Work placement is an excellent opportunity for you to prepare and gain insight into the early childhood industry as well as help you to clarify or confirm your career choice.
As part of your early childhood studies, you will need to complete work placement within an early childhood setting. Work placement is an opportunity for you to obtain hands on experience and observe educators already working in the early childhood industry. It will also give you the chance to experience what it is like to work in an early childhood setting.
Work Placement Hours
When completing both your Certificate III in Children’s Services or Diploma of Children’s Services you will need to fulfill a certain number of work placement hours in order to receive your qualification.
For Certificate III the minimum amount of work placement hours required to complete is 100 hours. For Diploma of Children’s Services the minimum amount of work placement hours to complete is 300 hours. The number of hours may change depending on where you’re studying.
There are many options in how to go about completing your work placement hours. You have an option of doing a block placement (this means completing work placement on consecutive days over duration of a number of weeks), attendance of full, half or partial days within an early childhood setting, doing volunteer work or even finding casual work. If you are already working in an early childhood setting you can also complete your work placement there itself.
If you are completing work placement while working within an early childhood setting, you may need to schedule time out of your normal work hours to complete your assignments and tasks. You need to understand that as an employee it’s your responsibility during work hours to continue your day to day work duties and you may not get on opportunity to complete assignments and tasks required. It is best to discuss and confirm this with the centre director.
Wherever you decide to do your work placement, typically this needs to be pre-approved by your study institution. If you are studying your qualification outside of Australia your work placement must be done in Australia due to the National Regulations and the qualifications work place supervisors must have.
Choosing An Early Childhood Centre For Work Placement
Always pre-plan your work placement a couple of months before it starts, rather than organize it at the last minute. When searching for a centre you may find it difficult to find somewhere to do your work placement. Some study institutions, who organize placements for their students, book centres in advance which may mean you miss out on that particular place.
When organizing your own work placement it’s best to contact childcare centres in your locality and speak to the director. You will need to ask whether or not they take students for work placement, if the centre does its best to make an appointment to go and meet the director personally. When contacting centres you may find that some may not accept work placement students. There could be many reasons for this, don’t take it personally just try somewhere else.
Before Work Placment Begins
Once your work placement is sorted, it’s advisable to go and see the childcare centre of where you will be doing your work placement. During this time, you will meet the staff, have a look around the centre, talk to the director about what you are required to do during your placement, go through any task/assignments to complete, work out your hours, etc. You can also meet the team leader of the room you will be working in and go through the routines, etc.
It’s also recommended that you prepare a brief summary about yourself which also includes a photo of yourself. The director will display this in the room you will be working in. This summary will provide details to families and other members of the community that you are a student currently on work placement at the centre. You can also include the following:
- Your name
- Dates you will be on work placement
- What qualification you are studying
- The institution you are studying with
- A brief description about yourself
- The reason for pursuing a career in Early Childhood
A week before your work placement starts, contact the centre director and confirm your work placement for the following week. It will also be a good idea to clarify any questions or concerns you may have.
This is an opportunity for you to become more fully prepared and know what to expect.
During Work Placement
For the duration of work placement you will be considered as part of the team, where your fellow staff members will support and mentor you throughout the day. You will be given simple duties and tasks to complete such as engaging in children’s play, setting up activities, cleaning up during meal times, reading stories during group time, completing art and craft with the children etc. It’s all part of the day’s work.
Since you are only a student on work placement you will not be left alone with a group of children or counted as part of the ratio, a staff member will always be with you.
You should also be given sufficient time during the day to complete and tasks and assignments you may have. When doing tasks or assignments which require more planning such as setting up a particular environment, observing a child during a specific experience, adding materials to an activity, gathering information from the centre, etc. you should discuss this with your room leader first in order to get sufficient time to complete the task.
Your assessor from your institute will also be paying a visit to you, sometime during your placement, to assess how you are going in regards to your practical tasks. During this time they will observe you while you interact and engage in the environment and make notes on what you have done well or where you can improve. It can be a little nerve wrecking to have someone watch your every move, however your room leader will support you as best they can.
Everyone will be aware that you are there learning as a student so they will provide you with as much help and support as you need.
Tips & Strategies During Work Placement
Below are some tips and strategies to keep in mind while attending work placement:
Staff and Families
- Listen to what your room leader and fellow staffs tell you.
- Show initiative.
- Greet parents with a smile.
- Introduce yourself to families.
- During pick ups, if the room leader is busy talk to parents briefly about what their child did during the day.
- If a parent has questions or concerns with their child, direct them to the room leader.
- Behave in a mature manner and use appropriate language.
- Be polite and communicate clearly.
- Have a positive attitude, show interest and enthusiasm.
- Respect the centre’s guidelines, follow policies and procedures.
- Listen carefully and follow all instructions.
- Apply your skills and knowledge where appropriate.
- Show initiative.
Dress Code / Personal Hygiene
- Follow the dress code. Typically smart casual wear such as black long pants and a polo t-shirt. It some centres a uniform may be provided. Wear a name badge (if provided) and pay attention to your personal hygiene.
- Wear a broad brim hat while outside at all times.
- Long hair should be tied up and kept out of your face.
- Remove dangling earrings.
- Cover up tattoos if needed (if they are inappropriate for children).
- Be punctual and on time.
- Arrive 15 minutes before your due to start.
- If you are running late, ring the centre and advise them.
- If you are unable attend it’s best to contact the centre director at the earliest to let them know (you will need to make up the time).
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- If you don’t understand something or don’t know what to do ask the room leader.
- If you have any concerns or problems speak to the room leader or centre director.
Health and Safety
- Wash your hands regularly throughout the day.
- Use gloves when handling food, wiping noses etc.
- Report any accidents/incidents to a staff member immediately.
- Clean up spills etc.
- Become familiar with the centre’s health and safety procedures.
After Work Placement
Once you have completed your practical work placement it’s a good idea to speak to the centre director and your room leader about your performance. By this stage, they would have observed you in many different situations and your dealings with children, staff and families. They will be able to provide you with feedback and comments on how you went. This performance review will be helpful and supportive as you learn more about yourself and provide you with insight on where you can improve.
Now that work placement is complete and you have gotten your “feet wet” in the early childhood industry it’s a good idea to reflect on the experiences you've had during the time you spent at work placement. For some of you, you would probably want to begin working in the industry straight away, for others you may need time to contemplate your options.
Whether you are studying your Certificate III or your Diploma of Children’s Services, there will always be a necessity for early childhood educators within the community. Working with children is one of the most fulfilling experiences you can be a part of and a great career choice. Work placement enables an excellent opportunity for a “real hands on” experience in this industry. Good Luck with your endeavours!
Frequently Asked Questions for the Cert III ECE
Can I get a job in child care? When should I look for my work placement? And what do all these acronyms mean?
These are some of the questions we receive almost everyday about the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. You probably have similar concerns if you’re thinking of taking up this national qualification or are already studying it today.
To put your concerns to rest and bring you closer to gaining your qualification, we’ve compiled the answers to the 10 most asked questions by our child care students. Take a look at the list below and get valuable information about the Cert III ECE.
1. Where can this qualification lead me?
The Cert III ECE (or equivalent older qualifications) is the minimum standard to work in many types of child care services in Australia.
The current regulations state that:
- • To work with children from birth to preschool age (0-5 years) in centre-based child care services you must have, or be actively working towards, at least an approved certificate III level education and care qualification like the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care.
- • If you are running your own family day care service or want to work for one, all family day care educators must have or be actively working towards at least an approved certificate III level education and care qualification.
In other words, you need to complete or take up this course to be qualified to work as an early childhood educator in the most common types of child care services in Australia. With this qualification you can typically apply for positions like:
- • Child Care Assistant
- • Child Care Educator
- • Family Day Care Educator
- • Mobile Child Care Assistant
2. When can I start my vocational placement?
It’s your choice when to complete your vocational placement, but we recommend waiting until you’ve finished the first few course subjects. You’ll be expected to carry out the typical duties of a child care worker during your placement so it’s ideal to have a solid foundation of knowledge to guide you.
3. Why is child care full of acronyms and abbreviations?
A lot of regulators, training organisations, providers and educators are involved in early childhood education. Many child care acronyms really refer to these industry bodies and regulators.
Don’t worry if you feel a bit confused by all the letters and abbreviations because you’re likely to pick up their meanings while you study. You won’t need to memorize everything right away, but you’ll have to be familiar with the major ones. These include:
- • ACECQA – Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority
- • NQF – National Quality Framework
- • NQS – National Quality Standards
- • EYLF – Early Years Learning Framework
- • FSAC – Framework for School Aged Children
4. Is there a requirement for english language, literacy and numeracy?
Yes, as an educator there are language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) requirements you have to meet for the CHC30113. After all, you’ll be spending a lot of time teaching and communicating with other people once you complete the course.
You need a minimum English proficiency equivalent to a Year 10 level to become a qualified educator. If you are unsure of your English proficiency level, you will complete an LLN evaluation after you enrol to assess your English skills.
5. Who are the regulators for child care?
The Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) is the major regulatory body for the Australian early childhood education sector. It is made up of representatives from each state and territory. You might be familiar with them already because one of their biggest roles is to guide the implementation of the National Quality Framework across Australia.
Each state and territory also has its own regulator. For example, for Queensland it is the Office for Early Childhood Education and Care while Victoria has the Department of Education and Training. These organisations are the ones who make sure all child care providers comply with their regulations.
6. Is this course all about playing with children?
Child care in Australia is about much more than playing with children. As an Early Childhood Educator you will be responsible for providing a protective, nurturing environment that helps children learn and develop to their full potential. Play is one of the many tools you’ll use to achieve the best outcomes for the children in your care.
The skills you’ll learn in this course focus on how to develop positive relationships with children, support their holistic development, participate in ensuring workplace safety and even deliver emergency first aid.
7. Can I apply for Recognition of Prior Learning?
Yes, definitely. RPL is available to all learners who can demonstrate evidence of prior learning through training, work or life experience.
Applying for RPL is no guarantee that you will receive credit for the course units. As a Registered Training Organisation in Australia, it is our responsibility to only issue qualifications to learners who have sufficiently demonstrated the required skills and knowledge. A successful RPL application requires verifiable evidence that you possess the exact skills and knowledge required for this qualification.
You can apply to get RPL for the Cert III ECE if you:
- Hold qualifications with units related to early childhood education and care
- Have relevant and recent work experience
- Have evidence that proves your background
Examples of acceptable evidence are:
- Course transcripts, statement of attainment and certificates
- References and documentation of your previous work responsibilities
- Work samples
To apply, simply indicate on your enrolment form that you wish to receive RPL. An RPL Assessor will contact you to check your eligibility for each unit and explain what you need to submit. The amount of RPL you receive will depend on the evidence you provide and any remaining assessment can be completed through gap training.
8. Can I get the answers to the workbook?
Your trainers cannot just provide you with the exact answers to questions in the workbooks. Their job is to provide guidance, feedback and instruction so you can discover the answers for yourself.
The primary resource you’ll use for the workbooks are the Learner Guides. It is highly recommended that you read the Learner Guides first before taking on the workbooks so that you already have an idea of where to find the answers.
You can also visit the student forums if you’re having trouble with a particular item because other students may have already asked the same question.
Other resources you’ll need to check are regulator websites.This is where you can find the official documents about frameworks and legislation
Don’t worry if you feel like you need more help. You can send your trainer a message in the student portal anytime or even schedule a call with them to ask for extra guidance. Your trainer is there to help you finish the course so don’t feel discouraged.
9. How long will it take me to complete the course?
The Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care has 1200 nominal hours (including the required vocational placement hours) which is meant to give you a rough estimate of how much time you’ll need to spend studying the course. Your actual study time depends on the pace you set for yourself and how familiar you are with the topics. The maximum duration is 12 months, but you can always apply for an extension if you feel like you need more time.
The Cert III ECE is an online course, meaning that how fast you finish it is up to you. You can study hard and complete ASAP, set aside time every week to study and complete the workbooks well before the deadline, or leave just leave everything to the last minute. We recommend one of the first two!
Don’t forget to schedule your vocational placement as well. Remember, you need to allow time to find a registered Australian child care service where you can complete the placement, then do a minimum of 120 hours (and up to 240 hours) in the vocational placement.
If you are doing a regular 38 hour work week during your placement, it will take between 3.2 and 6.4 weeks to complete your work experience hours. If you’re only doing 1 day a week, it’ll take between 16 and 32 weeks. Plan ahead and allow yourself plenty of time to complete the placement!
10. How can I find vocational placement?
Vocational placement is where you can apply what you’ve learned in an actual child care setting. To complete this requirement, you’ll first have to find a registered service provider that will take you in as a volunteer.
If you have friends or family working in childcare (even running their own facilities) it may be as simple as asking them to let you complete a placement with them. If you don’t have contacts in child care, don’t worry. Child care is a common need and there are a huge number of services across the country. There are likely to be several child care facilities in your local area.
Prepare your cover letter and resume. Use this to explain why you would be a good fit in their centre or family day care and highlight that you are taking up the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. This says to the provider that they’re not just getting a volunteer, but also a qualified child care worker. Don’t worry if it’s your first time looking for work. You can include your previous experiences in babysitting or even watching over your younger siblings to serve as your work experience.
Create a list of services in your area and visit them in person if you can; call them if you can’t visit them; and email them only as a last resort. Make the decision easy for them by dressing appropriately and being ready to answer their interview questions. Treat this like you’re trying to get a job. After all, if you impress them during your placement it could lead to an offer of paid work. If you don’t succeed in your first attempt, keep going. It’s a numbers game and each unsuccessful attempt is an opportunity to learn, improve and increase your chance of success next time.
If you’d like more information, read Getting Work Experience in a Child Care Centre.