Space to grow early childhood education

A new centre for Early Childhood education at Flinders University will help meet rapidly rising demand for qualified teachers and carers in South Australia.

The opening of the Pintya Kuu (Creative Room) Early Childhood Space builds on the teacher training experience at the College of Education, Psychology and Social Work, aiming to give Early Childhood pre-service teachers a place to plan, design and implement engaging play and learning experiences for children from birth to age 8.

Senior lecturer in Early Childhood and Care Rachael Hedger says the the Education Building facility weaves Indigenous perspectives as a creative and supportive space for Flinders Early Childhood pre-service teachers to grow and develop their ideas.

Rachael Hedger, Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education and Care at Flinders University.

“Contemplating Early Childhood literature and philosophy, Pintya Kuu is a space where theory and practice combine in order to create rich learning opportunities for children and educators alike,” she says.

The new training area opens in the wake of the State Government’s interim report from the Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care, which highlights the need for more educators in the space.

The report identifies possible models and estimated costs for delivering preschool to 3-year-old children. The report suggests a mixed model (government and non-government), along with investment in new facilities and commissioned places for disadvantaged South Australian preschool children.

  • The proposed approach will cost $162.7 million per annum, and between an estimated $101.2 to $111.2 million for capital investment to build the equivalent of 32 new early childhood education and care services to deliver universal accessibility. It will also make use of around 4,700 empty places in government preschools.
  • Approximately 1000 children in areas of high need would be able to access 30 hours a week of high-quality preschool in newly commissioned services, integrating a broad range of family and child supports.
  • All three year-olds in South Australia would be entitled to 15 hours per week of pre-school under the proposed model.
  • The final report is set to be released in August 2023.
  • The state will need an estimated 660 more early childhood teachers, 813 educators and 112 other staff, such as directors, to deliver the model.
Pre-service teacher Gemma Dunlevey, who is in her third year of a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (Birth-8), at the new Pintya Kuu Early Childhood space .

Nick Golfis (main picture), in his final year of studying a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education/Bachelor Special Education at Flinders University, is also supporting a teacher shortage in Ceduna with a Special Authority to Teach while finishing his studies.

“It is good to see that the interim report acknowledges the impact that 3-year-old preschool will have on the workforce, especially as we are already experiencing a severe workforce shortage,” says Ms Hedger, whose research focuses on how children learn science concepts through arts-based practices.

“Flinders University is well positioned to support the development of initial teacher education in Early Childhood education, and we wholeheartedly support quality training programs for Early Childhood teachers.

“For many families, staying at home to raise their children is not the reality.

“Recognising the importance of early intervention and setting children on a path to success that leads to improved outcomes for their future, and the resulting workforce and economy, means that we start to place our attention on the child and what’s best for them in this moment,” she says.

“The additional pre-school hours will be a relief to many families struggling to balance work and care arrangements. In addition, our most vulnerable children can access care and learning to support their development in safe and supportive environments.”

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College of Education, Psychology and Social Work Students