A new program is giving teenagers an opportunity to qualify as early childhood educators by the time they finish high school.
Nowra’s Binji & Boori Aboriginal Maternal Infant and Child Health Centre is working with TAFE NSW to deliver a Vocational Education and Training (TVET) program allowing students to fast-track their careers and earn a nationally recognised qualification as part of their senior school subjects.
Bomaderry High School student Louise Tancred was unsure about her subject choices and career options and took the advice of the school’s careers advisor to enrol at TAFE NSW.
“I enjoy spending time with the children and now, after a couple of terms here, I’m thinking of working in early childhood education,” she said.
Mia Taylor from Nowra High School was already planning on becoming a teacher and said the first couple of years meant a lot in a child’s education and she was keen to play a role.
“As part of the course we do work placement and there is the chance some of us could be offered jobs which would be great,” Mia said.
“We get to put the skills and knowledge we’re learning into practice here at the TAFE NSW Nowra. So, we’re starting to get the hang of it.
“TVET is a great idea, we learn practical skills and have the work experience which looks great on a resume,” she said.
Both students are working toward the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, meaning they will be qualified to work in the early childhood sector once they finish school, rather than starting as a trainee on lower pay, or waiting until after school to begin their qualification.
Families connected to Binji & Boori bring their children to visit the early childhood education facility at the TAFE NSW Nowra campus one day per week where they can watch their children socialise in a play-based learning environment as the students gain valuable skills in working with children.
Binji & Boori Aboriginal Health Worker Jaime Carpenter said the new collaboration with TAFE NSW Nowra meant the parents she worked with were also learning by watching their children taking part in the culturally supported program.
“This is a chance for our families to learn in a supported place, and for students to interact and connect with children in a culturally-guided way,” she said.
“Another unintended benefit is the parents get a chance to connect and network, while their children are in the play sessions with the TAFE students and teachers,” she said.
The students say the course has revealed a rewarding career path they hadn’t all considered.
Ayla Brown, who was already aiming for a career in child education said it was great that she would finish Year 12 with the qualification.
“I’m learning a lot about safety and hazards and keeping children safe,” she said.