ACECQA Newsletter Issue 10 2015

The transition to school 

Children experience many changes as they transition from their early childhood service to their first year of school. Our second article on transitions to school looks at the aspects of school life that will be similar or different for a child. When educators and families share this information with the child, it can make all the difference to their successful transition. 

What are some of the differences a child might experience? 

After regular attendance at an early childhood service, children are generally used to being part of a large group and older in comparison to other children at the service. When a child starts school however, they become one of the younger, and often much smaller children in the school environment. Instead of several adults, there may only be one adult in the room for children to engage with.
 
The curriculum children experience at school is quite different. Compared with a child’s experiences at an early childhood service, schools often have routines that provide a set time for work and for play. 
 
As educators how can we support children and families to make a smooth transition to the school environment? 

Think about organising visits to local schools 

A child may have already visited a local school because an older sibling attends. If not, visiting a school is a good way to familiarise a child with their future environment. Some early childhood services visit their local schools as part of their program. Educators could also encourage families to make contact and arrange visits prior to their child starting school. 
 
While there are similarities between the early childhood and school settings, supporting a child to deal with the differences may be more important than maintaining the similarities. With support, children adapt quickly to their new school environment and the different demands of the school day. 
 
Many early childhood services, especially those located on school grounds, work closely with other teachers as they support children and their families in this important transition. The National Quality Standard reinforces continuity of learning in element 6.3.2 Continuity of learning and transitions for each child are supported by relevant information and clarity of responsibilities. 

Transition statements 

Some services develop transition statements for families to share with teachers at their child’s prospective school. These statements can provide rich information to support the transition and assist teachers to recognise the child’s skills, strengths and capabilities.  The NSW Transition to School Statement has been formally evaluated and found to be successful. You can download the evaluation report here.  
 
Examples of transition statements and resources can also be found on the Queensland Curriculum & Assessment Authority website and the Victorian Department of Education and Training website
 
Services can suggest to families that they share their children’s portfolio with the school if they wish to. Remember to seek parental permission if sharing information about children with schools. 

Other resources


Meeting new educator to child ratios 

Improved educator to child ratios will start on 1 January 2016 in all states and territories, except Tasmania and Western Australia where they are already in place. More information about these changes is available on ACECQA's ratios page.
 
For services that are affected, there are some options available to help meet the new requirements. Services can include people actively working towards an approved qualification or taken to be an early childhood teacher (ECT) in their educator to child ratio count.

Actively working towards an approved qualification 

The requirements for actively working towards an approved qualification are: 

  1. being enrolled in a course for the qualification
  2. having commenced the course
  3. making satisfactory progress towards completion
  4. meeting the requirements to maintain enrolment
  5. holding an approved certificate III qualification OR having completed the approved certificate III units OR having completed 30% of the units in an approved ECT qualification.
A person who meets requirements 1 to 4 may be counted as a certificate III qualified educator. A person who meets all five requirements above may be counted as a diploma qualified educator.
 
Some restrictions apply for family day care educators and coordinators, see our ratios page for more information.

Taken to be an early childhood teacher 

Until 1 January 2018, a person can be counted as an early childhood teacher if they are actively working towards an ECT qualification, and have either:
  • completed 50 per cent of that qualification, or 
  • already hold an approved diploma.
Please note that in NSW this does not apply if you are working in a centre-based service educating and caring for 30 or more children preschool age or under. You should also check relevant teacher registration and accreditation requirements in your state and territory. 
 
For more information about employing people actively working towards an approved qualification, visit the ACECQA website.

Empowering children - National Children's Week 2015

National Children’s Week begins this Saturday (24 October – 1 November) with celebrations happening across the country to acknowledge children’s rights. This year marks the 25th anniversary since Australia signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, including the agreed 54 articles founded on respect for the dignity and worth of each child.
 
A positive, nurturing and stimulating environment for children can have a profound impact on their long-term resilience, self-esteem, healthy growth and capacity to learn. The Early Years Learning Framework and Framework for School Age Care identify secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships with children as one of the key principles underpinning practice. This theme is woven throughout the National Quality Framework. 
 
ACECQA spoke with Bridget Olssen, Director at UnitingCare Jack and Jill Preschool in NSW, about their work to support each child’s participation in the community. 
 
UnitingCare Jack and Jill Preschool collaborated with the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) on the design of the new Grafton Bridge. This project enabled the children to become active participants in their community and to contribute to the decision-making process.
 
“We believe all children have a voice and deserve to be heard in their preschool and community,” said Bridget. “The design of the Grafton Bridge project was a really positive experience for all involved.
 
“The RMS is building the new Grafton Bridge next to the old one. Project managers from the bridge team visited our service and discussed the design of the new bridge with the children and listened to their ideas. We then supported the children to put in submissions to the project using drawings and statements.
 
“The team ended up using the children's ideas. They added in a walkway to join the two bridges, so the children can walk over the old bridge, along the walkway, and back home over the new bridge.
 
“The children’s designs stemmed from their interests in bridges and block play. Their contributions to the project promoted ownership, agency and developed their drawing, thinking and language skills.”
 
UnitingCare Jack and Jill Preschool’s strong collaborative partnerships with community organisations contributed to the success of driving children’s agency and promoting children’s citizenship in the wider community. 
 
“It’s all about giving the children opportunity to make meaningful decisions and choices about things that affect them,” said Bridget.

Embracing the assessment and rating process

Being assessed and rated can be a nervous time for educators. ACECQA’s We Hear You Blog spoke with Vashti Hicks, an Authorised Officer with the Queensland Department of Education and Training, to discuss her role and how services can prepare and embrace the process.
 
Hear from Vashti about how she communicates with services before a service visit and some of the innovative ways she has seen services approach Quality Areas and Standards. Read more on We Hear You

New Starting Blocks infographics 

Starting Blocks, ACECQA’s family focused website, has launched a new series of infographics for parents. These infographics will help parents to prepare their children for early education and care and to work in partnership with educators.
 
The infographics outline topics such as key questions for families to ask when selecting a service, managing special health needs and managing nutrition. Visit the Starting Blocks website for these resources and information.

Professional recognition for NSW ECTs

In NSW Early Childhood Teachers (ECTs) will be accredited alongside school teachers from 2016. Accreditation recognises the professional standing of early childhood educators in the community and also ensures educators are supported by the framework of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.
 
In late 2015, the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) will ask ECTs currently working in NSW to provide evidence of approved qualifications as well as evidence of a Working with Children Check Clearance.  For more information visit their website, email contactus@bostes.nsw.edu.au and subscribe to eNews
 
In some Australian states and territories teacher registration is required to work as an ECT. It is a requirement in Victoria and Western Australia. The Queensland Department of Education and Training has also released its Workforce Action Plan 2016-2019 to include consultation with the early childhood sector on options for registration. For more information on teacher registration requirements for your jurisdiction, please contact the teacher registration body in your state or territory.

ACECQA's National Consistency Strategy and Implementation 2015-16

ACECQA guides the implementation and administration of the National Quality Framework (NQF). This includes monitoring and promoting national consistency so the way the NQF is administered by governments and ACECQA achieves positive outcomes for children, families and carers.
 
Following consultation with governments and sector representatives, ACECQA has published its National Consistency Strategy and Implementation Plan 2015-16. The document summarises ACECQA’s approach to and priorities for consistency including progress that has been made to date. 

Ministerial welcome

ACECQA congratulates Senator Simon Birmingham who was recently announced as the Minister for Education and Training, a portfolio that now includes children’s education and care. We look forward to working with Senator Birmingham in his new role.