05 June 2024

kindy teacher with childrenWith the announcement of $715 million to drastically overhaul early childhood education and care in South Australia, there is unprecedented demand for teachers who can support the needs of children in childcare, kindergarten, and preschool settings.

The University of South Australia is ready to fill this space with a new industry-relevant, three-year professional degree focused on the developmental needs of young children from birth to five years of age.

Developed in response to the Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care, the new Bachelor of Education Early Childhood (Birth to Five) will deliver job-ready teachers with the skills and knowledge to support learning and development of young children in their formative years. It will also support children of diverse cultures and backgrounds to ensure inclusivity for all children across the state.

The new degree is the first of its kind in South Australia. It is currently accepting applications for 2024 midyear entry.

UniSA Dean of Programs: Education Futures, Professor Anne-Marie Morgan, says the new degree will ensure graduates are ready to meet current and future workforce needs.

“Teaching is an incredibly rewarding profession, but in South Australia and around the nation, we’re struggling with significant workforce shortages,” Prof Morgan says.

“Now, with the state government’s investment of almost $340 million into a universal three-year-old preschool and daylong childcare, there’s an even greater need for teachers, and especially those with skills in the birth to five age range.

“Our new Bachelor of Education Early Childhood (Birth to Five) will ensure students have access to the latest research to support the development of young children – whether that be about the brain development and neurodiversity, or the importance of learning through play.

“The first five years of a child’s life are critically important as they set the foundation for future learning. Right now, we know that South Australia’s youngest citizens are more likely to be developmentally vulnerable than the Australian average when they start school. We need to change this.

“Our new degree has been designed to meet current and future workforce demands. Through this degree, we will continue to build a professional and highly skilled generation of teachers who can confidently support young children to reach their full potential.”

Accredited by ACECQA, the new undergraduate degree can be completed within three years full-time (or part-time equivalent) at UniSA’s Magill, Mawson Lakes, Whyalla, and Mount Gambier campuses, with online study options also available.

Following recommendations from the Royal Commission, the Teachers Registration Board of SA (TRB) has recognised three-year, ACECQA-accredited ‘birth-to-five’ degrees, and for graduates to be registered as teachers.

“Until now, ‘birth to five’ educators with a three-year degree could not register as teachers in South Australia, so the revised TRB regulations will not only deliver greater recognition for graduating teachers but also help them to establish a specific early years teaching career pathway,” Prof Morgan says.

“UniSA is committed to nurturing the potential of every child during a time when they are most receptive to learning. By acknowledging the important and rewarding intellectual work of early childhood teachers we hope to improve the appeal of early childhood education and attract dedicated people to the field.

“A degree in early childhood education is not just about teaching children; it’s about shaping the future of individuals and societies by fostering early development at a crucial phase of life. And at UniSA, we understand this distinction.”

Media contact: Annabel Mansfield E: Annabel.Mansfield@unisa.edu.au M: +61 479 182 489

UniSA contact: Prof Anne-Marie Morgan E: Anne-Marie.Morgan@unisa.edu.au

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