Taking an active role in the environment and promoting a sustainable future
In recognition of World Environment Day this month, in this issue we look at sustainability and how it can be incorporated into services’ programs and practices.
Standard 3.3 of the National Quality Standard aims to encourage children to increase their understanding about their responsibility to care for the environment, day to day, and for long-term sustainability.
Supporting children to appreciate and care for the environment is not a new concept. A respected educator, Anne Stonehouse wrote, back in 2006:
“One of the most significant responsibilities that [early childhood] professionals have is to support children to retain the sense of awe and wonder that they are born with, to add to that a desire to nurture and protect what is beautiful, and to encourage them to appreciate that there are many possibilities for honouring life and wonders that the world holds.”
Standard 3.3 recognises that children develop understandings of themselves and their world through active, hands-on investigation. A supportive active learning environment encourages children’s engagement with the environment and provides authentic, meaningful experiences to be embedded in every day practice.
Read the full article on ACECQA's We Hear You blog.
Anne Stonehouse, ‘NSW Curriculum Framework for Children’s Services’ http://www.community.nsw.gov.au/docswr/_assets/main/documents/childcare_framework.pdf
Setting the bar for sustainability
A safe, suitable and inclusive physical environment plays a vital role in promoting children’s learning and development.
Chiselhurst Kindergarten Toowoomba in Queensland is one of the many services recognised for its exceptional environment and sustainable program and practice by being rated Exceeding in Quality Area 3 – Physical Environment.
The kindergarten has a number of sustainable initiatives in place, including a worm farm, native beehive, vegetable garden, succulent flower garden, rainwater tanks, solar panels and natural furniture and equipment. The service also has a three-bin system that the children use when eating to sort food scraps, garbage items and recyclable items such as yoghurt containers.
Chiselhurst Director Rosemarie Dawes said while her service was fortunate to be situated on beautiful grounds, achieving a rating of Exceeding was more about the respect she and her educators have for the environment.
“Respect for the environment is embedded in everything we do here,” she said.
“We have passionate staff who have that ethos; every staff member contributes their ideas and we work as a team to make changes.
“We share our love and respect for the environment with the children and their families.”
Rosemarie said they encourage families to be involved by asking them to consider packaging used for lunches, to bring in recyclable materials for artwork and to help build items such as their possum boxes and bird nesting boxes.
“As educators we have to think about what we value – sustainability and giving the children the opportunity to learn is important to us,” Rosemarie said.
“We turn the lights off while playing outside, taps are fitted with low flow regulators, and we encourage families to bring in their recycling.
“We are constantly looking to do new things and when we do, we educate the children and explain why we do certain things.”
Rosemarie also highlighted the importance of being involved with the local community. Local organisations including Cool Companions (a wildlife sanctuary) and the Toowoomba Regional Council often visit the service to conduct educational workshops for the children, and just a few weeks ago the service participated in the ‘Buy a Bale’ initiative to support farmers.
When asked what advice to give other services, Rosemarie simply said: “Do it because you believe in it, and realise it is a combined effort and it will take time.”
World Environment Day
The physical environment plays an important role in improving children’s learning and development.
Initiatives such as World Environment Day (5 June) are important to remember as they highlight the need for action to be taken.
World Environment Day (WED) is the United Nations’ main way of encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment. This year, WED helped to build understanding of the importance of Small Island Developing States and the urgency to protect the islands in the face of growing risks and vulnerabilities due to climate change.
Resources supporting Quality Area 3: Physical Environment
With more than 5,500 services assessed and rated, we know that Quality Area 3: Physical Environment is one of the areas where services are more likely to receive a rating of Working Towards NQS, with Standard 3.3: Sustainable Practices and Environmental Responsibility proving to be the most challenging of the three standards that fall within Quality Area 3. Here is a list of relevant resources to guide services on meeting this Quality Area:
Links for further information:
Are you qualified? Try our new online Qualifications Checker
To help individuals assess their qualifications, ACECQA now has an online tool, which shows if an individual holds an approved qualification or is taken to hold an approved qualification.
The Qualifications Checker guides individuals through a series of questions to confirm if they are a qualified educator and takes only a few minutes to complete. It also provides advice on evidence required to demonstrate if an individual is qualified.
The Qualifications Checker does not apply to individuals wishing to work in centre-based Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services and does not determine individuals’ suitability for teacher registration or skilled migration.
Find out more and try the Qualifications Checker here.
Lead assessor workshop at ACECQA
One of ACECQA’s roles is to ensure national consistency. ACECQA works with regulatory authorities to support authorised officers in consistently applying the law and assessing and rating services.
Across two days in May, ACECQA ran a workshop for lead assessors, which was attended by officers from all state and territories.
The workshop was an opportunity to evaluate and reflect on the training and support resources that have been developed for authorised officers, as well as consider future priorities.
Workshop participants identified and discussed the key challenges authorised officers encounter, and developed strategies to address these challenges.
The workshop was also an opportunity to consider:
- ongoing national consistency
- COAG Review 2014
- assessment and rating reports
- authorised officer training and support needs
- national inter-rater reliability.
Image (from left): Mark Cooper (Qld), Charlotte Geeves (Tas), Danielle Kyle (NT), Wendy McDuff (ACT), Marilyn Visnjic (SA), Jan McFarlane (NSW), Lyn Chapman (Tas), Susan Deveraux (WA), Andrea McNair (NT), Perry Campbell (ACECQA), Natalie Gulberti (WA), Teresa Harnett (SA), Brigid Donohoe (ACT), Susan Todhunter (Qld), Belinda Sims (Vic)
We Hear You
Have you signed up to the ACECQA blog - We Hear You? Check out the blog to read our latest articles on Amarina Early Learning Centre’s assessment and rating journey, reconciliation and documentation.
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2014 Australian Family Early Education and Care Awards Winners
Congratulations to Ellyn Taylor of Avalon Beach House Pre-school, NSW on earning the title of National Rising Star in the 2014 Australian Family Early Education and Care Awards. Ellyn was selected from 152 nominees in the Rising Star category. Read about Ellyn here.
On 19 June, Ellyn will join the 15 state winners selected in the remaining three award categories for a three-day awards celebration in Sydney. There, each state winner will be interviewed by the judging panel, whose task it will be to determine the national winners in the categories of Early Childhood Educator of the Year, Early Childhood Director of the Year and Early Childhood Service of the Year.
National Winners will be announced at the Awards Gala Celebration on 20 June.
Check the Awards website for details and like Australian Family on Facebook for regular updates.
Annual fee invoices issued
All services should have received their annual fee invoices for the 2014-2015 financial year. If you have not received your invoice, you can update your contact email address held by your regulatory authority by submitting a ‘Notification of Change of Information about an Approved Provider’ online using the NQA ITS.
There was a small increase to fees in accordance with regulation 235 of the National Regulations. The complete list of indexed prescribed fees can be found on ACECQA’s website.