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

When I was working in roles that involved prepare, mentoring and supporting those educating and caring for children, I would frequently speak about the earth ‘ beyond the argue ’ in citation to how the rhythm of life played out for children, families and educators beyond the confines of the education and care service .

Something which seems like a small decision ‘ behind the fence ’ ( the world inside the department of education and care service ), for example changing the menu from a hot noon meal to sandwiches, may appear to be of modest consequence to the decision makers ; the children are still being fed, after all. however, in the global ‘ beyond the fence ’ ( the home and broader community life sentence of the child and family ), the consequence of the decision may be much larger than those making it understand .

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

Another child may have a negative association with sandwiches due to it being the go-to meal of a free caregiver or possibly an association with an older sibling who knows the younger ones need to be fed, but doesn ’ thyroxine 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 fence ’. The same, of course, is true in the global of educators as professionals. many times, regulative, procedural and fiscal decisions are made ‘ beyond the argue ’ which greatly impact on biography ‘ behind the fence ’ .

Ethics and fences

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

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

The reflective piece mentioned above centres on posing three core questions to those in the ECEC sector, in relation to allied ECEC professionals not working directly with children ( a.k.a, those ‘ beyond the fence ’ ) :

  • What ethical standards should those ‘ beyond the fence ’ be held to ?
  • Is it ok that entirely educators are required to meet a Code of Ethics ?, and ;
  • Should a Code of Ethics be developed for those ‘ beyond the fence ’ ? ( and, if so, what would it look like and what would it require those agreeing to it to do ? )
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What is the ECA Code of Ethics, and how does it apply across the ECEC sector?

The Code of Ethics is a peer-reviewed document produced by Early Childhood Australia ( ECA ) with the aim of providing a compass or roadmap for navigating the ethical and moral grey areas that arise when working as a professional with children and families in the early 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 set of statements about appropriate and expected behavior from ALL early childhood professionals – careless of their placement behind or beyond the wall .

The Code of Ethics reflects current pedagogical research and exercise, and provides a vehicle and model for engaging in reflection, discussion and increase around the roles and responsibilities of those who have chosen to work in the early childhood profession, however across-the-board the scope .

In creating and sharing the Code of Ethics, ECA outlines that “ being ethical involves thinking about everyday actions and decisiveness devising, 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 reflection ; guide professional demeanor ; and, provide a image of principles to inform individual and corporate decision cook .

Key to the execution of the Code of Ethics is both the intention and vision of ECA in the creation of the document, with the intention stated as “ The Code of Ethics is intended for use 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 reflective nibble above, readers are asked to consider what standards those who do not work directly with children – but whose decisions impact the professional lives of educators, and the live experience of children and families – should be held to .

The Code of Ethics gives decisive guidance here, and the answer it brings is clear : “ the lapp standards as those working immediately with children, and along the means, support them in learning why it ’ s such a full of life chemical element to get right ” .

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 high academic degree of familiarity with the sector ; and, others who are newer to the ECEC quad, but may bring with them a wealth of cognition from early areas such as health worry, project management, design, business and so on .

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hera, the Code of Ethics provides some net guidance about the function of those allied professionals, and the responsibilities of those who are more conventional or presently working directly with children and families to work aboard and support allied professionals in developing an reason of the impact 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 entrust, deference and honesty, and to acknowledge and support the divers strengths and experiences of colleagues in regulate to build share master 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 order to negotiate shared perspectives and actions, and to participate in a “ lively culture of professional inquiry ” to support continuous improvement .

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

In addition, those working directly with children, and those closely 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 evidence to advocate for a club where all children have access to quality education and manage ; and, to promote the value of children ’ south contribution as citizens to the development of firm communities .

close allies and those working directly with children and families are guided to join with allied professionals who may be newer to the ECEC sector, and to work to promote an increase appreciation of the importance of childhood – including how children learn and develop – in club to inform programs and systems of assessment that benefit children, and to advocate for the development and implementation 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 only educators are required to meet a Code of Ethics ? ”

The Code itself not only outlines the importance of working with and alongside allied ECEC professionals, as shown above, but besides asks those close 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 finale 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 increased appreciation of the importance of childhood including how children learn and develop, in order to inform programs and systems of assessment that profit children ; and, to advocate for the growth and execution of laws and policies that promote the rights and best interests of children and families .

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In indeed doing, those allies who are newer to the outer space, or who have a cognition establish which is not limited to education and caution become near allies, and, therefore, fall under the lapp professional obligations under the Code of Ethics as those who supported them to become more familiar with their obligations under the Code .

It is significant 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. rather, as ECA notes in the Code itself, being ethical involves thinking about everyday actions and decisiveness form, either individually or jointly, and responding with deference to all concerned .

On the question “ is it OK that alone educators are required to meet a Code of Ethics ? ”, the response is that the Code of Ethics recognises that professional accountability is full of life – careless of position 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 clear that not alone is a separate Code not required, but that the existing Code has been written in a spirit of collegiality, designed to support all those working with children and families – be that behind or beyond the fence .

hera, the Code provides guidance under the lead of “ In relative 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, foremost and first, to take duty for articulating their professional values, cognition and practice .

They are then asked to articulate the positive contribution that the ECEC profession makes to society, to engage in critical contemplation, ongoing professional learn and support research to build their own cognition and that of the profession, and to work within the scope of their master function, avoiding falsification of professional competence and qualifications .

Within the professionalism quad, those who aspire to meet the Code of Ethics aim to encourage qualities and practices of ethical leadership within the profession, model quality practice and provide constructive feedback, and advocate for their profession and the provision of quality department of education and worry .

The Code is clear here again, that there is a space at the professional board for all those who present as bequeath to learn, to grow, to discuss and to become more attune to the nuance and complexity of the ECEC sector, regardless of job 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 table, not a higher fence .

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