2020 Victorian Early Years Award

Exceptional pre-school programs and highly engaged children have seen Haileybury’s Early Learning Centres (ELCs) recognised by the State Government.

Our innovative program combines learning, inclusion, and sustainability with the need to have fun in a nurturing environment as children start their education journey.

The leadership team bases its approach to learning on what children know now and are ready to learn next, using evidence-based practices to inform teaching and measure its impact.

This ensures impressive learning outcomes and has seen our team awarded The Emeritus Professor Collette Tayler Excellence in Educational Leadership Award by the Victorian Department of Education and Training.

Part of the 2020 Victorian Early Years Awards, it recognises a program that has led educators and teachers to significantly improve the quality of their learning and teaching practices, with a focus on improved outcomes for Victorian children and their families.

Minister for Early Childhood Ingrid Stitt shared a congratulatory message with winners:

“Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Victorian Early Years Awards for their contribution to improving outcomes for Victorian children and their families…These winners are leaders in the early childhood sector, exemplifying the hard work and dedication to provide the best opportunities and educational outcomes for children in the Education State.”

Evidence-based Learning and Continuous Improvement

Haileybury’s ELC program features place-based education, kinship, culture and language, while embedding the values of sustainability and evidence-based inquiry.

Program leaders develop age-appropriate assessment tools to further children’s language and literacy skills, with initiatives trialled and reviewed to ensure continuous improvement.

A recent ELC philosophy review covered program planning, pedagogical strategies and our core values relating to the National Quality Standard (NQS), Code of Ethics and UN Rights of the Child.

Two key initiatives were identified for development: sustainability and inclusion and diversity.

Improving Sustainability Awareness

Haileybury’s ELC team has worked hard to embed sustainability into our ELC Program and led an inquiry into what sustainability means to ELC children and families.

Children raised questions about where water comes from and goes and why bushfires happen, leading to broader inquiries about climate and what we can do each day to make a difference.

Parent discussions and surveys contributed to the development of our Early Years Sustainable Practices and Action Plan and the Haileybury Sustainability Strategy, which includes ways to embed sustainability in early childhood education (ECE).

Supported by professional learning and sustainability research, this initiative led to significant shifts in teaching practices across curriculum areas.

For example, we teach children how to minimise daily waste, collect data to measure progress, and understand what can be repurposed or composted.

They also learn about the benefits of indigenous plants, how to support wildlife in local wetlands areas, garden to plate programs and renewable energy sources.

Based on these initiatives, our pre-schoolers created the Extended Learning Through our Sustainable Practices book, which was distributed to our wider Early Years community.

Making Inclusion and Diversity a Priority

After investigating inclusion and diversity in early childhood education, Haileybury developed a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and a Diversity Guide.

Both focus on access, engagement and belonging for all Victorian children and their families. The RAP is linked to daily practice and learning outcomes and drew from the Marrung Aboriginal Education Plan 2016 – 2026, child development theory and anti-bias research.

The ELC team embraced professional learning on embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives into the curriculum and attended Reconciliation Symposiums.

An RAP steering committee of educators and parents volunteered to meet regularly, review curriculum and pedagogy and share this with their educational teams and families.

Reciprocal relationships and partnerships between the ELC, Aboriginal Elders and our early learning community continue to evolve so that cultural safety is appropriately recognised.

These professional learning and mentorship programs have significantly improved teaching and learning outcomes for children. Our educators also work closely with ELC families and Junior School teachers to share the RAP initiatives and outcomes.