Small is beautiful at award winning preschool

It’s always been very grassroots.

Close community ties and care for the environment has led to two awards for The Point Preschool.

Director Catherine Lee, a 30 year member of the IEU, said the Oyster Bay preschool has been a champion of sustainability, the community and Indigenous culture since it was founded in 1956.

“The Point Preschool was honoured to receive a World Teachers Day 2017 Award from the Australian College of Educators. This is the first time the early childhood profession has been included in these awards,” Catherine said.

The centre also received the NSW ECEEN Sprouts Award for Reducing our Resource Footprint for their commitment to sustainability and for caring for their chickens.

Catherine said the preschool exemplified everything that good early childhood professionals could bring to the lives of children and their families.

The citation for the award emphasised the preschool’s inclusion of Aboriginal culture, its emphasis on sustainability, its development of relationships with children, families and the community and nurturing high quality programs.

With only 20 children a day attending, the preschool employs a high level of qualified staff, and Catherine said this positively influences the curriculum, learning, relationships and their status in the community

Historically it has always been a preschool which emphasises community and sustainability. Founded by a group of neighbours including Norma McCluggage and David Farr-Warton, it was aimed to provide a happy and safe environment for local children. With a small budget, sustainability was par for the course.

“We always reuse, and repurpose items, limit our purchase of resources and use a washing line. It’s always been the way because we have to save money.’ Catherine said.

Norma, now 93, still attends events at the preschool and provides books for their street library. Norma fundraised for the preschool in the 1950s by selling lamingtons outside the train station.

“It’s always been very grassroots,” Catherine said.

Norma and founding President David set the tone for the preschool that proudly lives on today.

Building the chicken house was a part of that philosophy. The house was planned and designed by the children, and made from wood and other materials collected on council pick up days, and built by the children and parents.

The chickens are fed scraps the children bring from home and from their morning tea and lunch and their manure is used to fertilise the veggie patch.

Catherine said as well as the “gift of their daily eggs”, the chickens provide a source of great joy for the children and the community.

“We have always been small and we aim always feel like a family with a backyard here,” Catherine said.