ECEC finalists announced in South Australia's Public Education Awards
The Sector > Quality > ECEC finalists announced in South Australia’s Public Education Awards

ECEC finalists announced in South Australia’s Public Education Awards

by Freya Lucas

September 03, 2021

Finalists representing the early years have been named in South Australia’s Public Education Awards, established in 2011 to showcase excellence in the public education system. 


During 2021, the tenth anniversary of the awards, the Department encouraged the broader education sector to reflect on the achievements of the past ten years, and to “be proud of the work we’ve done and where we are headed together.”


The awards are open to all employees in the Department for Education, with specific categories for those working in the early years, highlighting the achievements of teachers, leaders, allied health, support and corporate staff across the state.


Finalists and winners will be awarded prize money to undertake professional learning or activities. Winners of each category receive $10,000 and 2 finalists for each category receive $2,000.


In the Early Years Leader of the Year award, the following finalists have been announced: 



Margie’s leadership is characterised by a strong belief in the key principles of equity, inclusion and early years public education. At Bertram Hawker, she’s developed her staff into a strong, cohesive and professional learning team, resulting in the centre achieving an “Excellent” rating against the National Quality Standards in 2015. She’s done this while encouraging an environment of community learning where parents and Governing Council are actively engaged in the development of improvement goals, and the ongoing learning that comes from active research and inquiry.



Ensuring children receive high-quality education and care in childcare and preschool environments is something Sally is extremely passionate about. After analysing data from her centre and wider partnership, she instigated an Emergent Literacy Project and training and development across all four early childhood sites within the Barossa partnership. She developed a Literacy Practice Agreement with her staff to address the issue of emergent literacy and shared to also support early childhood leaders and staff in her region.


These programs have led to a change in practice and supported improvement goals that are strongly linked to the context of the children and their local community. Sally drives initiatives like this underpinned by close relationships with families, early childhood research and tailored training and development for all staff, to achieve positive outcomes for children.


As the founding Director of Aldinga Beach Children’s Centre, Jane has utilised her passion, deep knowledge and leadership skills to create a centre renowned for collaboration, connection to community, and a strong focus on outcomes for children’s learning and development. Over eight years, Jane has supported staff to improve through professional learning and reflective practice. She has focused on inquiry pedagogy, encouraging children to become critical thinkers and develop theories of how the world works. The outcomes of children attending the centre have continued to grow as a result, with children’s individual learning goals being achieved 97 per cent of the time.


In the Early Years Teacher of the Year Award, the following finalists have been selected: 


Coralie is a passionate preschool teacher who develops strong relationships with the children in her care, along with their families. With 78 per cent of all enrolments at Barmera Kindergarten having never accessed care outside the family prior to starting kindy, Coralie focuses on establishing a meaningful relationship with every child through personalised programs, high-quality interactions and intentional teaching.


Ashley nurtures positive and supportive relationships between children, families and educators at her children’s centre, where 98 per cent of enrolments are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Using up-to-date research to create responsive learning environments and culturally inclusive practices, her work has helped increase attendance from 63 per cent in 2018 to 78 per cent in 2021 and has also seen a significant increase in children’s use of tier 3 and conversational language.


With 44 years’ experience working in public education in South Australia, Deborah is a reflective practitioner who works flexibly and responsively with young children. A lead teacher who is always willing to share her knowledge, she has mentored student and early career teachers, as well as working with other preschools, demonstrating and articulating her practice and intentional teaching. Deborah’s passion to connect past learning with current research is evident through her participation in the Music Education Strategy, helping to promote high quality music education that is valued and inspires learning.


In the Site-based support award, early childhood worker Jo Hann from Hackham West Children’s Centre was announced as a finalist, recognised for her dedication to Hackham West Children’s Centre, as well as her child-centred, trauma-informed practice, which not only supports the vulnerable members of her community to access learning, it also positions her as an exemplary mentor to every educator on her team. In 2021 Jo stepped into a Preschool Support role and has worked closely with a speech pathologist to deliver speech programs to children in need of additional support with their speech or language.


For more information about the Awards, see here

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