AEDC NSW research symposium 2021

Resources from Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) NSW half-day 2021 research symposium – 'We collected the AEDC data, we have our school’s preliminary report – what next?'

Session videos

We showcase how different stakeholders utilise AEDC data and the value of the dataset in informing policy and practice.

Introduction – Kay Coombs

An overview of some of the NSW Department of Education policies, practices and initiatives that AEDC data informs. It will also highlight initiatives that AEDC NSW is implementing following a successful data collection in Term 2 2021.

Watch 'Engaging with AEDC dataset to support initiatives and quality practice development' (10:08).

Introduction – Kay Coombs

Mary Taiwo – [NSW Australian Early Development Census (AEDC), State Coordinator]

Our first speaker for the day is Kay Coombs, and Kay is the A/Executive Director of Educational Standards, the directorate in which AEDC sits here in New South Wales. Kay is responsible for leading and developing; as well as monitoring policies that require school leaders and teachers to use evidence-based practice and achieve high professional standards in the delivery of curriculum and assessment and reporting.

Kay leads a team of directors who are responsible for shaping and supporting curriculum from preschool to Year 12. It also includes the quality preschool education provided by New South Wales government schools, literacy and numeracy initiatives, multicultural education, rural and remote learning, high potential and gifted education. As well as student assessment to support teachers, and the understanding of what they have to do in their teaching. So, without taking too much time, Kay will be talking a bit and highlighting how we find evidence-based policy on practice development in New South Wales, so I'll pass it on to Kay.

Kay Coombs – [A/Executive Director, Educational Standards]

Good morning, everyone. I would also like to just acknowledge that I'm coming to you from the shared lands of Darug and Gundungurra in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. I would like to pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging across the many lands on which we're meeting today and also to extend that respect to every person in the room who is so committed to ensuring that we make a difference in the lives of all children in the early years, but especially our Aboriginal young children in that focus.

As you know, the Department of Education manages the Australian Early Development Census, known also as the AEDC. We love a good acronym, don't we? In Education in New South Wales. The AEDC team is located within Early Learning in the Curriculum, Early Years and Primary Learners unit and Mary and the team came across just recently last year to continue the great work that they'd been doing in another part of the organization. And we really love having you add value to our Early Learning team. So, because it's located in the Early Learning team, our Early Learning team provides advice and support for early childhood initiatives prior to school years. We’ve got 100 pre-schools in the Department of Education, but we also provide advice and support to a range of other areas.

We make sure that one of the key initiatives we have in our department is to connect those pieces. I was so glad to see in the agenda today that we really are drawing on the expertise from our school base people as well as our colleagues in in early childhood education and school’s policy, so that we really are the connectors between each of those areas so that we make sure that we are united in the efforts that we put forward.

The Early Learning team also supports the P-2 initiative officers and Schools as Community Centres Facilitators to provide wraparound support to leaders, educators and community service providers. Communities and governments recognise the important role of schools in making the AEDC collection a success.

And you might be interested to know we did a little quick quiz the other day in our directorate meeting and during the 2021 AEDC data collection, 2234 schools across all sectors in New South Wales participated in the collection process. So, this involved 5860 teachers completing the instrument for 95,562 Kindergarten students enroled in New South Wales.

As I was watching our weekly reports about how many schools had completed and what a fantastic job people had been doing, I was watching the numbers go up and up and I thought, this data collection is going to be able to give us such rich data for our community profiles. To be able to think about that are the strengths and the areas of need in each of our communities that the that the data shows us that we can use.

So that's why I was so delighted that the symposium is being organized for today so that you can actually take some time out of your really busy days to be able to think about what are the implications of the use of this data in our in our settings. It was a massive effort from schools and teachers, and I want to take the opportunity to especially thank all schools and teachers who invested time and energy to collect this vital information. One of my daughters is a Kindergarten teacher, and she was involved in the data collection and found it really worthwhile to be able to really focus on each of her individual children in her class as she as she completed the instrument.

Early in 2021, the department launched the School Success Model to balance stronger support for schools to make evidence-based decisions with clearer responsibilities for performance targets. This AEDC data is a rich evidence-base that can be used to measure effective practice and improve student outcomes. I'm really looking forward to the way that it can add richness and colour to the information that we already have, especially for our prior to school settings.

The AEDC New South Wales is seeking to increase awareness on the value of the data, especially with the 2021 data being collected during ongoing COVID restrictions. We encourage you to engage with the data, alongside other key data sets to enable a process to ensure that every student, as Mary said, every student, every teacher, every leader and every school improves every year. For those of you who are not in our Department of Education in New South Wales, this is one of our key outcomes that we're trying to achieve.

Today's sessions will showcase the value of your time and effort in ensuring that the dataset is comprehensive and is able to support the community as we work towards supporting all children. Within the department, some of the ways that we intend to engage with the AEDC data include creating opportunities to use the data to inform how we can support our rural schools to enhance transition to school. One of our big focus areas is rural education, as we know that many of the outcomes for our students in rural areas are not the same as the outcomes for children in metropolitan and large regional areas.

So today's symposium is an excellent example of how various stakeholders can engage with AEDC data to inform policy and practice. There's some fantastic speakers lined up today, and I'd like to thank the organizing committee for organizing these people and also thank the people who are going to present to you today around a number of different issues. We’ve got Yasmin and Tess from the Telethon Kids Institute, who will provide an overview of the research that explores how children’s development measured by the AEDC at school entry predicts academic achievement and social and emotional wellbeing during their schooling lives during this session.

A really critical factor for me, is to be able to see if we can draw those lines to that predictive intent that is, about here's how our communities and our children's profiles were before they started school and then, how are we able to track them as they move through school is a really interesting piece, I think, for us to be able to explore together. Melissa and Kristen from the New South Wales Child Development Study Research Team will talk about their research findings, which is following the development of a cohort of children from birth to adulthood. Really, exactly what I was just talking about, to look at the cohort from birth right through and what information and insights can we draw from that?

Beth, Steven and Parth will be showcasing how the Early Childhood Education directorate has engaged with AEDC data and some projects, programs and key policy decisions that the AEDC data has informed. Sarina, Dee-Dee, Mariana, Kristina and Andrea will be sharing how they have engaged with the AEDC data to inform their practice at a local council level. The Amplify Best Practice session from Sharon, Wendy and Kim, who will provide some practical examples of how they have engaged with the data in their schools and sectors. Then Jacqui will provide more examples on the type of initiatives that AEDC data can inform in her session later.

The aim is to enable schools and communities to explore their AEDC data and consider how they might address the early development needs of children prior to school, during their transition to school and while at school. Research tells us that evidence-based practice shapes the learning trajectory for our youngest learners into primary, secondary school and beyond. I recognize that we live in challenging times and we need to be flexible and ready to adapt our ways of working continuously. That idea of continuous improvement and drawing on the evidence and which datasets that we've got to inform the practice, I think is a key direction for all of us in education and support for early childhood settings.

So, I want to acknowledge and thank you for the work you do every day for children and families in New South Wales. I appreciate your interest in learning about and engaging with the AEDC to inform your work, and I hope that you enjoy the rest of the symposium. Thanks, Mary.


All right. Thanks, Kay. Thank you so much for that welcome address, and we thank for also joining and taking the time to be part of this symposium.

End of transcript

Session 1 – Amy Birungi

An overview of the relevance of the AEDC data set. It highlights the value of the data in informing resource allocation, policy and practice development.

Session 2 – Telethon Kids Institute

An overview of the research exploring how children’s development measured by the AEDC at school entry predicts their academic achievement and social and emotional wellbeing during their schooling lives.

Resources and tips for schools to utilise the AEDC data in their curriculum and quality improvement planning.

AEDC 2021 Research Symposium – Session 1 – Amy Birungi video (5:06)

Session 1 – Amy Birungi


I'm going to introduce you to our next speaker, which is Dr. Amy Birungi. Amy is the Relieving Director of the Curriculum, Early Years and Primary Learners unit which we also call CEYPL. So that's the unit in which AECD sits in New South Wales. Amy leads a dynamic and experienced team who are committed to supporting teaching and learning across the state. So without taking too much of your time, I'll have Amy come over and talk to us a bit about how she works with the team and how the department engages with the evidence base to support policy and practice. Thank you.


Thanks Mary. I too would like to start by acknowledging the traditional custodians of all the lands we're meeting on today. For me I'm on the land of the Gadigal people of the, Eora nation, and I pay respect to elders past present and emerging and extended respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people present here today.

Since September last year, I've had the absolute privilege of having the New South Wales AECD team within the Curriculum Early Years and Primary Learners Unit that I lead. And I've thoroughly enjoyed working with the team during the recent census period, as well as getting to know more about how AEDC data is used in New South Wales and other jurisdictions. And I'm sure Mary can attest to the fact that we've engaged in a lot of robust conversations about how we can lift the profile of AEDC say data across our system and beyond.

The Centre of Education, Statistics and Evaluation publication, "What Works Best", sets out the evidence for eight quality teaching practices that are known to support school improvement and enhance the learning outcomes of our students. One of these eight practices is using data to inform teaching practice. And in New South Wales, we have access to a range of data that we can use to check where children are at in their learning and development and plan for what to do next. Using data effectively ensures that we are driving improvements to everyone.

The AEDC data is an important component of the data available to people working with children in their early years. For this year's collection, we were really excited to participate in the pilot of the preliminary school snapshot. This snapshot gave schools access to their trend data as soon as they've lodged all of the instruments and putting data in the hands of schools as quickly as possible after the collection period has added another dimension to schools, already deep knowledge of the Kindergarten cohort. And we're looking forward to seeing and hearing today and afterwards how this snapshot is being used across the state.
One of the strengths of the AEDC data set is its benefit beyond the school gate.

And that's why we're pleased to welcome colleagues from a range of sectors and settings here today. As Kay is indicated, our speakers come from a range of backgrounds and their presentations will highlight the versatility of AEDC data for use in a whole range of child-focused initiatives.

Now that the 2021 collection is finished and we were, you know, so incredibly impressed with the effort of schools to get it done within the time that we've been given.

Today's symposium is the beginning of the next phase of support that the AEDC New South Wales team will be providing to schools and the community. By the end of September, we're planning to have available some professional learning that will support schools to engage with their preliminary school snapshots. This and other support resources will be available on the AEDC New South Wales website. New resources that will be developed will complement the suite that we have already available. This year, the team recognised that there was a need to support families to become aware of the AEDC, what it is and how it fits. And so they produced a short family awareness video that's been translated into 15 different languages.

So if you haven't been there already, I would encourage you after the symposium today to take a look at the AEDC in New South Wales website and familiarise yourself with what's there. And that's where you can access the recordings from today's sessions. I would like to thank you for taking the time to join us today. I acknowledge that as we meet, a large proportion of our state is living with uncertainty, complexity, and challenge, and now more than ever, our attention should be on our youngest citizens to ensure that they are supported to make a strong start in life.

Given that this is the first time we've run an event like this, we're keen to get your feedback and to hear how we can best support you moving forward. And so I know there'll be some information at the end of the day about how you can do that, but I'm going to fare you well and say that I hope you leave today with new knowledge to draw on back in your context for the benefit of all children. Thank you.

[End of transcript]



AEDC 2021 Research Symposium – Session 2 –Telethon Kids Institute video (51:26)

Session 2 – Telethon Kids Institute


Introduce you to our next set of speakers. Hopefully they're all up ready to go. So our next set of speakers are coming to us from Telethon Kids Institute. We have Yasmin and Tess Gregory.

Yasmin is a Deputy Director of Fraser Mustard Centre and the Child Health, Development and Education Group at the Telethon Kids Institute. She manages the national support for the AEDC state and territory coordinators. So in my day-to-day job, I tend to interact quite a lot with Yasmin to get that daily support for every state. And also she helps to liaise across with the Australian Government Department of Education and Training for the AEDC. I'm sure for most of you joining the call today, you do understand that AEDC is an Australia government initiative, and is fully funded by the Australian government across the country in different states. Yasmin plays a key role in providing that strategic support.

Tess is a senior research fellow at the Telethon Kids Institute, and she is also an adjunct senior lecturer, holds a senior lecturer position in the School of Public Health at the University of Adelaide. Her research is primarily quantitative and she uses large population-level datasets such as the AEDC data and the South Australia Wellbeing Engagement Collection. So both Yasmin and Tess will be talking to you today about the value of the AEDC data, and will be highlighting some of the research that they have carried on over time in analysing how AEDC predicts child development and how it predicts like health and wellbeing, and also linking the data set to various data sets both nationally and at the state level. So without taking too much of your time, I'm going to hand you over to Tess who I believe is ready to start talking to the slides now. So just give us a second or a minute as Tess transition and comes online.


Thank you for that introduction, Mary. I'd also like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands on which we meet today, Yasmin and I are coming to you from Adelaide and so we are on the lands of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains, and we'd like to pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging. I'll just share my slides.

Yasmin and I today going to talk to you about the value of the AEDC data for schools and how it can support school planning. And so I'll do the first half of the presentation, and I'll talk to you about some of the research that we've done, where we've linked data from the AEDC onto school outcomes, both academic achievement and social and emotional wellbeing. And then Yasmin is going to come in and she's going to talk to you more about how schools can use the data in their planning.

So why is the AEDC data really important for schools? So one of the reasons is that we know that child development when kids start school is really predictive of their academic achievement throughout their schooling journey. So to start with, I just want us to talk about some early research that we did. This was on the sample of children who were involved in the original piloting of the early development instrument. So that's the instrument that we use within the AEDC program. So this was originally piloted in Perth in around 2003, and about 4,000 children were involved in that pilot. And then the Department for Education in West Australia were able to link results from that AEDC onto NAPLAN results for those children who were in the government school system. And so we had information on around 170, I'm sorry, 1,700 children. And we were able to link at that point, then NAPLAN results up to about, up to Year 7.

And so this slide here shows correlations between the scores on the five domains of the AEDC and children's NAPLAN Year 7 scores. So that sort of scale score between zero and a thousand. And so what you can see here is that children who have better development across all of the different domains of the AEDC have higher scores in the NAPLAN, reading and numeracy, the strongest relationships are with the language and cognitive skills domain, which is not surprising. So kids who have better language skills when they come into the schooling system, tend to have better reading and numeracy scores all the way up to Year 7. But we also see that all five of the domains of the AEDC are predictive of NAPLAN. So we need to think about supporting all aspects of child development if we want to get children who have good literacy and numeracy skills as they move through the schooling system. And so the other thing that we had to look at this data stage to say, what about in addition to looking at each of the domains individually, what if we look at the number of domains in which a child is developmentally vulnerable, what does that tell us about the NAPLAN scores?

So this graph here shows us those children who are vulnerable and no domains on the far left, going through all the way through to those kids who are vulnerable in all five aspects of their development. And so we can say that for children who are not vulnerable on any domains, around about 16% of those children score poorly in NAPLAN and for each additional domain in which a child is developmentally vulnerable, we see this increase in the percentage of kids who are doing poorly in NAPLAN and Grade 7. So there's this clear pattern here where every domain is important and for every additional vulnerability that children have, it increases the risks that they're going to have poor literacy and numeracy as they get older. So that research was really kind of crossing, it was a kind of snap, it was a point in time, like, how does child development predict NAPLAN in Grade 3, in Grade 5, in Grade 7? And what we really wanted to also have a look at is what do those trajectories look like? So what is child development where kids start school? What does that tell us about what their pathway looks like through the schooling system in terms of their academic achievement? And so for this, to answer this question, we had a different dataset.

This was children who were part of the 2009 AEDC in South Australia and kids specifically from government schools, because they were the kids that were able to link through to the NAPLAN results. So this is just a quick flow chart to just show you a little bit about what kids we had and which kids we didn't have. So around about 10,000 children in South Australia did the AEDC in 2009 from government schools. And we were able to link onto their NAPLAN results for around 7,900. Can you see the arrow or not, when I touch on this? Perhaps not.


Yes, we can see.


Okay, okay. So this sample down the bottom is that is the group where we have AEDC and Grade 3 NAPLAN results. And so I just want to point out that we lose information on a lot of kids before we even get to Grade 3. So we have this group of children who we don't have any information in the system. They're just not in the Department of Education system at all and they're probably kids who have moved to Independent or Catholic schools or kids that have moved interstate. And then we have this other sample of kids where we can match them and we can say this to within the government school system, but they're either absent, exempt or withdrawn from NAPLAN. So we don't know anything about their academic achievement. And I just want to point out that this is a reasonably large chunk of children that we don't know anything about. So I'm going to tell you about what the NAPLAN trajectories look like for those children we can link, but just keep in mind that we lose a lot of kids and this is just Grade 3. So we also lose a lot of kids after Grade 3.

So just having a quick look at those kids that do drop out. So what this shows is the characteristics of the kids that we know their AEDC results. And then this group here is those kids who drop out of the system. So if you have a look at their demographic characteristics, we can see that they're actually quite similar to our baseline AEDC sample. The main difference actually is in the language background other than English. So for AEDC sample, about 13% of kids had a language background other than English. And that the group that move out of the government system about 24% of those children have a language background other than English. So that seems to be a big factor in kids in South Australia at least, moving out of the government system between Reception or your Kindergarten and Grade 3. Whereas if we look at those kids who are absent, exempt or withdrawn, they actually have quite different characteristics again, so these children that we don't know anything about in terms of NAPLAN are much more likely to be boys, are much more to have an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background and they're much more likely to come from the most socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.

And these groups are also different in terms of their AEDC results. So if we have a look at, for example, the language and cognitive skills, so there's the kids vulnerable, at risk and on track when they start school. And we can say that all those kids who are vulnerable, we've only got information on them in Grade 3 for about 60%. So we've already lost 40% of our sample here. And we don't lose as many kids that are at risk or on track. So the broad point I'm trying to make is when I present these trajectories to you, just keep in mind that they're not for all kids. Cause we lose a lot of kids even by Grade 3. And we lose more children who are vulnerable than we do, who are at risk or on track.

So this slide here shows the relationship between children's emotional maturity when they start school and their NAPLAN results throughout Grade 3 through to grade nine. And so what you can see on the left-hand side is that there's a difference between kids who were vulnerable and on track of around about 54 percentage points on NAPLAN reading. And then we say that those pathways or those trajectories are really parallel all the way through to kids, when kids are in Grade 9. So we see a little bit of a reduction. So that gap between kids who are vulnerable and on track is about 32 percentage points by the time they are in Grade 9, but really those gaps, those initial gaps really do persists all the way through to Grade 9. And so emotional maturity is the one that shows the weakest relationship with NAPLAN. And the domain that shows the strongest relationship with NAPLAN is language and cognitive skills. So I'll show that one to you now.

So I can see here that it's a similar pattern. We certainly see gaps between kids who come into the system vulnerable, at risk or on track, but the gap is much bigger. So in this case, there's a gap of about 104 points on NAPLAN between the kids who are vulnerable and the kids who are on track. Again, those lines are really parallel over time. We see those same kinds of gaps maintained all the way through to Grade 9. They do reduce a little bit. So we see the gaps 60 points in Grade 9, rather than the hundred points we see in Grade 5, but we need to keep in mind that we lose children over time. So, you know, I showed you that we lost those, we weren't able to track some children between kindergarten and Grade 3, it's the same over time. So we have a smaller sample at Grade 9, than we do at Grade 3. And so that might be part of the explanation of why this gap is smaller. And then I just wanted to show you if we think about the number of domains in which a child is vulnerable, what do those trajectories look like? So what we see here is on the bottom, you've got the kids who are vulnerable in all five of their development and at the top, the kids who were vulnerable on no domains. And we see a gap between those two groups of 124 points on NAPLAN reading. And then again, those differences, those gaps are really maintained over time. They reduce a little bit, but we can still see clear gaps between those kids who come in with different levels of development when they start school.

So moving on from academic achievement, the other thing that we know is that the AEDC is predictive of social and emotional wellbeing. And other people have also shown that it's predictive of mental health outcomes. So we did some research in South Australia where we linked the 2009 AEDC cohort onto kids' social and emotional wellbeing. And we have an annual census here called the Wellbeing and Engagement Census and this is a survey that all schools are invited to participate in, kids from Grade 4 to Grade 12 are eligible. And so we were able to link the 2009 AEDC cohort onto social and emotional wellbeing when kids were in Grade 6, we measure a whole range of different wellbeing outcomes, as you can see from this graph but what we were focused on in this study was emotional wellbeing. So things like kids' life satisfaction, their sadness and worries, for example.

And so what we found was thinking about kids' physical health and wellbeing, we found that that was actually predictive of all four of the wellbeing outcomes. So kids with better physical health and wellbeing when they started school had higher levels of life satisfaction, optimism, and lower levels of sadness and worries when they're in Grade 6. We found the same pattern for social competence and emotional maturity and perhaps as you expect, those factors were most predictive of social and emotional wellbeing when kids were in Grade 6. So those kids who came in with some challenges to their emotional development actually did have low high levels of sadness and worries, even six years later. And then when we looked at the language and cognitive skills, and the communication and general knowledge, we found that they weren't predictive at all of those positive indicators. They didn't tell us anything about how satisfied the kids would be or their level of optimism. But we did see that kids who had low levels of language and cognitive skills or communication in general knowledge did tend to have higher levels of sadness and worries when they're in Year 6. So that was interesting that those types of skills or development were predictive of sadness and worries, but weren't predictive of life satisfaction or optimism.

And just to show you kind of the, the scale of some of these relationships, so this is for one of the outcomes. So this is sadness, and you can say that the kids who were on track have a lower level of sadness, and then followed by the kids who are at risk and the kids who are vulnerable and the gaps, or the differences between those groups, the largest for the social competence domain and for the emotional maturity domain.

So just to wrap up, taking, taken together, this research shows that better development on all five AEDC domains is associated with better literacy and numeracy skills in Grade 3. And the trajectory analysis shows us these gaps that we see in literacy and numeracy skills for children are maintained through to Year 9. The other thing we can say from this research is that every additional domain in which a child is vulnerable on increases the odds that they'll have poor literacy numeracy at school. And the other thing we know is that all of the domains are important. So it's not just about getting kids literacy and numeracy right before they start school, we need to think holistically and we need to be supporting their social and emotional wellbeing as well as their physical development and their fine and gross motor skills because all of these aspects are related to NAPLAN results when they're older.

And the other thing I think, you know, my take home from this really is that if we want to improve literacy and numeracy skills, we really do need to intervene early. So those gaps that we see at Grade 3, they're not reducing over time, you know, very much anyway, not substantially. So if we need, if we want to shift those outcomes at Grade 9, we need to be intervening before Grade 3. We need to be thinking about what we can do during the early childhood space in those first couple of years of school. And then finally, we also see that better development on those AEDC domains is associated with better that social and emotional wellbeing. So development is related to academic achievement, which for many of us is that kind of main outcome that we're interested in the schools, but it's also broader than that. It also predicts a whole range of other school outcomes. So that's, I guess that's the end of the kind of this research component. And so now I'm going to hand over to Yasmin and Yasmin is going to talk about how schools can use the AEDC data in their work.


Thanks Tess, hi everybody. So I'm going to follow on from what Tess was talking about. And I think you'll see the relationship between the importance of this work, of schools using this data and thinking through what the AEDC tells them, from what Tess has presented and I'm hoping that what I present will give you some ideas around the way that the data can improve school planning and can really add value to what you're already doing, rather than being an additional burden of something that schools are asked to do. I know how busy schools are and how many requirements there are. So, the work that I'm, what I'm presenting has come from some work that we undertook with the Department of Education in Queensland, and also that we undertook in Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales. And we spoke to educators a great deal about the way they use the AEDC data, their limitations in using it and potential for the data to improve what they're doing. And we undertook some action research in Queensland with three schools over the course of almost 12 months to support them to use the data in their planning. And we looked there at what benefit that data provided and how they could use it. So there are a number of case studies and things that you can look at to get an idea of the ways that other schools have used this data.

So what we found was useful for schools was using the data to raise awareness of the development of communities of children as they start school. So schools are, you know, they've provided the data into the AEDC. Teachers know their children and schools do a lot of planning on an individual child, at an individual child level and at a class level, but raising the awareness of what factors might be contributing to the development of communities of children really supported schools and educators within them to think about where they fit in that community, what they were contributing and the ways in which they could advocate for children and families by identifying gaps, by raising the profile of the importance of early child development, often as well, and partnering with other community early childhood education and care, partnering with schools created real, real transition processes that weren't sort of orientations but were really an opportunity for collaboration around ensuring continuity of learning for children as they started school and as I moved from, you know, home environments into early learning and care as well, so that continuity of learning being really, really important to locate that within children's contexts. So increasing understanding of the factors that have impacted on children's development before they start school also helps the goal is to identify the things that will continue to influence children's learning and development, and to really work with those underlying factors rather than the point of development itself being just the single thing that the school was focused on.

So pairing both, you know, learning from the point where the child is at with understanding the things that have influenced the children's learning enables you to take a more holistic approach to developing children further. I've already talked about providing transition programs and processes and continuity of learning and informing context-based curriculum planning. So when think about that, we often think about, you know, and I know schools are terrific at this. My children's schools definitely have been thinking about what children are learning at home and the importance and values and beliefs and bringing that into the classroom, but also thinking about, you know, the ways in which children will be able to engage with the curriculum. So thinking about the context from which children come that make a particular curriculum more or less accessible to them. So the AEDC doesn't tell us all of that, but when we pull it together with other data, it does.

So I'm going to talk now about how you can approach the data to get this kind of information. So the first point is reflecting, reflecting on children's context and to do that we found it more valuable when you bringing together a broad range of people who have different perspectives, different skillsets, and different views of the community. And what we found has been really useful in these conversations is asking people to reflect on what the strengths of the local community are and how different groups have different visions, views of the strengths of communities. So they might see things that the school might not be aware of. They may see things that in the, you know, the school might be aware of things that other people don't see. And by bringing together all these different perspectives, you build a much stronger, sounder picture of the community, and you identify more clearly where there are gaps that the school and partners together might be able to address. When you're thinking about the strengths, looking at the AEDC data in the way as Tess has described those domains, you can see that children aren't always equally behind in all the domains and where there are relative strengths in domains, those are kind of key indicators for us that think of, that make us think about what's supporting development at that family level and at the community level in those domains, what's going really well for those children and how can we build on those things to improve the number of domains on which children are developmentally on track?

So, in doing that we, there's lots of different models that you can use. I like the ARACY (2019) common approach in the nest. If you look at the domains in which children are supported in their safety, physical health, mental, and emotional health, relationships and material basics and learning, you can often identify there the strengths and the things that are going well and map out what you think is going well for children. The gaps become quite evident when you do this kind of exercise, but also you're not just focusing on needs and ignoring the strengths. And the strengths are a really important component to be able to connect in what's happening and build on that continuity of learning that the children, build on the learning that children have to really create that kind of continuity for them. And we do this generally at a geographical level.

So on the right-hand side of the screen there, you'll see the geographical map and the AEDC community boundaries. So if we think about, you know, within this area, what is accessible to children, we can map the location of early childhood education and care services. We can map things like playgrounds and resources for families. We can think about where it is that a family might access something. So for instance, when we did one of these exercises in Queensland, we saw that there was a sort of a natural divide in the community of a geographical boundary, like a river or a road that a community, that a family, families aren't very likely to cross. So they stay on one side and many of the services are on the other. So thinking about, you know, what do they access in that area? It happened to be local supermarket and so being able to reach out to families at that location rather than expecting them to come to the areas where we have placed all the things.

So reflecting on the community data and looking at the strengths and domains where their relative strengths and weaknesses and thinking about how it reflects the context of the community, different stakeholders will bring to that story different understanding. So in one example, you know, we brought together health and education in a community. And the school had been sending referrals for speech and language problems to the local health service, with where the allied health service was located within. And having not come together to talk about this before, they hadn't, the school didn't realise that service didn't accept children once they were school-aged and once they were in school, which meant the school was picking up all these speech and language issues, and they were actively trying to do something about it and getting supports for those children, but those supports weren't available through those avenues anymore. What that meant for the school and for the service was that there was, you know, a huge gap in the referral process and in the understanding of what was available in the community by coming together, they were able to address that and one of the ways they addressed that was having an earlier transition to school process and intake interviews at the start of Term 2, rather than Term 3, which meant that those children were still able to be referred and then have their speech and language needs identified and start school with services and supports in place. So that made a huge difference for that community. And for those children transitioning to school having the types of supports in place early, enabling them to experience success from the start rather than, you know, failing as soon as they get there, which is often the case for many children is they have to fail before they become eligible for a service.

So really just bringing those people together, looking at the relative strengths and weaknesses, identifying, you know, in this community, that communication skills and general knowledge was a real struggle. And, you know, part of the reason was they were not being able to get children in early to these services and thinking not just about the percentage of children vulnerable, but also the number of children can help you think about the scale of the issue and how much of a response you might need. So if, you know, it looks like, if it's a small community and they might be five children with the developmental vulnerability in a particular domain, is it worth doing a really large program, or are you better off doing something universal that reaches lots of people that gives you the opportunity to identify the small number of children who might have an issue? If it's a large community, and there are a lot of children with that concern, then you might need a particular program, or you might need something more established that you can ensure there is enough resource to address the issue. So thinking about both the number and the percent is really important.

And then thinking through the next step, you know, what existing collaborations do you have and what future collaborations might you need to address what's getting in the way for children and families? An example, we had a school who felt that housing, local community housing was a real issue and their families, there was a high level of transience in the community with families having to move frequently because they didn't have accessible and affordable housing. When they brought, when they came together with the housing service in the community with Community Housing, they found that actually these families were also on the community housing list of people that they were trying to reach because rental housing was much cheaper in the community due to their large section of the population moving out with mining having closed, lots of rental properties, being vacant. So families being able to find very cheap rentals, but not having connected with housing where they would potentially have gotten existing, additional supports through that process. So Housing was also trying to reach these families to be able to get them other supports in place. And by working with the school, the Housing was actually able to access those families more easily. And the schools where I would see families being more settled in the area through that process and not having as much transience.

And so thinking through also, when you're looking about, looking at collaborations, your data can indicate to you where you might have knowledge gaps. You know, we do this thing where we say, ask yourself the five why's, why do we have more children developmentally vulnerable, for example, in emotional maturity than we have in the other domains? And the answer, first answer might be, well, parents don't really know how to form attachment in the early years, we've got parents with potential intergenerational trauma, and we might not be seeing attachment, behaviours forming early, you know? And, and then why is that? Well, we don't have a good information sharing system with families in the early years about attachment. Maybe we focus very much on health that we don't have attachment as a centre of focus. Why is that? Well, we don't have staff that are comfortable having those conversations with families. So when you sort of ask those questions, you get further down to the thing that you can actually do something about. So it's about thinking through who can provide sometimes those answers and at the school level, you might not know the answer to that question. So if you get stuck at a point in your two why's in, you might need to find someone else who could provide some more information to give you a really clear picture, and that can really help schools. You know, the school is not going to be in a position to be able to reduce attachment issues. But if you're seeing lots of children come to school with really poor emotional regulation, you might be thinking, how do we intervene earlier? Because once they get to us, that makes it really, really hard for those children to manage themselves within classroom environment, makes it hard for them to engage in learning and we're seeing the downstream effect of this but upstream, someone else could be doing something a little bit differently and if we raise the issue and we alert people and we work together, we might be able to find the thing that could make a difference for that community.

So this is just a couple of examples of the way you can look at the data. So here could look at data trends in the line graph, so you can see what's trending well, where are we making a bigger difference over time, where have we seen decline. So you can see for instance, here in social competence is community in the centre top graph has gone from strength to strength over the years, they've improved the number of children on track on social competence, reduce the number at risk and developmentally vulnerable. They haven't made as much of a gain in physical health and wellbeing. They've made similar gains in language and cognitive skills and communication skills in general knowledge and had variable success with emotional maturity. So what you might see here is, you know, some of the things that we're doing are making a difference. And in other areas, we might need to do something a bit differently.

Looking at the data and numbers, this is the example that I talked about before. So you could say the number of children here at risk, on track and vulnerable, thinking about the children at risk, as well as the children that are vulnerable is important as you saw from Tess' slides, both of those groups tend to fall behind in their learning compared to those children who are on track. And bringing together other community data, which you can readily access through sites like the Public Health Information Development Unit, PHIDU, P-H-I-D-U, they have social health atlases, and for, at a community level usually local government area, you can look at statistics for the number of children living in single parent families, jobless families. You can look at smoking pregnancy rates, you can look at breastfeeding rates, et cetera, and you can compare it to your regional average or your metropolitan average, depending on where you are.

And if you, I wouldn't compare to another community, I think that's always a really risky thing. But seeing where you are in comparison to communities that have on average, similar kinds of challenges to you being regional or remote, or being in a metropolitan area, how are we faring in comparison can give you a really good idea about where the strengths of that community are. What sorts of services might, may be working well. And what sorts of things may be areas where there are gaps for that family. So if you look at smoking and pregnancy rates, that can give us an indication of how successful we are in engaging mothers early in pregnancy, and how successful we are at supporting them to make healthy decisions for their babies. So it's not necessarily just about targeting that smoking in pregnancy, but thinking through like how well do we connect with families early in our community? Where can we support families? Where can we support people to do this better? And what are the upstream things that are happening that we're seeing later down the track? Same with breastfeeding at three and six months. That's a really good indicator. Not necessarily just of the health of the babies, but how well those mothers are supported early in pregnancy as they come out of the hospital, in hospital, and then in the community and how well are they supported through sometimes, what is a really difficult challenge for a lot of families. So these are indicators that give you an idea of the kinds of supports that are in place for families as they're entering, as they're going through those first five years of life. Documenting, documenting this is not just beneficial for your own plans and things, and weaving it into your strategic plan and your quality improvement planning, but it's also really valuable for taking forward what you've got to the next sort of meeting that you have or collaboration, being able to say to stakeholders, look, this is the information that we've gathered. Can you add anything here? Is there somewhere we can collaborate or work together? I think when you document things well it gives you that opportunity.

So I've got an example of one of the ways that I like to do this when I'm working with communities and here just a range of questions and we can make these available so you can think through this yourself, but, you know, mapping the community strengths there are a range of sort of reflection questions there that I like to think through with people as we go through this exercise and then document what we've got out of this. Documenting the areas of concerns, so what is the data telling you, where are the data indicators that there might be something that is concerning? In one community for example, we saw, when we started documenting these areas of concern, it was just really patent like a third of children, not attending ECEC services, a third of children developmentally vulnerable in one or more domains, a third of children falling behind in NAPLAN. So we saw this real clear third, and we thought, you know, how do we get to this third? And everybody was targeting that third but in a really different way. And when they actually work together, they really are able to get more information about what about the characteristics and the experiences of these families in this third of the population that we really are missing, why are we not engaging with them anywhere? And that made a real difference there in being able to engage that third early and the school working with some of their community partners was able to engage families in an early playgroup before a transition program, which then got them into their transition program. And they had far fewer children starting school with really high needs at the beginning of school, which meant learning could just start so much earlier in the classroom.

The scale of the issue, we've really talked about that sort of thing. Who is missing out is really important. So who's not in these numbers, who's not represented who do we not know about because they don't show up until the first day of school. And you'll find that there's lots of people, service providers in the community who aren't able to reach a lot of families in schools, sometimes the first point in time where we see that. And then I realised I'm just about out of time. So I'm going to jump to the next one, but you'll see these slides


You've got more time.


Do I? Okay, not going to run out of time, thanks Tess. Terrific. So in terms of thinking about what's impacting on children, what are their environments like? Can they play, do they have adequate nutrition? What are their early care environments look like? Are their caregivers responsive? Do they have rich, early learning experiences? And other things that are impacting on parents. You know, what pressures do they face? Do they have access to getting information? How consistent is the information that they get? Do we give them the same message everywhere or do they get different messages? That is actually often really hard for families and communities. What were their physical and mental health needs and are they being met? Are there long wait lists for services and supports? Are we prioritising mothers in the early years for mental health assessments being on wait lists, or are there languishing? Do they have access to ready and healthy food? We've seen lots of contributions of poor neighbourhood food. So lots of takeaway food outlets McDonald's and so forth in areas really correlate very strongly with poor community health. And we've seen sort of studies where you can see the change in health behaviours once those services become, like once those food outlets become available in a community.

So there's some great research emerging on that and intergenerational trauma, how are we dealing with it? How are we supporting it? Are we recognising intergenerational trauma? And are we actually responding to families in a way that makes it easy for them to engage with us? Or do we make it more difficult? Do we have families, when we think about intergenerational trauma, what that actually often means is people who are more reactive, people who get angry more easily, do we invite them into our services? Do we support them to regulate in our services? Or do we say, sorry, we don't accept that kind of behaviour here. You're going to have to leave. So these are the families that are often marginalised in our service deliveries, and how do we manage them when they come to our schools? So we think about the parents that sometimes, you know, the children are difficult to manage and the parents are difficult to manage. How do we build relationships with those people? And do we recognise the sorts of things that have impacted in the community to make us more readily accessible to those children and families?

And a great example is actually a story in Western Australia at a school where the principal recognised huge vulnerability early in the AEDC results from 2009, and did a lot of work to identify what's happening in the community and, you know, recognise huge trauma and poverty in the community. And that staff in the school were not particularly well equipped to deal with it. So really spent a great deal of time, upskilling staff in the school to be able to engage families with trauma backgrounds, with poverty backgrounds, and they opened up a hub within their school for all families to come. They had a really great response. So they went from having a school that had very few parents walk through the gates, very few parents attend school events and contribute to functions, to having a really, really strongly involved community with children that were more engaged, with families that felt the school was safe, a safe place to come and families that came and shared with the guidance counsellor, things that were happening for them, with their difficult so that the children could be supported in the school through those, you know, through those difficult times. And it made a huge difference for those children's learning. And it's really improved the AEDC results in that community over time, which is fabulous that a school could actually have that impact in the early years, just through reaching out to families and creating a safer space in the school for those families and making the school more welcoming.

So it really just shows the importance of schools are such a hub for a community. You know, it's a real bonding place for families. Having four children myself, I can tell you that most of my contacts now are actually just related to what happens at my children's school. So barriers to access, what's getting in the way of utilising these supports and services? Do people know what's available? Is there a stigma attached to the use of these services? You know, did families feel like we are working with them or that we're doing something to them? Do families feel that their children are safe and welcome in the places that we bring, that we ask them to bring them? Do they have access to transport in is the what's available affordable for families? Do we ask them to contribute a fee that's more than what they can do? And when we think about in school, that's often excursions and things like that, that can be really difficult for some families to manage. And I know that schools do lots of work to support families to be able to send the children along, but just asking ourselves those kinds of questions can show us what we're doing really well and where there might be some things that we could actually make it better for families and we could make more of an impact just by making something more accessible that we already do well. And are they competing priorities? Are we holding things at times that parents can't get to, for instance, you know, do we have families with lots of young children and we're asking families to come and talk to us, you know, pick up or drop off time when they might be really busy with trying to get kids to Kindy or some other thing.

And then what, who do you need to connect with to get a better understanding, to connect with families early and to develop a shared response? So that gives you sort of those next steps that you might document about, what do we want to do next? What do we want to do with the information that we have, where are our gaps and what do we want to get more information about? So my key messages are that although this sounds like a lot of work, it's already something that schools do. You do a lot of planning. You do a lot of talking, bringing educators together with leadership actually to have these conversations we found in some schools, was the first time that teachers had actually really fully understood the gamut of work that was happening around children and families and communities, and saw their space within it and were able to really align what they do in the classroom with these broader efforts in the community. So just actually bringing people together to talk about this data within the school, without external people around was really powerful for a lot of schools to have those conversations, which sometimes they hadn't had before.

Bringing together more voices gives you a clearer picture, think about all the different services in your community that you wonder about, but that you don't know. Sometimes they're trying to get in touch to, or they would like to be able to talk to schools. So, you know, reaching out to other people sometimes through someone that you know in a community, people often know each other and know the other service providers, is a great way to build those connections. Reflect on your current practises and how they fit for children, families, and communities. I'm thinking about things like late policies for instance, if you have lots of families who you know where there's lots of children are late to school, and what we're doing isn't improving our rates of absenteeism or late arrivals, let's think about like what we do and how we support those families to either get those children there on time or whether we make it more difficult. So, you know, I've seen schools where a policy of children arriving late needing a slip and families being called and told off, makes the parents more likely to just decide to keep the child home on the day where they don't think they can get the child to school on time, because they feel stigmatised or punished by the policy in the school. And celebrate what you do well, I think it's really important to really be able to highlight what do we do really well and so in one school, the transition program was something that had so much time and effort in to, and it was a terrific program and it was working so well for those families that were attending and celebrating and recognising that was really important. There were some things that were not making that transition program particularly accessible for some families. And they set about changing that which did make that, make a difference. And it got more families there and it got the families there that they were traditionally having a really hard time connecting with.

So that is the end of what I wanted to present. Some contact details for Tess and I there. And I don't know, did we have any questions? Do we have time for questions now? Mary - Yeah, you do probably have just a minute or two to answer questions. I don't know if you can read them or you want me to read it from here? Yasmin - I can have a quick look. Oh, there's a Q and A here.

What does good look like? So sorry, the fantastic presentation. Thank you for the concrete examples. So helpful. My question is, do you see a lot of integrated services, government agencies and communities working together to support families? What does good look like? I don't see a lot to be honest. I have seen some great examples and I think what good looks like is a true partnership. So sometimes what happens is people want to reach out, they want an additional service in their site, but they're not thinking about what that service might need to be engaged. So a really good example was for instance, a site where there was a high level of families with English as an additional language, and they wanted interpreter services. They couldn't really necessarily afford them within their school having interpreters for all the families, but the language services in their community, by connecting with those services, they were able to support families to access the things that that service was trying to reach out to people with. And by allowing them to sort of operate from the school site and giving them a space in an empty building that they had, they were able to make that service more sustainable for the community and be able to access them when they needed them onsite for communicating with families that are struggling to communicate with. So that was a real partnership and it was something that was a give and take. And I think when we think about what partnerships look like in integrated services, we sometimes bring things together and collocate them and we collocate them for convenience or that we sometimes don't talk to each other. So we just saw the physical design sometimes of these spaces and we did some evaluation of an integrated service years ago and the offices for the different sectors were all in different places around this building. So there was sort of like a central community hub and then lots of things around the outside. And those people didn't speak to each other. In another building, all the offices were in the centre and the services, the community services and this spaces for families around the outside. So people came into the centre together and they sat together and they collaborated really beautifully because they were in each other's space. And so you had this, you know, I don't know, just a difference of design that can make a huge difference. So it's just really thinking through, you know, how do we collaborate? What gets in the way of collaboration? What gets in the way of partnership? How are relevant our collaborations, how it's not the word not relevant, how real, how real are our partnerships and collaboration? How genuine, thank you Tess. Yes, there is some documentation on that WA school hub. And I can send that. I can put the answer in the questions later on. Yes, I will, there's another question about that hub. I will send you an example.

Schools have regular data that they use annually. How can we help them to understand the value of the data due to its richness and coverage? We feel they need for cyclical frequency. So we get this question a lot. I think this is related to the AEDC data just being a three yearly collection and other data in schools being annual. And what we see in places like Canada that collect the data for it annually is that those inter-censorial years in Australia, people tend to stay on that same trajectory. So the three years is actually enough of the time to see whether you've made a shift and that data in between and I've got a bit of a way I mapped this out. I didn't put this in the slides cause we didn't have time, but you're thinking about your short term, medium term and longer term goals. And your AEDC is often your longer term goal. And so there's other points of data that you collect can sometimes be actually reflective of your medium or short term goals. So attendance, for instance, that's potentially a short term goal. We want to improve attendance as a first starting point. You know, obviously what we want is better engagement, but attendance is a barrier. So just thinking about like, what point is your data in the data story that the annual data that schools collect can really be an early indicator of whether you're tracking towards something. So behaviour incidences, you might want to see those coming down and you want to see them consistently down at that kind of thing. Sorry, Mary you've jumped me.


Thank you, thank you so much Yasmin, yeah I'm just looking at the time and we want to give people a quick five minutes to grab a cup of tea or something before the next session. So I'd like to say, thanks so much to Tess and Yasmin and please you can keep sending your questions in the Q and A box and Yasmin and Tess will get back to you with responses and keep doing that as the day progresses. So we have a quick, thank you so much for that really relevant presentation, as you can see from the chat, people appreciated the examples you've shared and I hope that is going bring some inspiration to others who are looking at ways to seek and to walk with the AEDC data. So thank you so much Yasmin and Tess for that.


Thanks Mary for having us.

[End of transcript]

Session 4 – Early Childhood Directorate, NSW Department of Education


Session 5 – Facilitation Project: Fairfield, Liverpool, Bankstown

An overview of how AEDC data can be used alongside other datasets to inform various initiatives at the community level.  Three local councils have developed and implemented various early childhood development initiatives that address areas of vulnerabilities as reported in their community-level AEDC data outcomes. We highlight some of the gains and challenges of working across agencies and how their initiatives have led to positive outcomes for families and children in these communities.

AEDC 2021 Research Symposium – Session 5 – Facilitation Project: Fairfield, Liverpool, Bankstown (31:06)

Session 5 – Facilitation Project: Fairfield, Liverpool, Bankstown


We have visitors from the local council, Fairfield, Liverpool and Bankstown. So we have a group of presenters, Dee-Dee and Sarina will be speaking on behalf of the group. Dee-Dee is a Project Officer within the Child and Family, part of the Fairfield Local Council. And Sarina is a Community Planning and Partnership Officer also within the same council.

Their presentation today, as I said, was prepared as a group. And they walked alongside Mariana, Kristina and Andrea, who are all SaCC facilitators. So they are Schools as Community Centre facilitators within the Liverpool Fairfield area. They'll be talking to you today about some of the partnership and initiatives that they have implemented, as informed by the AEDC data to support the development of children in their local council. So I welcome Sarina and Dee-Dee to speak to you today. Thank you.

Dee Dee

Thanks, Mary. Good morning, everyone. We'd also like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land we're meeting on. And welcome to our presentation. So we're going to talk about Bankstown, Fairfield and Liverpool collaborations and how we use the AEDC and what kinds of initiatives we actually put on. So, what we're covering today is basically, we want to give you an overview of what Bankstown, Fairfield and Liverpool communities look like, and how unique our communities are, and how that impacts them. The kinds of initiatives that we actually put on, how we engage with the AEDC data, and how it shapes our success.

So for our communities, it's highly culturally and linguistically diverse. And particularly in Fairfield, we have a high number of newly-arrived migrants with their unique needs, experiencing complex trauma and high needs. It's a new settlement area with transient communities. And with that comes other basically considerations for example, worker fatigue. And basically all the different needs, especially now during COVID. Cultural and financial barriers as well. So in this slide, we're basically comparing Bankstown, and Fairfield and Liverpool. And we just want to show you how disadvantaged these three areas are with the social and economic statuses of Bankstown, Fairfield and Liverpool, with Bankstown, sitting at 935.

The Fairfield is the lowest and Liverpool at 952. Now, the next two tables here is showing you the high CALD demographic of BFL, short for Bankstown, Fairfield and Liverpool. So this one, the second one is all about the top three cultural makeup of Bankstown, Vietnamese, Lebanese, and Chinese. In Fairfield, it's Assyrian, Vietnamese and Chinese. And in Liverpool, Italian, Indian and Lebanese. And also we're looking at the percentage of households where community language is spoken, or in combination with English and it's really really high. With Fairfield's the highest at 82.6. Next is Bankstown 82.3 and Liverpool at 58.6, it's a very considerable percentage.

And this one is all about the AEDC vulnerability. So when we're looking at the different groups in Bankstown, Fairfield and Liverpool and our localised approaches, we definitely take this into high consideration. The AEDC vulnerability of our local children with one or more domains, Fairfield is at the highest at 28.2, followed by Bankstown and Liverpool. And with two or more domains of vulnerability, Fairfield is still at the highs of 15.1, followed by Bankstown and then Liverpool.

And we also track and consider any increase in vulnerable domains that we need to focus our priorities on, our initiatives on and in Bankstown, it's language and cognitive skills. In Fairfield, it's social competence, language and cognitive skills and in Liverpool social competence. But a bit later, I'll talk about how we also use the... We drill down other more specific information like how it affects different suburbs and how each suburbs are tracking and the cultural demographics. And some of the members are also focusing on that. Thank you.


Thanks, Dee-Dee. Hi, everyone, I'm Sarina and Dee-Dee and I work together in the facilitation project, which is funded by the New South Wales, Department of Communities and Justice, and we all supported by Fairfield City Council. And we're funded to provide sector support and capacity building to Child and Family workers in government and non-government organisations. And we also convene the Child and Family Interagency in Fairfield, Liverpool, and the former Bankstown local government areas. Now through the facilitation project, we've had a very long history of providing opportunities for Child and Family service providers, to discuss the data and plan a response, as you can see from this slide. So what we'll do is give you a brief history of the main activities we've undertaken, that's been informed by the data, which is pretty much most of the things we do through the Child and Family Inter-agencies. So I'll mainly talk about Bankstown, and Liverpool, and then Dee-Dee will talk about Fairfield.

So in 2011, the facilitation project received funding through the then New South Wales, Department of Education and Training, AEDI Local Champions Project, and we're very surprised and grateful for those funds. So we organised a workshop for Child and Family workers to explain the AEDI as it was then known.

And it's important to understanding children's early development, and to analyse the data for each LGA and to identify a small project to fund in each one. Now, at that time, the communication and general knowledge domain stood out as needing support, and that was previously mentioned by another speaker. So a resource for parents and other professionals was developed around how to support children's communication and general knowledge skills. It's available in 15 languages, as you can see on the screen, and it was distributed electronically at that time, through the Child and Family Inter-agencies, to childcare centres, schools, and it's now on the Resourcing Parents website. And you can see the website address there, and I believe it's still there.

Generally, the strategy is mentioned in this resource and several of the initiatives to follow, emphasise the importance of play in supporting children to learn the skills for starting school. This includes talking, and singing and reading together. Many of our interagency initiatives aim to provide these messages to parents in a consistent way. And we often do that at community events, which can make measuring outcomes, particularly, short-term outcomes quite challenging.

So we'll now talk about some of the initiatives undertaken by our working group. So each of our Child and Family Inter-agencies has a number of working groups. And all of the activities that we'll describe are a collaboration involving workers from local organisations. And those initiatives have benefited from the skills expertise, and sometimes financial support of workers and organisations. I mentioned the AEDC Local Champions funding. And there is another lot of funding that I'll talk about in a moment. But mainly, we don't have any additional funding from these initiatives, other than what we can contribute ourselves.

So this is what's been happening in Bankstown. This is a very exciting initiative for me. In the former Bankstown LGA, the AEDC data informs all of our interagency initiatives. And after the first workshop in 2011, someone raised the idea about wouldn't it be great if we could have playgroup on the radio for all those families who don't go to playgroup, childcare or preschool before their children start school? So after many months of contacting local radio stations and describing this to them and having them look at this a little bit oddly, to the ACR, which is Bankstown Auburn Community Radio, agreed to air our programme. We found a number of copyright issues around reading stories on the radio. So we changed it to an interview format, where a member of the working group interviewed a local worker or workers around a specific topic like the ones you can see on the screen. This was a way to address some of the issues that impact on families that in turn may affect their ability to support their children's development. And again, one of the speakers talked about knowing the context of families and what children's and families experiences are. So the program aired for four years, and they were broadcast in English, Samoan, Arabic, Chinese and Vietnamese. And I'm pleased to report that one of the Arabic programs had 80 people listening online, which is great given that such a relatively small community. You can see from the flyer on the screen, that it was a collaboration and all of those organisations were represented. And we now have lots of skills in broadcasting radio programs, which we didn't have before, and interviewing people as well.

So another Bankstown initiative is Play and Learn resource. So at the time, we received funding from the Department of Family and Community Services, as it was called, and it was to provide support for an initiative in each local government area in south western Sydney and there was seven of them. And the project for Bankstown was this resource. So in keeping with our theme of making sure that parents are aware of the importance of play to children's early development, and much of what they need for starting school can be developed in the context of play for young children. So this resource was developed. There's a series of eight topics. It comes in English, Arabic, and Vietnamese. And it's still used today after all these years, at community events and by local services. Particularly when they're doing a home visit, they can actually talk through the resource with the family.

Another Bankstown initiative is through our Bankstown Transition to School working group which was established about 12 years ago. So the Stay and Play sessions at Bankstown Central, aimed to engage families that may not engage with local preschools, playgroups, and childcare. And we know that there's quite a few of those in that area. So the sessions are staffed by local Child and Family Service providers, such as an occupational therapist, a speech pathologist, family counsellor and early childhood educators, who engage with the children in a play sitting while chatting with parents about the value of the activity to the child's development, any concerns the parent may have about their child, and services that can provide support.

The online sessions in 2020, reached a new audience with referrals received from settlement services, international service, had families who nearly arrived and this was the first experience of a play context. So we were hoping to re-establish those sessions again, but COVID sort of got in the way. So we're just looking into options for that. So what we're trying to do is to reach out to those families who may not engage with local services, and make sure that they're aware of the importance of play and respond to any questions, including, how old does my child need to be before they start school? And how do I enrol? All those questions that parents may have, but they've got no one to ask.

Another activity for Bankstown is the Stepping Stones to School events. And again, COVID got in the way of that. So it's a small community event providing an opportunity for parents to link with staff from local schools, and ask any questions they have about their child starting Kindergarten. And you might notice that a lot of the activities are play based in a park or in a venue where it's lots and lot of fun, very non-threatening, parents can come along. And there are service providers that can have a chat with them and respond to any of their questions while the children play. So it's Stepping Stones to School activities are provided by local service providers can talk with families about the value of the activities, to their child's development, and preparation for school. All local primary schools were invited to participate. And generally five or six take it up. It's during the day. So it's quite difficult during the day and during the week. So it's quite difficult for schools to be involved. But it's great to have some schools represented because they can then respond to parent's questions. And the questions we've had have ranged from, how old does my child need to be before they start school? What will I pack for my child's lunch? How can the school support my child with autism? And can I send my child to school in another suburb? Now, this event is also an opportunity to emphasise to parents the importance in participating in the school's transition process, and also to be able to enrol early in school. And there are some families who may have first child starting school and just aren't aware of those protocols around starting school.

So these are our initiatives for Liverpool informed by the AEDC. So Liverpool has had an AEDC Working Group since about 2011. And at that time, we were also establishing Paint Liverpool REaD, which is our community based early literacy strategy. So we applied for a council grant and wrote a children's book, "GoGo the Gecko's Busy Day in Liverpool." And this was the first of the three children's book that has been written through this group. Now the story book is given out at community events and to play groups. And the reason we've done that is to encourage families to read with their children. We know that in some homes they may not have access to children's storybooks. So here's a book that they can take home and read with their child. And it's about Liverpool, so they can talk about all the places that are familiar to them in the book.

With another council grant, we developed the "Happy, Healthy, Safe Children" poster with messages to parents around the importance of play, literacy and nutrition. And to tie all our activities for children and families together, we developed the rainbow logo that you can see in the corner. So it represents our collective mission and vision to happy, healthy, safe children in Liverpool. Now the logo is used by the Child and Family Interagency in Liverpool. And you can also see it on these resources. And some other local services use it for their activities as well.

So the equivalent of play and learn resourceful Bankstown for Liverpool, it's these playtime sessions, with GoGo the Gecko. Now GoGo the Gecko is the mascot Paint Liverpool REaD, which we'll hear more about later. So we received that funding from the Department of Communities and Justice. And we were able to get a number of organisations together to organise some play sessions in Warwick Farm and then in Sadleir, as they were the suburbs that showed a very high level of vulnerability for children. So we use GoGo the Gecko as a draw card. And we got families together trying to reach those families that don't normally engage with local services. So at Warwick Farm the play sessions were held at Warwick Farm Neighbourhood Centre, and we had 20 families with 23 children participate. We also invited the Child and Family Health nurse to participate in two sessions. And she sat and she chatted with families, while the children played and she chatted with 14 families over that time, and four of them made appointments for further assistance for their children, which was really positive. So this playgroup still continues to this day at the Neighbourhood Centre, and it's become one of the regular programs, which is great.

So several months later, we did the same thing in Sadleir, we had 11 families with 17 children at Sadleir Public School. And we had 17 families and 21 children, about to start primary school. And we worked very closely with those schools to make that happen. Another initiative for Liverpool was making sure that everybody who needs to know about the AEDC, actually knows about it. So I went off and I spoke with our Child and Family Health nurses just to let them know about what the AEDC was, and what it shows are things that they were aware of in terms of what they see in their work. Another group was making sure that children's services so childcare and preschool services, know about the AEDC because their work actually impacts on the data. So we had a workshop for children's services. And you can see a speech pathologist there is talking with a small group of workers about children's language development. So the workshop was called Language and Literacy Development. And it was followed up by a tour of a local preschool. And that's the picture you can see on the slide, which was rated as exceeding the National Quality Standards. So they could see, can possibly pick up ideas for their own centre. We have very close positive feedback from that workshop. We then decided to follow up our work with children's services, which was very well received, and they did want more.

So instead of having them come to us, which is the children's services can be difficult in terms of releasing them from the centre, we decided to go to them. And we did that through the 12 Books Club. So it was developed as a way to build the capacity of early childhood educators to further build children's language and literacy skills. The centres are provided with a children's book and accompanying resource as you can see in the photo there. One book and resource pack for 12 months to 25 children's services in Liverpool in 2019/20. And we have another 12 Books Club happening this year, with 21 centres participating. It's been a little bit disrupted by COVID, but hopefully we'll be able to pick that up soon. So the resource packs have been developed by speech pathologists and early childhood educators. And you can see from the evaluation of the 2019 and 21 project that the feedback from the centres was very, very positive. And our aim of building their skills has been achieved. The next step for this project will be to look at the impact on the children. So Andrea will present this part of our initiatives for Liverpool with a little bit of a discussion about Paint Liverpool REaD. Andrea is leading Paint Liverpool REaD and she's based at Ashcroft Public School. And then we will go to Dee-Dee my colleague again, who will talk about the initiative for Fairfield.


Paint Liverpool Red, was established in 2012 and falls under the umbrella initiative of Paint the Town REaD. It is formed and consists of working group, which includes staff from a range of local Child and Family Services from the Liverpool LGA, GoGo Gecko is our mascot. And we are very proud to visit many venues preschools, schools, playgroups, et cetera, to promote the GoGo's message of talk, sing, read and play with children everyday from birth.

Paint Liverpool REaD was established out of the Liverpool AEDC working group. And it's very much a collaboration of local services in Liverpool. Paint Liverpool REaD... So during 2020, because of COVID-19, like many other services, Paint Liverpool REaD conducted most of our activities online, or virtually. We were very proud to be able to launch our third story book, "The Gecko Family Fun Time Extravaganza." We were also very proud to be able to conduct daily story time and singing during the pandemic, as well as develop some resources for families and educators to use such as the COVID and staying safe with Gecko poster as well as the everyday play resource as well. So during 2020...

Dee Dee

Okay, I think that, sorry, that just got cut off. But it gives you an idea of the Bankstown and Liverpool initiatives. So I'd like to share with you how we're addressing the... How we're using the AEDC information addressing the needs of the local area in Fairfield. And we did this through, I'll share with you the beginnings of Paint Fairfield REad. So basically, at the Fairfield Child and Family Services Interagency, we identified the gaps in children's early literacy skills, and this includes children with additional needs.

In 2012, we formed this group, which focuses on promoting early literacy. And it's aligned with the National Early Literacy program, Paint the Town REaD. And the group decided to focus on, to prioritise two to three partnership initiatives and set the outcomes of increased community awareness on the importance of early literacy, increased opportunities for early literacy, engagement, and target harder to engage families, for example, the CALD, refugee and children with disabilities so that they can have access to early literacy opportunities.

With Paint Fairfield REaD, so the membership, it's a pretty small group, but with very diverse group members, with unique knowledge and skills. Some have more experience with project work, some specialised in community engagement and development. And we definitely have a few who specialise in Abecedarian approach. And I'll explain that a little bit more later. And strengths-based approach.

So we've listed the initiatives that we've done over the last four years. So for example, the Disability Awareness and Inclusion Seminars, so disability inclusion bags that we gave out during those seminars. The Early Childhood Development Workshops, the reading boxes. Pouring out of Kalvin the Kookaburra costume, that's our mascot, and basically going to community events and organising story time with Kalvin and bilingual speaking storytellers, and giving out free books.

So it's very much focused on the needs of Fairfield. This is just some encapturing the AEDC vulnerabilities, again, that this is what we're dealing with, the children vulnerable in one or more domains is 28.2%. Two or more is 15.1. And we focusing on our initiatives on building their skills in social competence, and language and cognitive skills. That language is ever so important and we're reassuring the high CALD community that everyone has a role to play. So a bit like what Sarina mentioned before about the importance of play, the importance of family interactions and bonding.

So this is just showing you the disability inclusion bag that we took a time to prepare. And we actually even strategise on what is the most effective way of distributing it. And we decided it's true a disability inclusion seminar. So because inclusion is so important, it implements current thinking about child development supports of children's rights.

And we're talking about legal standards and also at the seminar, we inform, basically, the early learning professionals and Child and Family workers, that the services that they belong to have universal legal obligations to be inclusive. So it's just fostering that diversity. So it doesn't matter if you can't read that, we're happy to share our resources, but it's just giving you a visual of what we gave out. And so basically, these are the prompt cards. Some of the images that you can see are prompt cards for the book, a specific disability book. So the class, for example, would learn something about autism. And then there'll be a prompt card for discussion that the teacher can lead. There is also the sensory mat that the children can actually make, and sing and grow. This one, you've got an image of the Disability Awareness Inclusion Seminar that we did, we actually had two facilitated workshops.

Some of the participants were able to join the workshop on how to support children with behaviours of concern, and to do with disability. And the other workshop was to do with how to support children with sensory processing issues. So again, these are just examples of some of the books that we gave out and the prompt cards that went with that. So at the time, there were two Paint Fairfield REaD members who specialised in supporting children with additional needs and they really helped build those resources.

And this is the very, very popular initiative that we have, which is making that reading boxes and distributing them. And really, it suits Fairfield, because we're trying to make access to early literacy free, inclusive, and basically widespread. So we actually looked at the different postcodes, looking at the community profile, the AEDC, which suburbs are the most vulnerable. And we selected the medical centres, for example, in those areas to give free reading boxes to and we even did the free monthly check-ins on them on how they're fairing with their reading boxes.

The reading boxes were also distributed to schools, playgroups, early learning centres and community organisations, so that any family in the waiting area can actually read together. And we're looking at basically children in Fairfield will arrive at school ready to learn, to read and write and it's ever so important with that child, parent or carer interaction. The other one that we've given out over 1000 children's activity packs we've given out, and especially during COVID, where it's so important to use whatever we can to help local families and assist with that access to early learning engagement in family homes and bonding time. So that's what you can see and more activity packs.

What I would just like to add, I remember I mentioned that the two specific domains that we were vulnerable in. But when you drill down to the specific suburbs, there could be other domains. For example, some of the working group members might focus on building physical skills and integrating that into their programming. And that's definitely servicing the different needs of the different areas in Fairfield. So this last slide is basically the Paint Fairfield REaD impact map when the working group members decide, we agree on a vision, and what is our vision, our goals and intended outcomes and how do we get there.

So basically, the initiatives that we've chosen, all help to achieve our intended outcomes, goals and vision. And ultimately, its children being ready to learn and engage in school. These are our contact details. Like I said, feel free to contact us, to talk to us, about some of our initiatives and how we've rolled it out and the resources that you're interested in. Happy to share. Thank you.

[end of transcript]

Session 6 Amplify practice – Sharon Buck

Looking at the initial snapshot data that our school has received and discuss ways that we can leverage this data to inform initiatives we put in place in our preschool context that will have an impact on children transitioning in our school. 

Session 6 – Amplify Practice – Wendy Ballard

This group was developed in direct response to the AEDC data. The increase in children developmentally at risk or vulnerable in the areas of Language and Cognitive skills and Communication skills in 2018. The initiative is a SaCC partnership with several organisations developed after consultation with families attending Blue Haven and Northlakes SaCCs around children's speech and language development and the AEDC results. The partnership really highlights the aim and purpose of the AEDC in creative community responses to the data.

AEDC 2021 Research Symposium – Session 6 – Amplify practice – Sharon Buck video (11:37)

Session 6 – Amplify practice – Sharon Buck


I would like to acknowledge that today I'm presenting from Darkinjung land and acknowledge the many lands from which we all meet today. The land is the true knowledge holder and educator of Aboriginal people. I would like to pay my respects to Elders, both past and present, for they pass the knowledge learnt from the land in which they journey. I would also like to acknowledge our children, our jarjums, for they are the future and the reason we meet today. I also extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here today.

My name is Sharon Buck and I'm the deputy principal instructional leader at Toukley Public School. I'm going to be sharing with you how we use the AEDC snapshot data to inform initiatives in our preschool. Here is a little background about our community. Toukley and the surrounding area is a large expanding residential and holiday area at the northern end of the Central Coast. It is surrounded by ocean on the eastern side and two interconnected lakes that are divided by narrow strips of land to the west. Toukley Public School is situated on the New South Wales Central Coast.

Our school expectations are that respect, responsibility and excellence are embedded throughout the school and its community. We have an enrollment of 564 students from preschool to year six. Our four-class special education unit provides placements for 21 MC students who are supported by specialist support staff. Our school has 148 or 26% Aboriginal student enrollment, and they are well supported through our close connections with the Muru Bulbi Aboriginal Education Consultancy Group and a designated Aboriginal education officer. The school receives significant equity loadings for socioeconomic status, our value is 140 Aboriginal background and students with disabilities.

Kooloora Preschool is our designated Aboriginal preschool, with 40 places available for a part-time programme to service Aboriginal families from all areas of the Central Coast. Upon receiving the 2021 AEDC preliminary snapshot, Toukley Public School reviewed the results and we identified three domains that there were higher levels of developmental vulnerability compared to the 2018 community and state results. These were in communication and language, social competence and emotional maturity. A further concern was that there was a higher percentage of children arriving at school, developmentally vulnerable in two or more of the AEDC domains compared with the local community and state averages. We have also carefully looked at the data for the Wyong region, not just our local data, the reason being our preschool is in a unique position as a designated Aboriginal preschool, that we're a resource for a community of schools. Children attending, come to us from a variety of postcodes across the region. In that way, the initiatives we put in place extend out to our broader community. We decided to really focus on the language and communication domains when putting our initiatives in place this year. The first programme we put in place is called SWAY.

SWAY is an oral language and literacy programme, based on Aboriginal knowledge, culture and stories. It has been developed by educators, Aboriginal education officers and speech pathologists at the Royal Far West School in Manly, New South Wales. SWAY stands for Sounds, Words, Aboriginal language and Yarning. SWAY incorporates evidence-based teaching strategies to improve the language and literacy outcomes of preschool and kindergarten children. A key focus of the program is to provide practical training and mentoring to build the capacity of teaching staff. If you would like more information on the SWAY program, please follow the hyperlink provided in this PowerPoint. [Chat link - Sway| Sounds, Words, Aboriginal Language and Yarning - Sway -

Both the preliminary AEDC report and teacher observations have indicated that children are starting preschool and therefore school, with vulnerabilities in language and communication. As part of our collaboration with the SWAY team, we are trialling the use of small-group targeted remote speech therapy sessions. Researchers from National ICT Australia have collaborated with speech pathologists and teaching staff at RFWS to create this virtual interface for remote speech pathology intervention for teacher training and also mentoring. The interface has been designed to be highly motivating, culturally inclusive and child-friendly. It provides state-of-the-art audio and video working across all platforms when we're working with our children. The session is delivered by a speech therapist and the students are supported by a classroom teacher's aide during each session. This has helped to build the knowledge and skill set of the teaching staff involved and will give the program longevity. Through collaboration between educators and the speech therapists, the lessons are linked to learning experiences happening in the classroom to make them meaningful and authentic rather than an add-on.

In line with our standing as a designated Aboriginal preschool, we highly value the introduction and embedding of local Aboriginal language into the everyday program. We believe this will not only make the service a culturally safe space, but a space where families will be more likely to send their children on a regular basis. We have worked with a local Elder who has provided us with the correct pronunciations of many local language words that we're using within our program. We've also undertaken professional learning on the value of Aboriginal English as an additional dialect. Through these measures, we are supporting and valuing the home language the children are coming to our service with. And we'll hopefully see the children's confidence grow and that's improved outcomes in the language and communications domain. This initiative is in its infancy, so we're looking forward to evaluating and comparing at the next census.

[Chat link - Deadly dialects, culturally inclusive practice]

We have also partnered with Hearing Australia in a pilot project. The project aims to better understand what is happening for students who have undiagnosed hearing loss so that we can improve the learning outcomes for these children. It will also explore how we might leverage existing programs and resources in schools across New South Wales. Hearing Australia's 2019 data, showed that about 2,600 of its clients were in primary school and 200 children of primary age have permanent hearing loss, but do not use hearing aids. The research also showed that Aboriginal children are three times more likely to have a hearing loss than non-Aboriginal children. We began a project with Hearing Australia in 2020 with our primary students and this has continued this year to include preschool children as well. By early identification of hearing impairment and early intervention measures, we are aiming to also improve the language and communication domains for these children. If you would like to find out more about the Hearing Australia project, please follow the link at the bottom of this page.

[Chat link – Hearing Australia ]

One other important measure we have put in place is to establish a leadership model with a strong early childhood focus. The establishment of the early childhood leadership group was considered an important first action. And this was achieved by assigning a deputy principal with early years knowledge and experience, creating a distributed leadership structure, which included the preschool teacher as an assistant principal leader within the school. And also strengthening the school's involvement in the broader early childhood sector through involvement in our local Tuggerah Professional Preschool Educator Group and the Early Learning Statewide staff room. From these initiatives, looking ahead, we hope to see increased access to professional and specialist support for children prior to them starting school. We hope to see an increase in the proportion of children with healthy speech and language development. And we also hope to see increased parent awareness about the importance of speech and language skills prior to their child starting school. We are hoping to ensure that we get early identification of children with hearing loss so that this may better support language and speech development. We're also planning to review our Best Start Kindergarten Assessment cohort snapshot in 2022. We're specifically, we're looking at how children are speaking in short phrases or simple sentences, how they're interacting using appropriate language or how they can contribute simple ideas and share personal experiences in informal group discussions. We'll pull out this specific part of the data to see if we have any improvement in 2022 compared to the 2021 snapshot. We're also looking forward to having a more detailed comparative analysis of the full AEDC data set when it's released. We'll look more closely at our school data, our community data, and the state-level data to see where we can drive the next initiatives.

Thank you for your time today.

[End of transcript.]

AEDC 2021 Research Symposium – Session 6 – Amplify Practice – Wendy Ballard video (22:53)

Session 6 – Amplify Practice – Wendy Ballard


Hi everyone, my name is Wendy Ballard. I'm the Schools as Community Centre Facilitator for Blue Haven and North Lakes on the beautiful Central Coast. And I'd just like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which I am today and all other lands that we are meeting on today. I'd just like to use a little sign language acknowledgement that we do with the children here on the Central Coast. Here is the land. Here is the sea. Here are my friends and here is me. We come to meet on the beautiful Darkinjung land with the trees and the lakes and the sand.

I'm going to be speaking to you today about a range of different things. One of which is our "Talkers" Speech Therapy Playgroup. But first I'd just like to let you know what it is that we're going to be covering today. So, we'll be covering the background, so my initial use of the AEDC data, right back in 2009 in the AEDC data. And what influenced our response to that data. The overview of the response. Partner organisations that we utilise and link up with and collaborate with. The Talkers Team, which is the Talkers Playgroup Team, what we offer families. Planning and reflection and behind the scenes. The outcomes short, medium and long-term.

And first of all, I'd just like to let you know that how I started understanding little bits about the AEDC was way back in 2009, when the first data was collected. And I was asked to be an AEDI champion at the time it was called index rather than the census. I was already working two jobs. So unfortunately I had to say no, but I did partner with the champion. And then who was another Schools as Community Centre Facilitator. And we came up with all sorts of practical ways of addressing the children at risk or vulnerable that we found in the data. Some of those responses were, they had to be practical. So there were things like involving the parents and the best way that we could do that was actually show them the results and then ask them ways in which we could address those results in the future for other families coming up. Some of the schools we involved and local community services and organisations as well. And we used a broad brush approach in those days to run all sorts of workshops and things like that, to look at the AEDC domains. We involved parents, early childhood teachers and professionals, some of the kinder teachers from the school as well. And we ran some wonderful workshops at the time.

If we then come forward to 2018, we sort of had this discovery that in the Wyong LGA so that's where we sit. We noticed a slight rise in the percentage of children at risk or vulnerable in the areas of language and communication. So those language and cognitive skills and also communication skills in general knowledge. And what we found was that these were slightly higher there, but even a little bit higher and sort of a trajectory was kind of heading up in those risk areas at both the schools that I work at. And I probably should have explained Schools as Community Centres for those that don't know, we actually work with families with children from birth through to eight years old. So, we well and truly in that early childhood domain. And so we decided that the issue to be addressed was mainly around children's speech and language development. And then that we aim to support families to, through their children's development.

[Slide reads: Overview - 2018 AEDC results Blue Haven and Northlakes Public Schools

  • ​An increase in developmentally at risk or vulnerable in either one or more or or two or more domains. ​

  • Language and Cognitive Skills domain​

  • Communication Skills and General Knowledge domain​

  • Parent consultation indicated limited parental knowledge and expectation for children’s age appropriate speech and language skills, early intervention, the role of speech pathology.​

  • To address these results the Talkers Speech Therapy Playgroup was formed to provide speech pathology to families with children 0 – 6 in a fun, play based environment. ​]

So, the overview of the AEDC results for Blue Haven and North Lakes, we saw that there was that increase. And we then thought, well, what do we do about this? So, we knew that the schools were certainly doing as much as they could for those children that had arrived at school and were partnering with different speech pathology organisations to support those children. But we thought let's do something before they even get there. So, first we consulted with the parents and we had a really great consultation, both some formal meetings and some very informal in our playgroups, in our parenting groups, where we just chatted to them about their children's speech and language needs and issues. And we found that their knowledge and expectations of children's age, appropriate speech and language skills, they really struggled to know where the child should be. Somebody even expressed that they'd been to their GP with concerns. And the GP had said when did dad speak, when did mum's speak, let's wait awhile, those sorts of things. They also had a really skewed perception, a lot of them of what early intervention and the role of speech pathology was for children. So, we thought to address that, we want to bring people in and let them meet a speech pathologists, let them in a very informal, relaxed way. And so we started the Talkers Speech Therapy Playgroup. And, so that was aimed towards nought to six year olds. And it was a really fun play-based environment for those parents that thought that their child may have some speech issues. We had a drop-in, they could just pop into the Speech Therapy Playgroup, or they could join and come along every week and anything in between that. So, when we formed it, we thought, yes, we need it fun, we need it play-based, we need it where we can help families with their concerns about their child's speech and language development. Also feeding difficulties, which can lead to later speech issues. Children's receptive and expressive language and behavioural and self-regulation concerns, which can come out of those speech and language difficulties down the track.

[Slide reads: Partner organisations – Partner organisations contribute to the following:

Schools as Community Centres, All Areas Speech Pathology, GoodStart Early Learning Centre, Australian Government Budget Based Funding and Blue Haven and Northlakes Public Schools​

  • Funding sources - GoodStart Early Learning Early Childhood Outreach (EChO) 2018 - 2020, Australian Government Budget Based Funding (BBF) and Schools as Community Centre funding.​

  • ‘In Kind’ support - GoodStart Early Learning offering staff from both Blue Haven and Woongarra, and All Areas Speech Pathology offering Speech Pathology students to help staff the Talkers Playgroup.​

  • Referrals - Central Coast Area Health, Local Paediatricians, Local GPs, Private Speech Pathology clinics, Yarran Early Intervention, Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Lifestart, Brighter Futures , Benevolent Society, Local primary schools, Local preschools, Samaritans Child and Family Services, Autism Central Coast , Parents Next, Local SaCC’s]

So, what we did then was we thought, okay, well, how do we go about this? And we came up with the idea of having a little look around to see who it was that we could partner with in the local area. What sort of support we could get sort of demonstrating that the trajectory of the AEDC was kind of going in that wrong direction and we really wanted to bring it back before anything really dire happened for children in this area. So, we looked at things, like I say the partners and we looked at Schools as Community Centres, both the two that I ran at North Lakes and Blue Haven, along with some other Schools as Community Centres that are located on the Central Coast. There's another four and I worked very closely with those four facilitators. All Areas Speech Pathology, was our local speech pathology service. GoodStart Early Learning are literally across the road, so we have a really good relationship with them. We then also looked for funding, the Australian Government Budget Based Funding Office and Funding for Childcare. And so that was a partnership with all of the Central Coast Schools as Community Centres. And of course, Blue Haven and North Lakes Public School. And I worked very closely, particularly with the Kinder of teaching staff and of course my principals around these issues. So the funding sources as I said, were GoodStart were able to offer some funding from 2018 to 2020 with the Early Learning Outreach Service, the Early Childhood Outreach Funding. And unfortunately with COVID coming along, that funding has ceased at the moment, but we're crossing our fingers for that to continue in the future. The Australian Government Based Funding, which offers as I said, childcare. And that's often for the parents with siblings, as well as the child that they have concerns about. And they can then have those children cared for while they're talking to the speech pathologist. And then of course, we've got "In Kind" support, which supplies really great and many very cost-saving, which means GoodStart Early Learning actually offer us staff when they can be released from their own centres to come across and help us with the, with the program, as well as linking up with families, of course, and All Areas Speech Pathology that offer speech pathology students through Newcastle University to come down as well and offer support to the families referrals. We received many from a whole range of different areas. So Central Coast area Health, local paediatricians, the GP's, private speech pathology clinics, Yarran Early Intervention, Cerebral Palsy Alliance LifeStart, Brighter Futures, Benevolent Society. The list goes on and of course, parents themselves can refer themselves in very, very easily as well. They just give us a call and let us know, or they might attend one of the groups and let us know they have concerns.

[Slide reads: Talkers Team – What we offer families

All Areas Speech Pathologist ​

  • speech therapy support -free ‘speech screener’ and speech report.​

The Schools as Community Centre Facilitator ​

  • support on a range of issues.​

Early Childhood Teacher ​

  • sign language to support children’s speech development.​

Guest speakers visit the group regularly ​

  • specialist support - diagnosis - NDIS funding - parenting group training​

  • children’s behaviour, self-regulation and social competence.​

Newcastle University final year Speech Pathology students ​

  • extra support to families. ]

Then we look at the actual team and what they offer to families on the ground. So the All Areas Speech Pathology Team, they offer support to families every week, of course, and the beautiful program that we run, but also a free 20 minute speech screener. So that means that the families can actually get that support, then have something in their hand, a little mini report that they can take along to whoever they need to, whether that's another early childhood setting, to their GP, to a whole range of different services, to just start the ball rolling on that support, if needed. We also have an early childhood teacher that comes along from all areas and she uses sign language to support children's speech. If they're got a verbal delay and that's been absolutely brilliant. Often the whole group will use that sign language, or they'll start to learn some sign language, which is absolutely fabulous. And if anybody's seen babies using sign language, the sign for finished is always a really good one when they've finished their food, it's terrific. It stops it at going on the floor. And we also have, of course, those university students on their final year placement and they come along and help us as well. And of course, there's me and I offer, you know, support around transition to school, difficulty accessing the NDIS for families, specialists, medical supports guidance in children's developmental milestones, and also referral to appropriate community services. Often the families got other things going on as well. And some of those are homelessness, domestic violence, financial hardship support for families that are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, particularly learning English and for Aboriginal families to support them and refer them to specific support services.

And then guest speakers. We have some wonderful guest speakers from a whole range of different services. Like I said before, some of those I mentioned at some of those referring partners and they can come along, we'll often have those to support families in those early days of trying to apply for an NDIS funding along with a whole range of other support services. And then Newcastle university students, as I mentioned before.

Then of course we need to plan and reflect. So, you know, both in informal and formal discussions with parents are fantastic. And we talk about things like their strengths, which is always really great what their needs are. And also what's working and what's not, and we're really open to families letting us know if they feel that somethings need a little shift or a change. The frontline staff meet weekly, and we have at least a 20 minute, half an hour discussion about families where they're at, what we've seen for those children that week, and then plan and make adjustments for our future groups. Monthly meetings are held with GoodStart Early Learning and All Areas Speech Pathology, to support that future planning and, you know, just where are we up to? You know, what else is there on offer? You know, is there any more in kind support that we could gain? Those sorts of things. The groups were advertised very widely. Social media of course, is great, websites. All the partner organisations advertise and little local publications, like Wagtails is one that we've got on the Central Coast here. And that's great for letting families know that we're here. During the COVID lockdown too, we had the Schools as Community Centres combined to create an online platform to offer Talker's Playgroup 'live' and the online sessions, there were three per week. Now, of course, we're back in lockdown again at the moment in this area. And so we've literally, the word is pivoted. That's the big word at the moment we've pivoted back to online again, and from next Tuesday, we'll be back up and running with those Talker's tips is one and Play Pals is another that we run on online. And so, you know, as I said before, we were, you know, we were pivoting very quickly and we were up within three days of the lockdown last time. And we'll be doing that again. And last time over a hundred families joined us on the online group. It's a closed group, so it's private, but it's very easy to join and enter.

[Slide reads: Outcomes - short term and medium term

Short term​

  • Increased parent awareness of developmental milestones and supports​

  • Better coordination of services and reciprocal referral


  • Increased access to services​

  • Talkers Playgroup very well attended both face-to-face and online ​

  • Particularly high numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse families​

  • Parents are more engaged in play​

  • Increased understanding of the importance of reading​

  • Higher quality early childhood education and care​

  • Staff gaining practical skills]

So then we've got our short term and medium term and long term outcomes that we're either looking for or have already achieved. And some of those in the beginning, we've seen parents gaining a better understanding of children's speech and language and developmental milestones. And this is all done in a really relaxed and fun environment, so there's no real pressure. There's no, you know, sort of urgency. We're always very calm, even when we have four-year-olds arriving with very limited language, we're still very calm because we know that those parents are going through really a grieving process of "my child was supposed to just go through as a, you know, typical on that typical sort of range of development" and all of a sudden there's these to try and deal with. So we're very gentle and, you know, we really respect that for parents in the beginning, but we do find that awareness around what can help and support their child on the ground. So, you know, each day, those things that they can do at home, you know, are very much improved.

Then better coordination of services we've found has been a really big one. So we now can support families straightaway, you know, whenever they're coming to assign us these concerns and issues, we can link them up with the school straight away to let them know that this little one is heading for school. We cross our fingers that that's when they're, you know, about two or three, but sometimes they're well and truly nearly at school, but at least we can let the school know that this little one's on their way next year or the year after and get some things put in place for that little one. The other things are increased access to services. So of course, lots of services, you know, are then able to be alerted as well and be able to support families in whatever way they need. The attendance has been absolutely fantastic.

We've found both face-to-face and online, you know, we had over 250 families attend between 2018, 2020 - 21. And that included many, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and culturally and linguistically diverse families. Parents are more engaged in their children's play and they report knowing more about what to do at home to support their children's speech, which of course, speech pathology is only an hour, a little, you know, that little one hour session, you know, if they want to do one-on-one or for our playgroup for two hours. And so the rest of the week is the family, you know, they're the ones actually doing all of this early intervention for their child. So really important that they know what to do. Parents reported also that they were more aware of the importance of reading to their child and some share favourite books with us from home when they come into the centre, which is really great, and a really lovely connection with home.

The interaction of all the staff from the partner organisations has led to higher quality of early childhood education, purely by the fact that all of those staff are coming into the centre and seeing a speech pathologist in action. So seeing exactly what they do with children, and then being able to take that back to their early childhood settings, which has been a fantastic outcome and, you know, perhaps slightly unexpected. The other thing that's happened is a lot of our staff have actually attended articulation courses through All Areas Speech Pathology online, as well as the sign language courses, those initial basic sign language courses, which has been absolutely wonderful.

[Slide reads: Outcomes – long term

  • AEDC 2020 preliminary results for both schools indicate a rise in children ‘on track’ in their language and communication​

  • Increase parent awareness about the importance of speech and language skills prior to a child starting school. ​

  • Increase access to professional and/or specialist support prior to their child starting school. ​

  • Increase in the proportion of children with healthy speech and language development. ​

  • Increase in the proportion of children succeeding at school.​

  • Further aims - Talkers Speech Therapy Playgroups in other locations.​

  • Online ‘live’ closed group for families unable to attend the face-to-face groups.  ​

  • Aims secure ongoing funding is also being sought to ensure the continuation of the ‘Talkers Playgroup’​]

Finally our long-term goals. So, you know, as I've said that indication in 2018 about children's vulnerability and risk has now been turned around at both schools. So our 2020 preliminary results have indicated that children, there's been a rise in children on track within both those areas of language and communication, which is just fantastic. And we're really excited about that. There's been an increased awareness for parents, as I said before about, you know, where children need to be at before they're starting school. And I guess the aim of the Talkers Playgroup is to increase that awareness and also help to help parents to have a willingness to access professional and specialist support prior to starting school. Often they think things all happen at school. So it's really important to let them know you can do a whole lot before school starts. An increasing the proportion of children succeeding at school, which is a fantastic outcome as well.

And further aims of the Talkers Playgroup is to have similar models running in a number of locations. And this is already begun at Wyong, Gorokan, Wyoming, Woy Woy, through the Schools as Community Centres that I mentioned before, and we've got, you know, they're slightly different models, depending on what partnerships they've been able to gain, you know, what's there on the ground for them as far as resources go, but something similar is running in those areas, which is fantastic. And then there's also plans to offer an online live closed group, you know, when face-to-face is down like it currently is, and that could be ongoing, you know, that can really be just a fantastic thing that can go on indefinitely really, and have even those mini speech screeners conducted online if need be, which is just fantastic when we've got this very difficult time at the moment.

So yes, that's the end of my presentation. I welcome any connection and communication from anybody. If you're wondering about either the Talkers Playgroup or any other background information about my experience with the AEDC results. And hopefully I'll catch up with some of you soon. Thank you so much.

[End of transcript.]

Session 6 – Amplify Practice – Kim Moroney

How AEDC data has been used in previous years in schools of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle with a particular focus on Early Learning philosophy, pedagogy and practice. Using the preliminary report from one school as an example, Kim unpacks how the AEDC data will support and enhance “Transition to School” plans and practices. 

Session 7 – Next steps – Jacqui Ward

Opportunities for practice development and cross-agency collaboration

An overview of the symposium highlighting  some of the key lessons drawn from presenters and future proposed actions for AEDC in NSW.

AEDC 2021 Research Symposium – Session 6 – Amplify Practice – Kim Moroney video (22:48)

Session 6 – Amplify Practice – Kim Moroney


Hello, my name is Kim Moroney, and it's a pleasure to spend some time with you today at the AEDC 2021 Research Symposium. I'm Education Officer – Early Learning at the Catholic Schools Office in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Right now I'm on a Awabakal land and I pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging. And I'd like to acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional custodians of the land, waterways, and skies all across our nation. And I thank them for caring for the land long before our time on this sacred ground.

So as Education Officer-Early Learning at the Catholic Schools Office in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, we are responsible for the leadership and operation and management of our systemic schools across the diocese. And today I want to give you a little bit of a snapshot of how we've been using AEDC data as a system. So it's not yet from a particular school's lens, but I just want to walk with you and talk about as a system, how the use of AEDC data has evolved over time.

So as you know, we had collections in 2009, 2012 and 2015, but it wasn't until around 2016, 2017, that as a system, we had a more systematic approach to early learning, including the creation of an Education Officer- Early Learning position, and the development of an Early Learning Policy. So this timing aligned with the release of the AEDC data from the 2015 collection. So it was in 2016, '17 we truly started to interrogate the AEDC data and think about priorities and plans for future goals. It gave us a consistent base for analysis and comparison over extended period of time. So you can see on the slide, there are a few things that we started to do in generic ways. We started to have professional learning meetings with principals and leadership about AEDC. We had more of a focus on the five domains of the AEDC. With certain schools we started to unpack the data and look at it and analyse it and talk to staff at staff meetings about that. At the same time, we started to have a greater use of transition to school statements, and our focus always being on relationships with the children. And we wanted to fill up further relationships with our private to school services.

So again, I'm setting the context, we're stepping back in time to show you as a system where we've come from and where we hope to go to. So we're moving to 2018 now, another AEDC collection year. In March of that year, we launched our Early Learning Policy, which has four key elements. One of which is data. So that aligns with our AEDC data. The other elements include play, transition, and environments. And because we wanted to focus a key element on transition, a very important point happened that year. And at that time we invited Professor Bob Perry to come to our diocese. And we had professional learning days with him where all school, either leadership and the Kindergarten teacher, were invited to hear him speak and develop his research with us. So that was a really big milestone for us as we started to re-image transition away from that readiness model to in a model that sees the capabilities of all children. We're welcoming children into our schools in their social and cultural context. Now AEDC data worked with other data to help us enable schools to reflect on and respond to the experiences and the capabilities and the interests and the needs of the children. The AEDC data helped us, it supported us with conversations with our transition partners to meet the needs of the community. And the AEDC data helped us to plan responsive, effective pedagogies for learning and well-being for our children.

And you can see there by the slide I've talked about different schools, looking at different ways to use the data in practical terms. So we started having in some schools playgroups, in other schools popup play sessions, where children and families would come into schools, always connecting to the child at the centre and connecting to family. And it was around that time, Dr. Kathy Harrison and myself wrote an action research project called Successful Foundations where we have used the project to develop, to support children and their families in their transition to school. We want it to be, it's had a powerful and a positive impact on the image of the child re-imagining environments, understanding play, and building teacher capacity of formative assessment through listening and observation. And always side-by-side, as things have evolved in our system, the AEDC data has supported us, and we've used it to think about our goals and our image of the child and how to connect best with family and community.

So we're moving out of 2018 now, and here we are to look at 2019. And thank you for indulging me, while we talk about the past to go to the present. So again, stepping back in time and looking at our context. So we launched Successful Foundations in 2019 with 11 pilot schools. And the success of the project was so powerful that we decided to have Successful Foundations as system direction. We continually unpacked and analysed the 2018 AEDC data and really starting to look not only at school profiles, but community profiles, which we found really important. We became more strategic with our use of the AEDC website and looking at the wonderful variety of case studies that are there. And I think that giving that more time and seeing the importance of that. Around that time, too, Catholic Schools New South Wales organised the then AEDC New South Wales Coordinator, Tim Keenan, to come and speak to us. And from that general conversation within our, for representatives of Catholic schools across the state, I organised then Tim to come to our diocese. And I invited principals and Kindergarten teachers from across our diocese to hear Tim, so we could become more strategic again with the use of the AEDC data.

Around that time in 2019, another milestone was we had Nathan Wallace, Neuroscience Educator, come and speak to us. And that was a very important moment in time too because we were trying to align all these points that were important to us through our policy, align all the data we have align AEDC school profiles, and community data. So we were having conversations around our environments, around play, around transition, around pedagogy. We were also looking at how important the outdoor environment is, and that links to so many of the five domains across the AEDC collection, and especially when we're thinking about the physical domain. How are our children developing? How are we making sure that we're giving them opportunity for movement? All of that linked to neuroscience. So we were bringing all this information together and always aligning it with the data that we had.

Okay, then 2020 happened. And I talk about this being a different world, where we had to live with many restrictions across our state, across our nation. We knew we could see what was happening across the world, and more than ever, we thought about how we can connect, how we can connect as school communities, to our children, to families, and to the wider community. And around this time, we had the focus with being, seeing the possibilities instead of the restrictions. We had to consider how we really truly listen to families and their needs, listen to children. So we, at that time in 2020 last year, had to re-image our transition to school processes and practices. And I spent a lot of time talking to Kindergarten teachers, talking to principals about not only what our data has been telling us over time through AEDC, but how we can think about that in line with seeing the possibilities of restriction. So we've talked about that bigger concept of things changing in 2020. And now I want to talk to you about how the story of one school in our system, how that aligned to changing the possibility, seeing the possibilities. So I'm going to here show you a slide that shows a quote by one of our principals, Jenny Howard, and she is Principal of St. Columba's, Adamstown.

[Slide reads: The story of St Columba’s, Adamstown - Seeing possibilities instead of restrictions

  • Voice of the children when gathering information from the families

  • Ongoing communication

  • Videos for parents and children, including from the current Kinder class

  • Video messages from buddies, social stories, booklets made to answer the questions of the children and practical information about starting school

  • Packages put together for the children

  • Children completed drawings/paintings, returned to school for display so children saw their artwork when they came to school…CONNECTION

  • Delivering the welcome packages to our new Kindergarten families

  • Beautiful connection with children and families

Jenny Howard, Principal ]

So we worked really closely with schools about re-imaging their transition to school processes. And we thought of different ways of doing that, how we could reach out to families, how we could support them. And so we made the voice of the child crucially important, gathering information from families. We knew through our data, through our AECD, through our AEDC data, excuse me, that those connections are extremely important, the building of relationships, ongoing communication, where schools created videos to connect to parents, videos to connect to the child. We had video messages from buddies. We had social stories because we know from our data that these things matter. If we're going to make change and help develop the learning and well-being of our youngest citizens, this connection, the sense of well-being, the sense of safety and security matters. We had children draw pictures and create paintings. And we sent home all of variety across our diocese of different packs and different letters and different notes to send home to families and to get those back in. And that's what's St. Columba's, Adamstown did. They also developed packages and they delivered them to families across the area in community to build that connection. And as the Principal says in this quote that I have there, the beautiful connection developed between the school and the families, and especially with the children

[Slide reads: The story of St Columba’s, Adamstown - Seeing possibilities instead of restrictions

Meeting the children individually was just fantastic…words can hardly describe how rewarding an experience this was. I felt an instant connection to each and every one of them.

I could see that it helped each child to feel very special. It made me think about how they usually arrive for transition days as one of a large cohort (31 in our case) and how difficult it is, for me as the teacher, to spend quality one on one time with each child during those few days.

Several of the parents have suggested that this experience is better than the usual transition meetings. The current Kindergarten children have really enjoyed being part of the videos to welcome the children to our school.

Louise Walsh: Teacher ]

I'd also like to share with you a quote from the class teacher, the Kindergarten Teacher at St. Columba's, Adamstown, Louise Walsh. And she talked about how the experience of delivering the packages and connection to families was one that was so rewarding and one of the best experiences in her career, that connection to thinking about how we change transition and how we make it so that it's more supporting the children to create a new identity coming to school, to feel safe, and that sense of belonging with their identity, and to accept them through their many cultural and social experiences that they bring to us so deeply knowing the child.

Moving onto the next slide. Now we've had the latest collection of AEDC. We're really thinking about where to next. So at this point in time, I've had one conversation with the Principal and the Kindergarten Teacher at St. Columba's, Adamstown to unpack their AEDC 2021 snapshots, which we know all schools have. And the snapshot at St. Columba's showed a decline of children on track in the domains of emotional maturity and of language and cognitive skills. And this corresponds with an increase in the children developmentally at risk in those two domains. So that conversation has been one of wondering and knowing we need to have further discussions. Our wonderings include how has COVID impacted children and their experiences of coming to school, their development across the five domains. We know that we've developed processes now that I feel proud to say our transition processes, our transition to school processes are excellent. But what are the learnings of the current collection of AEDC telling us about this cohort of children, the needs of community, what happened last year? These are the questions we're asking.

We're thinking about further, with the data, how to maybe have a Community Service Audit of each school. What are the services in the local community that can support the school to support children and families? How is each school connected to community? Because we feel everything that we're doing within the school in relationship to transition to make sure play is a pedagogy, and self-determined play is present, how our environments have been re-imaged. We've spent so much time and effort looking at that. Where do we go to from here with the information that the snapshot is giving us? What can we further do with parent education and parent connection? Should we start to have something like a listening summit where we invite other groups of the community to come to the school to have a conversation whereby we listen? We spend a lot of time, I guess, in our systems talking, valuing the importance of listening, listening to families, but listening to other people in the community.

And how do we further support our most vulnerable children and their families? These are questions now, bigger questions for us as a system. And I'm sure you're all experiencing that in your own communities, that made to where we're at this certain point and we've evolved and we're really proud of how we've evolved. But where to now? What is the recent data collection showing us? And I think unpacking that snapshot is crucially important for schools until we get more of the information with the school profile coming to us in November.

I'd like to move on to the next slide now. And just, I like to emphasise again how important the AEDC website has been for us as a system. And I continually go back and look at some of the visuals or some of the diagrams that help us with our place and where we are at the moment and how we can continually connect to community. The visual on the left is from the website. And we can see that the child is at centre, always. And although we're having it all wherever we are across this state, we all have a continuous evolution of how to use AEDC, but where do we go to from here? How can we be smart and pragmatic and realistic within a school context and knowing the very big demands of what happens in a school? We need to reflect on the local context in our schools to ensure that our planning continues to be a responsive and inclusive of all children and their experiences. How do we keep developing that interconnectiveness? And we're going to continually assess our community context with that important concept of safety, belonging, and identity. So there's so much more to consider.

And again, the visual on the right comes from ARACY. And I find this to be a very powerful symbol where we can see child, family, and community. We can see relationships, physical health, safety, learning environment, and well-being all connected there. We connect to all of those things. And as a school, often there is that importance of the academic view and the academic growth that we know that works hand-in-hand with relationship and well-being, those working together. So I think going to the AEDC website as a system has really supported us.

And as we move on to next slide, I think I want the message I want to give to you all and that you're already doing now is we're taking a leap. We're taking a leap of faith. We're getting the data and we're doing step by step. Sometimes it can feel really overwhelming, but we're trying to, whatever context we're in, support the people that we're working with, support our teachers, support our families, support our children, support our community partners to take a leap with the data and help us move forward. So I'd like to thank you for your time today. I hope this lens of talking about how one diocese in Catholic education across our state has looked at AEDC data. It has been an evolution. We did have to step back in time to know where we are now, put everything in context.

And just before I leave you today, I hope you don't mind, I have a quote that I'd like to share with you. So before I conclude, I wish to acknowledge the Kindergarten teachers across our state who completed the recent AEDC data collection. And I want to thank them for all they do to deeply know their students. And I'd like to thank them for everything they do to support the students' learning and well-being. So finally, I wish to share this quote to you, which I have in my office that I think and reflect about often. It's from Dahlberg, Moss, and Pence, and it says this: Our image of the child sees the child as a citizen, a member of society. He or she does not only exist in the family home, but also in the wider world outside. He or she is not an innocent, apart from the world, to be sheltered in some nostalgic representation of the past reproduced by adults. Rather, the child is in the world, as it is today, embodies the world, is acted upon by that world, and also acts on it and makes meaning of it. So as a collective, let's continue to use the AEDC data to advocate for children and their families creating better, healthier, happier outcomes for all. So I'd like to thank you for including me in the symposium, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the day. Thank you everyone.

[End of Transcript.]

AEDC 2021 Research Symposium – Session 7 – Next steps – Jacqui Ward video (19:23)

Session 7 - Next steps - Jacqui Ward


So Jacqui is an Early Learning Coordinator, here at the New South Wales Department of Education. She is passionate about early childhood... She's a passionate early childhood advocate with a special interest in educational leadership and continuity of learning. Her professional experience includes owning and operating a long daycare, delivering professional learning, mentoring and support for SELA and working as a Manager within Educational Leadership and Sector Support at ACECQA. Jacqui will be talking us through a session where she explores some of the practical steps and opportunities that practitioners can engage with to develop evidence-based informed practise in their context. So I'll pass it now on to Jacqui as she begins her presentation. Thank you.


What a great day it's been! I am so overwhelmed by everything that I have seen today. And in case you are wondering, I'm not going to speak for too much longer, because I'm sure you've all been overwhelmed with sitting in front of your screen. It's a little bit more challenging to engage with professional learning online, I think, so, well done for everybody who has stayed throughout the day. Congratulations, and I hope that you found it a worthwhile day. As I said, I've just been blown away by all the stories we've heard today about the difference that we can make, I guess, the collective impact that we can have, especially for the most vulnerable children in our communities. So, thank you to all the participants for joining us. Thank you to all the presenters for also doing some amazing presentations. Thank you Mary and the team and the tech support for helping us today, it's just been pretty seamless, which I think is a great thing. So, I'm going to just launch into some information.

First of all, I'd like to acknowledge country. I am meeting with you today on from Gadigal lands on the Eora Nation. And I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet today and pay respect to elders both past and present, and any Aboriginal people with us here today. It was lovely to see Raylene here, sorry, Raylene's acknowledgement of country this morning. And I was thinking when I said, I said see, because I was very taken by her beautiful image, I don't know if anyone saw it, but it had the flag within the eyes, so, I thought that was great.

[Slide reads: Value of the AEDC data

  • Raises awareness of the needs of children in the community​

  • Increases understanding of the contexts of children​

  • Plans for transition to school​

  • Supports continuity of learning​

  • Informs curriculum planning that builds on children's capacities​

There are resources on AEDC National Webpage that provide examples of what schools are doing with the data, including how the data is used to inform local partnerships and curriculum planning.​ link ]

All right, so onto what I'm here to talk about with you is opportunities, I guess, for practise development and cross agency collaboration. This year is the first year that we've actually had school-specific data and released at a time where it might be useful for the current cohort. So I think that is a very exciting time. And I think also promotes schools in particular. I'm not speaking, I'm not discluding our early childhood audience or allied health professionals, but schools obviously are the only people that can access their school-specific data. So that's why I'm speaking specifically to the school group at the moment, but I just did want to rehash, again, because I'm a big enthusiast of the value of AEDC data. So just, I guess consolidating how our presentations today have really showcased this. The value of the data is that it raises awareness of the needs of children in the community. And I think it also provides a central location for those needs so that all of our audiences, our early childhood services, our allied health professionals and our schools can access the same information about what are the needs of children in our community. It increases our understanding of the context of children where they sit, and what things might be impacting them more particularly. An area where children live in a lot of high-rises, the physical domain might be an area that is showing some vulnerabilities. Obviously we've got one of our department goals is helping all children to experience a strong start to school. So I think this data helps to identify ways that we can work together to support transition to school, support continuity of learning and inform curriculum planning that builds on children's capabilities or capacities. There's lots of resources if you'd like to go to the AEDC National Webpage, we've had lots and lots of links shared throughout the presentation today, so you probably on overload, but if that's something that you'd like to investigate, I recommend checking out those resources, if you need any more convincing on the value of the data and why we'd want to engage.

[Slide reads: 2021 early school preliminary report

  • NSW trailed the early school preliminary report in 2021​

  • Schools have an opportunity to have an immediate overview of how their children are tracking.​

  • The preliminary report presents raw AEDC data that has not been subjected to data cleaning processes.​

  • Schools’ finalised data, presented in the School Profile may differ slightly from the results presented in the preliminary report​

  • Final reports (School Profile) will be sent to schools in November 2021]

So 2021, is the first year that we've trialled the early school preliminary report. And as I said, I think it's a really exciting opportunity to have another data source for your Kindy cohorts. So, being able to triangulate the information that you've already got for your Kindys, the transition to school statements that you hopefully will have received from the early childhood services in your area, the Best Start Kindergarten assessment that you would have done at the start of the year, and then the AEDC data collection that was done towards the end of Term 2. So, there's lots of rich data there to help inform teaching and learning in the Kindergarten space. So, you can have an immediate overview of how children are tracking in your area. It presents raw data, so it hasn't been subject to that cleaning process, so it's not what will eventually get published next year.

There's a bit of planning process that needs to go up. But I do think that there's value in having that raw data when it's applicable for that cohort. School's finalised data will be presented in the school profile and may obviously differ slightly once it's been cleaned. I like the idea of cleaning data in my mind. I imagine, all of the numbers and things getting washed on a washboard, maybe that's just me and my quirky thinking. And then final reports will be sent in November, 2021. And then I think correct me if I'm wrong, Mary, that the main data is due that everybody can access at a community level is due to be then published in March, 2022. I could be wrong. I'll wait for Mary to jump in there and correct.


No, that's correct, you're right, you're right.


I have a lot of dates and numbers running around in my head all the time. So I was like, hope I didn't get that mixed up.

[Slide reads: Pilot of ealy school preliminary report

  • Schools received a preliminary report as part of the 2021 Data collection ​

  • AEDC school level report is beneficial for triangulating​

  • AEDC data with Transition to School Statement​

  • Best Start Kindergarten Assessment]

So, we are looking at to, I would point out in developing some professional learning, or even just a little how to guide for schools as to how to access this report. So, if you want to drop in the chat, any of your comments about what you think might be helpful, that would be really good. We thought maybe a little walkthrough of how to access the report will be a good thing. But, as we said that you'll receive the preliminary report and I've talked about the idea of triangulating that information. And I guess, you know, we talked about at a school level, all of these sort of newly released check-in assessments. This is a really good one that goes a little bit more broadly than literacy innumeracy and I'd like to always promote the thinking holistically about children's learning and progress. And considering developmental domains is really important.

And I did happen to overhear one of our speakers, can't remember which one talk about Nathan Wallace, and I was thinking to myself, well, I remember we had Nathan Wallace speak at one of our leadership conferences a couple of years ago. And he was so well-received and schools ended up engaging him to do some presentations in their local schools and local network areas as well. And I think once you've listened to someone talk about the value of that, you know, supporting early development and the impact that it has on life trajectory is something that you can't sort of walk away from. So very much aligned with the AEDC information and why it's important for schools to have a look at it.

[Slide reads: Ideas on how schools or communities can respond to their AEDC data

Based on early preliminary school reports, schools can look at the trends on domains with consistency or significant increase in vulnerabilities and consider:​

  • classroom learning and wellbeing intervention for current kindergarten students and students that will enrol next year (considering the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions). For example, employing a staff to support kindergarten students for a fixed time for support with:
    • ​physical health and wellbeing (toileting, hygiene)
    • ​communication skills.​
  • providing release time to cover kindergarten teachers to review transition to school statements and consult with ECE service providers to learn about students transitioning into school next year and develop an action plan together​

  • providing resources for families in the school’s community.]

So, just as I mentioned before, some of the things that, you know, it might be good to have a look at is looking at trends in domains and with the consistency or a significant increase. So looking at your past data, we've got quite a bank of AEDC reports. And looking at that over time might help you to identify if there's been a dip in or an increase I guess in children vulnerable in a particular domain and what you might do about it. And if you've been working in a particular area in your community and in your school, that you might see that as evidence of what you're doing, having an impact, which is always also nice to report on, but being that the current preliminary report, it actually gives you information about those children in that Kindergarten classroom time. So very much relevant for current classroom learning and wellbeing for Kindergarten teachers to use that, to see what they might do. And also very importantly, it's very likely that if you've got some vulnerabilities in your current Kindergarten cohort, that that might be something you might expect for children that will enrol next year.

So, it's an opportunity to do some targeted approaches and differentiated approaches for your 2022 Kindergarten cohort as well. Again, you might do, you know, some projects that relate to physical health and wellbeing to living and hygiene, communication skills we heard. Again, I'm sorry, I don't remember all the schools where everyone was from. We had one of our presenters talking about someone coming in and doing some signing and supporting children's communication skills. So that might be something that you might consider. I know that I've heard of schools also thinking about ways to support children's oral language, because that was identified as a vulnerability in their community. So there's lots of different things that you might say, what can we do to have an impact on making sure our next group of children, our current group of children and our next year's group also achieve some positive interventions, I guess that help them to start school strong and successfully.

Could involve providing some release time to cover Kindergarten teachers to review transition to school statements and consult with early childhood service providers or preferably actually the teachers and educators that have filled them in to learn more about it. I think I always see transition to school statements as a great gateway or an invitation to say, this is some information that we have about these children that we'd like to share with you, but for some children in particular might say, well, it might be worthwhile reaching out and having some more detailed discussions, I guess. So it's the start of a conversation about sharing information about children and helping them to have a strong start to school and getting to make sure that you know, value, and care for every one of your Kindergartners in the next year and their families. Transition to school for families is equally as important because when we engage families early and we engage community, children are more likely to experience successful outcomes as well.

I'm not monitoring the chats, so Mary, if there's any questions in there that you think anyone would like me to answer, please let me know. I'm just going to continue on with my slides and then I'll check in at the end. There might be other things that you might want to consider doing, engaging with professional learning, early learning on the Early Learning website. And if you don't know where that is, teaching and learning curriculum, early learning and then transition, there's a whole lot of resources, AEDC, there's a whole lot of resources. So you might want to spend some time or engaging with those resources and you might want to look at doing some community engagement activities, providing materials to support education awareness, raising activities, posters, information booklets, storybooks. We also launched last year some social story templates that you might want to look at, especially in these times where we might not be able to do some face-to-face transitions. So what are some alternatives.

[Slide reads: Relevant DoE guidelines and policies

  • Using AEDC data you can also develop evidence-based transition to school practices that reflect: ​

  • collaboration and partnerships​

  • planning for diversity in student population including preschool, SaCC and Early Intervention programs ​

  • ongoing improvement in practice ​

  • DoE's transition to school guidelines

  •  Assess impact of programs and initiatives, such as:​

And again, looking for some policy advice to make sure that you're on track, I guess, with the initiatives that you decide on based on your analysis of your data, it can really help to reflect on your collaboration and your partners, planning for diversity. As we mentioned before, including your preschool early intervention programs, it could inform your ongoing improvement in practise. We've got our transition to school guidelines for schools, which have a lot of evidence-based ideas and practises in there to help you guide your actions. And also you might want to consider your School Success Models and your Wellbeing for School Excellence to see whether or not the things that you might be planning, whether or not you can assess and measure the impacts of those things. As we are all held accountable for making sure that what we're doing and what we're providing for our children, our families and our communities is on track to achieving what we intended.

[Slide reads: Next steps that stakeholders can consider

  • What partnerships might support children's developmental needs within communities?​

  • How will you respond to your AEDC outcomes?​

  • How can schools and communities explore their data?​

  • How can your school or community address the early developmental needs of children in your community?​

  • How might you deliver hands-on child-development initiatives? ]

What are the next steps? So have a think about, you know, you've heard some really inspirational and amazing stories today. What sort of stood out for you in terms of opportunities for partnerships and how that might work for you and the focus being obviously on supporting children's developmental needs within communities, how we respond to your AEDC outcomes and your information in particular from your preliminary report. Have a think about, you know, in terms of if you haven't already engaged with your data, if you're finding that difficult, let us know, because we want to help you to be able to use that data and to access it. That's a really important feature of what we're hoping to provide for schools in the near future. How can you address your school or community early developmental needs? Who else might you involve in that? Who's already working in that space? Again, I think one of the things that we've seen today is that there's already a lot of different people and organisations, Health, Justice, all sorts of programs funded federally, locally by independent organisations, there's lots going on, so maybe it's even about spending some time getting to know what's happening in your community and how children are already being supported and how maybe instead of starting something new, you can jump onto some of those. And yeah, again, if that all sounds a bit too big, even thinking about what you could just do with the data for your current cohort at the moment to support that sort of hands-on improvement in developmental domains right now, and right here with this current Kindy group. I'm just trying to think if there was anything else I wanted to add there, because we've got some resources available up here.

[Slide reads: Resources available on AEDC websites 

AEDC NSW webpage has resources such as:​

  • AEDC family awareness videos (translated into 15 languages)​
  • Frequently asked questions for families (translated into 15 languages)​
  • AEDC NSW Online Professional learning (available to all stakeholders including non-DoE employees) ​
  • Domain Guides for educators and leaders​
  • Webpage will be uploaded with videos from symposium (by the end of term 3, 2021)​
  • Videos on the value of AEDC data from various stakeholders (by end of term 4, 2021)​

AEDC National webpage has resources such as:​

  • AEDC Data explorer page – download community level report​

  • Community stories with examples of practice ​

  • School resources with examples of stories ​

  • Resources for teachers and principals

So, if you want to have a look at those, we've got some family awareness videos that Mary organised to have translated into 15 languages this year. So you might not be aware of those and FAQ's that are also translated. And we've also got the AEDC Data explorer page, community stories, school resources, and a range of other resources. So that's it for me. If you have any questions and you would like to reach out to us, please email us at, or give us a call on our 1300 number, we'd love to hear from you. I'm going to go to the chat now and have it a little check to see if anyone has got any questions or even just open it to the floor. Anyone got any questions?


Jacqui there a comment in one of the questions around thinking about future events, will you be willing to consider some of the speakers you had mentioned such as Nathan Wallace to come and talk a bit more? I mean.


Yeah, that's a great idea. I think that is a super thing for a future event because as I said, I know he was very impactful on our audience a few years ago, so definitely be interested to investigate it anyway. I won't make any proper promises, I don't want to have to break my promises, but definitely something we can put on our notice board for ideas for future conferences. I'm really glad that you've enjoyed the symposium. And you reminded me of what I was going to say is that, the reason why we sort of started thinking about this as a great opportunity I, and while we called it a symposium, it was about saying, let's make sure that the people who can action research as in can actually do something, about the important research is the people that work on the ground.

So we wanted to share that research, and I know that sometimes sharing research and data can be a little bit dry, but I think our speakers today from Telethon Kids Institute did a great job at sharing that information and really highlighted for me as it always does the important work that we do in this space for children that experienced the greatest vulnerabilities. And also that idea that what we do early has such a big impact for children for their life trajectory. And I think that's something that I think is really important for us to always keep in the forefront of our mind and always champion the cause for our work in the early sort of stages of life, because I think it's such an important piece. And the Heckman Equation always talks about the idea of the money invested early really has a greater payoff, I guess, than any money, public funds or any other money invested later in life. So, I always liked to think of that as a good, all of our interventions in the early intervention space are important.

[End of transcript]

Download the AEDC NSW research symposium agenda (PDF 2.7 MB) (held in August 2021).

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