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Upgrade provides new simulated childcare centres

The next generation of early childhood educators across the region will get to train in real-life conditions with the opening of new simulated early education centres at South West TAFE.

The new-look early childhood classrooms at Warrnambool, Portland and Hamilton campuses have been upgraded with the latest technology and equipment and the course has been updated with new training content.

The changes have been made to encourage more people to look at a career in early childhood education to address serious industry shortages being felt across the region.

South West TAFE Manager Education Projects, John Finnerty, said the introduction of new technology including smart screens and video conferencing facilities would be supported by the new simulated early learning centres.

“The simulated centres are basically an extra adjoining classroom in a double-sized space that looks and feels like a childcare centre. It means students get a real-life practical space to learn how to set up activities and be ready when they go into a real centre,” Mr Finnerty said.

“The focus is on training industry-ready students. We aimed to upgrade facilities at each of the campuses so no matter where you study, you get the same experience,” he said.

The Colac campus will also be upgraded as part of the total $1.28 million dollar project.

The rooms will also be available for community playgroups and other programs and the refurbishment opens the possibility of students bringing their children to classes.

“We will look into the possibility of child minding, not a formal creche arrangement but where they could be looked after by a minder while mum or dad studies in the other part of the room,” Mr Finnerty said.

“These facilities open up possibilities for us to run more innovative programs.”

South West TAFE has worked with a project advisory group to develop new training models and will continue to review its programs.

Teaching Education Manager Kate Williams said the changes were designed to motivate students to become high-quality early childhood educators.

“We looked at the physical space and we now have a hands-on, contemporary learning environment where the students can practice and refine their skills and apply those skills in a safe learning space,” Ms Williams said.

“The modern resources and equipment will build their confidence to go out into a real-world workplace.”

Ms Williams said the previous simulated environment was very dated and needed to be upgraded to reflect what today’s modern childcare centres.

“We explored the sector to ensure we were purchasing the most modern equipment and we also had the support of an advisory group made up of centre directors and group training organisations.

“We were able incorporate some of their suggestions and feedback into what we purchased and what we are doing in our programs, and the changes have received really positive feedback.

“The industry wants a facility where students can get the right preparation to have the knowledge and skills needed when they start to work with children.

“Having these facilities is a point-of-difference for South West TAFE.”

Ms Williams said there continued to be huge demand across the region for high-quality early childhood educators.

She added that early childhood enrolments were strong this year at South West TAFE along with demand for the VETDSS program for secondary school students.


Upgrade provides new simulated childcare centres
Upgrade provides new simulated childcare centres