Action for quality
The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) is a bold, explicit step to improve the quality of learning and care for young children in early childhood settings. It is a key component of the Australian Government’s national quality and reform agenda for early childhood education and care. When implemented across all early childhood settings and linked to a national quality assurance process, the EYLF should help ensure quality and consistency across all Australian early learning programs. It is expected that all early childhood services will need to provide evidence of their use of the Framework in designing and delivering early learning programs.
Implementation of the EYLF will take time and energy at a number of levels. Encouragingly, many professional groups, employers and peak bodies are implementing workshops and other supports to guide and assist educators to use and implement the Framework in their services. On the Central Coast of NSW, Children’s Services Central is running comprehensive sessions – Belonging, Being and Becoming: Putting the Early Years Learning Framework into Practice – for teachers, other qualified staff and untrained staff throughout 2010. Children’s Services Central is also hosting an innovative EYLF e-Tips weekly email service providing tips, guidance, resources and support to help implement the EYLF. In South Australia, The Gowrie Training Centre (Professional Support Coordinator) has planned a number of breakfast forums to support leaders and directors who are implementing the EYLF. Catholic Education Northern Territory has started a program of ‘place-based’ EYLF workshops and support for early childhood staff in its urban and remote preschools and early learning centres across the territory. Its Early Childhood Curriculum Opportunities (ECCO) program also provides resources for families to help them better support their children’s learning.
Nationally, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations has provided an Educator’s Guide and is developing a range of other supports in conjunction with key industry partners. Importantly, ECA has a range of resources to support practitioners and services implementing the EYLF. The latest Research in Practice Series, ‘The Early Years Learning Framework: Getting started’ by Joy Goodfellow, is specifically designed to introduce and support educators in coming to know about, understand and work with the EYLF.
The EYLF’s principles and practices are already well integrated in the policies and programs of many early childhood services. However, for services that struggle to find qualified staff and quality resources, the challenges in implementing the EYLF are immense. Interpreting the document and accessing professional learning and resources to facilitate the implementation will be difficult for many preschools and early learning centres, especially in remote Australia.
Our first Every Child for 2010 covers a range of issues relating to quality in children’s services, including articles by Pam Cahir on the ‘National Quality Standard – translating this win for children into practice’ and Margaret Sims on ‘re-envisaging early childhood teaching’. Other articles focus especially on the notion of being and belonging, including developing inclusive relationships among early childhood staff, belonging and children’s behaviour, and encouraging families to belong.
In an editorial prior to the last national election, I questioned whether the election outcome would ‘signal hope and action for all children and families’ and wondered if ‘the political rhetoric [would] bring real improvements in the experiences, opportunities and outcomes for children ndash; not just statistical pirouetting.’ As we’re in the build-up to the next election, we can be well satisfied with the progress of the national early childhood quality and reform agenda. The early childhood sector is very complex, and change was never going to be easy or smooth. But, to everyone’s credit, good will, careful planning and consultations, and hard work have resulted in a raft of changes that will bring more consistent quality across all services.
Editor, Every Child magazine