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Early Childhood Australia WebWatch

Making news this fortnight …

Finnish educational expert Pasi Sahlberg explains play, and compares Australia’s educational approach with Finland’s; the Department of Human Services explains Child Care Subsidy overpayments; Australia’s falling international educational performance prompts different perspectives on how we should respond; factors in obesity are identified in the early years; new legislation removes rules on holiday re-enrolment; The Song Room releases free music resources; Changes to In Home Care qualifications will benefit remote educators and families; a Qatar program tries a new approach to preschool; and it’s a good start to 2020 when a leading early childhood educational provider removes fees charged to families for public holidays.

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

This is the final issue of WebWatch for the year and we would like to thank our loyal 2019 readers and sponsors. Expect us back in your inbox in the second half of January 2020. In the meantime have a safe and happy holiday.


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State of early learning

Play is vital
This ABC podcast features international childhood expert Professor Pasi Sahlberg discussing the importance of play and the difference in education between Australia and Finland. He also explores why play helps a child develop learning and social skills, face challenges and solve problems. Listen here.


Behind CCS overpayments
Department of Human Services General Manager Hank Jongen explains to families what a Child Care Subsidy (CCS) overpayment means, how it works, managing an overpayment, and asking for a review. Educators and leaders might find it useful too. Read more here.

drought relief

Lifting student performance
The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results show Australian students are below the OECD average in science and maths, up to three years behind the top-performing country, Singapore, and a year behind students tested in the early 2000s. Read here why Pasi Sahlberg says not to panic, and read what Education Minister Dan Tehan has to say here.

literacy with families

Young and healthy
A healthy lifestyle as young as four-years old reduces the risk of being overweight at age seven, according to research in Pediatric Obesity. Less television viewing and less processed foods in the younger years were associated with lower body mass index although other research says underlying social deprivation is a leading cause.

Early start on habits

Holiday enrolment easier
The Australian Senate passed new legislation making it easier to manage attendance at early childhood programs over the school holiday period. Families and providers will typically not have to re-enrol children for the new year unless they have been removed from the program for more than 14 weeks. Read more here

Digital tech isn't the enemy of play

Free music resources
Five new early years resources for pre-school and early primary school educators, created by The Song Room, are now available from ARTS:LIVE. Find resources here. The online learning platform is a national not-for-profit organisation bringing tailored, high-quality music and arts programs to Australia’s most disadvantaged children.

A service that fits

Remote education flexibility
The Federal Government has changed its policy for In Home Care educators (IHC), allowing an additional two years for them to complete their qualifications. This recognises challenges faced by IHC educators in remote Australia and by families who are unable to access other early learning services. Read more here.


Learning empathy young

A preschool in Qatar is departing from traditional programs to encourage children’s natural curiosity about the world. It enables children to have plenty of time to play outside, connect with nature, and build meaningful relationships with other children. It aims to foster children’s empathy and social skills. Click here for more.

A good start to 2020

From New Year’s Day, Goodstart Early Learning will be Australia’s first early education and care provider to stop charging families a fee on public holidays. Goodstart CEO Julia Davison says the policy change is based on feedback from families. Read more here.

In state and territory news ...

As warmer weather hits Canberra, the ACT Playgroups program manager is setting up water play because of its many benefits to children.

Professor Peter Shergold, former head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, has been appointed as Chair of the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) Board. His role will oversee reshaping of the NSW Curriculum and education reforms in 2020 and beyond, according to the NSW Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning, Sarah Mitchell. Several NSW early childhood services and schools cancel outside play as bushfires in the state pollute the air with smoke and find updates on NSW school closures here.

The NSW Early Childhood Environmental Education Network (ECEEN) 2020 Conference ‘Celebrate Mother Earth’ will be held at the Naamaroo Convention Centre on Saturday 9 May at Lane Cove National Park in Sydney. Call for Papers and Early Bird registrations are now open. Read more here.

Twenty early childhood services in Tasmania will provide children 400 hours of free preschool in 2020, as part of the Working Together program. Find out more about the initiative here.

Across Victoria fourteen different languages are being taught in bilingual kindergartens, as part of a $17.9 million investment to benefit 5000 children each year. Tarneit Central is one early childhood education and care service that received funding and switched from French to Punjabi. Learn about the program here.

A study found high rates of ‘wet cough’ among Indigenous children in remote WA (Kimberley). The condition can lead to more serious illness and the risk of long-term lung damage if left untreated, a new study shows. The researchers are using their findings to raise awareness with the hope of triggering early treatment.

A Queensland-developed app is aiming to boost children’s outdoor play by helping families book play dates in their communities.

Summer sale

2020 Early Years Planner

Get ahead
Featuring ample room for reflection, a daily provocation and links back to the Early Years Learning Framework and National Quality Standard, ECA’s 2020 Early Years Daily Planner is the perfect gift for this holiday season, and a great way to help your team get ahead in the new year.

ECA Spoke

Latest reads
Find ECA’s top summer reads for educators and families, explore the problem with school readiness, plus blogs on Christmas inclusiveness and the importance of play for children as ECA develops a 2020 Statement on Play.

ECA Learning Hub

Professional Learning
Make the ECA Learning Hub your one-stop-shop for valued online professional learning and save—sign up for your annual subscription today. One flat fee gives you 12 months access to our current and forthcoming online learning for all your team.

ECA Events

Time to register!
ECA’s 2020 National Conference application to present is open until Monday 16 December 2019. Book your ticket here. The 2020 AJEC Research Symposium program features Professor Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson as international Keynote Speaker. Plus register now to the 2020 Reconciliation Symposium.

Be You Early Childhood

Be You in 2020
If you are planning for professional learning in 2020, keep Be You in mind. Dedicate time and space to mental health learning, reflection and action. Educators are not mental health professionals, but they are a vital part of a mental health support team. Learn more about Be You here.


Working in partnership
Families face pressures and suffer hardship for many reasons. A partnership of ‘heart and mind’ between educators and families is what we need for children’s wellbeing says Nick Hopwood in his practical resource 'Working in partnership with families facing adversity'. Buy the resource here.

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 322, December 2019.