Douglas Simkin

In a time when workforce shortages continue to place pressure on all parts of the early learning sector, Big Fat Smile is proud to support four colleagues who are part of the first cohort of Diploma qualified early learning professionals to a new uniquely co-designed degree with the University of Wollongong (UOW) and the Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA).

Made possible thanks to support from the New South Wales Department of Education, the degree will boost the number of early childhood teachers by removing barriers to study for those who are already working in the sector.

The Bachelor of Education (The Early Years) is an accelerated degree which will see students complete 12 weeks of a professional experience program across two years, with flexibility around the timing of placements.

More than 270 educators are in the initial cohort, four of which are Big Fat Smile employees:

  • Dimitra Perras, Kenny Street Community Preschool 0-5
  • John Walsh, Transition to School Program
  • Nick Lewis, Children’s Services
  • Tracey Pike, Woronora Hights Community Preschool 0-5

Nick Lewis and John Walsh from Big Fat Smile

UOW Academic Director of the Early Years Associate Professor Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett designed the assessments to continually support the elevation of quality practice across the organisations in which educators are currently working. The program has been described as ground-breaking for the sector as it considers the realities of working day-to-day in early learning and care.

As a partner of this program, Big Fat Smile, alongside UOW, aims to genuinely support and empower these scholars to achieve and to build their careers.

Big Fat Smile commends ELACCA, UOW and the department for their intention to build the early childhood workforce capacity to ensure quality in our sector.

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