Beyond the Fence - extending children's experience outdoors
What started as a pilot program has flourished into a program that stretches the realms of everyday practice. Kylie Keane, Educational Leader at Forrest Out Of School Hours Care shares her experiences with a school age care program based on the principles of allowing children to connect with nature, embed sustainable practices and extend children's experiences in the outdoors.
Read more on We Hear You.
Risk - Testing boundaries
Do today’s environments encourage children to assess and take risks or are we, as educators, risk adverse?
The National Quality Standard promotes that services have environments that are inclusive, promote competence, independent exploration and learning through play (Standard 3.2).
It is important that educators are critically reflecting on the potential benefits of taking risks for children’s agency, learning and wellbeing. Are these risks appropriate to scaffold skills and development? Are children getting the opportunity to assess risk and make decisions about what is an appropriate risk?
Remember back to when you were a child and experienced the intense, positive exhilaration of achieving mastery and the sense of achievement when the risk has passed. Children need to feel that thrill of overcoming their fear and launching into the unknown to master a new skill or experience. Children who have opportunities to effectively assess and manage risk at an early age will be better equipped to deal with risk as an adult.
Some of the leaders in our sector have explored this issue in detail.
Kate Stone and Christina Lipitkas from Gowrie SA share how they involve children in the benefit risk assessment process.
Tim Gill, one of the UK’s leading thinkers on childhood, visited Australia recently to present his views on ‘rewilding children’ and ‘creating play connect’ at various symposia and community forums. In his Risk and Resilience article for Reflections magazine, Tim outlines the importance of assessing what children are learning from their experiences, identifying the risks and weighing up the benefits for children’s development and learning. He believes that most children are capable of assessing and managing risk, and this can be seen in their competence and confidence when attempting a risky activity. He shares more of his views on his website.
The Talking about Practice series, Adventurous Play - Developing a culture of risky play supports educators with ideas for balancing risk to enable children to engage in risky play. Most importantly, educators need to ensure there is not an unnecessary and unacceptable risk to children’s wellbeing or safety when they are participating in activities.
In the Australian Institute for Teacher and School Leadership (AITSL) Illustrations of Practice series, educators talk about risk taking in their environment, the links to children’s play and supporting families to understand the importance of risk taking for their children.
The Department for Education and Child Development in South Australia has published a collection of articles on risky play. The first article in the collection has a useful table explaining the categories of risky play.
To unpack this and reflect on your practices you might like to consider:
- What does your team mean by “risk”?
- Exploring the table linked above, reflecting on your context and the appropriateness of categories and subcategories.
- When do we remember taking risks as a child? How did that feel?
- Are there opportunities for risk taking for the children at our service? How might we assess our environment to ensure these opportunities are available to all children?
- How do we ensure children are alerted to safety issues and encouraged to develop the skills to assess and minimise risks to their safety?
- How do children’s ideas and voice contribute to risk assessment?
- How might we empower our families and community to see the benefits of risky play?
Further reading and resources
Productivity Commission to study how education data is collected and used
The Australian Government has asked the Productivity Commission to provide advice on a national approach to collecting and using data for early childhood education and care and schools.
Improving the collection and management of education data in Australia will help create a more robust national education evidence base, which can be used to inform policy development and to monitor national education objectives.
Have your say on the National Education Evidence Base Issues Paper before submissions close 25 May 2016. Read more about the public inquiry on the Productivity Commission website.
Starting Blocks launches advanced Find Child Care website functionality
Starting Blocks, ACECQA’s family focused website, has launched a new and improved ‘find child care’ feature.
This feature is ideal for new families who are taking their first steps into early education and care and looking for convenient ways to search and review services in their area.
The new feature allows parents to:
- Search via keyword or postcode
- Review services’ quality ratings
- Pick and save favourites
- Share favourites with family and friends.
Starting Blocks wants to keep it simple and aims to assist families with fast, easy and quality focused searches they can do at anytime, anywhere.
Check out Starting Blocks to see this new feature.
Annual fees coming soon
Annual fee invoices for the 2016-17 financial year will be issued by email before the end of May. Use the NQA ITS to check and update the contact email address that is recorded for your provider.
The fee is payable in full for all service approvals held by the provider regardless of any subsequent transfers, suspensions or closures.
Contact your regulatory authority if you have questions or for more information.
Translated information for family day care providers and educators
Translated fact sheets to assist family day care educators, providers and families with children in family day care services understand their obligations are available in Amharic, Arabic, Assyrian, Dari, Dinka, French, Hazaragi, Nuer, Somali, Sudanese and Swahili.
Download them from the Department of Education and Training website.
Register for Tasmania and NSW National Workshops
Bookings are open for ACECQA’s National Workshops in Tasmania and New South Wales, which will focus on Educational Leadership.
The free sessions are open to all educators and providers and are led by ACECQA’s National Education Leader, in partnership with local Professional Support Coordinators and regulatory authority staff.
Visit our Events page to register.
Thank you to everyone who joined us in the ACT, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. Details for sessions in Victoria will be made available once finalised.
National project examines children's wellbeing
Findings from the Australian Child Wellbeing Project show that while most young people in their middle years (ages 8-14) are doing well, a significant proportion have low wellbeing. Low wellbeing is particularly experienced by marginalised young people including those with a disability, young carers and the materially disadvantaged.
According to the study, low wellbeing manifests in high levels of health complaints, experience of bullying and low levels of engagement at school, subjective wellbeing and social support.
Recognising that young people are experts in their own lives, the study captured the voice and perspectives of young people. Young people’s views were used to inform the design of the national survey of 5440 students in years 4, 6 and 8 in 180 schools across Australia. Interviews with young people helped researchers to interpret and understand the survey data.
Learn more about the survey.
One in five children developmentally vulnerable
One in five children are developmentally vulnerable according to results from the most recent Australian Early Development Census (AEDC).
Looking at the development of children in their first year of full-time school, the AEDC measured children’s readiness for school and mapped their development against five domains:
- Physical health and wellbeing
- Social competence
- Emotional maturity
- Language and cognitive skills (school-based)
- Communication skills and general knowledge.
The results show that the development of Australian children is improving on the whole, with developmental vulnerability among children in their first year of school decreasing over time since 2009.
Significant improvements were made between 2009 and 2015 in some domains, such as children’s language and cognitive skills, and the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s development and other children is narrowing. However, developmental vulnerability persists in several domains and children living in very remote communities remain more developmentally vulnerable.
Despite some improvements, the results show that more than one in five Australian children are vulnerable in at least one area of their development domains, and one in 10 children are vulnerable in at least two areas at the time they start school.
The report highlights the importance of quality early childhood education and care, which can promote school readiness and assist children to be competent in all five developmental domains.
Read the full 2015 AEDC report.
Choosing a training or education provider
A fact sheet has been developed explaining the most important things to look for when choosing a training or education provider or course.
Download the fact sheet from the Australian Skills Quality Authority website, this page also has information about what to do if you would like to raise questions or concerns about a training provider.
Universal access to early childhood education signed
All states and territories have now signed the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education for 2016 and 2017.
Universal access to early childhood education ensures that a quality early childhood education program is available for all children in the year before full-time school (often referred to as preschool or kindergarten).
The preschool program is to be delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher for 15 hours a week or 600 hours a year, with a focus on participation by Indigenous children, vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
Programs will be delivered across a range of settings, including long day care, stand-alone preschools and school based preschools. Visit the Australian Government Department of Education website for more information.
New ACECQA Board announced
The new Board of the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) has been appointed.
The appointment introduces six new and six returning members to the Board, providing ACECQA with the benefit of continuity in experience and expertise, as well as new perspectives and approaches.
Following a distinguished career in education, Ms Judy Hebblethwaite will guide the new Board as Acting Chair until the appointment of the Chair is finalised.
The new Board comprises:
- Ms Judy Hebblethwaite – Deputy Chair
- Mr Mark Brown* (acting appointment)
- Ms Sandra Cheeseman
- Professor Ann Farrell
- Ms Cathy Hudson*
- Dr Robyn Layton AO QC
- Associate Professor Joce Nuttall
- Ms Sabine Phillips*
- Mr Nick Ryan*
- Ms Catherine Weber
- Ms Jackie Wilson*
- Ms Naomi Wilson*
*Returning Board member
Ms Hebblethwaite said she was looking forward to working with such a dedicated team, all of whom brought a wealth of relevant experience to the role, as well as a strong commitment to improving education and care outcomes for Australia’s children.
Read more about the Board’s role.