Next year will see Wairarapa UCOl open its doors to a new Bachelor of Early Childhood Education. PHOTO/FILE

MARY ARGUE
mary.argue@age.co.nz

Finally, there is some good news for parents and people seeking a career in early childhood education.

After years of lobbying, a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education is now available from UCOL campuses, with Wairarapa expecting to launch the programme next year.

The recent announcement from UCOL was welcome news for a sector that had struggled with staff shortages and burnout since before the pandemic.

Early childhood teachers are currently on Immigration New Zealand’s regional skill shortages list.

The Bachelor of Teaching [Early Childhood Education], level 7 degree, was recently awarded accreditation by NZQA and the Teaching Council of Aotearoa, New Zealand, and it was hoped it would attract and retain educators in the sector.

It would be offered at UCOL’s Manawatu campus for semester two this year, and UCOL anticipated intakes on the Wairarapa campus next year, followed by the Whanganui campus in 2024.

Wairarapa UCOL currently has certificates in early childhood education offered at levels 2-4.

UCOL academic portfolio manager – early childhood education teaching Diana Entwistle said accreditation was the end point of years of work creating the degree, which began in 2019.

“The early childhood sector has been struggling with significant teacher shortages for several years, and our graduates have been asking for the next level of study.”

She said support from early childhood services had been a key factor in gaining accreditation.

Entwistle said the new degree was a field-based programme that would see students spending two days a week on campus and two days on placement at an early childcare centre.

She said the study would include child development theories, cultural competencies, research and professional standards.

She said the first intake in the programme would be for alumni to continue studying at the degree level and, from 2023 open to those seeking a professional qualification as an early childhood teacher.

UCOL executive dean of humanities and business, Dean Rankin, said the polytechnic had collaborated with the Eastern Institute of Technology to develop the programme.

“Achieving accreditation was a culmination of many years of work for UCOL, and the degree programme is a key addition to our growing early childhood education portfolio.”



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