What we heard
The transition from studying early childhood education to securing a role and becoming proficient on the job is a critical time for teachers and educators to consolidate their professional identity and practice.
We heard that it can be a challenging period and involves significant dedication from new graduates and those that support them.
New graduates told us they can be overwhelmed by the requirements of the role, and the experienced workforce reported feeling the pressure to provide support, particularly as the kindergarten workforce expands. When early career professionals have access to broader supports across the sector, including connections to their peers, the weight of supporting their development is not placed on a single service or single experienced teacher or educator.
We heard that mentor teachers are a highly valued resource for new graduates and placement students at all levels, but they are under increasing demand and can sometimes be hard to find. Mentors share their expertise, and support new graduates to become fully registered teachers and to apply theory to practice. We heard the importance of recognising the benefits that this support provides, not only to the new graduate but across the workforce.
What we are doing
Expanding the supply of new graduates needs to be matched with support for early career professionals in the workforce, which is why we continue to invest in mentoring support, grants and professional development to assist early childhood teachers to progress to full teacher registration.
This includes the Effective Mentoring Program which is designed to enhance the mentoring skills of experienced teachers so they can support graduate and returning teachers to achieve full registration. Over 1,200 experienced early childhood teachers have participated in the two-day program. Almost 2,000 grants have also been awarded to support provisionally registered early childhood teachers to progress to full registration with the Victorian Institute of Teaching.
Since the release of the 2021 strategy, individual coaching has been made available for all first-year teachers and upskilling educators delivering a funded kindergarten program. An Early Childhood Beginning Teacher Conference series has also been introduced to support, prepare and inspire early career professionals as they embark on their early childhood education career, and over 800 provisionally registered teachers have participated.
As the sector grows, there is more we can do to support new teacher and educator graduates to transition into the workforce, so they have the skills and resources they need for success.
Building on our existing supports, we will:
- Provide tools and resources to improve the experience of graduate teachers and educators as they transition into the profession through the creation of a new state-wide induction supports program. Across the diversity of early childhood education services and geographic locations, these supports will provide new teachers and educators with access to high-quality induction to begin their careers. Additional tools and resources will also be developed to support service leaders, experienced teachers and educators to support professional skills gaps identified in consultation with the workforce.
- Provide mentoring to an additional 200 provisionally registered teachers across 2023 and 2024 to support them to gain full registration by expanding the Provisionally Registered Teachers mentoring program.
Confident and inspired thanks to mentor support
On behalf of the Department of Education, Gowrie Victoria has been providing free mentor support for early childhood provisionally registered teachers (PRTs) to move to full teacher registration with the Victorian Institute of Teaching. Priority is given to PRTs who have been unable to access a mentor and who live regionally.
Feedback on the program has been overwhelmingly positive, with early-career teachers full of praise for their Gowrie Victoria mentors.
Jessica, who graduated with an honours degree, also highlighted appreciation for her mentor, Lisa, “I got so much out of the program – she taught me so much… I really feel I now have confidence in what I’m doing,” she says.
The level and type of support mentors provide is tailored for each PRT, and may include face-to-face, video conference, telephone and email support.
Deeply impressed by the mentor process, Hira says she hopes to support new early childhood workers at her centre, and eventually take on a mentoring role herself. “I love the idea of working with other teachers and supporting them in their practice.”
Specialised training to build workplace skills of educators
High-quality training courses are being developed through the Skilling an Adaptable Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce (SAEW) project, to support new early childhood educators to apply skills and training in the workplace that meets the learning and development needs of children.
The Victorian Government has allocated funding over two years for Early Learning Association of Australia (ELAA) to lead this project and work in partnership with Gowrie Victoria, the Y Ballarat and other early childhood education employers.
The training aims to support new Certificate III entrants to develop their practice and be work-ready. A needs analysis will help employers and educators identify specific areas for development to ensure the training can fill these gaps. Where possible, the training will be mapped to existing qualifications to complement and reinforce new graduates’ prior knowledge.
A Community of Practice will also be established as part of the project to support new early childhood educators to complete the training, develop peer networks and access best practice tools and other resources.