2021-22 Aboriginal Early Childhood Education Scholarships and Early Childhood Education Scholarships Program

The 2021-22 Aboriginal Early Childhood Education Scholarships and Early Childhood Education Scholarships Program were developed to help increase the number of qualified early childhood teachers in the early childhood education sector in NSW.

The 2021-22 Aboriginal Early Childhood Education Scholarships and Early Childhood Education Scholarships Program was the second year of a three-year scholarship program.

Applications for the 2021-22 Aboriginal Early Childhood Education Scholarships and Early Childhood Education Scholarships are closed.

Aim

To increase the number of early childhood teachers working in the early childhood education sector in NSW (preschools, including mobile preschools and long day care services). This supports the vision of a highly qualified and sustainable workforce which meets the needs of children and families, including those from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds; culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; in regional and remote locations; and children with disability and additional needs.

Importance of an early childhood teaching qualification

Early childhood teachers are invaluable to the quality and care of centre-based services and mobile services. They deliver high-quality teaching and learning to young children, and help them get a strong start to their school life.

To align with Education and Care National Regulations, NSW centre-based services with 30 or more preschool-aged children or under are required to have at least one early childhood teacher in attendance.

The NSW Education Standard Authority recognises the importance of early childhood teachers, and requires early childhood teachers to have their qualifications professionally accredited.

An increase in Aboriginal early childhood teachers will help ensure that Aboriginal perspectives are embedded in early childhood education, and that preschools are welcoming and inclusive places for all children.

About the scholarships

The scholarships provide financial assistance to scholars who intend to be or who are employed in NSW early childhood education services.

The program may also link students with an appropriate mentor for the duration of their studies where this is desired.

Scholarships Award

Approximately 40 scholarships up to $20,000 each, will be offered to those commencing or completing a bachelor-level early childhood teaching degree. This degree can be studied at universities or other vocational education and training providers (e.g. TAFE).

Scholarships will be awarded taking into consideration prioritisation to meet emerging workforce needs including those already employed in a preschool (including mobile preschool) or long day care in NSW, Aboriginal people, those in regional and remote NSW areas and/or NSW areas with high numbers of disadvantaged children.

The final number of scholarships awarded may vary depending on the financial award provided to each scholar (for instance if there is substantial recognised prior learning or the scholar has partially completed a qualification).

Final award amounts may impact the number of scholarships provided.

Applications were sought from scholars intending to commence or continue studying in 2022.

Eligibility criteria

Interested applicants did not need to be currently working in the education sector to apply. To be eligible to apply for the 2021-22 Aboriginal Early Childhood Education Scholarship or the Early Childhood Education Scholarship program, applicants had to:

  • intend to enrol or already be enrolled in a bachelor's degree leading to an approved early childhood teaching qualification recognised by the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA). This degree can be studied at universities or other vocational education and training providers (e.g. TAFE).
  • be intending to complete the degree in no more than 6 years.
  • not be in receipt of any other scholarship funding related to the course for which the scholarship is sought.
  • be an Australian citizen or permanent resident residing in NSW. An exemption from the NSW residency requirements may be provided where the applicant can demonstrate they are working or intend to work in NSW early childhood education services. An example of this would be an applicant living in a border region where the applicant is already employed in a NSW early childhood education service.

Applicants could study full-time or part-time.

How to apply for a scholarship

Applications closed on 7 November 2021

Applications are open from 7 October 2021 until 7 November 2021.

Applicants are asked to supply the following information, via the SmartyGrants form. Late applications will not be accepted.

  • Verified copy of proof of identity and proof of home address
  • Details of the bachelor-level degree in which they intend to enrol in/are enrolled in
  • Supporting statements outlining motivation to engage in early childhood education as a career in NSW, how the scholarship will assist you with the completion of a degree, information on how you intend to use your qualification and any previous qualifications or experience that support your application
  • If relevant to your application, identify as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person and provide confirmation
  • If relevant to your application, details of any prior qualification/s and experience
  • If relevant to your application, details of employment if currently employed within a preschool (including mobile preschool) or long day care in NSW and a proof of employment letter
  • Certified proof of your Australian citizenship or permanent residency

Application assessment process

Applications for the 2021-22 Aboriginal Early Childhood Education Scholarships and Early Childhood Education Scholarships Program closed on 7 November.

Following the closing date, applications will be checked for eligibility and completeness. The Department may contact applicants during this phase to clarify factual information, particularly on the eligibility criteria.

Assessment of applications will be based on information provided by applicants. The Department may also seek information provided by referees to support the assessment process. A competitive assessment process may be utilised.

During the assessment process, applications will be prioritised based on criteria identified in the program guidelines. Prioritisation of applications includes:

  • Applicants already employed in a preschool (including mobile preschool) or long day care in NSW.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Applicants in regional and remote NSW areas and/or NSW areas with high numbers of disadvantaged children.
  • Currently studying an appropriate bachelor-level degree that leads to becoming an Early Childhood Teacher (approved by ACECQA).
  • Other prioritisation that reflects emerging workforce needs and is considered to support the purpose and intended outcome of the program.

The assessment process and final award decision will consider the total score across all relevant criteria, prioritisation, assessment elements and the overall aim of the program.

Endorsement of scholarships awards will be subject to the number of applicants considered through the assessment process to be suitable for a scholarship grant award, and the available budget.

Payments

Successful applicants will be offered a scholarship of up to a total of $20,000 to undertake or complete an approved bachelor-level early childhood teaching degree qualification recognised by the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA).

Individual grant award will be confirmed with each scholar up to the maximum amount of $20,000. Individual grants awards will take into account the application information, priority categories and an adjustment to reflect any completed units (for instance if there is substantial recognised prior learning or the scholar has partially completed a qualification). Individual grant awards will be confirmed as part of an individual Deed of Agreement.

Payments will be made in instalments upon successful completion of milestones based on a scholar’s progress in the degree. Further detail regarding payments will be provided as part of the information package for successful applicants. Payments will not be made for units of study completed prior to the award of the scholarship.

Use of Funds

  • successful applicants are required to sign a Deed of Agreement setting out the terms and conditions of the scholarship
  • scholarship recipients can decide how best to use the funds to support their studies. This may include, but is not limited to, purchase or hire of textbooks and resources, costs associated with attending study sessions, technology to support study, or course fees. It generally does not include general living expenses such as rent or mortgage payments where these are not a specific requirement of course completion.
  • upon completion of study there is an expectation that scholarship recipients seek employment in the early childhood education sector in NSW (preschools, including mobile preschools and long day care services) if not already employed in this sector
  • an employment incentive may be awarded to those that satisfy the Department’s employment criteria at the completion of their studies
  • scholarship recipients may defer their study for a period of up to 12 months, with the Department's prior approval.

Eligible early childhood teaching degrees

The course must be recognised by ACECQA's Qualifications List of approved bachelor-level early childhood teaching degrees.

Scholarship recipients may enrol in a course offered by any registered Australian higher education provider located in another state/territory – including universities and vocational education and training providers (e.g. TAFE).

Meet the scholars

Christine White - Shorebreakers Kindergarten and Early Learning Centre Pambula

An educator with a passion for her local community is one of 114 recipients of the NSW Government’s 2021-22 Early Childhood Education Scholarship Program.

Early Childhood Education teacher at Shorebreakers Kindergarten and Early Learning Centre in Pambula, Christine White said being awarded an early childhood education scholarship will support her to deliver high-quality early education for children within her community on the far South Coast of NSW.

With the support of the scholarship, Christine is completing her Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood and Primary) degree through Swinburne University to increase her skills, knowledge and career opportunities.

'I can't believe how accessing this scholarship will change both my study journey and will open so many doors for me,' she said.

'In the future I would like work within the early intervention field, to assist children and families within my community that need a bit more support.'

'Perhaps the biggest motivation for me moving into the early intervention field is being able to offer a high level of support and education to children and families.'

'I have a real passion for working with children who have many diverse qualities and love making a difference in their lives.'

'Living in regional NSW, we don't have a lot of access to these avenues of support in comparison to city areas so being a part of this process will be very rewarding.'

Christine said scholarship is also a significant financial help for her family, as it will assist with paying course fees, accessing technology and other required resources.

'Working within this amazing industry, it is great to be recognised as a professional and receive government support to complete my qualifications,' she said.

Image: Christine White - Scholarship recipient

Stephanie Callaghan - Girrinbai Community Preschool

An educator at Girrinbai Community Preschool on Awabakal country, Stephanie Callaghan is one of 25 recipients of the NSW Government’s Aboriginal Early Childhood Education Scholarship for 2021-2022.

Stephanie herself is from the Wonnaruah and Worimi nations and has been working within the education sector for over 17 years.

She is completing a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Teaching (0-12 years) through Avondale University and is passionate about working with young children and supporting their growth and development.

Stephanie said I am aware of the long-term benefits of each child receiving quality early education, support and interventions within early childhood education settings, before they reach primary school.

'I thrive on witnessing the growth, development and achievements of every child I work with, every day. Working in early childhood education is so rewarding,' she said.

'Completing my degree is validating many of the practices I have used intuitively over the years and working at Girrinbai Preschool has allowed me to immediately apply my learning in the workplace.'

'I love providing children with as much knowledge and as many experiences as possible because I know this helps to build the foundations for their lives.'

'I am also dedicated to teaching children about Koori culture. I have delivered cultural education at Girrinbai Community Preschool for nine years which I have continued to do since commencing as an educator at the service two years ago.'

'I have observed the educators at Girrinbai develop their cultural competence and confidence to program ‘something’ cultural every day.'

'Culture is not an add on but an essential learning topic for all Australian children.'

Stephanie said the scholarship removes a lot of the financial burden of studying and plans to use the scholarship funding to assist with paying course fees, travel costs for placements and purchasing a new laptop.

'I’m so grateful and appreciative to be granted this scholarship,' Stephanie said.

Image: Stephanie Callaghan - Scholarship recipient

More information

If you have questions about the 2021-22 Aboriginal Early Childhood Education Scholarships and Early Childhood Education Scholarships program, email the Early Childhood Directorate on ecec.scholarships@det.nsw.edu.au or call 1800 619 113.

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