PELJ announces 2023 Centre of the Year
The Sector > Provider > General News > PELJ announces winner of new perpetual award for Centre of the Year

PELJ announces winner of new perpetual award for Centre of the Year

by Freya Lucas

March 07, 2024

Petit Early Learning Journey (ELJ) recently announced the winner of its new national perpetual award for Centre of the Year, which was won by Petit ELJ Coffs Harbour, with Petit ELJ Richmond named as the runner-up.


The national perpetual award for Centre of the Year recognises and celebrates overall team excellence in the delivery of early education and care and complements the centre-based annual Excellence Awards.


To decide the overall winner for Centre of the Year, Petit ELJ looked at four different categories of service delivery before tallying up the winners and runner-ups of these categories to create an overall aggregate award.


Petit ELJ Coffs Harbour Centre Director Alex O’Sullivan noted the following as strengths of the service, which she believes helped them to secure the win. 


Making learning visible


“Our learning is visible across different platforms because our families and children have different needs,” she explained. 


“We post things on Storypark and in our daybooks for families. If people are not internet savvy, it is also available in the programming books, and we display it on the walls.”


“When children do art, we showcase it at their level. It is only if the children want to do it, but we display everything in the spaces on the walls. Families should be able to walk into each studio and see what the children are interested in and what learning circle is happening at the moment in that studio.”


Delivering a well-balanced learning program


“The children have to be interested in the learning program,” Ms O’Sullivan said. “If they’re not interested, they won’t be engaged. Then, we reflect on the learning goals we need to help them achieve, such as how we help them meet these goals while keeping them interested and excited in play-based and inquiry-based learning.”


“The children will keep learning if we keep focusing on their interests. But it’s also up to us to know when they’ve had enough and where we need to move on from that. Or in what direction do we need to change?”


“It all comes down to the educators understanding the programming cycle and knowing when to change direction based on the children’s interests.”


Building relationships


“Our team takes the time to get to know the children and their families,” Ms O’Sullivan shared.


“They learn their interests, strengths, and what they did on the weekend. It is about being receptive and having warm, caring and meaningful interactions on their level.”


“We want children to feel secure and still be free to explore and learn. Our educators always follow the children’s voices, giving them the freedom to make choices and respecting them.”


The close and genuine relationships with families, she continued, makes them more likely to recommend the service to their extended family, friends and work colleagues, “however, we’re not focused on trying to get recommendations, it is a positive side effect of building quality relationships.”


“It’s important to us that our team greets all of our parents in the morning and the afternoon. And it’s more than just a greeting. The expectation is that it’s a chat, more like a “getting to know you” discussion. We want families and their children to understand we are here for them.”


“From these genuine conversations, we can learn so much about our families, what they are doing and their children’s interests.”


The service prides itself on the events it puts on for families, something which Assistant Centre Director Shani has strongly supported. 


Families are invited to attend and be involved in Mother’s Day, movie nights and the annual Christmas party.


“We want these events to be a constant part of the fun at Petit ELJ Coffs Harbour,” Ms O’Sullivan said. 


“These community get-togethers are exciting and inclusive. They help to create a sense of community and build children’s confidence and identity.”


Considered rostering 


“When supporting families’ enrollment needs, understanding the laws and the regulations is vital. Rostering can be tricky, so it helps to have a sufficient number of qualified educators available,” Ms O’Sullivan said.


“We have a significant group of educators currently studying and growing their knowledge through professional development. When rostering, it is important to consider how we can meet everyone’s needs and maintain ratios.”


“We plan our roster so that the same people share opening or closing shifts. That way, each studio always has an educator present for mornings and afternoons, and there is a good balance of educators throughout the day.”


All told, she credits the supportive and caring community of Petit ELJ Coffs Harbour with the win. 


“We know each other on a first-name basis, and we respect each other. And even though we are all different and have differing values and paths in life, we come together as one big family.”


“The best thing about Petit ELJ Coffs Harbour is that our team wants to be here; they want to support the children and their families and each other, and that’s the key to having fun.”


Learn more about Petit ELJ here

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