Employment opportunities for qualified early childhood staff continue to grow, with the number of students studying early childhood rising across UCOL campuses in Wairarapa, Palmerston North, Whanganui and Horowhenua.
This is a trend expected to continue, with the government’s recent announcement about reducing child to teacher ratios and ensuring that 100% of teachers in Early Childhood Centres are qualified.
UCOL Early Childhood Lecturer, Te Kiira Osborne, is very passionate about her teaching. “A career in early childhood education is rewarding, and combined with UCOL’s innovative, one-of-a-kind approach to teaching, very satisfying. What we have done with the New Zealand Diploma in Early Childhood Education is being met with applause from the early childhood industry. Our students are working in centres with bicultural approaches and taking pride in their work”.
Maryann Corrigan, who leads UCOL’s Early Childhood programmes
, is proud of what the training is doing for students and early childhood centres. “The benefits are widespread, with whanau of students tracking their whakapapa, sharing their journeys, awhi and support. The feedback we get from employers is rewarding.” UCOL has developed a staircase of qualifications from Certificates to Diploma for people interested in early childhood. The family/work friendly format allows students to still work while studying, and meet the needs of their daily lives. UCOL certainly values the support from Early Childhood Centres throughout our regions, with student placements playing a key part of the students learning and their progression to employment.
What makes the programme really special is the fusion between students within their own community, being inclusive of New Zealand’s culture, understanding local history and iwi significance, so that children being taught understand where they come from and why it is so important. To achieve this we are collaborating with iwi in all of our delivery sites, with the Wairarapa delivery providing a good example of how this is working.
“In the Wairarapa we have local legends about Palliser and the Tararua Ranges. Rangitāne and Kahungunu contributed and are happy with the direction and stories. UCOL provided the educational context” said MaryAnn.
Te Kiira says “There is a congruence between the way iwi work, which is strength-based and consultative, and traditional education which is hands on. We identify what they do well, build on it, and affirm it. “
The students experience supportive leadership with strong communication, digital technology and lecturing staff who are super responsive to students’ ideas and feedback.