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Issues in Educational Research, 2021, Vol 31(4), 1231-1248.
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Education or care? Childcare or school? Pre-service teacher perspectives on teaching in the childcare sector

Christine Robinson, Dee O'Connor and Tracy Treasure
The University of Notre Dame Australia, Australia

In Western Australia (WA) early learning centres, also referred to as childcare centres, are required by law to employ at least one degree qualified teacher. As such, graduates from early childhood degree programs are able to seek employment as a teacher across the school and childcare sectors. This paper presents research that investigated pre-service early childhood teachers' perspectives on teaching within the early learning sector in WA. The impetus was to ascertain pre-service teachers' perspectives of the childcare sector, specifically how they viewed the role of the teacher in this context. Perspectives were gathered before and again after a ten week professional experience within a centre. A mixed methods approach was adopted to facilitate the collection of data by survey and interview. Quantitative survey data were analysed through statistical analysis and compiling percentage and frequency graphs. Qualitative interview data were transcribed and coded to determine emerging themes. Findings illustrated that whilst education and care has become a unified concept at the policy level, an education-care dichotomy continues to exist within the early learning sector. Implications arising from this disconnect relate to staffing, conditions and the quality of experiences afforded to children. These implications highlight the need for Australian governments to investigate international approaches for creating unity in early learning centres.
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Authors: Dr Christine Robinson (nee McGunnigle) is a senior lecturer and postgraduate program coordinator in the area of early childhood education and care at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle campus. Christine teaches within the undergraduate and post-graduate early childhood programs. Her research interests are in the area of early childhood play and pedagogical approaches, holistic pedagogies, curriculum development, young children's spirituality and she leads the G.R.A.C.E International Project.
Web: https://www.notredame.edu.au/about/schools/fremantle/education/staff/ Christine-Robinson
Email: christine.robinson@nd.edu.au

Dr Dee O'Connor is an Associate Professor of Education at The University of Notre Dame, Australia. Dee's research interests relate to holistic early learning and development, learning environments, outdoor learning and nature pedagogy, play pedagogies, the play to inquiry continuum and the development of higher order thinking skills, particularly critical and creative thinking.
Web: https://www.notredame.edu.au/about/schools/fremantle/education/staff/Dee-OConnor
Email: dee.oconnor@nd.edu.au

Ms Tracy Treasure is currently the Acting Program Coordinator for the undergraduate early childhood program at the University of Notre Dame Australia. Tracy teaches a broad range of pedagogical courses preparing pre-service teachers for a professional within the early learning centre and school contexts. Tracy's research interests are in the area of early childhood play, play-based learning approaches and holistic development of children.
Web: https://www.notredame.edu.au/about/schools/fremantle/education/staff/Tracy-Treasure
Email: tracy.treasure@nd.edu.au

Please cite as: Robinson, C., O'Connor, D. & Treasure, T. (2021). Education or care? Childcare or school? Pre-service teacher perspectives on teaching in the childcare sector. Issues in Educational Research, 31(4), 1231-1248. http://www.iier.org.au/iier31/robinson.pdf

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Created 15 December 2021. Last correction: 15 December 2021. Website: Roger Atkinson [rjatkinson@bigpond.com]