Lessons in Excellence – Scone preschool The Yellow Cottage gives insights into practice
Scone early childhood education and care (ECEC) provider and excellent rated service, The Yellow Cottage, has participated in a question and answer session with the New South Wales Department of Education, sharing more about how its philosophy of connection, positive relationships and ensuring child wellbeing contributed to its assessment outcome.
Child safe environments
In understanding its moral, ethical and legal responsibility to ensure that all children are safe in their care, The Yellow Cottage offers staff training, resources, information and guidance to support them in meeting their responsibilities.
Alongside this, staff at the Cottage recognise that child protection is a shared responsibility with families and communities, doing what they can to facilitate the use of a strengths based approach beyond the confines of the service.
Annual refresher training is completed, to assist staff in holding the most timely and appropriate knowledge, and all staff have been trained in Visible Wellbeing practices and the Strengths Stars Framework to reinforce wellbeing strategies and positive psychology.
Such an environment promotes children, staff and volunteers to speak up when they feel uncomfortable or concerned, a Cottage spokesperson told the Department.
Embedding safety and wellbeing in policy and practice
A Departmental representative asked the Cottage for examples of what steps have been taken to create and maintain a child safe culture in the service, and for some examples of how children’s safety and wellbeing inform the service philosophy, policies, and practice.
“We believe that children learn best when they are playing and are involved in experiences and activities that interest and delight them. We provide an inspiring environment for children to develop the skills and qualities needed to flourish in all aspects of life, including school,” a Cottage spokesperson noted.
In preparing children for their future, however, educators and leaders “also value the “here and now” in children’s lives and allow unhurried time for children to make sense of the world as they play and enjoy being three, four and five-year-olds.”
“Our Yellow Cottage Philosophy is all about connections and we believe that these are the core of everything we do at our preschool. Positive relationships with children, their families and the community form our foundations.”
Three staff members have completed a Professional Certificate through the University of Melbourne in Positive Education, founded on the principles of positive psychology, giving the educators the skills to enhance wellbeing and resilience in children.
The course outlined the principles designed to draw on the children’s individual strengths and better support children, families and staff, with regards to different theories of wellbeing, core positive education constructs, and how to utilise scientific theory to create stronger and safer learning environments.
Guiding principles in positive education
The Yellow Cottage places a strong emphasis on wellbeing and applies Positive Education practices to all aspects of its learning environments.
Guiding principles adopted by the Cottage, in terms of Positive Education are:
- Child-centred – incorporating the voices of children at all stages of development in our education and care settings will inspire participation and decision making for learning success.
- Strengths-based –engaging and supporting children and their families, enabling growth and learning.
- Learning success – participation in learning and experiencing learning achievement is integral to wellbeing. Promoting wellbeing and high expectations will empower successful learning.
- Relationships – respectful relationships enhance wellbeing. Building trust and care will inspire and engage children and their families to learn, grow and achieve.
- Inclusion – valuing diversity, individual capabilities and unique interests will empower children to have equal rights and opportunities in all contexts of life.
Specific wellbeing resources which contribute to a child safe environment
All Yellow Cottage staff have been trained in Visible Wellbeing. Visible Wellbeing combines the sciences of positive psychology with best practice in pedagogy and organisational development to nurture staff and student wellbeing through three key elements:
- making wellbeing an intentional and visible aspect of preschool life
- systematically integrating evidence-based practices shown to increase wellbeing into all aspects of Preschool life (not just the classroom)
- using this knowledge to support our families and the community in wellbeing practices.
To access the full conversation, held between the Department and The Yellow Cottage, please see here.