Does one size fit all? Exploring the ECA Code of Ethics ‘beyond the fence’

When I was working in roles that involved discipline, mentoring and supporting those educating and caring for children, I would frequently speak about the world ‘ beyond the fence ’ in reference to how the rhythm of liveliness played out for children, families and educators beyond the confines of the department of education and care service .

Something which seems like a small decisiveness ‘ behind the fence ’ ( the populace inside the education and care service ), for case changing the menu from a hot noon meal to sandwiches, may appear to be of small consequence to the decision makers ; the children are inactive being fed, after all. however, in the universe ‘ beyond the fence ’ ( the home plate and broader community life of the child and family ), the consequence of the decision may be much larger than those making it recognize .

The servicing may be providing the merely hot, protein-based meal a particular child eats that sidereal day. By changing to sandwiches the child would consequently be deprived of their one alimentary meal.

Another child may have a damaging affiliation with sandwiches due to it being the go-to meal of a disengage health professional or possibly an association with an older sibling who knows the younger ones need to be fed, but doesn ’ triiodothyronine know how to cook, and is doing the best they can with the skills they have .

Decisions made ‘ behind the fence ’, can, and do, have significant impacts on what happens ‘ beyond the argue ’. The like, of course, is true in the world of educators as professionals. many times, regulative, procedural and fiscal decisions are made ‘ beyond the argue ’ which greatly impact on life ‘ behind the fence ’ .

Ethics and fences

recently the early childhood department of education and manage ( ECEC ) sector was given an opportunity to reflect on the role of ethics, in the form of an article about the character the early Childhood Australia ( ECA ) Code of Ethics plays in governing the decision make of those ‘ beyond the fence ’ of working directly with children, in the ECEC sector .

Those sitting in a ‘ beyond the fence ’ distance, making impactful decisions and comment in relation to ECEC may include politicians ; the executive of businesses which own, operate, reconstruct or invest in ECEC services ; those who provide educate and consultancy to the ECEC sector ; regional managers responsible for a number of services ; those who write about the education and care sector ; …there are many such positions, and this is by no means an single tilt. People within these roles may be referred to as ‘ allied ECEC professionals ’ .

The brooding piece mentioned above centres on posing three kernel questions to those in the ECEC sector, in relation back to allied ECEC professionals not working immediately with children ( a.k.a, those ‘ beyond the argue ’ ) :

  • What ethical standards should those ‘ beyond the fence ’ be held to ?
  • Is it ok that only educators are required to meet a Code of Ethics ?, and ;
  • Should a Code of Ethics be developed for those ‘ beyond the fence ’ ? ( and, if then, what would it look like and what would it require those agreeing to it to do ? )

What is the ECA Code of Ethics, and how does it apply across the ECEC sector?

The Code of Ethics is a peer-reviewed text file produced by Early Childhood Australia ( ECA ) with the drive of providing a circumnavigate or roadmap for navigating the ethical and moral grey areas that arise when working as a professional with children and families in the early on years of life .

Serving as a companion document to the ‘ musts ’ of the National Quality Framework, the Code of Ethics can be seen as a way to construct, scaffold and support the ‘ shoulds ’. It is not a prescriptive document, but rather a sic of statements about appropriate and expected demeanor from ALL early childhood professionals – regardless of their position behind or beyond the fence .

The Code of Ethics reflects stream pedagogical inquiry and commit, and provides a vehicle and model for engaging in observation, discussion and growth around the roles and responsibilities of those who have chosen to work in the early childhood profession, however broad the scope .

In creating and sharing the Code of Ethics, ECA outlines that “ being ethical involves thinking about everyday actions and decision make, either individually or jointly, and responding with respect to all concerned ” .

They caution that the Code is not designed to provide answers, recipe or prescriptive solutions for the complexity of the world of education and care, but quite to foster professional accountability ; provide a basis for critical expression ; guide professional behavior ; and, provide a range of principles to inform individual and collective decision make .

Key to the execution of the Code of Ethics is both the purpose and sight of ECA in the creation of the document, with the intention stated as “ The Code of Ethics is intended for function by all early childhood professionals who work with or on behalf of children and families in early childhood settings, ” and the Vision as “ Professionals who adhere to this Code of Ethics act in the best interests of all children and work jointly to ensure that every child is thriving and learning. ”


In the brooding musical composition above, readers are asked to consider what standards those who do not work immediately with children – but whose decisions impact the professional lives of educators, and the know experience of children and families – should be held to .

The Code of Ethics gives critical guidance here, and the answer it brings is clear : “ the same standards as those working directly with children, and along the way, support them in learning why it ’ s such a vital element to get correct ” .

There will be some within the space who are close ECEC professional allies – possibly those who have worked directly with children in the past, and have a senior high school degree of acquaintance with the sector ; and, others who are newer to the ECEC space, but may bring with them a wealth of cognition from other areas such as health care, visualize management, design, business and then on .

here, the Code of Ethics provides some clean guidance about the character of those allied professionals, and the responsibilities of those who are more establish or presently working directly with children and families to work aboard and support allied professionals in developing an understand of the affect of their decisions and comment .

first, the Code guides ECEC professionals and allied professionals alike to build a spirit of collegiality and professionalism through collaborative relationships based on faith, respect and honesty, and to acknowledge and support the diverse strengths and experiences of colleagues in regulate to build share professional cognition, understanding and skills .

All those working in or alongside ECEC are asked by the Code to use constructive processes to address differences of opinion in orderliness to negotiate shared perspectives and actions, and to participate in a “ alert culture of professional question ” to support continuous improvement .

As contribution of this process, professionals are asked to implement strategies that accompaniment and mentor colleagues to make positive contributions to the profession, and to maintain ethical relationships in on-line interactions .

In addition, those working directly with children, and those close allied professionals are guided by the Code to collaborate with people, services and agencies to develop shared understandings and actions that support children and families ; to use research and practice-based testify to advocate for a society where all children have entree to quality education and care ; and, to promote the value of children ’ s contribution as citizens to the exploitation of strong communities .

close allies and those working directly with children and families are guided to join with ally professionals who may be newer to the ECEC sector, and to work to promote an increase admiration of the importance of childhood – including how children learn and develop – in order to inform programs and systems of assessment that benefit children, and to advocate for the development and execution of laws and policies that promote the rights and best interests of children and families .

Just for educators?

A question posed in the reflective piece outlined above is “ Is it OK that entirely educators are required to meet a Code of Ethics ? ”

The Code itself not entirely outlines the importance of working with and alongside allied ECEC professionals, as shown above, but besides asks those near allies and those working directly with children to consider the context of their work as professionals in the broader context of community and society .

here, the Code guides close allies and those working directly with children to collaborate with people, services and agencies to develop shared understandings and actions that support children and families ; to work to promote increase taste of the importance of childhood including how children learn and develop, in order to inform programs and systems of assessment that benefit children ; and, to advocate for the development and execution of laws and policies that promote the rights and best interests of children and families .

In so doing, those allies who are newer to the quad, or who have a cognition root which is not limited to education and care become close allies, and, consequently, fall under the same professional obligations under the Code of Ethics as those who supported them to become more conversant with their obligations under the Code .

It is authoritative here to note that educators are not beholden to the Code of Ethics. It is not enforceable, it is not prescriptive, and it is not intended to be an assessable undertaking. preferably, as ECA notes in the Code itself, being ethical involves thinking about everyday actions and decisiveness make, either individually or jointly, and responding with respect to all concerned .

On the question “ is it OK that only educators are required to meet a Code of Ethics ? ”, the reception is that the Code of Ethics recognises that professional accountability is vital – careless of side entitle or function within the broader sector .

A separate Code?

In developing and working through the responses to the two questions posed above, it becomes increasingly clean that not lone is a classify Code not required, but that the existing Code has been written in a heart of collegiality, designed to support all those working with children and families – be that buttocks or beyond the fence .

here, the Code provides guidance under the bearing of “ In relation to myself as a professional, I will… : ” Those who choose to identify as being either an ECEC professional, or an allied ECEC professional are asked, first and first, to take duty for articulating their professional values, cognition and commit .

They are then asked to articulate the positive contribution that the ECEC profession makes to society, to engage in critical reflection, ongoing professional determine and support research to build their own cognition and that of the profession, and to work within the setting of their professional role, avoiding misrepresentation of master competence and qualifications .

Within the professionalism space, those who aspire to meet the Code of Ethics purpose to encourage qualities and practices of ethical leadership within the profession, model choice practice and provide constructive feedback, and preach for their profession and the provision of quality education and care .

The Code is clear up here again, that there is a space at the professional board for all those who present as will to learn, to grow, to discuss and to become more attune to the nuance and complexity of the ECEC sector, careless of speculate title. Rather than proposing greater division, when it comes to ethics, the Code that governs and guides our profession asks us to build a longer board, not a higher fence .



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