This year two of the three winners were from NSW.
Adamstown Community Early Learning and Preschool (ACELP) - Practitioner Research Team
Award: Advancing Pedagogy and Practice
ACELP won the advancing pedagogy and practice award for their work implementing an innovative research-based curriculum, which was part of the University of Newcastle?s Research Connections Project (2016/17) with Associate Professor Linda Newman and Dr Nicole Leggett.
"Our team are ecstatic about winning the award for advancing pedagogy and practice. We are truly honoured to have been recognised for our hard work and commitment in both learning the academic skills to conduct our own practitioner research as well as implement such a successful project," Practitioner Research Team Leader, Kate Higginbottom said.
"We hope that educators use this research (once published) to validate to their families and communities why allowing children to problem solve in their play is so important to developing their risk perception, assessment and management of their own safety and wellbeing."
Kate's message to other educators aspiring to improve the learning outcomes of children through new and innovative programs is to:
"Be brave - innovation takes courage and the courage shown by our research team to push the boundaries; underpinned by the research is astounding.
Be thorough - It takes months of planning and training, supported by experts in the field to learn how to conduct assessments, trial processes and slowly introduce practice.
Be transparent - take families and communities on the journey with you. This will help build comfort and trust in your practices."
ACELP plans to use the prize money to work with academics and other experts to learn more and develop their innovative play curriculums further.
Goodstart Early Learning Child Care Centre Blue Haven
Award: Building Inclusion
The Building Inclusion award recognises early childhood services that have implemented strategies to significantly improve inclusion for children and families that may otherwise face barriers to accessing early childhood education and care.
This year Goodstart Blue Haven was the winning service for their work developing and implementing programs that supported the vulnerable children attending its centre.
Centre Director, Michelle Acreman said, "Winning the award was so exciting for myself and my team. It was validation and acknowledgement from the early childhood profession that the programs we have for our children are obviously working."
The Goodstart Blue Haven team introduced a variety of small group activities such as music, art, gardening, a bush-buddies program, cooking and working with an occupational therapist.
"Hopefully other educators are able to look at the model we have used and the programs we have offered to assist children develop self-regulation and social skills, and adapt some of these to their unique environments. It's always important in our profession to continue to do everything that we can in order to provide children with the opportunity to achieve the best outcomes for themselves," Michelle said.
"Change doesn?t happen overnight, have a vision of what you want to achieve and always know why you are doing what you are doing - don't be afraid to experiment with ideas and always aim for giving children the best possible start that they can have. Remember to keep looking for the meaning behind children?s behaviour and be the person to help them learn skills that they need in order to navigate the world around them."
Goodstart Blue Haven will be using their prize money to design further inclusive initiatives, focusing on making the transition to school more inclusive for all children.