Upskilling early childhood educators
In the North Burnett region of Queensland, access to early education is very limited, and the community-run Eidsvold Kindergarten is the only centre-based service within a 50 km radius. There are many young families in the area of low socioeconomic status, and children entering school at risk of developmental vulnerability.
Eidsvold Kindergarten management believes that rural children and families are deserving of high-quality Early Learning and that it is vital that they are equipped to give children the best start in life. Relationships are so important in early years education, but the town experiences frequent turnover of teachers. A lack of options for tertiary studies and professional development (which is only available via the internet or expensive travel) is a major factor. Teaching positions are difficult to fill and rely on bringing people in from other areas or appointing teachers who are still studying.
An FRRR grant enabled Eidsvold Kindergarten to host a professional development day for Early Childhood Educators from North Burnett and beyond, to raise their professional knowledge and skills and in turn, benefit young children and families across the region.
The day-long professional learning workshop was attended by 40 guests from kindergarten, long daycare, schools and family daycare services in Eidsvold, Mundubbera, Gayndah, Biggenden, Wondai and Kingaroy. Eidsvold Kindergarten President Jessie McNeale said educators' knowledge and ability to plan and document children's learning was strengthened, and they learned about working with natural resources through a practical session.
"We were able to inspire educators across a region spanning 500 km to innovate on their teaching practice and provide high-quality environments for children."
Educators were also able to network, share ideas, and make plans for future professional development opportunities. The project brought positive publicity to the kindy and the town of Eidsvold through newspaper articles and heaps of positive feedback from community members.
"Next time we would like to go bigger and better and plan a whole weekend designed to highlight more of what the region has to offer," Mrs McNeale said.
"While local educators stand to benefit most directly from this event, the flow-on effects on young children and families are endless. It is hoped that this event will be the first of many and result in a strong community of collaboration across North Burnett Early Learning contexts."