Early childhood teacher requirements

​​This page outlines the early childhood teacher requirements that apply to Victorian centre-based services providing education and care to children preschool age or under and operating under the National ​​Quality Framework. 

What is the role of the early childhood teacher?

The early childhood teacher should contribute to the quality of education and care and better learning outcomes for all children being educated and cared for in a range of ways including working directly with the children and providing mentoring, coaching and support to other educators.

Does my service need to have an early childhood teacher?

  • Centre-based services with children who are pre-school age or younger, must have access to or attendance of an ECT. The requirements are based on the number of approved places and/or the number of children at the service (see the table below).
  • From 1 January 2020, long day care services and kindergartens must have a second ECT or a ‘suitably qualified person’ in attendance when 60 or more children preschool age or under are being educated and cared for on a given day.
RegulationSize of serviceFirst ECTSecond ECT or a suitably qualified person

Regulation 130

Fewer than 25 approved places

Access to an ECT for at least 20 per cent of time service provides education and care.

The ECT can be working with the service by means of information communication technology and can be calculated on a quarterly basis.

N/A

Regulation 131

​25 or more approved places but fewer than 25 children being educated and cared for.

N/A

Regulation 132

​Education and care provided to 25 or more but less than 60 children on a given day.

An ECT must be in attendance at the service:

  • for at least 6 hours on that day, if the service operates for 50 or more hours a week; or
  • for 60 per cent of the operating hours of the service on that day, if the service operates for less than 50 hours a week
  • OR

    The service employs or engages a full-time or full-time equivalent ECT at the service.

N/A

Regulation 133

​Education and care provided to 60 to 80 children on a given day.

A second ECT or a suitably qualified person must be in attendance at the service:

  • for at least 3 hours on that day, if the service operates for 50 or more hours a week; or
  • for 30 per cent of the operating hours of the service on that day, if the service operates for less than 50 hours a week.
  • OR

    The service employs or engages a second ECT or a suitably qualified person for half of the full-time or full-time equivalent hours at the service.

Regulation 134

​Education and care provided to more than 80 children on a given day

A second ECT or a suitably qualified person must be in attendance at the service:

  • for at least 6 hours a day if the service operates for 50 or more hours a week; or
  • for 60 per cent of the operating hours of the service on that day, of the service operates for less than 50 hours a week.
  • OR

    The service employs or engages a second ECT or a suitably qualified person full-time or full-time equivalent.

Early childhood teacher qualification requirements

What is an approved early childhood teaching qualification?

The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) publishes on their website the qualifications that have been approved for the purposes of the National Law. This list includes the qualifications that are approved for ECTs, diploma level qualified educators and certificate III level qualified educators.

Approved early childhood teaching qualifications

Who can be recognised as an early childhood teacher

Any of the following are recognised

  • The person holds an approved or former approved early childhood teaching qualification, or equivalent, as listed on the ACECQA website. For more information, see Qualification list
  • The person holds a primary teaching qualification that includes at least a focus on children aged 5-8 (e.g. a qualification with a focus on children aged 3-8 or 5-12); and
    • has Australian teacher registration (or ‘accreditation’ in New South Wales); and
    • has approved diploma level or higher education and care qualification.
  • Any of the other circumstances that are outlined in regulation 241 (If you believe that any of these circumstances apply to an educator at your service please contact the Department for further information

Who can be recognised as a suitably qualified person?

A suitably qualified person is:

  • A person who is ‘actively working towards’ (regulation 10) an approved ECT qualification; and
  • Has completed at least 50 per cent of the ECT qualification, or holds an approved early childhood education and care diploma.

OR

  • A person who is registered as a primary or secondary school teacher in Australia and holds an ACECQA approved early childhood education and care diploma (or higher approved qualification).
  • More information can be found on the ACECQA website.

In the same way as an ECT, a ‘suitably qualified person’:

  • can be counted towards the educator to child ratios when working directly with children (regulations 122 and 123),
  • has to be physically present at the service and carry out certain activities to fulfil the requirements of being ‘in attendance’ (regulation 11)
  • must have a record of their attendance kept by the approved provider (regulation 152).

Counting the early childhood teacher in the diploma level qualified educator to child ratios

To be included in the diploma level educator to child ratios the early childhood teacher or suitably qualified person must be working directly with children. For the purpose of the qualification requirements, an ECT in attendance and a suitably qualified person in attendance at the service can be counted in the diploma qualified educator ratios.

Leave and absences of early childhood teachers and suitably qualified persons

If the ECT is absent due to short term illness or leave, they can be replaced by a person who holds an approved diploma level qualification or primary teaching qualification (or a suitably qualified person, in the case of centre-based services with 60 or more children) for no more than 60 days in a 12 month period on a pro rata basis (regulation 135).

A suitably qualified person who is absent due to short term illness or leave can also be replaced by a person who holds an approved diploma level qualification or primary teaching qualification for no more than 60 days in a 12 month period on a pro rata basis (regulation 135).

The replacement person can be counted in the diploma qualified ratios when they are working directly with children. However, a person holding a diploma level qualification does not meet the kindergarten funding criteria.

Note: Leave replacement provisions in regulation 135 do not apply if the service employs or engages ECTs on a full-time or full-time equivalent basis.

Record of access to early childhood teachers

The National Regulations require the approved provider of a centre-based service to keep a record of the children’s access to an early childhood teacher (regulation 152):

  • If the service provides education and care to fewer than 25 children preschool age or under the record must include the period that an early childhood teacher is working with the service in accordance with regulation 130 or 131(2) and the periods that the early childhood teacher is working directly with children and is not working directly with children.
  • If the service provides education and care to 25 or more children preschool age or under the record must include the period that each ECT (and suitably qualified person, if applicable) is in attendance at the service.

Waivers from the National Regulations

Information can be found at Waivers (general information).

Funding support

Kindergarten funding

If you have an early childhood teacher at the service working directly with children who holds a qualification published by ACECQA as an approved early childhood teacher qualification you may wish to consider providing a funded kindergarten program. Service providers must meet the criteria set out in the Kindergarten Guide in order to receive any type of kindergarten funding.

The Kindergarten Guide provides detailed information about types of kindergarten funding available, eligibility criteria and operational requirements for funded service providers and is available on the Department of Education and Training website. For more information, see: Kindergarten Guide and Educator to child ratios for funded kindergarten programs.

The Manager, Performance and Planning Advisers at the Department of Education and Training regional offices can provide further information and answer queries about kindergarten funding. For a list of the Department’s regional offices, see: Office locations.

Qualifications scholarships and employment incentives 

A range of scholarships and incentives are available to assist services to meet the qualification requirements of the National Quality Standard and the National Regulations. For example, the early childhood scholarship and employment milestone payments includes early childhood scholarships to become a teacher and early childhood Aboriginal Pathway Scholarships. Further information, including eligibility criteria and the application process, is available at Financial support to study and work in early childhood.

Further information

The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority is the national, independent statutory authority governing the National Quality Framework.

Phone: 1300 422 327
Email: enquiries@acecqa.gov.au
Web: ACECQA

The Department of Education and Training is the Regulatory Authority in Victoria.

Phone: 1300 307 415
Email: licensed.childrens.services@education.vic.gov.au
Web: Regulation and Quality Assessment