Alberton Preschool awarded second Excellent rating by ACECQA
Alberton Preschool has been rated as Excellent for the second time by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), the highest rating a service can achieve under the National Quality Framework.
Based in a metropolitan suburb of Adelaide, Alberton Preschool (AP) was recognised for its:
- collaborative partnerships with professional, community or research organisations
- commitment to children that respects, reflects and celebrates culture and diversity, including place of origin
- practice and environments that enhance children’s learning and growth.
Of particular interest to the authorised officers, and subsequently to ACECQA in re-awarding the Excellent rating were the following examples of exceptional practice:
- Partnering with Alberton Primary School (APS) to undertake joint professional development and collaborative project inquiry and research work.
Through such research, AP identified its children did not have strong self-concepts around using numeracy through play. In response, the service worked with APS and the Primary Maths Association of South Australia. This led to children undertaking a paper plane maths inquiry project. Children organised various competitions and took responsibility for measuring, recording, holding demonstrations and assisting peers with design and throwing. Following the competitions, children expressed that collecting data helped them to keep score, design improved planes and to throw better. AP presented on the project work to APS and at the 2019 Literacy and Numeracy Festival, South Australia.
- Service and APS staff have collectively presented their documentation and findings on an integrated three to six year old program and re-imagining the early years of school at their ‘Saturdays in the Nest’ workshops. Advice has also been sought out by Department for Education representatives on best practice for school based preschools.
- Obtaining a second de Lissa funding grant to conduct research highlighting how use of a play based pedagogy in the early years has a positive social and wellbeing impact on children’s transition to school and early years of schooling.
This research led to significant changes and improvements being experienced by early years children, families and teachers including:
- modified classroom structure, design, resources and staffing within APS to reflect elements of Alberton Preschool. Service staff now transition to APS with year one children and staff from APS move to the service to increase continuity of practices and belonging across the whole school community;
- creation of The Hive, a dedicated play space for year one to year three children and families to transition into each morning. This was in response to family feedback collected by the service suggesting school classrooms did not have a welcoming atmosphere during the morning transition. Children also expressed feeling rushed into making decisions rather than being able to settle through play; and,
- incorporating play choices into The Hive including small world play and hot glue guns, as requested by children transitioning from the service to APS.
- As part of the South Australia Collaborative Childhood Project (SACCP), the service was selected to participate in Project Quattro. This included:
- twelve months of professional learning with international education experts and attending bi-termly meetings to collaborate with fellow project sites;
- conducting a small group inquiry project the service in partnership with APS;
- presenting The Language of Ochre: Making connections at an exhibition celebrating children’s learning at the University of South Australia (UniSA) and as a research presentation at the 2019 Biennial Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange (REAIE); and,
- referencing their project work with making children’s thinking visible and supporting educators to identify how quieter children in small groups have a strong impact on group learning and culture sharing.
- In May 2018, the service commenced a research project with UniSA titled Children learning to live together in a diverse community: Culturally responsive pedagogy in Reggio Emilia inspired early learning settings. This resulted in:
- increased use of small groups and multimodal literacies which provided greater equity across group discussions. AP acknowledges prior to the research, male children and children from the dominant culture would control group time discussions and experiences;
- children listening to and questioning recordings of their group interactions. This led to children self-identifying who spoke the most, who spoke on behalf of others, whose voices were missing and whether this was fair;
- children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds experiencing increased participation and communication and children’s increased engagement with peers who have a different cultural background to their own; and,
- increased across peer group play and skill recognition. This includes children asking peers for ideas or help who they had previously not acknowledged or engaged with.
As a leader in the sector, Alberton Preschool shares its research and project inquiry work by:
- presenting locally and interstate
- providing professional development sessions onsite
- contributing to research publications and projects.
Through these leadership practices, the service ensures their positive impact reaches beyond the children and families who access their service.
Services that receive Exceeding National Quality Standard in all seven quality areas can apply to ACECQA for the Excellent rating. The Excellent rating is awarded for three years. After this time services have the option to re-apply. More information is available on the ACECQA website.