I don’t think I need to tell you that having great staff has a huge impact on the success of any business. It doesn’t matter the level of experience, qualifications or knowledge, a committed and passionate certificate 3 staff member is more valuable to your service then a qualified Early Childhood Teacher who has lost their commitment to the cause. Of course, depending on the size of your service, a qualified ECT is required, however don’t be quick to employ someone based on qualifications. We live in a time when flexible study options, especially online courses, are so easily available that the possibility is there for people to study while they work. This is a huge benefit for employers, as they have the option to find a passionate, committed educator, who can work towards obtaining their degree.
Although all centres are different in many aspects, one big difference that varies from service to service is the noticeable hierarchy between staff. Of course, when it comes down to a decision having to be made, there has to be someone in a position to make that decision, usually the nominated supervisor. But what about the day to day running of the service? Some services I have worked with have a great big sign that informs parents to only discuss matters relating to their child, with the qualified teacher in the room. Other services encourage parents to talk to any member of staff, with the information then being communicated to the other team members. One of these practices has a higher chance of causing conflict amongst staff, while the other gives respect for individuals and provides opportunities for them to develop their skills. It also presents parents with more of a choice, as they may not feel comfortable discussing certain topics with certain educators.
The mentality that the ECT teaches and the cert 3/diplomas assist is still a tradition in many EC services. My view is that in order to get the recognition we deserve for our profession, we need to have passionate and knowledgeable staff in our sector and new certificate 3 or diploma educators are not going to learn much by standing at the craft sink, washing up every day. Therefore, how does your service ensure that every educator has a voice in the daily programme and how is your service building a professional environment where all staff are provided opportunities to learn new skills and develop their current ones?
Consistency is key when it comes to settling children into a new setting. This may be at the start of the year when children transition to a new room or halfway through, when children move interstate. Having a consistent staff roster helps parents and families know who will be there when they drop off or pickup. This familiarisation also helps to build relationships between the families and staff. Consistent rosters also help staff to pre plan their personal lives around work, therefore leading to less days off or staff having to swap shifts in a haste. Although, some things can’t always be pre planned and flexibility is needed on occasion.
If staff need to have time off, it can be very beneficial to have consistent relief staff who know the service and its policies and practices. Although this is often challenging, especially for small services who have only a few staff, as causal staff are often seeking fulltime work to support their families. Making the casual staff feel a part of the team or showing them that you are giving them every opportunity to get some work, helps casual staff feel a sense of trust and commitment to your service. Although, if you find it difficult to keep consistent casual staff, is your induction process efficient and does it provide new staff with all relevant information about your service?
For more information on how First Years can help your service meet the requirements for Quality Area 4 and all other National Quality Areas, contact First Years Early Childhood Consulting today.