Since 2005, the SPROuts Practice Awards have inspired members of the early childhood community and had a significant influence on the integration of sustainable practices into the operations and curriculum of early childhood services in New South Wales.
We are excited to announce that as of 2023, the SPROuts Practice Awards have opened to all members of Early Childhood Australia (ECA).
The awards will showcase projects implemented by ECA members that demonstrate children are caring for the environment and contributing to a sustainable future. As Sue Elliott states, ‘The grassroots passion and commitment that have initiated, promoted and supported environmental education are to be acknowledged’ (Elliot, 2003).
To be eligible for the award, entrants must be current ECA members. Membership forms are available on the ECA website here.
Each year your membership contributes to the continuation of ECA’s work which includes advocating for sustainability within early education, offering affordable educational workshops, and recognising and awarding quality sustainable practices. All winning entries will be made available to ECA members so the great work early education is achieving within Education for Sustainability (EfS) is shared.
The prize of $1,000 and a sustainability bundle of ECA resources will be awarded to the winner’s early learning service. Please not that this is not a payment to an individual.
Award applications must be completed by completing the application form. We have provided some guidelines to help you.
Identify the project’s main category focus:
- Connecting children to nature. Understanding and respecting the connections between themselves, other species and Earth, i.e. nurturing biophilia.
- Wellbeing for people and planet. Developing an understanding of the impact of human activity on the environment, i.e. biodiversity protection, reducing toxicity, and garden to plate.
- Working towards ensuring ‘enough for all forever. ‘Exploring resource minimisation, i.e. water conservation, share programs and waste management.
Create a project title: Use a simple creative descriptive title
Tell the story: In 30 words or less, describe the project. You may like to include:
- the inspiration for change
- how the project reflected the service community and supported families to engage
- the input from educators at the service
- how the project actively engaged children in learning and was represented within the curriculum.
Link the learning: In 500 words or less, describe the results of the project and how the change impacted those involved. Gather stories of change, including from the children. How were the changes linked to the category you have selected for this project?
Best practice will demonstrate the Education for Sustainability (EfS) is:
- based on critical reflection
- embedded within the service practices
- genuinely engaging for families and community.
Consider how your project sits within a bigger picture of EfS across the seven quality areas of the National Quality Standards (NQS).
Example: Working with children and families to reduce waste might sit within:
QA1 – Designing opportunities within the curriculum to explore the question: What is waste?
QA2 – Reviewing food selection and reducing plastics.
QA3 – Exploring how plastic waste can make its way into oceans.
QA4 & 5 – Developing relationships and fostering knowledge to create a stronger sustainability capacity.
QA6 – Working within the community by utilising guest speakers, visiting waste depots, and engaging with families.
QA7 – Building this new way of ‘being’ into philosophy and practice documents.
Consider future potential: In 300 words or less, tell us where you see this project going. Has it influenced any further change? Who will carry things forward? What differences will your project make in the future? It is desirable that projects have an advocacy component which demonstrates children as capable and competent with agency. If not yet included within this project, you might consider describing how this might be expanded upon with advocacy.
Format: The application is to be in PDF format and no greater than 2MB in size. Please use font size of 12 and include no more than four photos. Photos must be embedded within the same application.
In addition, you may wish to submit a separate short video clip (under 5 minutes). Please see permissions.
Sharing the applications
ECA requests that applications have permission to be uploaded to the members-only section of our website to share with and inspire other ECA members. They may also be used in our publications. By submitting your application, you acknowledge and agree.
Permission for use of photos on website
All photos used in the submission must have written permission for use by participant, or in the case of children, by parent/guardian. Please keep these permissions at the service. If not possible, we suggest you either blank out a face using relevant software or use photos without identifiable faces.
Producing a short video (under five minutes) may enhance your application but is not required. If you wish to add a video, it must have all relevant permissions. It will not be shared on the website but may be used in ECA presentations and award evenings, where it will be acknowledged.
A panel of independent judges including those with sustainability backgrounds will select the SPROuts Practice Awards for excellence. When deciding which stories to share in your application we suggest you discuss these with your teams, families and even the children to consider which stories demonstrate the most significant impact? The panel will be looking for evidence of the child as capable and competent with agency, as well as the exceeding themes as discussed above, and how this project has worked across various Quality Standards.
Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA). (2023). Guide to the National Quality Framework. https://www.acecqa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-03/Guide-to-the-NQF-March-2023.pdf
Davis, J. (2015). Young children and the environment: Early education for sustainability (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press Australia.
Early Childhood Australia (ECA). (2016). Code of ethics. https://www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/our-publications/eca-code-of-ethics/
ECEEN. (2019). EcoSmart: A sustainable standard for early educations (2nd ed.). Pademelon Press.
Elliot, S. (2003). Patches of green: Early childhood environmental education in Australia. NSW EPA.
United Nations (UN). (2015). Transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/21252030%20Agenda%20for%20Sustainable%20Development%20web.pdf