People and Culture Team

Mary – Educator at Bulli Community Preschool is grateful for the opportunity to undertake the Accelerated degree at ACU.

With professional learning and growth at the heart of everything we do, Big Fat Smile has partnered with Australian Catholic University (ACU) to offer the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (Birth to Five Years) (Accelerated) degree to eligible Big Fat Smile educators.

ACU, which is ranked top 2% of universities world-wide, offer a Commonwealth Supported accelerated Early Childhood Teacher degree, developed by academics with extensive early childhood sector experience. The degree allows existing Early Childhood Educators to upskill to become an Early Childhood Teacher in 18 months. To achieve a high-quality course in less than half the time of a normal degree, the ACU degree innovatively blends contemporary pedagogies with Virtual Reality (VR) immersive technology that provides students with a realistic, highly contextualised and immersive experience.

This is the first time this degree is offered in New South Wales and Big Fat Smile is proud to be supporting existing Big Fat Smile Early Childhood Educators through the course by offering financial support and study leave.

One Big Fat Smile Educator who has commenced her studies with ACU this semester is Mary of Bulli Community Preschool. Mary has been an educator at Big Fat Smile for 9 years during which she has worked with many caring and experienced colleagues. Mary said her current director Kelly was instrumental in encouraging her to commit to further studies. The scholarship available from Big Fat Smile and ACU to undertake this degree was also key for Mary, ensuring she could afford taking time off work for placements:

‘The financial support provided by ACU and Big Fat Smile was critical in me enrolling in the degree. If it wasn’t for this support, I would not be able to afford time off for placement’.

Upon completion of her studies, Mary wants to continue making more of a difference in the lives of children in her care:

‘My biggest goal in my career is to make a children’s worlds a better, brighter place. Having this degree behind me, along with my experience and my prior studies in Social Sciences will give me the tools necessary in order to make a real change in the lives of little ones and their families. This degree, and the financial support attached to it, really is a wonderful opportunity that I am extremely grateful for’.

James, an Inclusion Professional in the Inclusion Agency, has also made this the time to upskill to an Early Childhood Teaching qualification. The design of the ACU course as well as the Big Fat Smile and ACU scholarship available was particularly attractive for James:

‘I have wanted to enrol in an Early Childhood degree for a number of years now. With a young family, I have never been able to commit to the necessary time to do this. I also haven’t wanted to use all my annual leave for placements. Big Fat Smile offered a Scholarship for this degree, and the fact that it is a compressed course, 18-months start to finish, I thought this was a great opportunity for me.’

James – Inclusion Professional at Big Fat Smile has commenced studies at ACU to become an Early Childhood Teacher.

Upon completion of his studies James is hoping to utilise his new skills and knowledge to increase his capacity in his Inclusion Professional role or even work in an early education and care  in a leadership/management capacity.

Big Fat Smile wishes James and Mary all the best in their studies. We are excited to see their new knowledge and experiences enrich the lives and minds of children and families in their communities. This is a wonderful time to work in the sector and profession and maybe the right time for you to upskill your qualifications.

You can read more about ACU and the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (Birth to 5 years) Accelerated degree here.


Related blogs


In arts education, two things really set us apart. First, the artists/educators we employ must be ‘career artists’. They must be degree qualified and practicing in a professional sense. Second,...