Another inspiring conference

Many of the stories in this issue of Bedrock are derived from presentations at the 2018 IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Early Childhood Conference, held on 8 September. The conference was attended by about 100 teachers and other practitioners, who were inspired and engaged by speakers with an overriding theme: that the pay and respect for early childhood teachers must be improved. Shadow NSW Early Childhood Education Minister Kate Washington attended once again to explain the ALP’s position and receive feedback from teachers on funding issues. For those who could not physically attend the conference, it was live streamed by Teachers Learning Network (TLN).

Free PD for NSW members continues in 2019

During the NSW/ACT IEU Conference, IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary John Quessy announced that the Union would continue to provide free PD for its early childhood members through TLN in 2019.

“We do this for lots of reasons but predominately because you deserve access to high quality PD and you embrace these opportunities,” Quessy said.

Programs are accessible in two formats. Online programs are accessible from home, your workplace or from a mobile device. Log on to a website at the scheduled time and you are welcomed by an online host who will support you throughout the session. TLN identifies high quality and innovative teachers who present the workshop. Topics include working with children with additional needs, promoting pro-social behaviour, building relationships with families and creating inviting play spaces.

Recorded programs are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are ‘on-demand’, so can be completed at a time that meets your needs. They include Nature Play, working with students with ASD, incorporating Aboriginal perspectives and leadership skills. See www.tln.org.au

Qualified teachers talk the talk

Macquarie University researcher Associate Professor Sheila Degotardi has found big differences in the amount of clear, audible adult talk under twos are exposed to in early learning. A quarter of children heard less than 11 words a minute, which could be a risk for their language development. In rooms where there was more interaction between children, teachers and educators, not surprisingly children heard more words. In a room with a university educated teacher, there was more likely to be higher quality interactions.

“It’s not surprising that having a university qualified early childhood teacher as an educational guide, leading the other adults in the room by example, give better results,” Degotardi said.

“Their deep professional knowledge lets them lead their team to establish experiences and use interaction behaviours that enhance language development.”

Full study: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09669760.2018.1479632

Red tape matters

A new report Effect of Red Tape on Child Care from the Commonwealth Senate Select Committee (headed up by Senator David Leyonhjelm) questions whether early childhood education and care staff need qualifications. It also calls for the dismantling of the regulatory system that has governed early childhood education since 2012, (so no more National Quality Framework) on the basis that it costs employers money. Apart from ignoring the mountain of evidence of the benefits of having a qualified early childhood teacher in the room, this idea places children in danger, as there are plenty of examples from around the world where lax regulations have led to children being harmed, or even killed, while in care.

See report: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Red_Tape/Childcare/Interim_report

Members respond to revision of Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline

IEUA-QNT members remain concerned about a number of changes present in the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority’s (QCAA) revision of the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline (QKLG), after making a formal submission to the authority.

Our Union’s submission had been prepared in response to contact from members working in the early childhood education sector, who raised issues with several elements of the revised guideline.

Member concerns included a reduced emphasis on play based learning, coupled with an increased emphasis on formalised literacy and numeracy skills.

While the previous QKLG includes explicit reference to the importance of play based learning, members noted that the revised draft made only limited reference to the importance of “play, real-life engagement and routines and transitions” as learning contexts.

Members also noted that the revised guideline included more formalised expectations relating to development of literacy and numeracy skills than the current document.

Our Union strongly supports the use of play based pedagogies as evidence based best practice in the early years and believes the QKLG should, therefore, make explicit reference to the importance of play and reduce the emphasis on formal literacy and numeracy skills.

Upon receipt of a final draft of the guidelines from the QCAA, it has become evident that the formal emphasis on literacy and numeracy remains despite the QCAA’s acknowledgement of our submission.

Members who find this to be of concern will continue to express the issue by contacting the QCAA.

Elders’ stories improve kindy participation

The second phase of the Elders as Storytellers campaign has been launched by the Queensland Government.

The Elders as Storytellers campaign is part of the Department of Education’s broader The Early Years Count strategy – seeking to ensure all Queensland children to benefit from early childhood education by encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to enrol their children in kindergarten.

Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace said the second phase of our Elders as Storytellers campaign was unique.

“We have Elders from the Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian South Sea Islander communities all working together to highlight the benefits of a kindergarten participation.

“It’s great to have respected elders on board to help promote this important message.”

Grace said the Elders as Storytellers campaign reflected the State Labor Government’s commitment to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to engage in early childhood education.

“We have made significant progress towards the 2018 target of 95% of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children participating in kindergarten, having reached a figure of 91.7% in 2017.

“Since the first phase of this campaign began in 2017, we have reached two million Queenslanders and helped increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children enrolling in kindergarten.”

For more information on Elders as Storytellers and to view the campaign videos, visit www.qld.gov.au/biglearninglife.