Posted March 2011
On Wednesday 23 March the staff at KU joined teachers in early childhood centres around the state by turning blue. The ‘Blue Day' at KU is part of a campaign to raise awareness of the fact that early childhood teachers can receive up to 20% less than other teachers despite the same training.
The NSW/ACT Branch of the Independent Education Union (IEU) commenced the campaign to achieve pay parity for early childhood teachers at the end of last year. The union is arguing that the 4,500 early childhood teachers in NSW should be paid the same as other teachers.
The ‘Blue Day' activities saw KU staff wear blue clothing and accessories, do blue based activities, hang blue banners and posters out the front of their centres to increase awareness about the fact that early childhood teachers are poorly paid compared to other teachers.
Marta Coelho, who is the Director at KU Penrith Preschool and a qualified early childhood teacher, wore blue on Wednesday to signify that early childhood teachers are ready to have a blue with the state government about their pay parity.
"I participated in Blue Day because it just isn't fair" said Marta. "Early childhood teachers working in community based preschools and long day care centres earn up to 20% less than teachers working in state government preschools and independent and Catholic primary schools. A full-time early childhood teacher can earn $14,000 less per annum than other teachers."
"Good teachers often move to primary schools where they can make more money with the same qualification. Alternatively, those of us who are passionate about working with young children struggle on, despite the low wages, because every day we see how children benefit from quality early childhood programs, delivered by a qualified teacher."
The Union is calling on the NSW State Government to double the funding to services through the Teachers Costs Contribution Scheme to enable early childhood services to be able to increase wages for their teachers.
KU Children's Services has been employing qualified teachers in its preschools and long day care centres, since opening Australia's first kindergarten in 1895, and today employs more university qualified teachers than any other organisation, outside the Department of Education and Training. KU has long been seeking pay parity for teachers in early childhood settings.
"The pay disparity raises issues around both quality and affordability of care," explains Sheridan Dudley, KU's CEO. "It is harder and harder for community based services to retain qualified experienced staff, when they can earn more working for a primary school."
"Parents shouldn't have to pay to increase teachers' wages by paying higher fees for childcare and preschool. The NSW State Government spends less on children's services than any other state. If they increased their funding, we could lessen the wage gap between early childhood teachers and other teachers."