Four years after the launch of TAFE NSW Higher Education’s degree program in Early Childhood, the first cohort of students are preparing to graduate.
Eliza Reardon, Katherine Spencer and Kelly Friend are part of the first cohort who have completed the four-year Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Care (Birth-5), offered through TAFE NSW Glendale Campus, and will attend the state graduation ceremony in Sydney in March next year.
Hunter TAFE Early Childhood Teacher, Dee Wardle said she was immensely proud of the students. “These students were highly motivated and passionate about their studies. They consistently achieved distinctions and high distinctions,” she said.
Ms Wardle said TAFE NSW’s reputation in early childhood training was highly regarded by employers. “We have some employers specifically asking for TAFE-degree qualified graduates because of the quality of our diploma students, the practical hand-on training they receive and because the TAFE NSW degree is unique in that it focuses on 0-5 year olds,” she said.
Eliza Reardon, 21, has already secured employment as an Educational Leader at Warners Bay Early Learning Centre. “I chose to do the degree at TAFE because of the small class sizes. The teachers really get to know you and you get one-on-one attention.”
Ms Reardon said she always knew she wanted to work in childcare.
“Throughout school, I knew the direction I wanted to take and I knew I wanted to work with children,” she said. “I started studying at TAFE when I was 16 and I completed the Certificate III and Diploma.”
“I have a real connection with the teachers here and I’m now looking forward to studying my Masters because of them. I’m applying to do Masters (of Early Childhood) at Macquarie University because a lot of our teachers did theirs there. I felt confident in applying because the teachers had faith in me that I could do it,” said Ms Reardon.
29-year-old Katherine Spencer also intends to continue her education and enrol in a Masters degree next year.
The single mother of a 7 and 8-year-old said she first came to TAFE to develop her parenting skills. “I thought that I would do the Certificate III as a type of parenting course but I loved it so much that I wanted to learn more,” she said.
“The teachers and the TAFE librarians really helped my thirst for knowledge and helped me take my education one step further than what we did in class.”
Ms Spencer intends to eventually write adult education books and credits her children with feeding her interest in education. “They are like one big social experiment,” she laughed.
24-year-old Kelly Friend began the degree course after working in childcare in her home city of Gatwick in the UK.
“It was a challenge to get used to all the different regulations and the cultural differences but I had so much support. The TAFE teachers go above and beyond and we have so much hands-on practical experience,” Ms Friend said.
Ms Friend now works as an Educational Leader at a 90-place childcare centre in Sydney.
The TAFE NSW Higher Education Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Care (Birth - 5) is a four-year professional degree that prepares graduates for teaching in early childhood services. This course is for people who want to work as early childhood teachers in a variety of contexts including long day care, preschool, integrated child and family services and early intervention services.
To learn more about TAFE NSW Degrees please visit the webpage here.