Lessons from the Approved Learning Framework pilot

Goodstart Early Learning Narwee shares their insights and implementation tips for services after test driving elements of the updated EYLF.

 Group of female educators working on the ground talking to each other  Group of female educators working on the ground talking to each other

Sixteen services nationwide had the opportunity to participate in the Approved Learning Frameworks (ALFs) Update project pilot in early 2022. One of these services was Goodstart Early Learning Narwee, located on the lands of the Eora and Tharawal peoples in southern Sydney.

As part of the 6-week pilot, participants trialled the 20 proposed updates and provided weekly feedback to the national Consortium leading the project. The updated ALFs – Belonging, Being and Becoming: Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF) V.2, 2022 (PDF 24.9 MB) and My Time Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia (MTOP) V.2, 2022 (PDF 27.1 MB) – were released for in January 2023. Throughout 2023, services are to familiarise themselves with the updates with full implementation required from February 2024.

Goodstart Early Learning Narwee’s focus areas during the pilot were Principles 1 (Partnerships) and 8 (Collaborative leadership and teamwork), in addition to Practices 3 (Play-based learning and intentionality) and 7 (Assessment and evaluation for learning, development and wellbeing). They also engaged with Learning Outcome 2 (Children are connected with and contribute to their world), focusing specifically on environmental, social and economic sustainability.

Leadership, context and collaboration is key

Engaging in conversations about the framework is a regular practice at Goodstart Early Learning Narwee, service director Marie Antuoni shared. Now implementing elements of the updated EYLF, staff meet regularly to unpack the refreshed framework piece by piece and reflect on their implementation strategies and practices. This ensures the team centres children, families and community in their decision making.

The role of the educational leader and service leadership team were crucial during the pilot, as is the ongoing support they provide while the service works towards full implementation of the ALFs.

“The educational leader continues to work with each educator through a targeted approach of coaching, mentoring and role-modelling practice in classrooms,” Marie said.

“One-on-one conversations support each educator’s understanding of the principles, practices, and outcomes of the framework within our service context.”

During the pilot, daily meetings were required to support bilingual educators with English as a second language to enhance their understanding of terminology used in the recommendations document, and support their participation and decision making.

Learnings all round

Participating in the pilot has been educative and transformative for the Goodstart Early Learning Narwee team in more ways than one.

“This experience empowered the team to be involved in all aspects of decision making through a distributed leadership model, while being supported by the centre leadership team to delve into the recommendations allocated to our service,” reflected Marie.

This collaborative approach to leadership has become embedded at the service since the pilot, with all educators encouraged to provide input and influence to collectively create change. The result is a positive and professional learning environment where staff feel valued and are supported to deliver high-quality educational programs for all children.

Ongoing reflection has empowered staff to adjust their practices, for example in how they document children’s voices and gather information. “Educators are becoming more deliberate and purposeful in planning and programming for children’s learning,” Marie said.

“Experiences are more meaningful as the educator is more attuned to the child and the learning styles and needs of each child.”

Building genuine partnerships

Children and parents were actively engaged in the pilot. This highlighted the importance of fostering genuine, supportive and respectful relationships with families and how collaboration supports children’s learning and development.

Children were empowered to be the drivers of their own learning throughout the trial but were especially engaged when exploring dimensions of sustainability and how they can enact positive change. Parents and carers also actively supported their child’s interests, shaped by their world and experiences, and learning at home.

“Families took the lead to connect with the local animal shelters to donate food and blankets, as many of the children drew pictures of the animals affected by the floods that were depicted in the media,” says Marie. “The process enabled deeper family and community connections that have enabled us to strengthen relationships within the local community.”

Information evenings were also held for families during the pilot period, where they learned more about the service’s journey, insights and learnings. Parents and carers also shared their thoughts on the key updates and process, says Marie: “There was an appreciation for the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives and that the recommendations would have a profound impact on the trajectory of children’s learning and development.”

Advice for other services who are familiarising themselves with the updated frameworks
  • Gradually unpack the practices, principles and learning outcomes in a monthly staff meeting and understand what they look like contextually to your service. 

  • Schedule weekly room meetings so you can delve deeper into understanding the key changes. 

  • Champion educator strengths to create peer-to-peer mentoring/scaffolding.     

  • Ensure your educational leader understands the key changes to be better equipped with supporting practice and sustained shared thinking. 

  • Establish a centre leadership team to support the implementation.  

Reflective questions for you to consider 

  • What did I learn that I did not know before? 

  • How have my own biases about children’s learning and pedagogy changed? 

  • Are there any aspects of the profession that I am ignoring due to my lack of knowledge or fear of change?

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