Last week I attended the Brisbane forum on the National Quality Standard for Early Childhood Education and Care and School Age Care, and it really gave me great confidence that the government and all of the early childhood bodies who are responsible for the changes (which I talked about in my first blog) are really heading in the right direction for the future of child care and early childhood education in Australia. I came away enthused and optimistic. It appears as if the previous and current fragmentation of the early childhood care and education of our young children is now becoming streamlined and cohesive. I was especially excited to hear about and comprehend how the introduction of early childhood teachers into child care centres is going to become a reality in the not too distant future. This, as already mentioned, is to be coupled with the implementation of the regulations which govern the educational qualifications of the already existing child care staff; which up until now, did not feel as if it was going to become a reality.
This, of course, is going to mean that the “trainers” of these staff will need to be highly trained and experienced early childhood educators themselves.
Here lies the problem.
Regardless of the fact that many of us do hold university level educational qualifications and many years of experience in working in this field; there are many out there, who sadly do not. It is a fact that there are people who I know hold no qualifications and who have absolutely no experience in this field, posing as trainers and ultimately abusing the trust of their students.
Therefore, I feel as if I need to give some advice in this area, as I have seen too many people find out, once they have paid their course fees, that their “trainers” are people who somehow maintain their positions without the required skills and knowledge nor the ability to educate. You deserve the best quality training to help make you the responsible carer that is in demand and valued in the child care industry.
These appear to be strong words, but I know this to be a fact; and it is the reason why so many students drop out – and in the process, wasting theirs, or the government’s money (depending on who paid for the course).
It is causing a great deal of skepticism and suspicion out there in the community about which RTO to choose, and who has the best “trainers”; and students are at the mercy of those who can talk big, but who cannot deliver what they promise.
Of course, word of mouth is the best way to obtain the information regarding this, but of course, “trainers” move on and move around, and reputations rise and fall very quickly indeed.
The main way in which a student or potential student can find this information out is to ask the most basic of questions at pre-enrolment time. What are the qualifications and experience of the “trainers”? And perhaps even ask for proof of this. Sadly, it is not enough to just trust the word of the receptionist, or whoever is representing the RTO, more evidence needs to be provided. Many RTO’s provide an “interview” or meeting between themselves and the student prior to enrolment. This is the time when the student could take the opportunity to meet and “interview” the trainer. As a new student you could perhaps have a set of basic questions ready to ask the trainer, and these could be as basic as:
– What are your qualifications? Can I see a copy of them?
– How long did you work in the industry?
– When did you last spend time in the industry in a hands-on role?
– When was your last professional development session? What was it about?
– How do you maintain your currency in the industry?
– Which centre did you work for previously?
– Which age group do you prefer to work with? Why?
– What are your favourite activities with children?
You may not feel comfortable asking these questions, but even if you just ask one or two, you will get a feel for the validity of the answers, and that may be all that you need to know. There are many more questions that you could ask; but once you have begun your “interview” you will soon know whether or not the person is genuine or whether they are evading your answers with generalisations which mean absolutely nothing. So many of the poor trainers are great at talking around the point, or changing the subject matter altogether. In addition, if the trainer becomes defensive or is obviously uncomfortable with you asking these questions, then perhaps he/she has something to hide.
It is easy to make this distinction, as all you have to ask yourself at the end of it was: “Did she answer my questions directly or not?” If not, then the person was evading the questions, and you will know how valid the answers were. And if the “trainer” can’t, or won’t answer these basic questions, then perhaps you should ponder: how effective will they be when having to answer your questions about the course content? You should then have your answer!
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