Our Approach to Early Childhood Education

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Introduction Early childhood education can change lives. At Northside Community Service, we believe that all children have the right to quality early childhood education. We advocate for each child’s right to be heard, to belong to a safe learning community and to become active participants in their community and world. Northside manages four early childhood centres in the ACT, located in Civic, Dickson, Turner and Harrison. We are committed to supporting the education and wellbeing of young children through high-quality, play-based educational programs that foster a love of learning and create a safe and enjoyable environment for all children.

Professional practice underpins everything we do, and at Northside we work closely with the local and national community to advocate for better outcomes for all children. Our centres deliver early education programs for children from 6 weeks old to school-age and are open 51 weeks a year. Each centre is committed to working closely with children and their families to support every child’s learning and wellbeing. We know that giving children a love of learning, and supporting wellbeing at an early age, can significantly improve the opportunities and life-long outcomes for every child— and in turn, the whole community.

Commitment to Quality All Northside early childhood centres operate under the National Quality Framework. We are strongly committed to continuous improvement, ensuring the best possible outcomes for young children and their families. At Northside, we apply contemporary research and knowledge about how young children learn and develop to provide a modern perspective on early childhood education. As well as supporting fundamental literacy and numeracy learning, we work closely with each child and their family to support the important skills they will need for lifelong learning, including self-regulation, resilience and independence.

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Our policies and procedures are regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that we are always meeting children’s needs for health, safety, wellbeing and learning. As well as involving families and early childhood professionals in our policy review process, we ensure that children are able to contribute their ideas to policies and matters that will affect them. We work to meet the highest standard of children’s health and safety, including regular training on child protection responsibilities for all educators in the ACT. We have established strong internal processes to ensure that all educators understand their legal, ethical and organisational responsibilities to keep children safe. We are committed to not just meeting the minimum standards of compliance with regulatory frameworks, but exceeding them.

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National Quality Framework

Early Years Learning Framework

Research shows that quality education in the early years contributes to better health and education outcomes in later life. The National Quality Framework [NQF] sets standards for children’s education and care services across Australia that are designed to benefit children by improving the quality of education and care provided to them.

The Early Years Learning Framework [EYLF] is Australia’s national early childhood curriculum. It is used in all early education and care services to guide educators in developing quality early education programs that foster an experience of belonging, being and becoming.

The NQF includes legal requirements that all services must comply with, including requirements for: • Educator to child ratios and qualified educators • Children’s health and safety • Appropriately resourced, inclusive and sustainable environments for children • Quality learning experiences that reflect the principles, practice and outcomes of the Early Years Learning Framework.

Describing principles, practice and outcomes that are fundamental to early childhood pedagogy, the Framework is designed to support and enhance young children’s learning from birth to five years, as well as their transition to school. The EYLF underpins the development of curriculum programs for children that support and strengthen children’s sense of identity, connections and contributions to their world, sense of wellbeing, confident involvement in learning and effective communication skills.

Preschool Program Our early childhood centres provide a Preschool Program for children from three to five years, including a dedicated program for children in the year before attending school. These programs are planned and overseen by qualified Early Childhood Teachers and are developed from contemporary research and pedagogical knowledge in the areas of inquiry-based learning, sustained project work, outdoor classrooms and nature play, risk-taking, and the classroom as a community of learners. Our Preschool Programs are innovative, child-centred and value the contribution of children’s questions, ideas and understandings. All children know that their values and beliefs are recognised and respected by teachers, families and other members of the classroom and the wider community.

Our Early Childhood Teachers access regular professional learning and development to ensure the implementation of current pedagogy and practice within our classrooms. Our Preschool Programs are leading the way in the ACT and are recognised as exceptional in supporting children’s rights, documenting children’s learning and providing children with life-long social, intrapersonal and resilience skills. As with all ACT Government Preschools, our Preschool Programs operate under that National Quality Framework and operate five days a week, 51 weeks a year and are implemented as part of the daily and ongoing curriculum.

At Northside we utilise the EYLF to foster children’s creativity and curiosity through intentional teaching and spontaneous “teachable moments”. The EYLF is used in all Northside centres to support the assessment of children’s learning and development, and to plan for each child’s ongoing development.

Birth – 5 Curriculum Every child’s learning and wellbeing is supported by qualified educators, from the youngest infants to those about to transition to school. Research has consistently demonstrated the importance of the early years in improving social, emotional and developmental outcomes for children. Each room in our early childhood centres plans for children’s learning in an individual and group context. We are committed to providing high-quality educational programs that promote positive outcomes for all children.

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Our work is underpinned by the Early Years Learning Frameworks and our programs plan for children to develop their social skills with peers of all ages, adapt and respond to challenges, become more resilient, develop their independence and to influence their world. Art, music, dance and story, as well as the inclusion and respect for Indigenous perspectives, are all integral components of our early childhood programs.

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Providing Feedback We acknowledge and value all feedback provided by families regarding our early childhood centres and their educational programs. Collaborative partnerships with families is a key component of the National Quality Framework, and at Northside we value the important relationships we build with children and their families.

These updates are based on Northside’s approach to early childhood education, and document children’s learning, involvement in the community and professional learning undertaken by educators throughout the week. Comprised in our commitment to quality documentation, our early childhood teachers and educators provide quarterly learning summaries that document each child’s learning against the outcomes of the Early Years Learning Framework.

As part of our commitment to providing regular feedback to families, each of our early childhood centres provides weekly updates that are emailed to families and educators.

Teachers and Educators

Key Policies and Procedures

Professional Learning and Development

We acknowledge that the quality of education experienced by children and their families within our Northside centres can only be delivered by qualified, experienced and professional Early Childhood Teachers and Educators.

At Northside, we are committed to strong governance and operation of our early childhood education centres. We have a range of policies and procedures in place that support the day-to-day operation of our centres.

Our experienced teachers and educators work in collaboration with one another as researchers, continuously discovering innovative ways to guide children in constructing their own knowledge.

These have been developed in accordance with the National Quality Framework, the Education and Care Services National Law and Regulations and local ACT regulatory frameworks.

Our approach to early childhood education has informed the delivery of formal professional learning and development programs to the ACT community and Government sector. Northside Community Service is committed to providing high-quality professional learning and development through training events that are designed and facilitated by experienced professionals and practitioners in their fields.

At Northside we provide regular and ongoing professional development opportunities for Early Childhood Teachers and Educators, including:

Our policies and procedures are regularly reviewed and updated, incorporating feedback from families, children and the community. Policies and procedures are also regularly updated to include any new information from regulatory bodies, both nationally and within the ACT.

• Access to high quality training from external providers • Access to online early childhood professional learning modules • Individual training plans and professional networking opportunities

A number of key policies are available on our website www.northside.asn.au

Our training events offer challenging and unique perspectives that explore the National Quality Framework in practice. Critical aspects of early childhood education, including leadership, professional identity, image of the child, outdoor learning in natural classrooms , and relationships with children and families are explored in our sought-after workshops and seminars.

We also provide leadership and consultancy to early childhood services and organisations on issues affecting children and early childhood education. We tailor these to meet specific organisational needs and offer leadership mentoring, workshops and seminars and quality audits on a wide range of professional early childhood education areas. At Northside, we believe in giving back to the community. Our early childhood centres provide Twilight Open Evenings for the early childhood community, as an opportunity to share learning and inspiration across the children’s education sector. As well as tours of our classroom environments and outdoor learning spaces, educators are available to discuss pedagogical approaches to children’s learning and wellbeing. If you would like more information about our workshops, seminars, Twilight Open Evenings or consultancy, please visit our website www.northside.asn.au/training or email childrensservices@northside.asn.au

• Up to 5 days paid study leave per year

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Northside provides a broad range of quality community programs including: • Children’s services • Services for older people and people with a disability • Home support, transport and social programs for seniors • Support programs for young people and families • Women’s housing and emergency relief • Professional learning and development, audit and consultancy services • Social groups • Venue hire for community activities Would you or someone you know benefit from the support services we provide at Northside? For more information call 02 6257 2255 or visit our website www.northside.asn.au or earlychildhood@northside.asn.au Follow us on Twitter @NorthsideACT or @Northside_EE and like us on Facebook @NorthsideACT

Northside Community Service

@Northside_EE Phone: (02) 6257 2255 Fax: (02) 6257 5993

Northside Community Service 2 Rosevear Place, Dickson ACT 2602

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