ACECQA chats with three award-nominated early childhood educators
Congratulations to all nominees and finalists of the Australian Family Early Education and Care Awards.
On the eve of the awards gala on 17 June ACECQA spoke to Anthea Driscoll, Benjamin Kikkert and Alyce Lucia, three of the national finalists of the Rising Star Award, about their work and experiences.
For each finalist, meaningful relationships forged with the children at their services are one of the most rewarding aspects of their role.
“I’ve been with the same group of children for two years now, and each one of them and their families are very important to me,” said Alyce, the room leader in the preschool room at Step by Step in the southern Sydney suburb of Beverly Hills.
Alyce and Anthea, who create and work within programs focusing on the transition to primary school, have a passion for early childhood education and teaching because they play a vital role in children’s development and learning.
Anthea, the early childhood teacher and Educational Leader at Tadpoles Early Learning Centre in Queensland’s Eatons Hill, finds it “incredibly rewarding watching students leave our centre equipped with a sense of resilience and agency as they take the next steps of their educational journey.”
This sense of agency and helping “children discover their own power, resilience and perseverance” is central for Benjamin from Sacred Heart Early Learning Centre in New Town, Hobart.
“I love watching children pursue their own interests and feel joy as they strive to meet the high expectations we have for their successful growth and learning. I feel very strongly that children should be able to challenge themselves and cope with the results of that challenge, through navigating risks or by having the opportunity to try things that are difficult,” said Benjamin.
In Alyce’s pre-school room, this idea of ‘trying new things’ extends to her own teaching practice and integrating her performing arts background and “finding creative ways to implement new and exciting play experiences, and create sustainable and aesthetically pleasing environments and play spaces.”
For Anthea, this practice is informed and enriched by her leadership role and the collaboration with other educators.
“As the ECT and Educational Leader of our centre, I feel that I am very fortunate to be in this position where I am able to network and work alongside professionals in the early childhood education sector and continue to create better educational opportunities and outcomes for children. I have a great passion for early childhood education and would love to continue to help other educators and teachers scaffold their professional knowledge while in turn further broadening my own learning and teaching skills in the sector,” said Anthea.
This is a sentiment echoed by all three finalists, who credit the collaborative environments of their services and the inspiring influence of other educators for their passion for teaching as well as their own ongoing learning and discovery.
Visit the Tadpoles Eatons Hill: Centre 2, Sacred Heart Early Learning Centre and Step by Step Early Learning Centre websites for more information on these services and the Australian Family Early Education and Care Awards for details about all state and national nominees and finalists.
Reflecting on your service philosophy
Developing and reviewing the statement of philosophy is an opportunity to acknowledge the values and beliefs held by key stakeholders at your service, showcasing the commitment to quality outcomes for children, families and the community.
What is a philosophy and why do you need one?
A written philosophy is a statement of values and beliefs which guide the operation of the service.
The philosophy will be unique to your service; it underpins the policies and procedures, as well as the decisions and daily practices of those involved in planning, implementing and evaluating quality experiences.
The philosophy needs to reflect a shared understanding of the role the service plays with regards to the children, families and community. It should reflect and be informed by: theoretical perspectives, research, community values and contexts, and the collective values, beliefs and diverse perspectives of the children, educators and families who attend the service. It is important the statement reflects the principles of the National Law, the Early Years Learning Framework and/or the Framework for School Age Care (or other approved learning framework) and the Guide to the National Quality Standard (p.175).
All services must have a statement of philosophy in place which is available to educators and staff of the service, and parents of children attending (Element 7.2.1 of the National Quality Standard (NQS)).
Why is reviewing your philosophy important?
The service philosophy may have been developed several years ago, so it could be time to reflect on its currency. Children, families and team members come and go which means the service philosophy may not align with the beliefs and aspirations of those who are a part of the service now. Remember, it needs to reflect the values and beliefs of the key stakeholders at your service.
How do you get started?
The process for developing or revising a philosophy could include:
- critically reflecting on the existing philosophy (if you have one in place)
- identifying the values and beliefs of all key stakeholders (including children, families, educators, and staff, management and relevant community representatives)
- developing a shared vision
- deciding on what it should say and how it should look
- drafting the philosophy and gaining approval from the key stakeholders who engaged in the process
- setting timeframes for review.
Is everyone involved?
Everyone involved and invested in the service should have a voice in the development and review of the statement of philosophy. Ensuring educators are involved can support them to understand why practices are in place and how the philosophy underpins the everyday practices and decision making.
Encouraging families, children and educators to be meaningfully involved may be used to demonstrate how you have met Quality Area 6 of the NQS. Inviting children to be involved and incorporating their views will demonstrate their ideas are respected and valued, further developing their sense of agency.
What do you need to consider?
With the philosophy being the statement which underpins the policies and practices of the service, it is important to acknowledge other aspects of the service the philosophy will affect. As mentioned in last month’s ACECQA Newsletter, one aspect is the Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) which needs to contain the service philosophy.
Also consider how the philosophy reflects service values and practices, some examples could be:
Other issues that could be considered include:
- continuous improvement
- critical reflection
- commitment to ongoing learning.
How should it be displayed?
How the statement of philosophy looks is up to those involved in its development. Several examples are available in the resources listed below. The philosophy should be visible to all and included in the induction of new team members and in the orientation process for new families.
With this information you are now ready to begin the planning process to develop or review your service philosophy to support the delivery of quality outcomes for the children, families and community. Enjoy the journey of reflecting on your practices.
Further reading and resources:
Belonging, Being and Becoming – the Early Years Learning Framework
My Time, Our Place – the Framework for School Age Care
The Guide to the National Quality Standard
Our ‘Philosophy’ – The Early Years Learning Framework Professional Learning Program
Revisiting the service philosophy – National Quality Standard Professional Learning Program
Talking about Practice: Revisiting a service philosophy – National Quality Standard Professional Learning Program
Revisiting your statement of philosophy – Kids Matter
Arthur, L., Beecher, B., Death, E., Dockett, S., & Farmer, S. (2015) Programming and planning in early childhood settings (6th ed). Cengage Learning Australia.
Recognition of excellence in our sector
The Excellent rating is the highest rating an education and care service can achieve. It can only be awarded by ACECQA and is an opportunity for our sector to:
- celebrate excellence
- be inspired and learn from examples of accomplished practice, innovation and creativity
- promote and reinforce the value of education and care
- recognise providers and educators who are champions of quality improvement.
Four services have been awarded the Excellent rating during the first half of 2016:
ACECQA congratulates these services for their outstanding achievement.
Providers with a service rated Exceeding the National Quality Standard overall can apply for the Excellent rating. See our information for educators and providers on how to do this.
ACECQA submission to Productivity Commission Education Evidence Base Inquiry
The Productivity Commission has published submissions made to the public inquiry on the National Evidence Base for School and Early Childhood Education.
The Commission, tasked to provide advice on the national approach to collecting and using data for early childhood education and care and schools to improve Australia's educational outcomes, called for feedback on the issues paper in April including the scope of inquiry.
ACECQA believes that the scope of the terms of reference described in the issues paper should be broadened to include evidence for children aged birth to four and should cover all children, regardless of whether they attend an education and care program.
ACECQA’s submission supports efforts to share information across government agencies in line with recommendation 13.2 of the Productivity Commission’s previous Inquiry into Childcare and Early Childhood Learning, subject to appropriate data privacy and confidentiality controls.
Data linkages would have many benefits, including reducing the administrative burden on families and services. Importantly, it would also provide a robust evidence base on child outcomes to assist with the evaluation of the National Quality Framework and facilitate evidence-based policy.
You can read the submissions, including ACECQA’s on the Productivity Commission website.
The Commission will publish their draft findings in August with a final Inquiry report scheduled to be published in December 2016.
New Starting Blocks infographic
Starting Blocks, ACECQA’s family focused website, is updated regularly with factsheets, infographics and resources for services and families.
An infographic which focuses on five simple conversation techniques families can use to engage meaningfully with their children is now available.
Promoting Starting Blocks to your families may be one way you could demonstrate your service is meeting Element 6.2.2 of the National Quality Standard.
Visit startingblocks.gov.au to see the new infographic and share with your networks.
Annual fee invoices issued
All providers should have received their annual fee invoices via email for the 2016-17 financial year.
Providers who have not received their invoice can view and pay it by logging into the National Quality Agenda IT System.
Fees for the 2016-17 financial year are payable in full for all service approvals held by the provider regardless of any subsequent transfers, suspensions or closures. The complete list of indexed prescribed fees can be found on the ACECQA website.
If you have any questions, contact your regulatory authority.