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Skills shortages and industry renewal rethinking work and occupational knowledge when recognising prior learning Sue Shore: Charles Darwin University Victoria.

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Presentation on theme: "Skills shortages and industry renewal rethinking work and occupational knowledge when recognising prior learning Sue Shore: Charles Darwin University Victoria."— Presentation transcript:

1 Skills shortages and industry renewal rethinking work and occupational knowledge when recognising prior learning Sue Shore: Charles Darwin University Victoria Whitington and Carol Thompson: University of South Australia 1

2 Context of the reform: early childhood provision The need for a skilled and knowledgeable early childhood workforce (OECD, 2006). The link between teacher qualifications/training and outcomes for children (Kelley & Camilli, 2007; Siraj- Blatchford, 2003; Sylva, Melhuish, Sammons, Siraj- Blatchford & Taggart, 2010) Industry renewal – a good idea in theory, what happens in practice ? 2

3 The ECE COAG policy agenda National Quality Framework Universal Access requirement – all four year olds will have a 4 year early childhood degree qualified teacher for 15 hours per week, including all long day childcare services Preschools included in licensing and accreditation (> 2012) Approved early years learning framework, and development of a national curriculum for children from 5 to 15 years of age 3

4 The South Australian context Preschool teacher qualifications  79% have an early childhood qualification  21% have Junior Primary (children 5-8 years) qualifications upgrade needed to provide two aspects of occupational knowledge:  4 year training; and  early childhood occupational knowledge 4

5 The Department of Education and Children’s Services (DECD) upgrade project goals An upgrade program was negotiated with DECD to recognise :  a ‘gap’ in knowledge associated with the older 3 year and more recent 4 year awards in the field;  the specialised knowledge associated with early childhood – as distinct from primary and junior primary development;  teachers’ prior (and lifelong) learning which had not always provided seamless pathways to accredited learning;  priority areas consolidated by DECD: early brain development and working with Indigenous children and families; and  the need for flexible delivery, and opportunities necessary to address rural and remote teachers PD needs. 5

6 The program at UniSA Three intakes over 3 semesters, 87 teachers in total:  Equivalent to 12 months full time study (8 courses), mostly taken part time;  Adapted from an existing in-service early childhood education degree program  Federally funded scholarships  Recognition of prior learning (RPL) for a maximum of three courses in the award;  All external/online delivery with some intensive workshops;  Core course in ‘foundation skills’; early brain development; working with diversity, including Indigenous children and families  Distinguish early childhood and primary school occupational knowledge - see the following chart 6

7 The Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (In-service) program Courses Students without ECE qualifications Students with ECE qualifications Foundations for Professional Learning  Brain Development in the Early Years  Education, Change and Society  Developing a Play Curriculum Birth-8 Years  Children Developing in Context 2  A selection of electives to address participants professional interests and contexts individual interest No electives chosen if 3 courses granted for RPL Three electives available if granted 3 courses of RPL 7

8 Foundations for Professional Learning EDUC 5138 Introductory course - recognised the transitions associated with competent professional people, with busy working lives, returning to graduate level university study – and so the differences in associated occupational and academic literacies. Bridging a ‘gap’ between educators as learners and educators as workers. Provided a supportive and interventionist approach to interrogate teachers’ previous professional learning Assignment structure: two assignments, an RPL application and an academic essay using their workplace (school, kindergarten, child care centre) to synthesise the implications of professionally learning and workplace learning literature for developing a culture of learning at their site. 8

9 ‘Generous work’ (Smith 2005, 151-2) Navigate tensions, responsibilities and outcomes of related but different learning: professional learning; workplace learning (on-the- job), professional development, induction, informal learning and mandatory updates by thinking about teachers’ work differently. anything done by people that takes time and effort, that they mean to do, that is done under definite conditions and with whatever means and tools, and that they may have to think about. It means much more than what is done on the job. include[s] a whole range of activities that are unpaid, not by any means done exclusively by women, …[an] underground of unpaid and invisible work that people don’t recognise as work nor as a contribution to the economy. 9

10 Data sources Assignment 1: a claim for RPL; Assignment 2: an essay. Both assignments required demonstration of academic literacies Text responses about their sense of competence during the face-to- face intensives, focussed on their learning and academic literacies). Evaluation activities at different points during the course: early on when uncertainty was high and later, after receiving feedback on assignments and talking with colleagues and staff about ideas presented in the course. University course evaluations –institutionally de-identified questions presented to students at the end of the course. A de-identified table of data extracted from the RPL applications. Transcribed semi-structured teaching team discussions exploring the overall conceptualisation and management of the project and reflective analyses of teaching and learning in EDUC

11 Profile of participants 64% indicated that they were experienced teachers, with ten or more years in the field, and 33% had 20 or more years. 66% had a non-early childhood teacher qualification 34% had a 3 year early childhood teacher qualification Current roles: 36% preschool teachers, 48% directors/principals, 7% early childhood consultants, (9% did not indicate) Group 1 Group 2 Group 3Total Metropolitan Rural Remote

12 Structure of the discussion  Occupational knowledge documented  Reflections on generous work  Negotiating academic literacies  Navigating home/study/life balances Two emergent tensions  Splitting words: voluntary and mandatory workplace renewal  Time, choices and new learning experiences Further issues: skills shortages and industry renewal 12

13 Professional knowledge documented in RPL applications Domain Frequencies/percentages Research and inquiry-based practice 14 (5.9%) Indigenous teaching and education 13 (5.5%) Curriculum 49 (20.7%) Pedagogy 56 (23.6%) Leadership 59 (24.9%) Children’s development 9 (3.8%) Community and family engagement 22 (9.3% Other 15 (6.3%) Total237 (100%) Summary of domains of RPL claims including frequencies 13

14 Reflections: ‘generous work’ and RPL Obvious curriculum areas identified PLUS wide range of expertise. Open design and creation of ‘work’ boundaries presented challenges:  Appreciation of cyclic approach  I prefer working in defined framework  the total package was important in order to create the context for future learning  I learned to think about myself in a different way  I have a vast range of skills and I often don’t stop and appreciate it  Chip away at it... do the readings... do the activities/tasks and in time all the elements will fall into place – do more, panic less. Trust the process, enjoy the process  I have gained the ability to articulate the work I do 14

15 Negotiating academic literacies The usual challenges:  How do I meld my ideas with current research without plagiarising?  Some big words – trajectories in ECE; epitimology (can’t even spell it!) The ICT environment:  ICT skills not great. Had trouble unloading my appendices  How to read effectively, quicker  I had to [learn to] negotiate around the UniSA website Collaborative learning with colleagues  The collaborative approach to my learning – affirmation, networking/discussing ideas with the cohort who is on common ground  The opportunity to listen to others identify their skills: it made me re- think mine 15

16 Managing competing demands  It was hard to calm my head to take on board the course requirements when other things at work were screaming at me  I need to make time to study on my one day off instead of going into work to catch up on paperwork!  I passed the first assignment under great duress of juggling three jobs and working more than full time and also  I found myself talking about the World Bank at the breakfast table 16

17 Pressures and in/voluntary participation Some were very optimistic and embraced the learning – albeit were still challenged:  I’m focussed on me (and what I can get out of the process) rather than feel frustrated about “what is imposed”. It’s really about perception, at the end this was my choice.  I have learned to get on with the task (not procrastinate) and to time manage – this requires discipline Others, however, were less optimistic and were more bruised by the experience:  I thought I was a competent teacher, but found out I was an incompetent student’  I have experience that should be recognised at graduate level  I am incredibly anxious about many things – getting my readings read, answering the questions, writing the assignments (especially and finally the results) There were also thoughtful reflections about learning:  I am equipped to complete this course despite a few concerns initially  I still have a lot to learn about EC methodologies 17

18 Just show me vs pedagogical advice vs make it easier to submit a claim  I prefer working within a defined, specific framework. The RPL very difficult. The head work required to define my own topic  Show a claim, how it is done … still feel confused/very unsure  Questions could be placed on sticky notes so that thread of input can be maintained rather than the jumping everywhere and responding to one group of people  Learning and Teaching Unit input – clear digestible, useful, linked well with where I am at as a student  Presenting concepts then revisiting based on participants’ needs/feedback  Logical sequence to material, the pace of the workshop  Time to ponder, question, receive answers and re-ask the same questions for more clarification 18

19 Making time for lifelong professional learning Previous limited professional development opportunities in the past are likely to have informed teachers’ initial responses to, and capacity to engage in university study: professional development becomes a pragmatic exercise of attendance. balancing a culture of lifelong learning against mandatory completion of a minimum five day professional development requirement. time needed to balance work, family and study; to reflect on new learning rather than just ‘doing’. 19

20 Making ‘slow time’ for learning Teacher acceptance of participation in learning that takes time and deep engagement as an ongoing part of their professional role  Excellent opportunity to audit my teaching and learning history and present findings to a critical audience. I have increased my professional articulation. My thinking skills are now working at a more sophisticated level which is happily stimulating  I enjoy the readings. They encourage me to think about my practice and the learning journey I have travelled  The program has made me more argumentative in defence of children’s rights. 20

21 The future: structural and career directions Federal Government agenda is towards the horizontal integration of services and education in the early childhood years and this will require advanced professionalism as teachers will be in sites with social, community and health workers who need to reach into each other’s knowledge bases as well as maintaining their own professional area. Vertical integration is also underway so that children are more likely to be on the same site as both older and younger children, birth to 12 or 18 years in some cases. There is a need for early childhood professionals to have the capacity to meet, operate effectively within, and also be creative and lead in this new education and care context. Recognition of ECE ‘work’ needs substantial rethinking for this complex context. 21


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