Early childhood trainees recognised

St Nicholas Early Education trainee educators Talia Goodwin and Jaymayah Waters have been recognised for their performances with nominations in the NSW Training Awards.

Ms Goodwin is nominated in the School Based Apprentice or Trainee (SBAT) of the Year, and Ms Waters in Trainee of the Year.


Ms Goodwin is in the top five for her SBAT category, and Ms Waters is in the top three of trainees. These outstanding young educators progress to the regional finals on 22 June, which could take place in either physical or digital form. Winners at this level will then compete at a state level.

“At first I was shocked, only because something like this is way out of my comfort zone, but I knew this experience would be so rewarding,” Ms Waters said of the honour. “I am so passionate about my job and I will be forever thankful to be given such an amazing opportunity.”

As an agency of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, St Nicholas Early Education views its educators as its first and most powerful resource in provision a high-quality service and care to families.

This view, aligned to the immense growth of the early childhood sector over the past few years, inspired the St Nicholas leadership team to spearhead a vocational training initiative designed to support, empower and retain their trainees and existing workers through the creation of a career pathway model.

St Nicholas Pathways launched in 2019, and currently has 17 students committed to training as SBATs across seven St Nicholas Early Education centres.

“St Nicholas Pathways was established to ensure St Nicholas Early Education was not only an early education provider of choice, but an employer of choice with a workforce strategy that positioned them for staffing excellence,” said Pathways operations manager Sonia Liddiard.

Students enrolled in St Nicholas Pathways’ SBAT Program undertake training through International Child Care College RTO 90081 , a multi-award-winning Registered Training Organisation specialising in early childhood education and care that proudly advocates a 98 per cent completion rate for students.

This, combined with St Nicholas’s 90 per cent trainee retention rate, positions both the program and its students for career success.

Ms Goodwin joined St Nick’s as the pilot for St Nicholas Pathways’ SBAT Program after being unsure about her career post-HSC.

“I was struggling in Year 11 and finding the workload tough,” Ms Goodwin said. “I approached my year adviser and she recommended me to a representative of International Child Care College. After completing some research over the holidays, I then contact Sonia Liddiard about an interview.”

With guidance from Ms Liddiard, her assistant principal and her careers adviser, Ms Goodwin made the decision to join the program in early 2019.

Despite loving her work, her SBAT experience has not come without its challenges.

“Joining the SBAT Program meant I would have to stay back in school because I started it in Year 12 and it’s a two-year program,” Ms Goodwin said. “I have to face finishing my schooling without my classmates. It was very daunting for me, but I was willing to face the challenge.

“I also broke my ankle and had to take two months off my practical work at St Nick’s. I fell behind in my workplace assignments, not knowing if I would be able to go back to work after my ankle healed. But I powered through my theory assignments and eventually caught up.”

“Since the accident, I’ve also had my tonsils removed and various other day-to-day challenges, but I’m very resilient and I knew I’d be all right because of my passion and love for the SBAT Program.”

Ms Waters also cites balancing work with study as a challenge she has faced during her time with St Nicholas.

“I was too disorganised at the start of my course, but I started to focus on my future plans and was determined to get on top of everything and start handing in my assignments early,” she said.

Hannah Hunter, Pathways’ trainer and assessor, plays an integral role in supporting SBATs and trainees through their studies.  

“I always begin with creating a rapport with each individual student to understanding their needs, goals and preferences,” Ms Hunter says. “Every day I put myself in the student’s shoes and think ‘what would help me in this situation?’ I then use that initiative to support them through their training.”

Despite their challenges, Ms Goodwin and Ms Waters are both on track to complete their training this year.

Applications for the 2021-2022 St Nicholas Pathways’ SBAT Program open in Term 3, 2020.  Upon completion, students will gain a nationally recognised entry level qualification in Early Childhood Education and Care. Training is provided by International Child Care College (RTO ID 90081). Completing an SBAT has many benefits including fast-tracking post-secondary studies; a pathway from school to a career; paid on-the-job training; and opportunities to demonstrate workplace skills and experience to prospective employers. If you are interested in a school-based traineeship with St Nicholas Pathways visit https://stnicholaspathways.org.au/


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Alexander Foster

Alexander Foster is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

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