At New Futures Training, occasional childcare centres are embedded in our campuses. The centres provide practical benefits to students studying childcare and are an important part of our early childhood education training.
Riccarda Zammit, a trainer in the Certificate III and Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care, explains: ‘We are so fortunate to have this great additional resource. On-campus occasional care centres let students observe real childcare work and build their practical skills under supervision, so there are fewer surprises when they go into placement.’
Our students can attend these centres to view and engage with active childcare programs and activities. They also serve as a way for students to have their children cared for while they study. The cost of long day care can be a significant barrier to studying for young migrant women with family commitments.
Some centres are also fitted with a unique feature: special viewing rooms with two-way mirrors and audio equipment that allow students to see and hear the centre without being seen or heard themselves. This allows them to learn without disturbing the children.
Preparing for placement by building practical skills
Our early childhood education and care students will engage in practical assessment in the centres before undertaking practical work placement in the sector, which can reduce the anxiety it brings. For many, the childcare work they do after finishing their qualification will be their first job in Australia.
‘We go into the centre – generally in groups of two or three students at a time. It can be too overwhelming for the kids otherwise,’ says Riccarda. ‘The students get to know the children and choose a focus child within the centre. We have them observe and document the children’s learning. They then plan an activity, which they will execute with the focus child. Afterwards, they review as a group how the activity went.’
Riccarda uses the viewing rooms frequently with her Certificate III in Early Childhood and Education class.
‘I get students to brainstorm how the educators’ actions are supporting children’s areas of development, and how they link with the approved learning framework,’ she explains. ‘We watch to identify the strengths in the centre as well as areas for improvement.’
Some students are at an early stage of developing their English literacy. The embedded centres can help here too. For example, the Burmese community that study and work at the embedded centre at our Braybrook campus are provided with language support, meaning staff can give clear instructions in their specific Burmese dialect to support students as they engage with the children.
New Futures Training students identify embedded learning centres as an important part of their practical skills development, and their confidence in moving to a working role as an educator.
‘When our students go onto placement, we hear a lot of stories about students getting directly employed after their placement concludes,’ says Riccarda. ‘They are more in touch with how a centre works: it’s not just theoretical to them.’