AEDC community grants program

Read case studies and watch videos of initiatives implemented by AEDC NSW grant recipients.

AEDC 2021 national, state and community level reports were published in April 2022. Schools also received their full profile in April 2022.

AEDC NSW granted up to $15,000 to schools and services. This was used to support their responses to the needs identified in their school or community profile.

Aims

  • Encourage communities to engage with and respond to their AEDC data outcomes from the 2021 data collection
  • Support early intervention in communities with high vulnerabilities or limited services

Successful applicants case studies

Funding was distributed to successful applicants to implement their proposed project.

Recipients of rounds 1 and 2 of the community grants initiative have completed their implementation. Case studies have been developed to showcase the initiatives implemented and outcomes achieved in response to their AEDC school and/or community data.

2023 case studies

Access the case studies and view selected videos below.

Move it

Watch how Dubbo and District Preschool addressed gaps in the provision of support and therapy for children in their local community.

Watch Dubbo and district preschool video (5:39).

Providing support and therapy

Jenny Colwell

Dubbo & District Preschool's been in Dubbo for 62 years. It's grown over that time and we now operate two preschools, Buninyong and Dubbo & District. 100 children at Dubbo & District per day, 240 over the week. 20 a day at Buninyong and 40 over the week.

We had noticed at preschool that children were coming to preschool with probably poorer fine motor skills, poorer gross motor skills than we'd previously seen, particularly upper body strength we'd noticed was lacking and we were doing things to try and address that. But when we saw the AEDC data came up, we were really surprised by the dip in previous year's data.

There was an obvious dip in the gross and fine motor and coordination area of children in the Dubbo area, which it was significant and surprised us. Even though we had seen it, but to see it in your data, in the AEDC data, was surprising.

We had been running a program because we noticed resilience had been low in children. It was an OT program, a motor program, so it fitted well within the parameters of the grant and it promoted gross and fine motor skills as well. That was probably an isolated, we were running it one day a week, limited to a few children. The grant gave us an opportunity to extend that and we were fortunate to be able to be given the grant, which meant that the program went from one day a week under the guidance of an OT to 3 days a week run by an educator for the other days.

Kristen Wright

Working with the OT has been great. I've always had an interest in kids that needed a little bit of assistance. I've learned so much. There's still so much more to learn. I can't get enough of it. Like, I've done more training last week and it's just amazing. We partnered with Aleisha, who's a occupational therapist, who works through SEED Paediatric Services who are based in Orange.

One of the many activities we do are the Lycra tunnel, which is stretchy, we have 2 educators holding it. The children crawl on their hands and knees through the tunnel. We encourage them to carry things through like puzzle pieces, or today it was Map Man. It's great for their core strength, vestib, their confidence. There's also sensory by travelling through the Lycra, which some children don't like. Some children love and they go in there, they don't wanna get out, and the kids just love it.

Today we made Map Man, which is all about body awareness and building, which carries on to drawing and things like that.

Some results we can see instantly, like over a week, overnight sometimes, and it can be something as little as confidence. Before, they were getting upset and you didn't know why they were upset.

Some children don't even know how to go to an adult and say, "I need help." We all need to be able to say to someone if we need help. Every child's different. No child's the same.

So today, the kids were in the hammocks wing on their bellies, which is building their core muscles. Some of those kids there today, they were in there for quite some time and they're using their upper body strength. Some of those kids couldn't even lay in there with their head up looking at us, using their arms for 10, 15 seconds, and now they're in there for 5 minutes longer. They don't want to get out. They want more, they want higher, they want it faster, and that's really connected their core, that's where all the development starts and builds on from there. Without that, you can't sit in a chair and write when you go to school if you haven't developed your core yet.

Jenny Colwell

The program benefits 60 children, but because of the upskilling of the educators, the program is actually benefiting, or aspects of the program are benefiting all the children at the service. But more and more, the educators are implementing aspects of the program into their rooms, or sometimes they're referring them and that child might enter the program if needed.

We're very keen to see the program extended because we've seen these children that have gone from unable to manage themselves, poor skills, not able to hold a pencil, to actually being capable, and wanting to write and draw because they now have those skills. Outdoors, they're doing things that they wouldn't have done beginning. But more than that, it's the bigger benefit of their confidence, their resilience, their persistence. All of that is coming to play from the program so we can see them ready for school.

Ultimately, you want them set up on a journey of success, not to hit school and feeling like they're behind. They've got the confidence to go forward.

[End of transcript]

Self-publishing for children

Watch how Garfield Street Children Centre empowered children to express their ideas using technology and art.

Watch Garfield Street Children's Centre video (6:13)

Expressing ideas using art and technology

Maria

My name's Maria, I am director here at Garfield Street Children's Centre. I'm also an early childhood teacher and educational leader. So when I was thinking about how I can strengthen children developmentally and build up their capabilities, I thought, well, what do we love doing? What do children love doing? Then I thought, well, okay, I don't want children just to be consumers of whatever entertainment. That's the big thing, that it's not just entertaining children. I wanted them to be empowered to be the creators. For us as a service, being inclusive is really important. So respecting diversity, whether it be in age ability, linguistically, culturally, it also meant taking on a multimodal approach. So, a child who may feel anxious and is not so comfortable verbally, how will they contribute? How will they find their voice and be able to express that? So for me, it actually tied in a lot with the Aboriginal eight ways of learning, where it's physical, it's community, it's so many things, and it's back on country as well.

Eleanor

My name is Eleanor Clapham, and I am a descendant of the Muruwari people of Northwest New South Wales. I'm a recording artist and a children's performer. My role in this project was to create something to do with song and sound and indigenous perspective, and the product that we created was a recording of the children, a compilation of different songs that they created along the way on their journey, showing me their playground. Everything that we could put into context, into Aboriginal perspective, we tried to do. The final product is a kind of, it's a story and a song. It's almost like a musical theatre piece or an opera of the children's journey, walking on country around their playground, and discovering the different parts of their own country. We wanted to facilitate a programme to allow the children to create something that they could have ownership of, and in order to do that, we needed to follow them.

Maria

Early onset, we could see that the children were engaging with the enrichment programme. It was something out of the ordinary, and you could see them, just the animation and how they were engaging, not just with the content and the delivery of the workshops, but also with the practitioners themselves. And that process has been an amazing one. And so, if I'm looking at social relationships, seeing things from a different perspective, learning from and with each other, hearing each other, respecting each other, there's your emotional social domains being addressed, and there's your communication and language being addressed. And then the physicality of some of these modes. Dance, music, performance, so physical, even the art making, especially with young children, it's a whole body experience. So we had children, you know, with paint on their feet, walking. We had children with glue from literally their, you know, fingertips to their toes, and they were literally immersed in it. The whole programme provided a safe and supportive environment so that children can speak up. So when they are normally silent or voiceless, they suddenly go, I'm being heard, and I have many ways now of expressing myself. So that empowerment really came through and they were so engaged.

Suki

I noticed a huge difference in Abbas with the kind of involvement that he was having here at the centre. He's more expressive with his feelings. He will come home and tell me what kind of a day he had and what his friends did. I was very pleasantly surprised that he's getting more involved with wanting to know words. He wants to know more about colours. So he's trying to formulate those things in his head, which I think Abbas didn't do before, which I'm noticing more of every day.

Child

Paint.

Maria

What kind of paint? Yellow?

We are all about the journey. But we did want something to record that, as I suppose like a mento of it and ultimately as feedback for everyone who was involved. We've just finished our first printed book, that was a collaboration of the preschool group really, the four and five year olds.

Suki

First of all, I've got to say that this is such a great concept. I mean, to have to have one of the children to come up with a concept and then to develop it, and then to actually go all the way into publishing. And this is the final product. Their work, their concept, their ideas, and this is how it looks. And I love how the entire process can be seen at the back of the book. I think that's great.

Maria

So what's the book called?

Abbas

"The Monster," the book.

Maria

Monsters, Propriety Limited.

Maria

Oh, what does that mean?

Margo

That's Alby's.

Abbas

Yeah, I had to plan to eat the monster. I had to plan to eat them.

Maria

And we asked you questions. Remember when we had the floor book, and we started with the idea in the middle and everyone asked questions. And when we got the answers, the book, the story came out more and more.

Margo

Josh did that, Aurelia did that, Abbas did that.

Maria

I guess the thing was that we did this together.

Margo

Yeah.

Abbas

Yeah.

Maria

And that was special.

Abbas

Yeah, it was everything.

Margo

It was hard work.

Maria

It was hard work, it was.

[End of transcript]

2022 case studies

Building blocks

Watch how Adamstown Public School enabled children to have a strong start to school.

Watch Adamstown Public School video (4:26).

Strong start to school

Emma Stothard

Adamstown Public School is a K-6 mainstream school. We're about 5 minutes out of the centre of Newcastle. We have 15 classes and we have a very strong early transition program. And the AEDC grant come up. Sarah and I started talking about it, and then...

Sarah Wenham

Yeah, So, we've been part of the AEDC process for several years. When we saw that the grant had become available, we had noticed that looking at our recent data through the AEDC, that we were hitting all 5 domains beautifully. And if we were successful with receiving the grant, what more we could do with that?

Emma Stothard

Our community, we have a very vast community here, from low sociodemographic up to a high sociodemographic, a very multicultural community as well. We have a lot of languages other than English. We had looked at our Best Start data as well, So, looking at Best Start data and triangulating the AEDC data, in conjunction with feedback from our early years staff as well. And then bridging all of those and bringing all those data sources together to understand where our gaps are. Is it just around that socialisation element? Is it around the relational element? Is it around academics? Bringing everything all into play and looking at all the forms of data as to how best we can support moving forward.

Sarah Wenham

The reason behind our application for the funding was that we already had a really strong transition program in place here at Adamstown Public School. It's called Building Blocks. It's a transition program that we've had in place for several years in partnership with our local community, our local preschools. And we just wanted to build upon that, already knowing that we're onto something really strong. We just wanted to make it even stronger using our community to strengthen the pillars of that. We use the funds to be able to access more support from our teaching staff. And to be able to use those funds to have our teachers, all of our kindergarten teachers, to be able to go and spend time in our local preschools to team teach. So, we had a better understanding of the Early Years Learning Framework, So, we could start making that bridge between the two worlds.

Emma Stothard

Previously, Sarah was using her release time to head out to the preschools and making connections in that regard, but obviously that was taking a toll on her release time from the classroom, So, we wanted to be able to support more around giving access to our whole Early Stage 1 team to go into the preschools, to visit the teachers, to make those connections, to build the relationships, and also then to look at what other services we can bring into play from the department. So, whether it be around the Learning and Wellbeing team, whether engaging them with sessions with our early years as well, going and doing transition talks after hours with families. And also bringing it back into paraprofessionals, such as speech pathologists and occupational therapists as well.

Sarah Wenham

We engaged with all of our services, So, the grant has allowed us to have more flexibility. So, we were able to employ a speech pathologist to come and spend time with our families, speak to family, speak to preschool educators, to us on the Early Stage 1 team of what we could do to support those children as they transfer over to big school to kindergarten. We're able to employ an OT to also give guidance to myself and to the educators. So, it was able just to give us a little bit more flexibility. No surprise... Good surprises.

Emma Stothard

Yeah, the surprises, I suppose, from my perspective was to that families just weren't aware of what was available within the department. That when you come to a school, that there's a much bigger picture that's happening behind the scenes.

Sarah Wenham

We knew we were doing well. It would be amazing if we saw that. I'm hoping that what we are doing, which I believe is really, really strong, will transfer over to the new AEDC data. I hope it will reflect that.

[End of transcript]

Resilience project

Watch how Berkeley Public School upskill staff in explicitly teaching to foster development in students.

Watch Berkeley Public School video (6:10)

Fostering development

Radha Green

Hi, my name's Radha. I work at Berkeley Public School. I'm a Stage 3 interventionist, and I coordinate our Learning and Support team. My role with the AEDC Grant was to put the grant project together, and then I submitted the grant, and we were successful. Our AEDC data for our school area showed that our community had a high vulnerability in all 5 AEDC domains. That meant that students coming into our school from preschool were at risk of not achieving outcomes as best as they possibly could. The target audience for our initiative was our pre-schoolers coming into school. It was our community as well, and our cater to students.

The initiative that we implemented was a multi-resourced initiative. There were five different areas that we focused on. So, the first area was having our staff trained in the Berry Street Education Model, which is a research-based model of trauma-informed practice. The next step we wanted to do was include support for our students and training for our SLSOs around speech and language development and emotional maturity. The first steps of the implementation were to define the outlines of the project, to consult with our school principal and the Learning Support team to define the parameters. Then we put together an outline of the initiative, and then it was a matter of putting together a proposed timeline and a checklist of things that we'd need, things we'd need to do. After that, there was a process of review and revising the plan and making any adjustments. And just like in teaching, a cycle of evaluation.

I myself was involved in training our SLSOs with a resource called the Bears Cards. With the Bears Cards, after purchasing the cards, I found some PL that would be beneficial for our SLSOs and for myself, and we engaged in that training together and then had some follow-up discussion about how to use the cards. With the 5 domains, we attended to the physical health and wellbeing of students, social competence, emotional maturity, language, and cognitive skills, and community skills and general knowledge. Some of the positive impacts was the engagement with the sensory gym from our 3-6 students, including more resources to our sensory gym really helped with that area. For social competence, having play areas within our sensory gym where students could practice and learn more social skills, such as sharing, cooperation, and turn taking, that was a really important factor.

Some of the other people that we collaborated with were our school counsellor and a speech pathologist. With a speech pathologist, we collaborated by asking her to train our SLSOs and work with our SLSOs to be able to identify particular needs of kindergarten students with their speech development and to be able to support that through one-on-one tuition. So, because our resources were so different and varied in what our initiative proposed, each thing was implemented differently. So for example, our Berry Street Education Model has recently started, so that's in its very early stages, but that involves staff going along and attending four-day training, and then that will be implemented by whole school change gradually with staff implementing the strategies learned at Berry Street.

Another part of implementation is for our sensory gym, actually purchasing the tools and resources, putting them in the gym and teaching students how to use them. Seeing the new resources for the sensory gym was very exciting for them to be able to use and engage with those as well. Another outcome was increased access to sensory tools for our students in the sensory gym, and this led to increased self-regulation for those students. Staff that trained in trauma-informed practice have improved confidence and skills in supporting students in social competence, emotional maturity, and communication skills. Because of this grant that we received, there's been a huge increase in resources for students, staff, and our community, and we would not have been able to access these resources without it.

[End of transcript]

We learn (Dhurga language)

Watch how Bermagui Public School supported children and their families with a successful transition into school.

Watch Bermagui Public School video (6:14).

We learn (Dhurga language)

Rebecca

I'm Rebecca Roche. I'm one of the assistant principals here at Bermagui Public School. We are a small town on the far South Coast about six hours from Sydney. It's absolutely stunning here. The people are beautiful. There's a rich culture here with the Aboriginal people. We are on the cusp of two language groups, the Dhurga and the Darginung. Here at school, we focus on the Dhurga language. We have about a 30% Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander population here at the school. So it's a big focus.

Julie

My name's Julie Kirk and I've just said good morning in Dhurga, one of our local Aboriginal languages. We've been very fortunate at this school to have aboriginal language and culture embedded in our practise for a number of years. When the opportunity for the AEDC Grant arose, we wanted to make sure that language and culture was embedded within our programme. We had higher than state and national averages in the domain of language and cognitive skills. Children were presenting developmentally vulnerable in that space and that was something that was our experience too in the classroom.

Rebecca

The framework that we came up with was trying to strengthen the transition between the preschools and coming to school, the first year of kindergarten. Us going to the preschools, meeting and greeting families, getting in there with the children, running lessons, going out to playgroups at Wallaga. Historically that the transition visits were not as many, so we increased that. So we went to six visits and we mixed it up and brought in the Dhurga language into those sessions that we had with the children. So it's not just about the Aboriginal children having contact with that cultural aspect, it's all children.

Julie

We were able to have a significant amount of time for our learning support teacher, for our kindergarten teachers to spend time in preschools and we sang songs and we pretended to get ready for school. We practised a lot of our greetings in Dhurga. We built a relationship, which is fundamental to everything we have done, and we did that through a very soft approach. So we were mostly able to be at preschools during say drop off or pick up time. A lot of parents had given us feedback at the other end of the project that it was just so nice to have familiar faces so that when they arrived at big school, there was a sense of connection already.

Mary

Del got to feel out herself really well, both at the school with the teachers and the other children, as well as at the preschool. So it was a really safe, inclusive space for her. She was very comfortable. She was more excited than nervous. She had that kind of kinship with the teachers, as well as the other children. So it was beautiful.

Julie

A really exciting part of the work we do at Bermagui Public School is our buddy programme.

Amelia

Hi. What's your name?

Delilah

Delilah.

Amelia

Del, what school do you go to?

Delilah

Bermagui.

Amelia

What was your favourite part of coming to this school for the first day?

Delilah

Playing with my best friends.

Amelia

What were you playing with your friends?

Delilah

Babies.

Amelia

Did you feel scared or surprised or happy when you first got there?

Delilah

Happy.

Amelia

Happy? Were you scared?

Delilah

No.

Amelia

Who was your buddy?

Lily

Lily.

Amelia

What was your favourite part about the buddy programme?

Lily

Making stuff with her.

Amelia

How did you feel on the first day and how did your buddy make you feel better about coming to the school?

Lily

I felt scared and my buddy made me feel better by playing with with her. What was it like being a big girl buddy?

Amelia

It was really fun. You got to play with all the little kids. You got to help your little buddy make more little friends, and it was really fun to sit with them at lunch and talk to them and ask what they're going to play. And it was really fun to play a game of tips or hide and seek with them at lunch and recess.

Rebecca

Some of the positive things that we got out of having the the grant, we got to connect much more with preschools with the staff there. They were really pleased with the fact that we were really engaging with them. They got to hand over their children and give us all of that information.

It was awesome to be able to get to meet families and know them when they first came in the school. Because of the six transition visits, we were able to introduce them to different staff and different parts of our curriculum.

So they got to do STEM and they got to do music and they got to do obviously, the cultural side of things with the Dhurga language. So they had like contact with lots of different people. It wasn't just the one staff member that they were seeing. Because it was so successful, we've used a similar model this year with our kindergarten transition.

We haven't been able to have the six visits and do as many visits out to the preschools, but we've got four visits in but met some families and done our parent/carer information night, and it's been successful so far, yeah. And we're already picking up those children that might need some support.

[End of transcript]

Outreach kit for playgroups

Look at how Big Sky Stories developed ‘outreach kit’ that they transported to local playgroup sessions.

Watch Big Sky Stories video (6:30).

Reading playgroups in Aboriginal communities

Jane Vaughan

Big Sky Stories started in 2022, and it came out of a recognition that young people and families in far west New South Wales needed more explicit and intentional support around early language and literacy development because we want all of the children in the far west to thrive and we know that literacy is a very big part of that.

The AEDC data from 2021 showed that 31.1% of the children starting school in the far west were at risk or vulnerable in their language and cognition and the rest of New South Wales state average for that year's data was 15%, so twice as many of our little people are starting really far behind where we would hope them to be and we know that once you start school behind, it can just get harder and harder to catch up. So that's why we wanted to do something to impact our community.

We used our community grant to fund an outreach resource kit, which we could take to existing playgroups in the Broken Hill area on a fortnightly basis, over Term 4 of last year and Term One of 2023 and so we were able to take that kit full of quality literature, full of puppets, cushions, our lovely inviting mat to sit on and we took the basics that you need to get little people excited about reading and books and talking and language. In deciding what to focus on, we recognise that there was a need to support the leaders who were already running these playgroups.

A lot of these playgroups are run by NGOs and other organisations who don't necessarily have a background in literacy and language teaching. They wanna support the people who are coming along and they work with them in a range of areas, but language and literacy is not usually the focus. So, it was a perfect opportunity, a, for us to go and to make that present for the children and the families, the parents and caregivers that were there, but also to model and support the leaders of those groups to show them what it could look like for them to include more literacy into their program on a more regular basis, even after we left the program.

The program looked different depending on the group we went to. One group we went to really wanted explicit instruction for parents and caregivers and for leaders. So, we would start the session by, I would sit on the floor and read books and play and talk with the children whilst the regular other activities were happening. When they had morning tea, I would explain to the parents what we were going to be doing during our explicit story time. I would explain to them why it was important to do this and the kinds of things that I would be asking them to be involved with and do during the session so that there was less fear and intimidation about joining in, 'cause one of the other things that we know about communities out here is, we have a pretty high adult illiteracy rate as well and so taking away the fear of joining in a literacy activity is important for families as well as for children, so then we would do our stories and we would move, we would use drama, we would use song, we would use rhyme, and we'd really dig into the theme.

So it could be that we were focusing on colours that day, and we would read a number of books to do with that and sing and play, and we would involve the caregivers and then I would give them ideas and cards that they could take home, to help them at home to continue on that kind of learning experience with their children.

In another group that we worked with, primarily it looked like modelling to parents and caregivers. So I sat up in one end of the room, the quieter end of the play space and I had my big tubs of books and I had the cushions and we had the puppets, and I literally sat on the floor for 3 hours and whoever came close to me as a child, I would ask them what book they were interested in, we would read, if they changed their mind halfway through, we would stop and read a different book. If they picked up the puppets, we would include that either in the story or we would make up our own stories. I would let them take the lead, and as long as they wanted to keep engaging and reading, I would engage with as much enthusiasm as possible.

For two of the groups, it looked a lot like sitting on the floor and modelling to children what it looks like to engage well with books, but also modelling to caregivers that it was a safe place on the mat for them to come and to join in and to feel comfortable about doing that, even if it wasn't something that they were used to doing, particularly in this group or even in their home.

So the program is not only about the children, we know that if we can empower families as first teachers, that they are the ones who can make the biggest difference in children's lives and since finishing the program, one of the groups in particular has really grown to a really high level of attendance and maintained that even after we've left, and now they have their own pile of resources that we curated for them, that they put out in the same place that I used to sit at and so when the children come, it's now the first place that they go to and they read stories to each other as well as families and caregivers sitting and reading with their children.

So, it's had a lasting impact and now there's a flow on effect, but we would love to get back into do more work, being intentional and explicit, and especially for the families that come through each year, because with playgroups, families come, and they go and they transition on to school or to other places.

So, to be able to keep working with those playgroups to support the work that they're doing is our goal. We noticed more dads started coming to playgroup, and more dads started coming and sitting on the floor with their children and engaging in reading, so we know that for little children, they wanna see everyone in their family engaging and so that was very encouraging. So, another great thing that happened is that we had more and more children asking for books and wanting to own these books that they were engaging with.

So, we started having to order more of the books that we were using at playgroup, because families would come down to Big Sky Stories and say, "Please, can we get that book about the diggers? Because they don't stop asking about the book about the diggers." And some of the small tips that we would offer for instance, to suggest that as you're reading a book with your child, ask them to turn the page when you get to the next one and we had parents come in going, I've been doing that for 2 weeks and now if I try and turn the page, I get in trouble from the child.

So, we could really easily see that the small little pieces that we were offering we're being taken up and were being used, and that the children were really responding to them and it was changing the way that families were reading at home, not just their experience at playgroup and that's what we want is longer term change in the home.

[End of transcript]

Confident and capable preschools

Watch how Inverell District Family Services supported children in the key areas of vulnerability.

Watch Inverell District Family Services video (5:29).

Supporting vulnerabilities

Cammy

When applying for the grant, we noticed that children weren't adapting very well when they started to come back after COVID restrictions. So, they were coming into service, they were a little bit anxious, and they were having great difficulty in being able to regulate their own emotions. The AEDC data also reflected that. We saw a quite a significant increase in their developmental vulnerabilities.

Three areas that that came across for us, emotional maturity, social competence, as well as in their language and their cognitive skills. IDFS as a service really wanted to address those things and make sure that we could support the children and the families as they came back to service. From there, we developed a programme called Comfortable Chameleons, proposed it as a 10-week programme. Someone would come into service, and they would deliver that programme to the children to try to get them to engage in building their vocabulary around what it was to have different emotions.

We looked at then being able to use resources and strategies and tools that they could connect with and engage with to help support them as they were learning to regulate or co-regulate with their educators. We followed the curriculum of the Zones of Regulation, so we started off basically just building up the vocabulary. Then we looked at try to matching those emotions to a particular zone and where they fit in that zone, and that was great for colour recognition. It's far easier for a child to be able to identify how they're feeling by pointing to a colour if they don't have that word to articulate what that feeling is.

We went into what happens to the body, how your body feels when you have different feelings. All of our feelings are okay, but it's what we do next that then makes the difference. We looked at change, how your body copes with change. We looked at anger. We looked at frustration. We looked at problem solving, and with each of the programmes, with the literacy component, then came a tool, that these are the tools that you can engage in when you need to.

Tom

The program's delivered in nine of our locations that are Start Strong-funded. These services can be 50 to 30 kilometres from town, and we have approximately 230 plus children per day attending a preschool programme, about half of which are in the year before school.

Cammy

Another big focus of the programme was to make sure that, while it was delivered to the children, it was actually a programme that was looking at modelling the ideas to the educators 'cause the educators were struggling on how to cope and support these children. The programme enabled the presenter to model the concepts and the resources and the ideas that they wanted the educators to do. The educators then could include those activities and strategies with the children for the rest of the time.

Abby

We've become more confident delivering things around emotions and talking through modelling and talking to the children about their feelings. The Zones of Regulation, we've learned a lot more about that, which allows us to help children to deal with their feelings.

Lucy

When we can see that they're feeling maybe a little bit excited, we can go, "Okay, so where are you on the Zone," and get them used to identifying their feelings. Slowly progress from the co-regulating, so with us having to go through all the steps, how are you feeling, what could we do, what tool could we use, to them being more proactive. They might go and grab some earphones from the quiet corner 'cause they've identified that it's very noisy and they're getting a bit agitated. They're feeling frustrated, so they grab something to squeeze. We have also noticed their vocabulary around the emotions has improved. So, they're not just saying, "I'm happy", or, "I'm sad." They're able to identify the other emotions. They have a better sense of understanding other people's emotions. When they see other students having a meltdown or whatever, they understand that that's okay, that's just part of life.

Cammy

So, we would use the Zones of Regulation as a resource that they would have a look at and they would be able to connect with both physically as well as just being able to read off it. Children were going home and starting those informal conversations with their parents. We ended up making a whole lot of resources that those families could take home and engage in those sorts of concepts at home with their other children as well as the child that was in service. A big one was transition to school. We saw this really become strong through their readiness to go to school and linking that with the teachers that they were moving through. So, the whole programme moved with the child from the early education setting into that first year of formal schooling.

[End of transcript]

Early access for success– Schools as Community Centre

Look at how Woodberry Public School implemented early identification and assessment to support families to access early intervention.

Watch Woodberry Public School video (5:17).

Supporting families

Amy Blackwood

I'm Amy Blackwood and I'm the Schools as Community Centres facilitator here at Woodberry Public School.

Caz Wilson

I'm Caz Wilson, I'm the Assistant Principal Transition Support Teacher Early Years, and I work for the Gateway Learning Community of Schools, which includes Woodberry Public School.

Amy Blackwood

In my role as the Schools as Community Centres facilitator, I look at the early development of children, so I run playgroups and developmental screening, and I also support parents to make sure they've got all the skills and supports that they need to be the best parent that they can be. From COVID, we started to find that a lot of our children were coming to playgroup and also starting school without the functional skills that they actually need to succeed, and our big focus in Woodberry is not for our children just to survive, it's for them to actually thrive. We started to then look at the ways that we can actually fill the gaps that we were finding in the challenges to getting those extra supports for the parents and for the children, and that involved more collaborative work between Caz and I.

Caz Wilson

One of the areas that we've identified through assessments across our community of schools is in that communication area in speech and language.

Amy Blackwood

When we looked at our AEDC data, we found that 75% of our children were vulnerable in one domain, 53% were vulnerable in two domains, and over half of our children were developmentally vulnerable across all 5 domains.

Caz Wilson

So, this was really impactful for us to understand what was actually happening for our children and families. It gave us cause to really evaluate what we could do and what things we could put into place by accessing some additional funds.

Tabitha Chaseling

My name is Tabitha. I am a speech pathologist from Early Start Speech Pathology here in Newcastle. With Woodberry, we came on board partway through last year to start screening the Little Goldies at the time, so we had a look at their speech, language, and their social communication, and flagged children that had language disorders, were at risk of developing literacy difficulties due to speech sound disorders, children that were going to have some difficulties with their speech and language as they progressed into kindergarten. Since screening the kids, we then worked with them in groups at Little Goldies last year in 2022. I was able to follow them into kindergarten at the start of this year and work in groups with them there, supporting them with their language and their speech and some of their social communication skills to help build their confidence, and their ability to interact and participate to the best of their abilities in the classrooms.

Caz Wilson

We also had the Sound Scouts screening for hearing that we utilised, and that was conducted here and at the preschools by one of the educators in the local preschool who was trained to complete that. That identified any children that had any underlying hearing loss that might've been impacting in that area of communication, which we identified as an area of significant support.

Amy Blackwood

Our Jimbaroo program is for naught to five year olds, and through families engaging in that program, we've been able to develop relationships and then encourage them to participate in our developmental screening programs that gives us more information about those children leading up to school.

Caz Wilson

It also impacted our playgroups, the children that are coming into our transition programs from our Early Childhood Services, a group of children that aren't attending services, that the only opportunity really to engage with those early screening and assessments was through the Little Goldies transition program. We were able to capture that whole range of children that are coming into school, in that year before they're starting, so that we could gather that information and provide that to our school staff to better target the planning that we are providing through those programs.

Jodie Petersen

I'm Jodie Petersen and I'm the Assistant Principal Curriculum Instruction at Woodberry Public School, and I'm also the Transition to School contact.

Michelle Curtin

I'm Michelle Curtin. I'm the Director of Woodberry Community Preschool.

Jodie Petersen

Our children actually came to school this year ready to learn. Last year we worked really hard to develop portfolios of all the children so that we were ready for them. We collected the speech assessments that had been conducted, the Sounds Guard assessments. We'd also worked with the families to get NDIS service providers involved.

Michelle Curtin

By us being involved, we were able to then implement learning into our setting that would engage the children to better their outcomes for once they started here at school.

Caz Wilson

Some of the benefits are that we've engaged with our community, our children, and our families much earlier than we would have, and this has given us the opportunity to engage in those screenings and also have those early conversations around developmental progressions and understanding how we can put supports into place to give our children the best opportunities for success at school.

[End of transcript]

Supported playgroup initiative

Toukley Public School worked with families and other community organisations to provide a connected social environment for children and families.

Watch Toukley Public School video (5:23).

Connected social environment

Sharon Buck

Toukley Public School has around 460 students. We have the highest Aboriginal enrollment of students on the Central Coast. Many of our families come from the most disadvantaged families in our community. Our AEDC data showed that there had been a significant increase in the area of developmental and social vulnerability for our children, so it jumped from 2.6% in 2018 to 11.9% in 2021. We thought of a way that we could try and alleviate that gap, and we came up with the idea of starting a playgroup, that we could have a supported environment for our families. The focus of the playgroup was to work with families and children to try and get them developmentally on track in that social competence domain. The playgroup started really small. At first, we only had about 4 or 5 regular families attending. Now, we have up to 20 different families that will come on any one occasion.

Lisa Corbett

My role here at Toukley Public School is that of the Community Liaison Officer. I support and assist the parents within our school community. I looked at establishing the playgroup in order to invite and connect with families within our school community and the wider school community. Our main focus was being introducing and preparing the children for school and preschool, and that whole environment that they will experience later on. It's really rewarding to see not only the children, but the parents, too, forming friendships and spending time with people they wouldn't normally spend time with. Me being able to talk to everybody in the playgroup and spend time with them, it allows me to get to know them in their circumstances. And if they need any support services or assistance with anything, that's probably where I come in and that's part of my role here as well.

Beth (parent)

Titan didn't have the luxury of preschool because due to COVID. When Jade said, "Do you wanna come here?" It was actually a brilliant idea. For him to start school, it's a big thing for any child. Because of this, because he's able to actually interact with other children to be around his little age group, it's exactly what he needed for school.

Shona (parent)

My second eldest, Cadence, is starting at Kooloora Preschool next year. Coming along to the playgroup for the last couple of years has enabled her to become really familiar with the school surroundings. The teachers she's had exposure to coming along, and just getting amongst a whole lot of other children that's not just mom and her little brothers at home. So, I think she's a really good state for starting preschool next year and being quite confident in leaving Mom. I look forward to my Fridays as much as the kids do. We are a great group of parents that come along to the preschool. We all have a cup of coffee, we have some morning tea, the kids have a play. We get an opportunity to chat to the teachers. Yeah, it's a great little community that's formed here.

Lisa Corbett

I've seen a lot of children that have come here. Initially, when they came, some of them very shy, very inward, and now they've just blossomed. They've grown, they interact with each other, they've made their formed little friendships, and it's really lovely to see. And as I said, the mothers and parents and carers, too. It's like it's our little tribe, our little community. As you can see, like when we packed up, everybody helps me. They've really got my back, and I've made friendships with a lot of the parents that I would not have probably known if I hadn't have been able to run the playgroup.

Sharon Buck

Our community has a lot of socially isolated families, so the playgroup is a way that we can build those connections between families. There's been a lot of friendships made between the families, and that continue outside of when the playgroup operates. We have seen the benefits in the cohorts of children that have been coming through, that have been to our playgroup. For the children that are starting school, they've had that experience of being with those teachers, they've had that experience of being in a classroom. When the children start kindergarten, they have more confidence, they have better social skills, and they're familiar with the environment. So, the playgroup has provided a soft entry point into the school and the preschool for a lot of our children and families. It allows families to build that connection with the school, connection with the staff, and it allows the children to become familiar with the school.

[End of transcript]

Further support

For any questions and further support contact the AEDC NSW Project Team at aedc@det.nsw.edu.au or 1300 083 698.

Copyright statement

© 2022 Commonwealth of Australia

Since 2002, the Australian Government has worked in partnership with eminent child health research institutes, The Centre for Community Child Health at The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne, and the Telethon Kids Institute, Perth to deliver the Australian Early Development Census program to communities nationwide. The Australian Government continues to work with its partners, and with state and territory governments to implement the AEDC.

Category:

  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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