HESTA announces 2019 Early Childhood Education and Care Awards winners

by Jason Roberts

September 29, 2019

HESTA has confirmed the winners of its 2019 Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) awards at a gala dinner at the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Hobart as part of the Early Childhood Australia annual national conference.

 

This year’s winners came from a shortlist of eight finalists and included a New South Wales team whose research-based curriculum increased children’s ability to manage risks, a NSW team who developed a program to better support vulnerable children, and a Victorian graduate who helped deaf and deafblind children learn Auslan and spoken language.

 

The awards, which are designed to recognise excellence of individuals and organisations who demonstrate a deep commitment to improving learning outcomes for children, saw a prize pool of $30,000, donated by ME Bank, of which the winner of each category would receive $10,000.

 

The award categories and winners of the 2019 awards were:

 

The Advancing Pedagogy and Practice Award

 

Adamstown Community Early Learning and Preschool (ACELP) 

Practitioner Research Team

Adamstown, NSW

 

ACELP won the advancing pedagogy and practice award for its research-based curriculum that increased children’s ability to perceive, assess and manage risks during play.

 

The research explored the hypothesis that intentionally supporting children to take risks when playing had the potential to improve their physical capabilities and enhance their ability to make judgements about risks when playing.

 

The curriculum includes experiences like encouraging children to climb trees, fire work and using hand tools. Following the research program, children demonstrated greater capability to problem solve and manage risks independently.

 

The team plans to use the prize money to work with academics to learn more in the area of infant and toddler risky-play. 

 

The Building Inclusion Award

 

Goodstart Blue Haven

Blue Haven, NSW

 

Goodstart Blue Haven won the building inclusion award for developing a range of programs to foster an inclusive learning environment for vulnerable children attending its centre.

 

The initiative was inspired by the recognition that some of the children at the centre displayed challenging behaviours and that by creating a program that included teaching fundamental life skills and fostered inclusion at the same time would create an environment where everybody had the best opportunity to learn regardless of their individual circumstances. 

 

A variety of small group activities were introduced into the programming, including music, art, gardening, a bush-buddies program, cooking and working with an occupational therapist which helped educators develop an understanding of each child’s sensory profile and calming strategies that would help support positive behaviours. 

 

“We developed a fully inclusive program to assist children develop their self-regulation, control their behaviours and emotions and also learn social skills,” said Michelle Acreman, Centre Director. 

 

Michelle said the prize money will be put towards designing further programs and initiatives to support positive behaviours and promote inclusion amongst the children.

 

The Outstanding Graduate Award

 

Stacey Cumming

Aurora School for Young Deaf and Deafblind Children

Blackburn South, Victoria

 

Stacey Cumming won the outstanding graduate award for her work in teaching young deaf and deafblind children to learn and develop skills in Auslan and spoken language, which helped them become effective communicators within their early developmental years.

 

Commenting on her success, Stacey said “The most rewarding part of our role in early childhood education is providing an opportunity for the children who attend Aurora to develop their language skills and leave as confident, caring, enthusiastic learners.”

 

With the prize money Stacey said she plans to visit Gallaudet University in America who are the leaders in research and practice in teaching deaf children in early childhood.

 

“I want to expand my horizons and become a leader in this field to support the communication and learning of the children we teach every day,” said Stacey.

 

HESTA CEO Debby Blakey and ME Bank CEO Jamie McPhee were both present at the awards and expressed pride and gratitude at the exceptional calibre of this year’s finalists and winners. 

 

Ms Blakey said “Through these awards we are proud to help shine a spotlight on the outstanding work of early childhood educators and carers around Australia and the positive life-long impact they have on children and their families.”

 

Mr McPhee said “Congratulations to all of this year’s winners, who have displayed exceptional leadership and paved the way for further innovations in early childhood education and care.”

 

To read the HESTA press release in full please click here

 

To learn more about HESTA and the awards please click here

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