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Is it better to work in school or early learning? One teacher shares the key differences

From firm working hours to freedom within the curriculum, early learning poses many benefits for teachers.

Careers and employment

For teachers wondering whether to apply for roles in schools or in an early learning setting, there are some key differences.

That’s not to say one is better than the other. Just that there are things worth noting when making this important decision.

Here, Nicole Allardyce shares why she moved from teaching at school to Goodstart Belmont. Find out all the rewarding ways this decision pays off every day.

Q. Firstly, how did you get into teaching? What drove you to study and apply for roles in school and Goodstart Early Learning?

A. While I was in high school, I worked as a part-time swimming coach. I taught the early years age group at learn-to-swim lessons, and while there, my swimming coach asked if I have ever thought about becoming a teacher! He thought I was really good at communicating with the children. 

This inspired me, and I decided to study to teach. I completed my Bachelor of Education (Primary), specialising in the Early Years, in 2010. 

Since then, I have worked in various education roles. I have taught at various early learning centres and schools and even worked in administration for tertiary education. 

Q. What are some of the benefits you find in working as a teacher in early learning compared to a school setting? How do these differences impact your job satisfaction and work-life balance?

A. There are many benefits to working as a teacher in the early learning centres compared to school. For example, early learning is child-centred and initiated based on the children's interests. 

This way, we have flexibility to plan our lessons for the children. Meanwhile, in a school setting, we would deliver a set lesson plan.

Parents are also more involved with the children's learning. We include them in our programming and encourage parent feedback. 

Even though in the school setting you get school holidays, I did tend to still work a fair bit over the breaks. Meanwhile, in early learning, we get programming time and professional development support. This means we don't have to take work home.

Q. What advantages do you see in being part of an early learning environment compared to school? How does it differ in terms of professional growth opportunities and support?

A. Goodstart Early Learning has a wide range of meaningful professional development opportunities. For example, I've gained resources and strategies I include in my room and lesson planning.  I also recently went to Goodstart's annual Teaching and Learning for All Children Conference with my colleague, which was great.

I was also allocated a mentor when I started my teaching job at Goodstart. This has been very helpful. I get to touch base with my mentor and bounce ideas, ask for support and get help. She was able to point me in the right direction for learning materials. 

Meanwhile, when I first started teaching in the school setting, I was thrown in the deep end. As a graduate teacher, this was very challenging. 

Q. You're a teacher who has experienced both early learning and school settings. In your opinion, which setting provides a more rewarding and fulfilling career path?

A. I find the early learning setting more rewarding. Simply, I believe that teachers have the biggest impact on children's learning in the early years. 

We lay the foundation for education to help set children up for success in school and life which is extremely rewarding at the end of the day!

Interested in a teaching career at Goodstart Early Learning? Among our 661 centres Australia-wide, there will be one near you.

We have 266 centres offering government approved kindergarten programs in QLD and WA, 182 offering Three-Year-Old Kinder in VIC and 213 offering preschool in NSW, ACT, SA, NT and TAS.

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