CONCURRENT SESSIONS

DAY 1, SESSION 1 - 11:40am - 12:40pm

DAY 1: 11:40am - 12:40pm
Inquiry-Based Improvement: A reimagining of the Quality Improvement Plan
Plenary (Level B)

Presented by: Steven Cameron
Organisation: Department for Education SA

Improvement processes that are embedded, collaborative and evidence-informed are the key to highly effective practices that deliver clear outcomes-driven improvement. An analysis of Quality Improvement Plans across the Felixstow 1 Portfolio within the SA Department for Education identified that preschools were electing to pursue between 3-25 improvement priorities. A significant number of improvement priorities were compliance-based with a short-term focus. We sought to reposition improvement, with a strong pedagogical focus, for educators through inquiry. To support our preschools, a new Quality Improvement Plan and improvement processes were developed in consultation with preschool directors. This has led to an opportunity for deeper reflection on practice, identified through self-review processes and informed by data, with a clear rationale for the focus, actions to support the inquiry and ongoing reflections on progress to inform subsequent actions. Repositioning improvement priorities as improvement inquiries with a strong pedagogical focus, designed to connect across multiple quality areas, standards and elements were also identified.


DAY 1: 11:40am - 12:40pm
Improving Access to High-Quality Professional Learning
Heritage Room (Ground Level)

Presented by: Clinton Milroy and Lauren Elston
Organisation: Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL)

Despite the evidence that shows early childhood education has a tremendous influence on learners' future social, emotional and academic outcomes, early childhood educators are among those teachers who face the greatest challenges in accessing high-quality professional learning. We know that the most effective professional learning approaches are education setting-based. These approaches focus on improving teaching practice, taking into account the specific site's context. Opportunities for site-based, collaborative professional learning such as observing a colleague teach or receiving feedback from more experienced teachers, can be limited in early childhood settings. AITSL has consulted widely with the profession, including through a survey of over 800 early childhood teachers, in order to understand the challenges these teachers face in accessing high-quality professional learning, as well as what the potential solutions might be. While there is no single "silver bullet" answer, there are several approaches that could be taken, ranging from quick wins to large systemic changes.


DAY 1: 11:40am - 12:40pm
Getting Ready to Succeed at School: Contributions of parents
Essex Room (Level 3)

Presented by: Amy Graham
Organisation: Charles Darwin University (College of Education)

Children's experiences at home influence their preparation for school, yet there is limited understanding of parental contributions before children start school. The main aim of the present research project was to understand the contributions made by parents in preparing their child for school. Quantitative survey data was collected from 120 parents and 52 teacher-parent dyads to understand the role parents played in preparing their children for school and this relationship to children's school-entry outcomes. Furthermore, qualitative interviews were held with 16 parents to better understand the factors affecting parents' capacity to engage. It was clear from the data collected that children come from a variety of family contexts and their home environments differ in many ways, including the resources families provide, parenting skills, activities they facilitate and beliefs they hold. One of the major implications for practice from the results in this research is to recognise the critical importance of parents in a child's learning journey.


DAY 1: 11:40am - 12:40pm
Ignite Learning through Complex Play: Time for curiosity, imagination, creativity (WORKSHOP)
Cambridge Room (Level 3)

Presented by: Marilyn Way, Kerry Boland and Sue McIntosh

Our presentation aims to increase awareness of the importance of complex play with older children and how it builds vital learning opportunities and social skills. Play is not an add-on, it is an approach where all aspects of the curriculum are woven together to create authentic learning. All children have increased opportunities to experience success, including diverse learners who are not successful in traditional classrooms. We value "kid being kids" by providing opportunities for children to be present in the moment and have the capacity to design their own play. Through complex play children are intrinsically motivated to question, seek, explore and discover through hands-on learning. We capture "seize the moment" learning opportunities to provide hooks for engagement and making meaningful connections. Intentional teaching and adaptions serve to widen children's world. Children become active agents in making choices and designing their own learning pathways. We "smuggle in" the learning using the real-world context as a stimulus for the play episodes.

DAY 1, SESSION 2 - 1:30pm - 2:30pm

DAY 1: 1:30pm - 2:30pm
Teaching Profession: Engagement of the early childhood sector with teacher accreditation (WORKSHOP)
Heritage Room (Ground Level)

Presented by: Merise Bickley
Organisation: Education Standards Authority NSW

The Teacher Accreditation Act 2004 (The Act) speaks to all teachers in NSW early childhood services and schools. The Act upholds the integrity of the teaching profession across all education sectors. Recent reports and research highlight improvements in children's learning where qualified early childhood teachers lead early learning programs. Teacher accreditation recognises qualified teachers to enter the profession and provides a framework to grow teaching practice. The broader early childhood sector is positioned to sustain teachers' responsibility to professional growth to lead quality teaching in the prior-to-school years. This workshop will extend the understanding of accreditation of early childhood teachers for the sector at large. Participants will learn to lead teachers to reflect on the: intent of Australian Professional Standards for Teachers; model of achieving and maintaining accreditation at Proficient Teacher; accreditation requirements to improve teaching quality in early childhood services. Sector leaders can discover ways to encourage early childhood teachers to become leading voices in the teaching profession.


DAY 1: 1:30pm - 2:30pm
One Bite at a Time: Improving literacy outcomes
Essex Room (Level 3)

Presented by: Caron Cooke
Organisation: Heatley State School

Heatley State School has an index of community socio-educational advantage (ICSEA) of 879 with the full range of students, so knowing our learners and having the skills to support and extend their learning is integral to every decision we make. Since 2015, I have been part of a team tasked with improving literacy levels (particularly reading) for ALL learners. We are eating this elephant one bite at a time. With a focus on good first teaching in the early years, we gather useful data about our learners' strengths and needs. This information guides our priorities and informs our staff professional development decisions. To date we have seen improvements in oral language, phonological awareness, and ultimately, Reading. This presentation will explain the journey we are on and the processes we are following to ensure that our learners continue to make progress.


DAY 1: 1:30pm - 2:30pm
Supporting Vulnerable Families in their Children's Transition to School
Cambridge Room (Level 3)

Presented by: Penny Markham
Organisation: Goodstart Early Learning

In many families facing disadvantage, experiences of formal schooling have been suboptimal, and engaging with the school system raises challenges that can impact on their own child's successful transition to and retention in school. (Dockett et al., 2011). ECEC settings have a significant role in supporting children and their families to make a positive transition to school. Furthermore, educators in the early years can model productive relationships with parents that can help prepare them for their child's transition. To support families to be strong partners in their child's early learning journey and into school, Goodstart implements a range of strategies. These include the establishment of Education and Wellbeing Plans, a scholarship fund to promote regular attendance and partnerships with schools such as school exchanges and partnering with families at school meetings. Findings from the implementation of Goodstart's approach will be shared with participants, with a particular focus on families' experiences of Goodstart's approach.


DAY 1: 1:30pm - 2:30pm
Encouraging Inclusive Practice through the National Quality Framework
Plenary (Level B)

Presented by: TBC
Organisation: NSW Department of Education

A guiding principle of the National Quality Framework is that the principles of equity, inclusion and diversity underlie the Education and Care Services National Law. This idea of inclusivity is closely intertwined with another guiding principle - that the rights and best interests of the child are paramount. Having a child centred approach to education and care, necessitates inclusive practice. Inclusivity is embedded within the National Quality Framework through the National Law and National Regulations. It is also specifically considered in the National Quality Standard in regard to the physical environment of the service, the partnerships the service has with the community as well as the educational program and practice. Good practice case studies from the education and care sector will be used to provide an insight into how inclusive practice is important to quality service provision.

DAY 2, SHOWCASE - 9:30am - 10:20am

DAY 2 SHOWCASE: 9:30am - 9:40am
Early Childhood in Developing Communities
Plenary (Level B)

Presented by: Karthika Viknarasah
Organisation: Lidcombe Preschool Kindergarten

This showcase will narrate a brief recount of the presenter's experiences in bringing modern notions of early childhood to developing communities. Her work with early childhood communities in developing countries, especially in war-affected areas, and the profound impact that access to early childhood has on children and their families will be briefly described. The importance of inclusion and making access a priority for all is a key theme of this showcase.


DAY 2 SHOWCASE: 9:42am - 9:52am
Ninganah No More (Bringing life to Aboriginal Languages in NSW early childhood education services)
Plenary (Level B)

Presented by: Nat Heath
Organisation: NSW Department of Education

This session will showcase the NSW Department of Education's Ninganah No More program which supports the delivery of Aboriginal language programs in early childhood education services across NSW. The program was designed to provide an opportunity for Aboriginal language and culture to be developed and nurtured in the earliest stage of formal education across NSW while acknowledging that Aboriginal people are the custodians of Aboriginal languages and have the right to control their growth and development. Since its commencement in June 2018, early childhood education services have been working with Aboriginal people to design and deliver the program, with positive outcomes already visible. This partnership approach to delivering inclusive early learning experiences is giving life to Aboriginal languages in early childhood education services and building a new generation of children who are strong in their culture and identity.


DAY 2 SHOWCASE: 9:55am - 10:05am
KindiLink: An innovative approach to preschool for three-year-olds
Plenary (Level B)

Presented by: Rosemary Cahill
Organisation: Department of Education, WA

KindiLink is an innovative approach to three-year-old preschool, delivered in WA since 2016, focussing on Aboriginal children and families at 38 public school sites. KindiLink entails six hours per week of supported playgroup sessions for children who attend with a parent/caregiver in the year before preschool. KindiLink has a dual focus on children's learning and their home learning environments. KindiLink applies a family-centric approach to early learning services prior to school entry. Many WA families access high-quality formal early learning services. In parallel, through KindiLink and other playgroups, they also have access to a suite of informal services where they and their children are immersed in high-quality, evidence-based programs that are tailored around the strengths and aspirations of the families and children they serve. An evaluation of KindiLink by ECU found it to be highly effective in its four key outcomes relating to children's learning and home learning environments, including parental confidence and efficacy.


DAY 2 SHOWCASE: 10:07am - 10:17am
ELLA: Motivating children to engage with an additional language
Plenary (Level B)

Presented by: Amanda Macdonald
Organisation: Education Services Australia

Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) is a key part of the Australian Government's commitment to supporting language learning. ELLA works by introducing children to learning a new language through fun, interactive digital tablet apps. The play-based nature of the apps motivate children to practise words and phrases of the new language in both the digital play space and in more traditional preschool play spaces. Educators are supported with resources and ideas to integrate the digital and physical worlds, and encourage children to develop their creativity and imagination as they learn a new language.

DAY 2, SESSION 1 - 12:10pm - 1:10pm

DAY 2: 12:10pm - 1:10pm
21st Century Leadership in Early Childhood Settings
Heritage Room (Ground Level)

Presented by: Karthika Viknarasah
Organisation: Lidcombe Preschool Kindergarten

This presentation will look at some of the key aspects of modern leadership in an early childhood setting using theory and current research to underpin the discussion. The presenter will share practical ideas and real-life experiences of being a leader within a centre and across multiple centres. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on their own experiences of leadership and understand that leadership is everybody's responsibility and privilege, not just those in a designated management or leadership role.


DAY 2: 12:10pm - 1:10pm
The theory, the reality and the future - capacity building to foster inclusive preschool environments
Essex Room (Level 3)

Presented by: Beth Flatley and Tracey Quick
Organisation: NSW Department of Education

Through the Disability and Inclusion program, the NSW Government supports the meaningful participation of children with disability and additional learning needs in community based, not for profit preschools. Through this program, funding and sector capacity building is provided to support access and inclusion in the educational program. There is no commonly agreed definition of inclusion within an early childhood education setting. This presentation will review research and theories on inclusion, and highlight the essential factors for successful inclusion in NSW preschools, explore data from the Disability and Inclusion Program to illustrate the reality of inclusion, and examine the role of ongoing capacity building support in promoting inclusive NSW preschool environments.


DAY 2: 12:10pm - 1:10pm
Sometimes It Takes a Child to Raise the Village
Cambridge Room (Level 3)

Presented by: Amelia Jenkins
Organisation: Quinking, Monash University

Take a quantum leap in leadership development: travel through times/space and imagination, discover hidden conceptual understandings of science and mathematics. Transition Statements accompanying children from kindergarten to school evidence understanding of concepts prescribed by the Australian Curriculum in Year Three to Year Five. We may have erred in our assumptions of conceptual knowledge acquisition/construction/transfer in STEM when crafting the Australian Curriculum, or didn't plan for accelerated growth being achieved through investments in early childhood education. Evidently, we need to regroup, rethink and redeploy. How can we realise our human potential if we push it back? What happens to a deferred dream? We are in uncharted waters as leaders but have the chance to transition from crisis to opportunity if we adjust our sails and ways of thinking. We can be "the music makers and dreamers of dreams" shepherding our school communities to develop skills and strategies to thrive in harnessing the power and potential of the present, towards enacting our preferred futures.

DAY 2, SESSION 2 - 2:00pm - 3:00pm

DAY 2: 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Special Rights and Inclusivity in Reggio Emilia Inspired Schools
Heritage Room (Ground Level)

Presented by: Katherine Calcagno
Organisation: ZeroSei Project

This presentation will explore the principles and philosophy of the Reggio Emilia Approach to understand the manner in which words impact and influence inclusion, spotlighting the concept of moving from special needs to special rights and how inclusion is fully embraced by the Reggio Emilia Approach. Each principal element of professional experience within Reggio Emilia and Asia will be discussed.


DAY 2: 2:00pm - 3:00pm
A Level Playing Field: Use of outdoors for strategic advantage
Essex Room (Level 3)

Presented by: Marilyn Way and Kerry Boland
Organisation: Mighty Oaks

This presentation is centred on diverse learners, including a recent partnership with a local Autism Friendly School. This has led to building new understandings and innovative strategies within a mainstream environment to assist in breaking down barriers and to facilitate success for all children. The work addresses areas of vulnerability as children build their capacities and sense of self through making meaningful connections in the outdoors. When children can be in the moment, and feel at one with nature, the potential for anxiety and sensory overload is reduced. The affordances within the natural environment for wellbeing and engagement is well known, however, little empirical evidence was found in conceptualising the use of the outdoors as a strategic intervention. In the outdoor environment, children are actively engaged in rigorous physical play and authentic tasks, developing their proprioceptive skills. The outdoors offers a different context for learning, challenge and success, which goes beyond the constraints within traditional school/kindergarten indoor environments.


DAY 2: 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Put on Your Oxygen Masks
Cambridge Room (Level 3)

Presented by: Kari Sutton
Organisation: Department of Education

Early childhood leaders' and educators' positive attitudes and influence create a climate where young minds can learn and be challenged to reach their highest potential. If they are to contribute to the wellbeing of staff, children and the sector, they must first identify strategies and tools they can use to increase their self-awareness and enhance their resilience and wellbeing. This session emphasises the importance of early childhood leaders' and educators' "putting on their oxygen masks first". Participants will learn how to take care of themselves and increase their wellbeing and resilience so they can better foster wellbeing within their "spheres of influence” by modelling the importance of wellbeing, watching for signs of stress in their team and taking action to address it. Participants will leave with a range of fun, practical tools and strategies that will enable them to maintain their wellbeing as well as enhance the wellbeing of members within their early childhood community.