Twilight event puts the spotlight on the big early childhood reforms

​Hundreds of early childhood professionals turned out in person and tuned in online to hear a panel of experts talk about some of the Department of Education and Training’s (DET) biggest reforms.

At the Twilight event held on 13 June 2019, Sonya Kilkenny MP (Parliamentary Secretary for Early Childhood Education) gave an overview of three-year-old kindergarten and school readiness funding. The event highlighted opportunities and challenges these initiatives present to the sector and how the Department will be supporting services as they roll out across the state.

They joined a panel of highly experienced early childhood professionals, who all shared their insights into teaching three-year-old children and implementing school readiness funding.

At the session, educational leader at Heritage Preschool Deborah Maillard gave examples of how school readiness funding is being used in practice, including expert advice to improve the service’s cultural competency, strategies from an occupational therapist to support children’s social and emotional development.

‘I’m really excited for the continuation of school readiness funding. This year’s plan was just the beginning for us,’ said Ms Maillard.

‘The opportunities to form relationships and knowledge from allied health professionals has changed the outcomes for the children in our service in such as positive way.’

DET Kindergarten Improvement Advisor Lisa Smyth spoke about how kindergarten services in the Mallee were being innovative in their use of school readiness funding.

'There are the things that you will see more visibly on the school readiness funding menu that are available, but also it’s about thinking outside the box. How do we connect with who else is in our community to build those opportunities for supporting the learning of the children and enhancing the capacity of the service?'

Early childhood education expert Dr Anne Kennedy spoke about the evidence underpinning why universal three-year-old kindergarten matters, as well as what is shows will maximise the effectiveness of kindergarten programs for three-year-olds.

'Quality matters … The key quality things are that the program is unique for the age group, responds to that uniqueness [of the children], that it’s based in partnership with families, and it’s based in good relationships with the children.'

'From my experience of three-year-olds, it’s the most joyous time in childhood. They are amazing learners … they are interested in everything and everything is exciting,' Dr Kennedy said.

The session closed with audience questions, and Lisa Smyth encouraged services at the forefront of these reforms to use their regional DET staff as a resource.

'Please connect with your Kindergarten Improvement Advisor. Because our job is to help you in your job.'

You can watch the session here or download it as a podcast.