Early Start Conference: marquee event for sector

Catherine Snow and Vice Chancellor and President University of Wollongong Professor Paul Wellings.

The Independent Education Union attended the University of Wollongong’s inaugural Early Start Conference in September as an event supporter.

The university’s $44 million state of the art early start research, teaching and community engagement hub was officially opened in July.

According to Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Paul Wellings, the facility was the “catalyst for this first Early Start Conference, the driving force behind the marquee event for the Australian early childhood sector”.

Professor Tony Okely, Chair of Early Start Conference Organising Committee, said the conference theme, A First for Australia, A Model For The World, articulated Early Start’s mission, to improve children’s lives, translate research for practice, policy and community.

The conference provided an opportunity for early childhood and early years primary teachers to participate in forums focused on sharing interdisciplinary research findings and encouraged ongoing discourse around reframing policy and practice for young children, families and practitioners.

IEU early childhood Organisers Tina Smith and Anne Lajoie attended along with over 675 delegates from 12 countries, more than half of whom were early childhood practitioners.

Guest speakers included a range of world leading experts specialising in early childhood development, education, care and health from across Australia, America, England and the Netherlands.

It was inspiring and reassuring to learn from a world leading authority on early childhood and primary education Professor Iram Siraj, University College London, that evidence from a longitudinal study conducted in the United Kingdom linked enhanced life long outcomes to high quality experiences in educational and care settings.

An authority on childhood literacy, Professor Catherine Snow, Harvard University Boston, shared her latest research demonstrating the critical importance of providing rich language and literacy experiences in early childhood care environments.

The conference program included more than 100 presenters expert in areas of school readiness, physical activity and health, information and communications technology, literacy, numeracy, social inclusion and Aboriginal education.

Congratulations to all involved. The next Early Start Conference will be held in 2017.