KindiCare Excellence Award winners announced, Essex Heights Juniors secure national win
The Sector > Provider > General News > KindiCare Excellence Award winners announced, Essex Heights Juniors secure national win

KindiCare Excellence Award winners announced, Essex Heights Juniors secure national win

by Freya Lucas

September 15, 2022

The winners of the KindiCare Excellence Awards have been announced, with Essex Heights Juniors taking out the top position nationally scoring a perfect 10.0 KindiCare Rating, only the second time any of the 16,970 early childhood education and care (ECEC) services on the KindiCare App have achieved a perfect score.


Essex Heights Juniors boasts 11 Bachelor or Masters qualified teachers and is regularly cited by education authorities as a model early learning centre. Centre Owner and Director for 25 years, Paula Papanicolaou, attributes her success to looking after her staff.


“We have two wellbeing officers,” said Paula. “One is responsible for the wellbeing of staff and the other for the children. Our educational leader is full time off the floor, providing support to staff in all rooms and having private one-to-one sessions to explore their learning goals.”


A common theme amongst national, state and regional winners was having long-serving staff who were motivated to create engaging play and learning environments with a strong culture of continuous improvement, KindiCare Founder and CEO Benjamin Balk shared. 


“It’s incredible to see the innovative approaches that some centres have adopted to captivate children’s imagination and teach them important life lessons,” he added. 


Forrest OOSHC, a joint winner in the ACT, and the first before and after school service to take top honours in the KindiCare Excellence Awards, goes even further to give children a voice in how the centre is run.


A children’s committee is involved in selection of staff at the centre and recently cast their vote in favour of hiring a staff member with cerebral palsy.


Executive Director Ali Sewter said the children have embraced the opportunity to make important decisions about the operation of the service.


“The children led the process, did the research and spoke to the principal of the attached primary school, the committee and staff, to determine what changes would be necessary to employ this person,” said Ms Sewter.


Through joint decisions made by the interview panel, Forrest OOSHC has two employees with Down Syndrome, eight on the autism spectrum and one in a wheelchair.


In 2022, KindiCare introduced a new Outstanding category which celebrates the top 2 per cent of centres who each have a KindiCare Rating of 9.5 and above and have been rated as having an Outstanding KindiCare Rating.


The KindiCare Rating provides a unique score for every early learning service that is based on their current and historical assessment and ratings under the National Quality Framework from ACECQA, parent and community feedback and reviews, the stability and length of operation of the service as well as other characteristics known about a service – providing a comprehensive real time picture of quality and value for money that’s easy for parents to understand.


In addition to the national winner, and 13 state and territory winners, there were a total of 1,805 early childhood education and care centres recognised in this year’s awards as having achieved an Excellent KindiCare Rating of 9.0 or higher.


“It is fantastic to be able to recognise the hard work and dedication of the childcare providers, educators and staff at these top performing centres nationally who strive every day to give the best possible start to learning for children across Australia,” Mr Balk said in closing.


For more information about the KindiCare Awards, and profiles of the winning services, please see here. Image features Forrest OSHC. 

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