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Closing the pay gap for early learning teachers

Careers and employment

Goodstart initiated bargaining for a new Enterprise Agreement in February 2020, and worked together with employees to ensure their teachers and educators felt valued and recognised the critical role they play. Goodstart’s Melissa Tserkezidis was really excited to see what had been negotiated in the new Enterprise Agreement. She shares what this means for her as a teacher in the early learning sector.  

Naturally, the pay increase for teachers under Goodstart’s new Enterprise Agreement (EA) is really important to me and my colleagues. It’s not just the financial benefits, I’m happy about the symbolism of the change, bringing us on par with the other states and public school system. Matching the government school pay rates goes a long way towards bridging the gap between early childhood and primary school careers. It’s a nice acknowledgement of the work we do, and the critical role we play in early childhood development. 

Being recognised for the valuable role we play – and the complexity of our work – is brilliant, and it was great to see Goodstart taking that even further with a trial of rostered days off (RDOs), and two personal wellbeing days. It not only feels like a reward for our efforts, but it will also make a huge difference to my work-life balance. Being able to easily schedule in tasks like having my car serviced, or just taking a mental health break, just makes life easier. I’m fortunate my centre is already supportive of flexible working, and I think that RDOs would be a positive change to our conditions. 

Having extra time to manage our lives outside of work and look after our mental health is important, but also to help us be our best at work is important too.  As teachers we spend a lot of time planning and preparing our programs, on top of the time we spend in the classroom with the children and working with families, so we also need time to keep driving high-quality early learning. Under the new agreement we’ll receive up to six hours a fortnight of non-contact time which is a huge benefit – not just to my fellow teachers and educators, but ultimately to the children we care for and educate. We’re going to be able to do even more now, making sure we’re providing the high-quality early learning experiences we aspire to and that children deserve. 

Overall, the new Enterprise Agreement is delivering really positive changes to our working conditions, and setting a new standard for the sector in general. It’s definitely a step in the right direction, especially after the tough year we had during 2020. Children still need to learn and play and prepare for school even during this pandemic, and we are here to keep teaching them. It’s been a challenge, but that just means that I appreciate the understanding, recognition, and improvements even more. 

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