Children, parents and carers learn through play at the Early Start Discovery Space

Increased NSW Government investment in early childhood education welcomed

Increased NSW Government investment in early childhood education welcomed

The additional funding will assist prospective early childhood teachers to enter the sector

The University of Wollongong (UOW) welcomes the NSW Government announcement of a $281.6 million workforce package to attract and support early childhood teachers and carers.

The package includes early childhood teacher higher education scholarships of up to $25,000, VET scholarships of up to $2,000 and employer supplements for staff retention.

UOW has a long history of teacher education and offers programs ranging from undergraduate to postgraduate study alongside innovative cross sector collaboration through Early Start Research Centre and Discovery Space.

Associate Professor Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett, Academic Director of The Early Years at UOW’s School of Education, said the announcement of increased investment in child development and family support is essential to ensuring a systemic shift in the way we support early childhood education.

“This commitment is a recognition of the developmental significance of the first five years of children’s lives and the need for a high functioning quality early educational sector,” Associate Professor Neilsen-Hewett said.

“We know that a high quality universal early childhood system is the foundation of any productive society, and ultimately, quality early childhood education hinges on the strength of its workforce.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has placed significant stress on early childhood educators – we have experienced high rates of stress and workforce attrition.

“We are currently experiencing what can only be described as a workforce crisis. The current shortage of early childhood teachers is constraining the capacity of the sector.

“The funding announcement from the NSW Government is very encouraging for the sector. Initiatives that actively support building and retaining the workforce are overdue and essential if we are to strengthen the capacity of the sector.

“The University celebrates any initiative that works toward ensuring a quality workforce and increasing the number of university-qualified early childhood teachers.”

Executive Dean of the Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities Senior Professor Sue Bennett said that the government’s $25,000 higher education scholarships are a key element in enticing the next generation of early childhood teachers.

“Significant financial support for students will allow us to reinforce UOWs commitment to growing sector capacity and our contribution to ensuring the health and wellbeing of young children and families in the region.

“However, we also need to be thinking about how to continue to support those already working in the sector and I’m looking forward to learning more about how this will play out for our sector and, more importantly, how it will enhance pathways into pre-service teacher education.”