25 SES 10, Children’s Rights in Early Childhood Settings
Compared with some OECD countries, with their well-developed Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services and their high level of investment in the ECEC sector, Australia lags behind. Indeed, the underdeveloped nature of Australia's ECEC provision has been correlated with its poor performance on international scales (UNICEF, 2008). Australia, along with countries such as Ireland which also scored poorly, has introduced overarching policies relating to funding, curriculum frameworks and increased provision of ECEC.
Australia's effort to address international standards is manifest in its introduction of a National Quality Framework. The Framework has two components: National Quality Standard (NQS); and the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF) called Belonging Being and Becoming (Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations, 2009). The Early Years Learning Framework outlines curricular guidelines for those who work with children from birth to eight years, in school, pre-school and childcare settings. The EYLF is founded on postmodern, relational and rights based pedagogical approaches influenced by Nordic and Reggio Emilia philosophies.
This is the first time that an agreed and explicated pedagogy, directly addressing the care-education debate, is to be implemented in early childhood services in Australia.
Historically, care has been relatively unregulated and ad hoc. Multiple providers and stakeholders in a variety of settings have operated within an unwieldy, cumbersome mix of services, spread across the for-profit and not-for-profit sector, with disparities in financing levels and management.
The launch of the national co-ordinating body, Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), in 2012 began the process of unifying policy, training, pedagogy and assessment in the sector. Since 1 January 2014, long day care and preschool services must have access to an early childhood teacher for at least 20 per cent of the time that the service provides education and care (ACECQA, 2014). As part of the NQF (COAG, 2009) educators in the childcare sector are responsible for implementing the EYLF, which spans the integration of education and care across 0-5 year old settings.
The National Quality Framework mandates that programs and practice ensure that each child’s current knowledge, ideas, culture, abilities and interests are the foundation of the program. Educators are required to adapt the curriculum to support each individual child including cultural factors which contribute to who they are, how they learn and how they respond. This has posed a challenge because, historically, the aim of the school has been education, and the aim of the childcare service, ‘to care’ (Childcare Act, 2007; School Education Amendment Bill, 2012b).
The significance of this study lies in its ability to investigate the implementation of this policy document in the unique context of school-based childcare for very young children.
The research question posed in this study is: how do practitioner/educators interpret and apply the EYLF in the planning, programming, resourcing and evaluating of their programs?
The proposed paper to be presented to ECER is one of a series of papers generated from this study.
Australian Children Education and Care Quality Authority. (2014). Higher qualifications http://www.acecqa.gov.au/National-Quality-Framework/key-changes/higher-qualifications Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). (2006). Early Childhood Education Pathways to quality and equity for all children. ACER Press, Victoria. http://www.acer.edu.au/documents/AER_50-QualityAndChoice.pdf retrieved 9th April 2014 Childcare Act. (2007). Western Australian Parliament. Retrieved from http://www.communities.wa.gov.au/education-and-care/nqfgb/Documents/child_care_services_act_ 2007_wa.pdf Commonwealth Government of Australia. (2012). School education amendment bill 2012. Retrieved from http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/Parliament/bills.nsf/9C3F5760B9E6EF2148257A850006E580/$File/Bill315-1.pdf. Connelly, F. M. & Clandinin, D. J. (1990). Stories of experience and narrative inquiry. Educational Researcher, 19(4), 2-14. Council of Australian Governments. (2009). National quality standard for early childhood education and care and school age care. Canberra: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. (2009). Belonging, being and becoming: The early years learning framework for Australia. Canberra Richardson, L. (1994). Writing: A method of inquiry. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 516-529). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. UNICEF. (2008). Report Card 8 Innocenti Research Centre A League Table of Early Childhood Education and Care in Economically Advanced Countries. Florence: UNICEF.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
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Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
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