Why I deserve a pay rise: I am so poorly paid that in winter I cannot afford to use a heater.
I am embarrassed that my friends say I work harder than anyone they know and are aware that my pay does not reflect this. I am embarrassed that my brother at the age of 17 earned more than I did in a traineeship than I did after 10 years in the industry. I am embarrassed that I earned more (more than double) working overseas as a governess. I am embarrassed that as a single professional I am unable to afford a loan for a home. I am deeply saddened by the exit of incredible teachers from the industry due to burnout and lack of recognition for what we do.
I simply deserve to be paid the same pay scales as my primary and secondary teachers. I graduated with a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood) but have been financially disadvantaged for selecting to choose my passion for the early childhood profession. This passion has not paid off long term. A bitter taste lies in my mouth lies when I think of the 18 full time years I have missed out on equal pay - how big is that financial gap?
I don’t just ‘work’ in early childhood, I’ve dedicated my life to it. I live it, breathe it, love it. I manage my service (all aspects of it) as well as teach, ensuring we offer high quality early childhood education and care programs. I know our children and families intimately. I am also constantly upskilling through professional development opportunities. I am a real teacher but get no recognition of our qualifications, skills or dedication – yet I work with the most important and vulnerable age group (3-5 year-olds) that exist.
In my early years of teaching I worked as a waitress to supplement my income as an early childhood teacher. I was paid more to deliver food to tables than I was to manage our local preschool. At the time my step father asked me ‘Why don’t you work in hospitality instead of preschool’? I responded ‘because I love preschool teaching. After 30 years of teaching, nurturing and caring for our most vulnerable, impressionable and at times challenging citizens just because I love it, why should I be paid less”?
Where is the recognition and respect for early childhood teachers!? We deserve equal if not more for the roles we have in our teaching profession. I am still as passionate about early childhood but I am fed up with the lack of respect and recognition for us as teachers. I am angry that when I retire I will have a lot less superannuation thus I will be less comfortable financially than my colleagues who chose to teach in primary education.
I have completed four years of university education equivalent to other teachers. It has cost me the same to attend university. I am a Proficient Teacher and am required to pay for annual registration as well as professional development to maintain my accreditation status. Early childhood brain development is crucial to future success at school and employment. Early childhood development and education lays the foundation for ongoing lifelong learning and success. My husband is a high school teacher and our work is of an equal importance. We also face the same work load and challenges, including: working towards outcomes; monitoring and documenting progress; planning for individual and groups of children; the responsibility of children’s wellbeing and safety; collaborating with families and other professionals; attending staff meetings and professional development.
Teachers are teachers – simple. I could, and have taught in both primary schools and preschools. I chose to make my career in early childhood. Apart from this fact, my role, when a preschool director, which has often equated more to a principal’s role – in dealing on so many levels with issues such as: staffing, funding, finances, governance, industrial relations, legal and constitutional matters, government legislation, community involvement . . . the list goes on. All these, in addition to the education and nurturing of those children in my care, their welfare and that of their families and my staff members.
We are working with very young children who require constant care and attention. Development during these years occurs at a much greater rate, and in a very individualised way, requiring more ongoing and one to one programing to suit each child’s needs. Early childhood accreditation requirements have required greater documentation and interactions with parents/carers which involves not only having knowledge on child development but also family psychology. All this requires greater holistic knowledge as well as consuming time in and out of working hours. We also recognise the importance of providing a more educational environment for children of this age group than we did in the past. This has been recognised by regulations insisting on increased training for teachers being present while children are in attendance and increased training for all staff who are involved with children in early learning centres. As well as this there has been the addition requirement for maintaining teacher accreditation with ongoing training. This now adds to the cost of maintaining teaching requirements. Remuneration needs to be with consideration of other occupations who make the same demands on their working conditions.
I am a professional who educates children at a critical stage in their development. I have the same qualification and HECS debt as a teacher working in the school systems and have done the same work to gain the degree. I am required to follow a national curriculum to program for the children each day. I am required to meet many regulatory requirements as set out in the National Regulation 2011. I am an accredited teacher who must complete a certain amount of training each year to remain current and accredited.
I do the same workload as a primary school teacher and some days more because of my position of early childhood teacher and 2IC in my service. I also supervise five trainees. My abilities to write learning stories on 30 children per month as well as planning and implementing an inviting environment for my 33 children to learn and extend their knowledge on the world they live in. I am constantly bombarded with changes in the regulations which requires me to adjust my teaching practises is a constant battle. I do deserve a pay rise.
My primary school colleagues acknowledge, value and respect my skills and knowledge in the early years. They seek my advice, respect and value the knowledge, expertise and specialist skills I share as an early childhood teacher. We collaborate as educational professionals. Why? Because Teachers are Teachers regardless of what age group is in our classroom.
We deserve a pay rise because we are doing equivalent work to teachers in schools. For teachers heading closer to retirement like me the effect is compounded because lower wages have meant less ability to save for retirement or to put into superannuation. For those at the start of their career they can see that this will add up to a big difference in superannuation by the time they retire, again compared to teachers in school systems.