Early Childhood Teacher Registration

Frequently asked questions for Early Childhood Teacher and Victorian Institue of Teaching (VIT) Registration.

Who needs to employ or engage an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT)?

All centre-based services operating under the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 (National Law) in Victoria with the exception of centre-based services whose main purpose is to provide education and care to children over pre-school age are required to have an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT).

Similarly children’s services operating under the Children’s Services Act 1996 who are required to meet the requirements of a "teaching staff member" are required to have an ECT.

The number of hours a service is required to have an ECT will depend on the number of approved places for children aged preschool age or under at the service. If an early childhood service is unable to comply with the ECT qualification requirements as set out in regulations 130 to 134 of the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011 (National Regulations) or regulations 52 and 52A of the Children’s Services Regulations 2009, an early childhood service may apply for a temporary waiver (National Law) or an exemption under the Children’s Services Act 1996.

For more information regarding Early Childhood Teachers, see: Early childhood teacher: Centre-based services

What records should a service maintain in relation to access to Early Childhood Teachers (ECT)?

Centre-based services are required to have a record of Early Childhood Teachers (ECT) working with the service (regulation 152). For centre-based services with fewer than 25 children preschool age or under, the record must contain the period that an ECT is working with the service and the periods that the ECT is working directly with children and is not directly working with children. For centre-based services with 25 or more children preschool age or under, the record must contain the period that an ECT is in attendance at the service.

Approved providers are encouraged to have a clear and accurate record of educators working directly with children to help demonstrate educator-to-child ratios are being met and children are adequately supervised at all times.

Working directly with children (regulation 13) means an educator is physically present with the children and is directly engaged in providing education and care to the children. An educator cannot be included in calculating the educator-to-child ratio unless they are working directly with children (regulation 122).

For more information regarding the Educator to child ratios at a centre-based service, see: Educator to child ratios for centre-based services

What is an approved early childhood teaching qualification for the purposes of the National Law?

In accordance with regulation 137 of the National Regulations, the Australian Children’s Education and Care Authority (ACECQA) publishes a list of approved and former approved education and care qualifications. This list includes the qualifications that have been approved for Early Childhood Teachers (ECT).

To access the list, see: Qualifications List

Persons who completed their early childhood qualifications a number of years ago and the qualification is not listed on the approved qualification list may be taken to hold an approved early childhood teaching qualification. In those circumstances, you are encouraged to contact the Regulatory Authority on 1300 307 415.

What if my early childhood teaching qualifications do not appear on the ACECQA published list?

A person with early childhood teaching qualifications, including any overseas qualifications not listed on the approved qualification list can apply to the Australian Children’s Education and Care Authority (ACECQA) to have their qualifications assessed for equivalence.

For more information regarding the assessment of equivalent educator qualifications, see: Assessment of equivalent educator qualifications

Who needs to be registered as an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) with the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT)?

The Education and Training Reform Act 2006 requires early childhood services (person or body) to ensure that persons engaged or employed as an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) for the purposes of regulations 130 to 134 of the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011 are registered with the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) prior to engaging or being employed in a role of an ECT.

Similarly all “teaching staff members” under the Children’s Services Act 1996 require VIT registration prior to engaging or being employed in a role of a teaching staff member.

This registration requirement is subject to limited exceptions.

What are the exceptions to the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) registration requirement?

There are some limited exceptions to the requirement for Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) registration.

A person is not required to be registered with the VIT if the following applies:

  • the person is taken to be an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) under regulation 242 of the National Regulations (* note this provision expires on 1 January 2018)
  • the person is replacing a registered ECT for a period not exceeding 12 weeks to fill a short term illness or leave of an early childhood teacher (under regulation 135 of the National Regulations)
  • the person is replacing a teaching staff member for a period not exceeding 12 weeks to fill a short term illness or leave of a teaching staff member (under regulations 52(2) and 52A(3) of the Children’s Services Regulations 2009)
  • the early childhood service is unable to meet the early childhood qualification requirements and has been granted a temporary waiver (National Regulations) from regulations 130 to 134 or an exemption (Children’s Services Regulations) from regulations 52 or 52A
  • the Secretary has granted a temporary approval for you to be engaged or employed in the early childhood service in place of a registered ECT for the purposes of meeting kindergarten funding guidelines
  • the Secretary has exempted the early childhood service from the kindergarten funding guidelines for registered ECT either because the early childhood service holds a waiver or a children’s services exemption; or the Secretary is satisfied that the early childhood service has made reasonable attempts to employ or engage a registered ECT (An exemption under this section is valid for 12 months). If an exemption is granted by the Secretary, the early childhood service may employ or engage a person holding a temporary approval in place of a registered ECT for the purposes of meeting kindergarten funding requirements.
Are there any penalties for employing an unregistered person to meet the Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) requirements?

Under the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 it is an offence to employ an unregistered person for the purposes of meeting the early childhood requirements. An early childhood service that employs or engages an unregistered Early Childhood Teacher (ECT), in circumstances where exceptions do not apply may incur a penalty of 120 penalty units (i.e. $18,655* )

It is also an offence for a person who is not a registered ECT to claim or hold himself or herself out as being a registered ECT. Similarly an early childhood service (a person or body) must not represent a person to be a registered ECT if the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the person is not registered as an ECT.

*In Victoria, the value of a penalty unit is the amount fixed with respect to a financial year by the Treasurer by notice published in the Government Gazette under the Monetary Units Act 2004. The penalty unit rate is fixed at A$155.46 as of 1 July 2016 (rounded to the nearest 10 cents).

What are the requirements to register as an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) with the VIT?

Requirements around early childhood teacher registration are set out in the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (ETRA) and are governed and managed by the VIT.

Under the ETRA you are required to produce evidence that satisfies the following criteria:

  • that you hold an early childhood teaching qualification approved and published by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA)
  • your suitability to be an early childhood teacher
  • your competence in speaking or communicating in the English language for the purposes of teaching in an early childhood service

Persons seeking to be engaged as an Early Childhood Teacher in Victoria should consult the VIT dedicated Early Childhood Hotline on 1300 977 263, which operates Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm.

Are there additional Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) requirements for a funded kindergarten program?

The Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) requirements differ for funded kindergarten programs. Before appointing a person to the position of an ECT, early childhood services operating a funded kindergarten program must ensure that the person meets the relevant ECT qualification and the kindergarten funding guidelines.

Please review response for: What if the service is delivering a funded kindergarten program and unable to recruit a VIT registered Early Childhood Teacher (ECT)?

For more information regarding the ECT requirements for funded kindergarten programs, see:

Who is a person taken to be an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) under regulation 242 of the National Regulations?

Until 1 January 2018, a person who is actively working towards an approved early childhood teaching qualification who has completed at least 50 per cent of that approved early childhood qualification or already holds an approved diploma level qualification, will be taken to be an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) under regulation 242.

If you are a person taken to be an ECT under regulation 242, you are not required to be registered with the VIT.

After 1 January 2018, you need to have completed an approved early childhood teaching qualification to be considered a qualified ECT and unless the exceptions apply, you will also need to register with the VIT.

What if I am unable to complete my early childhood teaching qualifications by 1 January 2018?

After 1 January 2018, any Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) who is currently taken to be an ECT under regulation 242 will have to complete their early childhood qualifications and be registered with the VIT to continue to be employed or engaged as an ECT at an early childhood service.

If an early childhood service is unable to employ or engage a VIT registered ECT, they may apply for a temporary waiver (National Law) or an exemption (under the Children’s Services Act) from the requirement to meet ECT qualifications. Temporary waivers and exemptions are considered on a case by case basis and will generally be subject to certain conditions.

If your service has a temporary waiver or an exemption from the requirement to meet ECT qualifications, you are not required to be registered with the VIT.

For more information regarding an application for a temporary waiver, see:

Waiver Long day care and preschool

What if the service is delivering a funded kindergarten program and unable to recruit a VIT registered Early Childhood Teacher (ECT)?

Some early childhood services currently employ or engage persons to deliver a funded program who are not able to register as an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) with the VIT. These persons include:

  • teachers who completed their early childhood qualification a number of years ago and their qualification is no longer recognised as a teaching qualification under the current regulations
  • qualified primary school teachers who are in the process of undertaking an approved early childhood teaching qualification

In circumstances where the person employed to deliver the funded kindergarten program is unable to register as an ECT with the VIT, the early childhood service must contact the relevant regional Department officer to discuss the application process to have the person who is not a registered ECT deliver a funded kindergarten program. This involves:

  • the person applying for a grant of a temporary approval to be engaged or employed in the early childhood service in place of a registered ECT for the purposes of meeting kindergarten funding guidelines
  • the early childhood service seeking an exemption from the kindergarten funding guidelines for registered ECT either because the early childhood service holds a waiver or a children’s services exemption; or the Secretary is satisfied that the early childhood service has made reasonable attempts to employ or engage a registered ECT.

If an exemption is granted by the Secretary (or their delegate), the early childhood service may employ or engage a person holding a temporary approval in place of a registered ECT for the purposes of meeting kindergarten funding requirements.

To apply for a temporary approval, you need to complete and submit the Application for temporary approval to work in place of an early childhood teacher.

To seek an exemption from the kindergarten funding guidelines for registered ECT, you need to complete and submit the Exemption from funding requirements for services.

If you are a diploma qualified educator who do not yet hold an ECT qualification, please refer to question “Who is a Person taken to be an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) under regulation 242 of the National Regulations?

For more information, see: Kindergarten Funding Guide

I am replacing an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) on leave, do I need to be VIT registered?

If a registered ECT is absent from the early childhood service because of short-term illness or leave (for a period of up to, but not exceeding 12 weeks), a person with the following qualifications can replace them during that absence without having to register with the VIT:

  • a person who holds a qualification in primary school teaching
  • a person who holds an approved diploma level education and care qualification.

For absence exceeding 12 weeks the teacher must be replaced by another VIT registered ECT unless exceptions under the law apply.

For short term absences of a registered ECT in a kindergarten funded program, including temporarily replacing an ECT who has left a service, see: Kindergarten Funding Guide