Day 1 Sessions

DAY 1: 15.30 - 16.15
P2K - a 2 year journey

Presented by: Gregory Grinham
Organisation: Granville Public School

The Preschool to Kindergarten transition class (P-K class) is a two year Kindergarten program integrating Early Stage 1 curriculum and the Early Learning Years Framework through play and experiential learning. Research shows that play-based programs in classrooms enhances children’s academic and developmental learning outcomes. It has a natural and positive influence on children’s social, physical, emotional and cognitive development. The two year program meaningfully incorporates play into all aspects of the Early Stage 1 outcomes. Students engage with different types of guided, parallel, cooperative and adult led play based learning. Each of these kinds of play are related to cognitive development, as it boosts memory skills and language development.

DAY 1: 15.30 - 16.15
Growing Up Digital Australia: student wellbeing and use of technology

Presented by: Dr. Amy Graham, Prof. Pasi Sahlberg
Organisation: Gonski Institute for Education, UNSW

The Growing Up Digital Australia study replicates international methodology to contribute meaningfully to the cogent debate about how the increasing use of media and digital technologies is affecting young peoples’ wellbeing, health, identity and, eventually, learning.

Phase one looked at two key issues through an educators’ lens; one is the wellbeing and learning outcomes of Australian students across a range of indicators, and the other are the changes being observed over 3-5 year period in relation to their use of digital media and devices. We wanted to know if we could we establish  understandings about how children use technology and what impacts it has on the way they learn, behave, grow and feel?

A total of 1876 teachers, principals and school staff (including preschools) completed the survey.

While the findings are across all age groups of students, getting in early is paramount to establishing the right habits, starting the conversation with families and effecting change.

DAY 1: 15.30 - 16.15
Making Spaces for Children's Talk

Presented by: Dr. Sandy Houen, Dr. Sally Staton, Ms. Danielle Toon
Organisations: Institute of Social Science Research - University of Queensland, Social Ventures Australia

Acquisition of oral language is one of the most remarkable features of young children’s development. Strong oral language skills enable children to communicate effectively, and predict children’s success in school and beyond.Whilst oral language is embedded across the Early Years Learning Framework, and speaking and listening are important elements in the Literacy Strand of the Australian Curriculum, how educators achieve rich oral language environments in early childhood is not always well ‘articulated’. This interactive workshop will share a range of evidence-informed strategies for educational leaders to support opportunities for children’s talk in early education and care settings for children aged 2-5 years. These strategies emerge from a recent systematic review of Australasian research evidence. Understanding how these strategies work can support educators to make intentional decisions about the interactional strategies they use with children and to select the strategies that are most appropriate for achieving their teaching goals.

Day 2 Sessions

DAY 2: 16.00 - 16.45
An opportunity for community: Leaders supporting educators’ relaxation and wellbeing

Presented by: Dr. Sally Staton, Dr. Sandy Houen, Prof. Karen Thorpe
Organisation: Institute of Social Science Research – University of Queensland

Educators experience high levels of stress that can lead to burnout, decreased job satisfaction, and a reduction in program quality. Relaxation may help to alleviate stress and promote educator wellbeing through distraction and recovery. Yet, little is known about educators’ experiences of relaxation.The importance of educator wellbeing is three-fold. First, wellbeing influences the quality of life for educators themselves. Second, educator wellbeing affects retention, engagement, and stability in the ECEC workforce, and finally, wellbeing affects the ECEC program quality. Therefore, educator wellbeing is essential to the individual, to children and families, and society as a whole.  While self-care by the individual is vital, equally important is educational leaders’ consideration of how workplaces can respond to individual educators’ relaxation preferences at work.  This workshop will first present findings from a research project that describes how educators conceptualise and experience relaxation. Afterwards, findings are used to stimulate discussion about how educators’ relaxation can be supported at the community level.

DAY 2: 16.00 - 16.45
Challenging regimes of truth in a complex early childhood Setting

Presented by: Karla Wintle, Vanessa Field
Organisation: Springvale Service for Children

This session is based on the premise that early childhood education is unique and contextual, built around connections and relationships we have between people and place. The cohort of educators at Springvale Service for Children engaged in new normal as the leadership team supported them to embrace the challenges brought about by the world pandemic. Issues relating to taken for granted practices and accepted ways of working were challenged and overcome, leading to change and innovation.

DAY 2: 16.00 - 16.45
Empowering teachers as pedagogical change agents to support child outcomes

Presented by: Amie Fabry
Organisation: Edith Cowan University

Research shows that early childhood pedagogical practices significantly impact outcomes for children. In Western Australian schools, Kindergarten (non-compulsory year) and Pre-primary (Foundation year) are fraught with tension surrounding quality pedagogical practice, with competing demands inherent in different mandatory frameworks. Whilst many schools have curriculum leaders, it is less likely that have contemporary knowledge of early childhood pedagogy to guide and support teachers’ pedagogical decision making. This presentation will outline the role of early childhood pedagogical leadership as a driver of pedagogical improvement. Data collected through interviews with staff in 18 schools revealed that empowering early childhood teachers as change agents was pivotal in improving pedagogical practices in Kindergarten, Pre-primary and even into Year one and two. This ‘bottom up’ approach to leadership encouraged teachers to contribute to decision-making and lead colleagues with pedagogical improvement. This research shows that supporting children’s holistic outcomes becomes a shared responsibility that leads to ongoing and sustainable improvement, when teachers are empowered to lead change.