Y Kinders team up with Federation Uni to boost ECEC learning
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > Y Kinders and Federation University partnership set to revolutionise ECEC professional development

Y Kinders and Federation University partnership set to revolutionise ECEC professional development

by Freya Lucas

December 14, 2023

Y Kinders and Federation University have joined forces to build the Y Kinders Sandbox, an innovative gamified professional development platform designed specifically for (and by) early learning educators.


Developed with $1.43 million in financial support from the Victorian Government’s Workforce Training Innovation Fund, the Sandbox aims to deliver an interactive and engaging suite of professional development resources which will enhance the teaching experiences and skills of early childhood educators.


Y Kinders manages 93 kindergartens and five early learning centres and employs over 600 early childhood teachers and educators across the Y Kinders Early Years Management Portfolio, and for Y CEO Craig Mathieson the project is “exactly what the sector needs to continue to develop quality educators”.


“We know that the sector is full of passionate and inspiring educators, and we understand our responsibility to fulfil their need for professional development that inspires,” he said. 


“By partnering with Federation University to develop the Y Kinders Sandbox we believe that we will be providing a platform that is engaging, inspires creativity, supports staff in their day-to-day challenges and most importantly, is readily accessible.” 


To further enhance the development of the resource an Industry Advisory Group comprised of leaders from across early childhood education is being brought together to contribute additional expertise and advice. This committee will include representatives from key Victorian universities, educational institutions, and other major early education providers.


In the Sandbox 


Practical learning will be blended with advanced technology in the Sandbox resource, including: 


  • Creating 3D worlds: the platform will feature meticulously designed 3D environments, such as Australian bush, beach and urban landscapes. This visually engaging virtual world will offer educators a deep dive into nature pedagogy and expand the toolkit for embedding this fundamental form of learning in their educational communities.


  • AI simulations: these simulations will focus on equipping teachers with the skills to help children experiencing trauma. Teachers and educators will be able to engage in realistic scenarios where they can apply and practice various techniques in a controlled, safe, and supportive ‘Sandbox’ environment.


Dr Amy Claughton, a teacher educator working in the field of inclusive education will lead curriculum and content co-design with Vicki Dobson, Executive Manager, Children’s Services. Dr Claughton will draw on her research knowledge to underpin her pedagogical practice and will work alongside Y Kinders’ educators to refine the resource. Their focus will be across the key learning areas of nature play, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics), and trauma-informed practice.


Over the life of the project, the efficacy of this gamified approach will be independently researched and evaluated by Claire McLachlan, Executive Dean, and Professors Garry Falloon and Robyn Brandenburg from Federation University’s Institute of Education, Arts and Community (Mt Helen campus).


To support the sector, outcomes and learning resources from this ground-breaking project will be made available to other organisations by Y Kinders and Federation University.

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