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Early Childhood Australia WebWatch

Making news this fortnight …

Making news this fortnight … the State of Early Learning (SOEL) Report launches at Australian Parliament House, giving a snapshot of gains and areas for improvement; concerns about future funding arrangements for preschools surface and congratulations to Forbes Preschool for winning the 2019 Narragunnawali Early Learning Award for their commitment to reconciliation; the Federal Government funds training for early childhood services working with Indigenous families to support children in vulnerable situations; and researchers call for play-based learning to have a bigger part in kindergarten and primary schools. Music teachers making a difference to children’s lives are acknowledged in the ARIA Music Teacher Awards. What defines risky play? Find ways families and educators can help children take managed risks during play. Research says children immunised against pneumonia-causing bacterium are less likely to contract severe pneumonia; and a review into the Indigenous child welfare system finds Aboriginal children are taken from families in unethical ways.

Find the latest in state and territory news and jump down to read what ECA teams have been doing.


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Hurry early bird prices MUST END SOON. Travel subsidy applications are also now available—professional development has never been more affordable. Attend the 2020 Forum in Dubbo to be a voice for the sector and your community. Share your ideas with leading figures from the early childhood sector at our interactive panel discussions and workshops, contribute to the discussion, be involved and learn. CCSA will be listening carefully and using your contributions to guide our advocacy for shaping the future of our sector. BE HEARD!

State of early learning

State of Early Learning report
The State of Early Learning in Australia 2019 report, launched on Monday 25 November, is welcomed by both Minister Dan Tehan and Shadow Minister Amanda Rishworth. The report shows some progress but also sharp differences in access to affordable, high quality early learning across the country. It emphasises the need for strong federal oversight and investment in retaining a qualified workforce. Find the full report and executive summary here and find ECA’s media release here.


Preschool: What’s the outcome?
In a recent article about the national partnerships agreement for preschools, Judith Ireland expresses concern for future federal funding arrangements in the lead-up to the government-commissioned Nous Group report. The report will be discussed at the mid-December meeting of education ministers. ECA will keep members and followers posted on outcomes. Read the article here.

drought relief

Award-winning preschool
Reconciliation Australia’s Narragunnawali Awards 2019 acknowledge the commitment to reconciliation in education across Australia. Congratulations to the 2019 winner of the Early Learning category—Forbes Preschool in NSW. Watch this video to see the work they do.

literacy with families

Child mental health
The Federal Government is providing funding to train early childhood services who work with Indigenous families in ways to support at-risk children, as part of an overall $503 million Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. Read more here.

Early start on habits

Learning through play
Play-based learning is a significant part of early childhood education, but when children start school, play tends to have more rules and structure. Find out here why researchers and educators think more play in school is needed; and click here to see why concern about children’s interactions and eating patterns has led one school to restrict free play time.

Digital tech isn't the enemy of play

Music making impact
Music teachers around the country go to great lengths to develop children’s musical skills. Every year, the ARIA Music Teacher of the Year Award acknowledges their role and the value of the arts in improving education standards and building better connections between children and their school life. See the finalists here.

A service that fits

Taking risks
Most parents and educators agree that risky play is an important part of being a child, but there is still some confusion about what risky play really is. Here are five ways families and educators can help children take risks during their play.


Fighting the flu

New research from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Melbourne University reveals that children who receive a vaccine against a pneumonia-causing bacterium are 35 per cent less likely to develop severe pneumonia. Read more here.

Child welfare review

A review of the Aboriginal child welfare system by Megan Davis, Indigenous law professor at the University of NSW, finds that newborn Aboriginal children are being taken from their families in unethical ways. The review suggests a triage system to help at-risk women during pregnancy. Read more here.

In state and territory news ...

The NSW Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning announces a family-focused guide aimed at making existing quality ratings information more accessible and easy to interpret for families. From January 2020, NSW early childhood education and care services are required to display a graphic at their entrance showing their rating. This information is already available on the ACECQA website  and displayed at ECEC services (Click here to find a related blog on The Spoke). The NSW Government passes the Children’s Guardian Bill 2019 to provide the Children’s Guardian with greater authority to protect children and young people. Notably the Bill requires religious bodies and agencies that engage contractors who work with children to act within the Reportable Conduct Scheme. The Association of Independent Schools NSW announces a venture into research to investigate evidence-based approaches to learning. Several NSW schools are closed to bushfire activity. Check here if schools in your area are affected.

The Tasmanian Government is expanding its oral health service to more government schools, and investing in almost $1 million for three new purpose-built dental vans to deliver the program next year.

In South Australia, improvements in phonics show that over 50 per cent of students scored at or above the expected achievement level this year—an improvement on the 2018 score of 43 per cent.

In Victoria, as the end of the school year approaches, the award-winning Wimmera Southern Mallee Early Years Project, BY FIVE, is working with children and families in five regional project clusters—Horsham, Donald, Dimboola, Hindmarsh and Yarriambiack—to connect them to the services they need in the move from early years and preschool education to primary education. Read more here

Summer sale

ECA Shop

Transition to school
Research shows that children worry the most about making friends or not understanding the rules of school during their first year of school. Help students and their families transition to school by including ECA’s leading publication First Year at School in your enrolment pack for 2020. This resource features tips and strategies to navigate the first year.

ECA Spoke

Purpose and ratings
Explore how animals fit with the Reggio Emilia approach to children’s learning, responsibility and empathy. Keeta Williams looks at how educators can photograph with purpose and improve the quality of images for families. Find more background on the NSW government initiative intended to make the National Quality System less opaque for families.

ECA Publications

Documentation and planning
ECA has a collection of online professional learning to support educators’ understandings of documentation, assessing children’s learning, and the cycle of planning. You have access to purchased modules for 12 months and with the 15% off ECA Summer Sale, now is a great time to buy. Explore here.


Join us in 2020
Share your ideas, action-research, experiences and findings and apply to present at the ECA 2020 National Conference! Applications close 12 December 2019. Learn more here. Secure your spot at the 2020 AJEC Research Symposium, held 13–14 February 2020 in Sydney. Take two minutes now to get ahead for 2020, book here. Program coming soon!

Be You Early Childhood

Join us at 3.30 pm AEDT on December 10 for ‘Staff Wellbeing—recharge, recalibrate, rejuvenate’. Schools and early learning services are rewarding places, but they can also be stressful. While you focus your energy into creating a positive, mentally healthy environment for children and young people, it’s also important to focus on your own wellbeing. Register here.

ECA Shop

Outdoor play and risky play
Children are drawn to the outdoors and the freedom this environment provides. The latest two issues of the Everyday Learning Series (EDL), both written by Helen Little, explore Active outdoor play and Risky play and the outdoors. To expand on your daily practice, click here to subscribe.

To view upcoming early childhood events and professional development opportunities, click here to visit the ECA events page.


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ECA WebWatch—Issue 321, November 2019.