The Hon. Jenny Mikakos - travel report - Sweden, United Kingdom and Greece, December 2017

Travel report for the trip to Sweden, United Kingdom and Greece 2-10 December 2017

The​​ Hon. Jenny Mikakos – travel report –​ Sweden, United Kingdom and Greece December 2016 (pdf - 3.3mb)

Travel details 

Minister’s name:  Jenny Mikakos

Portfolio/s: Early Childhood Education, Families and Children, Youth Affairs

Did the Minister’s spouse accompany the Minister in an official capacity? No 

Accompanying ministerial staff:
Mr Jacob Clifton, Chief of Staff, Minister for Early Childhood Education’s Office

Countries visited: Sweden, United Kingdom and Greece

Date of travel: 2 December – 10 December 2017

Number of official travel days (include day of departure and day of return): nine

Funding source (list Department/s or Agency): Department of Education and Training

Expenses

Include combined expenses for Minister, accompanying staff and spouse (if accompanying in an official capacity): $40,278.67

Air fares (including taxes and fees) : $24,471.08

Accommodation (including taxes and fees):  $5,149.08

Other expenses (including surface travel and travel allowances): $10,658.51
*($1556.86 for private cars in Greece is estimate cost)

Travel cost for Minister and ministerial staff (and spouse or de facto partner if applicable)
Not applicable

Are the above costs final and complete? Yes

Purpose of travel

From 2—10 December 2017 I travelled to Stockholm, London and Athens in my capacity as the Minister for Early Childhood Education. My engagements during the travel aligned closely with the Education State Early Childhood Reform Plan.

The purpose of my travel was to:

  • share and promote Victorian early childhood practice and pedagogy in my capacity as the Minister for Early Childhood Education
  • meet with key early childhood experts and providers to gain insights on learning best practice approaches to early childhood education and care and the drivers of quality
  • support the Premier during his engagements in Greece, including the signing of a Greek language Memorandum of Understanding.

Benefits of travel to the State of Victoria

The travel resulted in several significant benefits relating closely to the Education State Early Childhood Reform Plan. 

My meetings with international experts and government counterparts in Sweden and the United Kingdom provided me with clear insights into how to improve the quality of early childhood education and increase the participation and learning experiences of vulnerable children.

Some clear themes that emerged through my engagements were a focus on the links between intentional teaching and higher quality teaching,  the importance of professional learning opportunities for early childhood educators and the value of inclusion, particularly for vulnerable children.

Some of my key engagements and related outcomes included:

1. Meetings with senior officials from the Swedish Ministry of Education and the United Kingdom Department for Education

These meetings provided me with insight into the work that both Sweden and the United Kingdom have undertaken to improve their respective early childhood education and care systems. I was pleased to hear that our values of inclusion for all children was shared across both Sweden and the United Kingdom.   

2. Visits to the Forskolan Trollskogan Preschool in Stockholm and the Thomas Coram Centre in London  

These visits provided me with first-hand demonstrations of best-practice approaches. At both services, early childhood educators spoke to me about the importance of maintaining mother tongue languages for children as a way to promote literacy and oracy in children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. I plan to use this principle to inform future Victorian initiatives. I also heard about best-practice approaches to inclusion of vulnerable children and children with additional needs.

3. Visit to Harrow Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) in London

I also furthered my understanding of best practice approaches to safeguarding children and victims of family violence through a visit to the Harrow MASH in London.  This service has improved safeguarding responses for children through better information sharing. This visit allowed insights into how the MASH model will inform the detailed design of Victorian Support and Safety Hubs that were recommended by the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence.  The visit also gave me insight into organisational culture and the precursors for an effective approach to safeguarding.

4. Supporting the Premier during his engagements in Athens

A key outcome from the visit was supporting the Premier in signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Victorian and Greek governments. The MoU includes early childhood-related provisions such as:

  • advising and supporting Victorian funded kindergarten programs with Greek language programs in relation to the learning and teaching of Greek language and culture
  • supporting Victorian funded kindergarten teachers of Greek to enhance their linguistic and cultural knowledge and pedagogical skills, including through professional learning opportunities
  • supporting early childhood teachers of Greek to participate in in-country language courses to enhance their linguistic and cultural knowledge and pedagogical skills.
  • facilitating the availability and purchase of contemporary Greek curriculum resources suitable for Victorian preschool-aged children.

At the same event, I  also announced a new initiative that will see the establishment and expansion of Greek language programs in up to eight Victorian kindergartens. This is a  $150,000 initiative, which will be implemented in early 2018.

I was also in attendance at a meeting with the Greek President, Mr Prokopis Pavlopoulos, to discuss further opportunities for continued long-term cooperation between Greece and Victoria.

Next Steps / Follow Up

The Department of Education and Training will:

  • commence work to implement the $150,000 Greek language program initiative that was announced in Athens.
  • work towards implementing the actions resulting from the Greek Memorandum of Understanding.