements to have access to an ECT or to have ECTs in attendance, but the ECT does need to be working directly with children to be counted for the purposes of educator-to-child ratios.

  • Services with fewer than 25 children preschool age or under have been required to have access to ECTs as of 1 January 2014. Access may be provided via information and communication technology (ICT), for example by phone or skype.
  • Services with 25-29 children preschool age or under have been required to have one or more ECTs in attendance as of 1 January 2014. Services with 30 or more children will continue to be required, to have one or more ECTs in attendance.

"In attendance" means the teacher is physically present at the service and carries out activities including one or more of the following:

  • working directly with children
  • planning programs
  • mentoring, coaching or supporting educators
  • facilitating research
  • performing the role of an educational leader

ECTs will need to be working directly with the children if the service wishes to count the ECT for the purposes of educator-to-child ratios. "Working directly with children" means being physically present with them and being directly engaged in providing education and care to them. For centre-based services, the educator-to-child ratios are as follows. For children aged:

  • birth to 24 months – 1:4
  • 25 months to 35 months –  1:5 
  • 36 months to 6 years – 1:10

It is important to note that an educator cannot be included in calculating the educator to child ratio of a centre-based service unless the educator is working directly with children at the service. Please remember to check your state/territory regulations for ratio requirements. 

Does An Early Childhood Teacher Have To Be On The Premises At All Times?

Where the National Regulations prescribe that an early childhood teacher must be in attendance at an education and care service (for services educating and caring for 25 or more children who are preschool age or under), the early childhood teacher must be physically present at the service.

Where the National Regulations prescribe that a service must have access to an early childhood teacher (for services educating and caring for fewer than 25 children who are preschool age or under), the requirement can be satisfied by an early childhood teacher working with the service by means of information communication technology.

What Are The Requirements Of An Early Childhood Teacher Is Absent Due To Being Unwell Or On Leave?

Regulation 135 allows a person who holds an approved diploma qualification or primary teaching qualification to be taken to be an early childhood teacher when an early childhood teacher is absent from service due to short term illness or leave (not exceeding 12 weeks).

Please note: This should be used as a general guideline only. You should refer to your states/territories jurisdictions to determine the necessity of an ECT within your service and the guidelines that apply. 

References: 
ACECQA Extends Requirement Of Persons Taken To Be ECT Until 2021, Aussie Childcare Network, 19 July 2019
NSW Department of Education, FAQ’s For Early Childhood Educators 
NSW Education and Care Services National Regulations

Last modified on Wednesday, August 14, 2019
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