2020-21 Early Childhood Education Scholarships Program

The 2020-21 Early Childhood Education Scholarships Program has been developed to help increase the number of qualified early childhood teachers in the early childhood education sector in NSW.

The 2020-21 Early Childhood Education Scholarships Program is the first year of a three-year scholarship program.

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 an Early Childhood Teaching degree.

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 are sought from scholars intending to commence or continue studying in 2021.

Eligibility criteria

Interested applicants do not need to be currently working in the education sector to apply. To be eligible to apply for the 2020-21 Early Childhood Education scholarship program, applicants must:

  • 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)
  • 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 may study full-time or part-time.

How to apply for a scholarship

Applications close 4 October 2020.

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

  • Verified copy of proof of identity and proof of home address
  • Details of the 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
  • Certified proof of your Australian citizenship or permanent residency
  • Details of referee/s to support your application.

Application assessment process

Applications for the 2020-21 Early Childhood Education Scholarships Program close on 4 October 2020.

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
  • 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 early childhood teaching degree qualification recognised by the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA).

Individual grant award will be confirmed with each scholars 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

Details of eligible courses are listed on the Universities Admissions Centre's (UAC) website and on the relevant higher education providers' websites.

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

Scholarship recipients may enrol in a course offered by any registered Australian higher education provider located in another state/territory.

More information

If you have questions about the 2020-21 Early Childhood Education Scholarships program, email the Early Childhood Directorate on ecec.scholarships@det.nsw.edu.au or call 1300 755 426.

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