Exceeding Centre 2021
Quality Area One Educational Program and Practice:
The service’s approach to curriculum decision-making and the delivery of the educational program is guided by the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), practices, principles and learning outcomes. It is further guided by family and children’s input and the service philosophy which incorporates research from theorists such as Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems on children’s development as well as the Reggio Emilia approach. The centre director commented she researched the Australian Early Development Census data (AEDC) to develop an understanding of the needs of children in their local community. Her findings identified that there had been an increase in families from diverse cultural heritages move into their local area. This information allowed the management team and educators to critically reflect on their program, curriculum, and the cultural information they needed to gather, to facilitate and extend each child’s learning and development. Enrolment forms and children’s information forms were re-developed to capture more relevant information. Further information gathered from the AEDC ‘Physical Health and Wellbeing’ domain and ‘Language and Cognitive Skills’ domain assisted Educators to tailor their curriculum, and approach to their families, children, and the community. For example, The educational leader/early childhood teacher (ECT) and educators were able to clearly articulate how they use the approved learning framework to enhance each child’s learning and development, as well as how education assistants and input from families contribute to the development of a high quality program. The learning program makes connections to children’s prior learning, their interests, intentional teaching and information from families and children.
Quality Area Two Children’s Health and Safety:
Educators and the leadership team demonstrated a deep understanding of the requirements of this standard and a commitment to high quality practice. All educators actively promote healthy eating, physical activity, and effective hygiene practices in the delivery of the daily program. Discussion with educators showed the activities to promote effective hygiene practices are consistently included in the routines and children are intentionally supported to take increasing responsibility for their personal hygiene. This includes role-modelling effective hygiene practices, practicing hand washing and engaging in discussions with children about hygiene standards and providing children with visual handwashing procedures. An educator was observed discussing germs and hand washing with the children during mat-time, and a child was observed reminding his peer to ‘cover his cough to stop germs from spreading’ and educators throughout the service were observed systematically reminding children to wash their hands if they wiped their noses or touched the floor during mealtimes. Educators in all areas were consistently observed supervising children in the bathrooms to ensure correct handwashing procedures were used. The service provides hand sanitiser at the entrance of the service and at the entrance to each area to ensure effective hygiene practices by all who attend the service.
Quality Area Three Physical Environment
During the research, development and building stages of the service, the approved provider identified an innovative and inspiring approach to the building of an early childhood education service by supporting and incorporating the Reggio Emilia Approach into the building process. In addition, from the beginning of operation robust discussion with the centre director, educational leader, educators and families has occurred in an ongoing manner along with the service philosophy, values, program and curriculum promotes the Reggio Emilia Approach to the design. “One of the most powerful and important components of incorporating the Reggio style into the environment is to ensure all areas of the service acts as a place of shared relationships among the children, educators, parents and a feeling of belonging in a world that is alive, welcoming and authentic”. Children’s playrooms and common spaces are carefully integrated with one another, the outdoor environments and with the service community. All indoor environments are ablaze with natural light and fresh air from the large French doors. During construction a fully automated ventilation system has been installed to continually recycle the indoor environments with fresh air. The service has been furnished with natural furnishings, soft furnishings, natural resources and plants to encourage real life interactions. For example, when you walk into the front entrance of the centre you are greeted with a massive atrium style room with high, clear roofing which runs the full length of the building and natural stone floors. This amazing common space has been carefully and aesthetically decorated with natural furniture, soft furnishings, bespoke hand-crafted wooden dining room furniture, an abundance of plants, vines and other natural resources.
Quality Area Four Staffing Arrangements:
At all times, purposeful consideration is given to the organisation of educators to ensure familiarity and continuity for children and a high-quality learning and care environment. Staff arrangements are consistent throughout the day, aligning with the operating hours of the service to ensure continuity of care. Rosters are carefully planned to ensure that a consistent educator is always available and responsive to each child. The centre director and educational leader support educators to understand why this is important to children’s wellbeing, learning and development. This is shared with all educators as a part of their induction process and is consistently discussed in staff meetings. Educators are also continuously encouraged to reflect on whether their practice aligns with the guiding principles of the National Quality Framework (NQF), particularly, ‘The rights and best interests of the child are paramount.’ The service includes information in their family handbook, which outlines the measures taken to ensure continuity for children and encourages families to provide feedback or suggestions. The service team reflects together on opportunities to further enhance children’s wellbeing, learning and development. A reflection on how staffing arrangements supported the children’s learning and development led to an increase in the number of educators rostered on. Discussions with educators showed that having extra staff had improved the quality of the program, supervision and enabled educators to have meaningful interactions with children. An educator explained that having extra staff enables them to establish and maintain secure relationships with children.
Quality Area Five Relationships with Children:
Each educator’s practice reflects a deep commitment to building and maintaining respectful and equitable relationships with each child. Observed practice consistently aligned with the principles and practices of the EYLF and the service philosophy. Discussions with educators and management showed the educators prioritise the building of strong relationships with children and families from enrolment. Effective strategies are in place to support educators to build and maintain secure, respectful, and reciprocal relationships with each child through flexible routines and the arrangement of educators across the service. An educator explained the use of theorist information from ‘Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory’, guides her practice and assists in understanding, building, and maintaining positive relationships with children. This starts with defining the layers of the environment, each layer influencing the child’s development. By establishing warm and welcoming environments for children and families at the service, they all feel comfortable and secure. For example, at the time of the visit, a child and a parent became upset during an orientation visit. The centre director discreetly encouraged the parent to come and have a cup of tea and chat in the office and the educator gently engaged the child in conversation and then engaged his interest in an experience. In the office, through the CCTV camera, the parent was able to observe her child settle and engage in play. Once she observed this, she sat on a couch in the foyer, feeling settled, reading, and waiting for her child to complete his orientation visit. The educator commented, “each time they visit he is settling and engaging with educators more quickly”.
Quality Area Six Collaborative Partnerships with Families:
Across the service, the observed and discussed approach to building respectful and supportive relationships with families demonstrates a strong commitment to the principles and practices of the EYLF. Ongoing reflective conversations between educators and the management team ensures the enrolment and orientation process aligns with the service philosophy, values, and educational program. Families’ culture, values and beliefs are respected, and all stakeholders create a warm and welcoming environment where families and children have a sense of belonging. The centre director, educational leader and educators engage collaboratively and respectfully with families from enrolment and orientation, to learn about their expertise, culture, values, beliefs and priorities for their child’s learning and well-being. The service has a thorough enrolment and orientation process in place that includes touring throughout the service, meeting and greeting with all members of staff and the management team and individualised orientation visits. For example, during the visit the assessment officer observed families being provided with a tour throughout the service, meeting and greeting all educators, having discussions with the centre director regarding the service program and discussing their family’s individual needs. Families were introduced to the assessment officer and my role and visit was briefly explained to the families. On another occasion, a parent was provided with comfort, a cup of tea and the opportunity to discuss how she was feeling when her child became upset on saying his farewells during an orientation visit. After having the opportunity to discuss her feelings, and watch her son engaging with educators and other children, she was able to sit back, relax and read in a comfortable chair while she waited for her child to complete his visit. Educators were very responsive and sensitive to her needs and explained that her child was becoming more confident with each visit. Bi-lingual families are supported through the enrolment process wherever possible with educators speaking the same language. Key information sheets are available in the main community languages and links are provided to translation services.
Quality Area Seven Governance and Leadership:
The service has a well-established governance structure in place to support the effective and ethical operations of the service. The organisation operates twelve services across metropolitan and regional areas and all centre directors, and senior management meet every six weeks to ensure all aspects of operations are consistent with the National Law, National Regulations and any other legislation that applies to the services. The centre director and educational leader are supported by an operations manager who regularly liaises and visits the service and is effectively supported by the approved provider. All stakeholders work closely to ensure a quality operation, with appropriate leadership and direction through the implementation and review of the quality programming and assessment process. In addition to this, all stakeholders have the ability to network across the organisation, such as centre directors, educational leaders, educators, and food coordinators sharing and guiding each other’s practices.
Managing Director Phyllis began her career in the travel industry. Shortly after starting her family and returning to the workplace, Phyllis struggled to find adequate child care for her daughter. Having always had an interest in early childhood learning, coupled with flexibility needed to be a working mother, Phyllis completed studies in Early Childhood and attained a Diploma in Children Services. After extensive research including consulting with the owners of other centres, Phyllis opened her first Centre – Little Peoples Place in East Fremantle in 2006.
Managing Director Vijay Narula arrived in Australia from India in 1996 on a student visa, working as cleaner and baker to pay for university. He left a banking career to start a child Care centre. He obtained a diploma in children services and opened his first child Care centre in 2006. Within eight years he opened a further eight centres, now employing more than 100 staff. Vijay supports a number of national and international charities. – See more at: www.40under40.com.au/Winner/Vijay-Narula
Operations Manager Laura has worked within the child Care industry since 1995; after gaining her qualifications and working initially in the UK she decided to move her life and career to Australia and has been here now since 2008. She has worked for Little Peoples Place for her entire time in Australia, it has allowed her to gain continued experience and the furthering of skills as an Assistant Director, Director and now the Operations Manager.
She is passionate about early years and aims to provide high quality care and education that promotes an environment fostering security, peace, harmony and a sense of belonging. Believing that early childhood forms a foundation for the development of skills needed for life; therefore she aims to provide each and every child with the best possible stimulation, education, development and care. She believes in broadening the children’s understanding of the world in which we live, to explore the diversity of culture and the community around us.
Her role as Operations Manager allows her to work closely with Managers, Directors and Educators to ensure that their personal philosophy’s, as well as the companies, are developed, challenged and achieved therefore creating an environment for the children that establishes self-esteem, resilience, healthy growth and capacity to learn.