Education or care? Childcare or school? Pre-service teacher perspectives on teaching in the childcare sector
Education or care? Childcare or school? Pre-service teacher perspectives on teaching in the childcare sector.
Issues in Educational Research, 31 (4), 1231-1248.
In Western Australia (WA) early learning centres, also referred to as childcare centres, are required by law to employ at least one degree qualified teacher. As such, graduates from early childhood degree programs are able to seek employment as a teacher across the school and childcare sectors. This paper presents research that investigated pre-service early childhood teachers’ perspectives on teaching within the early learning sector in WA. The impetus was to ascertain pre-service teachers’ perspectives of the childcare sector, specifically how they viewed the role of the teacher in this context. Perspectives were gathered before and again after a ten week professional experience within a centre. A mixed methods approach was adopted to facilitate the collection of data by survey and interview. Quantitative survey data were analysed through statistical analysis and compiling percentage and frequency graphs. Qualitative interview data were transcribed and coded to determine emerging themes. Findings illustrated that whilst education and care has become a unified concept at the policy level, an education-care dichotomy continues to exist within the early learning sector. Implications arising from this disconnect relate to staffing, conditions and the quality of experiences afforded to children. These implications highlight the need for Australian governments to investigate international approaches for creating unity in early learning centres.
early learning centres, childcare, pre-service teacher perspectives, Australia