The 2022 Early learning inclusion forum focuses on what is at the heart of inclusive practice in the early years and what this means across a range of early years contexts.


Leaders, teachers and educators from early childhood services, schools, schools for specific purposes (SSPs), schools as community centres (SaCCs), transition support teachers early intervention (TSTEIs) and allied health professionals are invited to attend.

How to engage

The 2021 Inclusion Forum was held in April 2021. Many of the videos are now available to you, on demand.

View the presentations for the Early learning inclusive conference from 2021.

The Department is committed to creating a more inclusive education system for all students. Sarah Hanson, Director Disability Strategy and Louise Farrell, Director Inclusive Education, will provide an overview of the work being done to improve the experience of students and families as they transition to school. Sarah and Louise will unpack the Inclusive Education Statement for students with disability and provide an update on reforms and initiatives that help bring the inclusion statement to life so that all students are able to reach their potential in the NSW school system.

An inclusive transition to school

An inclusive transition to school transcript

Duration: 40:51

Sarah Hanson:
Thank you so much for having us and we're really pleased to be here. I'm Sarah. I'll start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land we are each respectively on this morning. I'm coming to you from Wonga land and pay respect to the traditional custodians of these lands and the lands you are each on. Pay respect to elders, past, present and emerging and extend welcome and acknowledgement of Aboriginal colleagues joining with us today. It's really exciting to be here and glad we get to see how the conversation evolves over the course of the day. As was mentioned we're here to talk about transition to school work that we're leading across our two areas. So you would likely to know that in 2019 the department released a disability strategy, which sets out the department's plan for providing children and young people with disability, their families, and the broader community with an education system that meets their needs. The department in consultation with teachers, families, carers, other educators, young people, and education experts identified four areas, crucial to reform as part of the disability strategy and if we make the most of these opportunities, we'll be well on our way to improving outcomes and experiences for students with disability in New South Wales. As part of this work, we've had a dedicated program focused on inclusive education and that was defined in the disability strategy as meaning all students, regardless of disability, ethnicity, socio-economic status, nationality, language, gender, sexual orientation or faith, can access and fully participate in learning alongside their similar aged peers supported by reasonable adjustments and teaching strategies tailored to meet their individual needs.

Inclusion is embedded in all aspects of school life and supported by culture, policies and everyday practises. And really the key thing that our work program is then focused on are those bits you can see in bold, what does it mean to access and fully participate and what do we mean when we say all aspects of school life. With that, in August last year, we launched the department's Inclusive Education Statement. That statement applies to all New South Wales government schools, as well as preschools and specifically calls out the importance of working in partnership with parents and carers and how important it is to prepare them for school and support them through all of those transitions that occur across their student journey. And in particular, how important as we all know that actual start to school is to setting all children up for success. You statement is on the department's website and we certainly always encourage everyone to go there and have a look at it and have a think about what that means for them and their work and they can also find other supporting materials that you might find interesting and sort of updates on what's happening in the work program.

The Inclusive Education Statement outline six principles which you can see there on the screen and really at it's heart, goes back to what was talked about in the introduction about the importance of actually listening to the people who are having the experience and really ensuring that students are supported to express their views and that we recognise and support them to be able to express preferences, problem solve, set goals, make decisions and self-advocate, and that those skills are supported, valued and developed.

As I mentioned earlier, parent and carer partnerships, so I guess one step further than the inclusion work it's on the screen there, but really making sure that we engage parents and carers as partners to achieve the best outcomes for children. That students are supported to access the curriculum with individualised goals and high aspirations. That all students are welcomed, supported to belong and build relationships with their peers and the school community embraces all learners and have respect for and value diversity. And I've seen some great examples of that in recent times, different days, schools have had celebrating diversity, which has been fantastic to see. Of course, equally important is supporting teachers. The teachers are provided with the tools and supports to be able to provide adjustments and differentiate teaching for the diverse student population. And that as a system we as a department ensure that inclusion is embedded across everything we do and sets everyone up f or success in terms of creating that culture for inclusion and all about support tools, everyday practises, how we measure and drive ongoing improvements really have that central focus on inclusion. Probably speaking to the converted for this audience, but it's always good to take a step back and revisit why we need to spend so much time thinking about inclusion and valuing it. And of course that's because diversity is the norm, it's not the unusual.

We have a diverse population and our schools are representative of that population and will always be diverse and so inclusion is really central to education and delivering a successful education journey for all students. And so it's about creating an environment where everyone is treated fairly and respectfully and a place where everyone has equitable access to opportunities and resources. And one of the figures that stands out from this slide in particular and that often people know but when they see it again and are reminded of it find it surprising and it's that one in five students in New South Wales school has a disability. Going back to that theme again of, it's not actually that unusual we're talking about it's going to be normal in terms of ensuring that such a large cohort of students are included and welcomed. This is a great image many of you may well have seen before, but when we're talking about inclusion we're not talking about treating everyone exactly the same, what we're talking about is ensuring that everyone has the same opportunities. And as far as possible that we're removing the systemic barriers to support those opportunities and give everyone the support to be able to contribute and thrive. We're now going to do a poll 'cause we'd love to have your feedback. We're really grateful for your time in filling out this poll because it will certainly help us in thinking through how we can best support you with our future work program.

So I'm going to pick up for the next few slides and talk a little bit more about transition to school. I don't need to tell you, you would know much better than I that transition to school is a time of great change for families and students. And we know that there are a number of key points in a student's or a child's life where they'll be undergoing kind of transitions that we really need to think about very carefully and plan for. We also know that we can make transition really successful, smooth process through really good planning, good relationships with families and with students and seeking to really understand some of the concerns or worries that a family might have around the transition to school process, understanding a student's or a child's strengths, interests, and their needs so that schools can be really well planned and really well organised to start school life for that student in a really positive way. So the department is currently digitising the transition to school statement so that it's easier to use and can be easily engaged with by teachers. Early childhood teachers will have an option of adding information about the child's NDIS plan. Not every student with disability will be a participant in the NDIS but a large majority of our students, particularly those who have higher level of support needs are likely to be NDIS participants, so that's a really important thing to understand how that might affect their NDIS planning and their NDIS supports might fit in within the broader education context. And working in partnership as I said with families, future school staff and relevant external organisations, which could be health professionals, could be other service providers will be key. Seeking their knowledge to understand the students' needs is important. We all know that anxiety can arise with the transition to school for all families, including families who had a student with disability and it can be a particularly anxiety provoking time because of the unknown and moving into a completely different environment.

So it's really important to consider as I mentioned, the child's strengths and abilities and their interests when planning for orientation to schools. Understanding how to support students who might have separation anxiety and also understanding how to support students who may suffer from anxiety more generally as they moving to the school context. Helping families to access stories that are positive about transition and positive about the school is a really important thing to do to allay their concerns that they might have, and wherever possible avoiding surprises and helping familiarise children with their new settings before they start is a really important part of the transition process. So that's important for all students but particularly for students who have a disability.

As you would all know, children who participate in high quality early childhood education are more likely to arrive at school equipped with the social, cognitive and emotional skills that they need to engage in learning and really connect to their school setting. Even so, we need to do everything that we can to make transition as smooth as possible and if issues are coming up or there are concerns that you have or families have it's really important to deal with them in a really timely manner so that they can be addressed as part of the process. So starting the conversation early allows for a smoother transition to school and a more successful transition to school.

So we've got a short video for you that we'd like to play it's available on the department's website and it outlined some of the really good transition practises that can support students with disability.

Enrolling your child with additional learning and support needs at school. Starting school can be an uncertain time for both you and your child. You might be worried about your child's learning, speech, emotional, social, physical, or behavioural abilities. Your child may have a diagnosed disability or additional learning and support needs, or maybe you are in the process of finding out if this is the case.

Your first step is a conversation with your local public school even if you're not sure if this is the school they will attend. At the school you can discuss your child's abilities and the kind of support they may need. The second step is to start the conversation early. The ideal time to speak with your local school is when your child is aged between three and three and a half. Which is around two years before your child starts Kindergarten, particularly if changes to the school are needed such as bathrooms, railings, or stairs. If your child is starting school sooner it's still important to have this conversation now, it's never too late to begin the process. Above all, you know your child best, your voice is important. Sharing your knowledge with your local school will help the school develop a plan to support your child's learning journey and ensure their needs are met. We have designed an online service to make it easier for you to know when things need to be done. To find out when your child can start school, enter your child's date of birth and get a personalised timeline. You can save this timeline to your email and set up SMS reminders.

For more advice about planning your child's enrollment, you can also call 131-536 to be connected to the learning and wellbeing team in your area. Remember, your voice is important. Start the conversation with your local school early. New South Wales Education, putting all students at the centre of everything we do.

Louise Farrell:
Thanks, Sarah. And I saw a question that popped up in the chat about getting access to the video. It is available on our website. We think it's a great video, and we would love love you to share it with your families. So in transitioning students to school the aim is to ensure that students or children can enrol in their local public school wherever possible. We also know that parents have a really important role in making decisions about the setting in which their child will learn and where they feel their child will learn best. Parents as you would have seen in the video, are always encouraged to be talking to their local school about their child's education needs, their specific support needs in terms of their disability and options that are available at their local school in order to support their child in their education and their connectedness to their peers in their school. One of the ways in which we can support parents is also being aware of the supports that are available for them in their local school. So in the slide that Sarah showed earlier, she called out the one in five students in our schools has a disability and the vast majority of those students are supported with their learning in mainstream classes. It's over 90, well over 90%. Local schools are really well equipped at supporting students in mainstream classes, through understanding their needs and developing personalised learning and support plans if they are needed, identifying adjustments and ways of differentiating the curriculum in order to support students to fully engage with their learning and in all aspects of school life.

Some students targeted or additional supports maybe identified as being needed, and they will require a separate application process. So for students who have an identified or diagnosed disability and meet the department's eligibility criteria, extra support can be provided for them to participate in their education in a mainstream class with the Integration Funding Support program. So an application needs to be made through what's called the Access Request Process but that provides extra resources for schools in order to support students to remain in a mainstream class and have their needs met in that setting. For students who are blind or have low vision or students who are deaf or hard of hearing, applications can also be made to access itinerant support teachers in their local school who provide additional supports in order for that population of students to be able to engage in their learning and support classes are also available or located in mainstream primary schools and high schools, central schools and schools for specific purposes across New South Wales.

Support classes have a smaller number of students enrolled in each class and provide a more specialist setting where children can learn with other students who require similar adjustments. That doesn't mean that students or children who don't have a diagnosed disability shouldn't and aren't able to access additional supports in their school setting. So it's really important that families understand that even if their child doesn't have a disability, they are able and they should be able to access supports at their local school in order to make the learning and support needs of their student. Schools all have a learning and support team who work with students, parents, and carers, classroom teachers and other professionals to identify the adjustments that a child may need in order to engage in education on the same basis of their peers and those supports are available at any stage through out a students' school life or journey through school.

Students or children who have a diagnosed disability that might benefit from additional support known as our targeted supports, include students who have intellectual disability, who have mental health illness, who are on the autism spectrum disorder, those who have a physical disability, sensory impairment, as I mentioned, hearing and vision, and those who have challenges. So schools work with all students everyday to support them to make their learning needs as I mentioned at any stage during their schooling and including students who have disability. So the support students may receive can be short-term or long-term, it can be for the whole time at which they're enrolled at school or it might just be for a period of time in their school life. If students require changes to school buildings in order to allow them to access all parts of the school, then the school will need time to arrange for these adjustments or changes or modifications to be made. But school's infrastructure in New South Wales are certainly able to provide the modifications that are required and we also have programs where the department supports the installation example of the stair tracks and those types of adjustments to enable students who may have mobility issues to be able to access parts of the school.

So, as we've mentioned sharing information about children can help in that planning process and certainly helps with the physical modifications that may be required for schools. Some of the information that schools find really helpful in kind of understanding a student's needs are reports from doctors, therapists, or other agencies, information about resources, equipment that may currently being used in the child's day-to-day activities, information about a child's health condition that they may have. As I mentioned any information about NDIS plans or planning processes that might be occurring, as these can really help in planning for the school setting and if a student has a healthcare plan, they have significant healthcare needs. Thanks, Sarah.

So, as many of you may know the Department of Education provides some early intervention for children before they start school. Most early intervention is provided by other professionals as well and agencies outside the department, the Department of Communities and Justice would be one of those agencies and the NDIS through its early childhood pathway and I know my team is talking to you later about NDIS and they are the experts certainly in that space.

Parents can apply for a place in an early intervention support class or resource support from when child is three up until when they start school so that links back to the starting of conversations early as was discussed and outlined in the video. If a child attends an early intervention support class it's recommended that they also attend mainstream early childhood education program and supporting successful inclusion for children is important focus of the early intervention program but we also know that early childhood supports that transition to school and that readiness for school as well. So the department has 47 intervention support classes at 43 government schools across New South Wales. There are a small number well as the itinerant support teachers who provide support to teachers of young children with disability or significant support needsand their families. There also itinerant support teachers hearing or vision as I've mentioned who can help children if they have a confirmed hearing or vision loss from the age of their diagnosis. So those supports are actually able to be accessed by students who aren't yet enrolled at school while they are in the early childhood years of their education.

Next slide. So I won't spend too much time on this. We've covered it in the video, but a timeline to enrollment tool is available to all parents to support an inclusive transition to school and to support them to understand when they might be starting those conversations with schools while the transition to school statement communicates a child's learning between their early childhood service in school with consent from parents, the timeline enrolment helps parents to plan. So parents just simply enter the date of their child's birth so as you can see here, the third of the second, 2017 is the date and then click show timeline and the information will come up for parents about kind of when they need to do what. So it shows a bit of a timeline of activities and they can also email that to the account of their choice so that they can kind of keep that kind of in their diaries. So inclusion in practise. There are a wide range of projects that the department is currently undertaking on top of those that Sarah mentioned that will support inclusive transitions to school.

So I mentioned the Integration Funding Support program earlier which supports students to be enrolled in mainstream classes, in mainstream schools. What we are doing or what we have done is we've centralised that team, we've created a larger team and we've provided a more central team to have greater consistency in the application assessment process and also to speed up the process in which those applications are assessed and schools and the parents are informed about the outcomes of those. So the Integration Funding Support program considers the functional support needs that students have and the level of support that they require in order to engage in their learning in a mainstream classroom. So there are 15 people working virtually these days across the state to implement the program and as I mentioned they assess all of the applications. They work really closely with schools to understand the needs of students and to support schools to provide as much information as they can in order to support the application process. If we find after having assessed the needs of a student for the IFS that we aren't quite meeting their needs then a review is possible of their funding support in order to be able to make sure that we get it as right as possible. So one of the other key projects we are doing is looking at how, our gate way I suppose for our targeted support processes so that's not an Integration Funding Support but our support classes. So one of the recommendations of an upper house inquiry that was held a few years ago into education of students who have disability and additional support needs, was that we look at our disability criteria to assess the extent to which they are contemporary and are meeting the needs of students who have disability. So we've now undertaken that review and we identified, not surprisingly that there are some opportunities to explore the extent to which we can improve our process so that it is more equitable and fair. It is easier to access. It is more contemporary and consistent with social understandings and definitions of disability as opposed to a diagnostic and more medical model of disability, that it really focuses on understanding the functional needs and supports that students need up front in the process and supporting schools to meet those needs early, and then it helps teachers as well to design the best adjustments and work with parents to identify the best adjustments to meet the needs of students. So that work is currently underway. We feel that it's very important for us to be engaging with the early childhood sector in that work. One of the, I think the challenges with transition is that understanding needs of students who are coming into the school and while discussions with parents and all of those types of things are really important. We feel that moving potentially to a more needs based process will also have great advantages for students who are transitioning into school from the early childhood sector. Thanks, Sarah.

Sarah Hanson:
- Thanks, Louise. So you can see that a lot of time and effort is rightly being focused on ensuring that we really live up to that core belief that all students are entitled to an education, regardless of whether or not they have a disability, but that leads us to a key question of how will we know whether we're achieving that and making the positive difference that we're seeking to make. One of the commitments under the disability strategy, was to develop an outcomes framework and it was similarly a recommendation of that inquiry that Louise just referenced that we looked at doing this. And so we're looking at developing a systems outcomes framework for students with disability, and really importantly, it's the outcomes we're measuring are important too and valued by students with disability and their families and carers, as well as by educators in the school systems. So what we're really looking to do is define at a high level what those outcome domains should be and then work backwards into if those are the things we really need to drive, then let's have some real indicators and measures behind them which might mean that we need to look at whether we're collecting the right data that tells us whether we're making a difference. So we really want the framework to ultimately be a living document that tells us as a system how we are tracking in meeting our commitment to students with disability and that we'll be able to report on our progress and use the data to support practise improvement to enhance the student journey for students with disability. So that work is underway and you may well see some consultation activities happening in coming months on that.

Some of you may well have been involved in this, but an innovation program was launched under the disability strategy and there were 30 public schools, two government preschools and to early childhood education centres, as well as a number of external partners, universities, a range of players involved in 16 projects across the state to test and evaluate ideas to increase inclusion of students with disability. So you can see some two examples on the screen that particularly looked at this from a preschool or early childcare perspective. So in the Shoalhaven, the Mia Mia hub for example really showed how that focused on inclusion can make such a difference to attendance and really reduce the rates of behavioural issues and ultimately then leading to suspensions and things that impact at risk students including students with disability. So that was a really important project. And at Punchbowl they were looking at co-teaching and universal design for learning and have been able to demonstrate how that contributes to gains in children's social interaction and children's learning engagement. So that's fantastic. There is information about all of the projects available on our website and we're just at the point where we're getting the final reports from I think the last of our projects and we'll be looking at how we can best disseminate the learnings and the achievements from all of the projects and ensure best practise and build that into the evidence-based to support continuous learning across all New South Wales schools and where relevant government preschools in the early childcare sector. One of the things that you've sort of seen examples of that this is one of the resources that's available on our website and is where you can find that lovely video that we played, the parent and carers hub and it's really about living up to that commitment under the disability strategy of really partnering with parents and carers and giving them information in a way that works for them and supports their engagement with schools rather than creating a labyrinth and bureaucratic hurdles for them to get information to help support their child's educational journey. And so, as well as that enrollment tool, there's also information about additional learning support adjustments that can be made, how to access them some printable sheets on key topics, if they have questions that can support them having conversations with their local school. So they're a great set of resources that hopefully you would also find helpful in having conversations with your families. We're currently looking at expanding on the content of the parents and carers hub and so we're doing more engagement with parents and carers to look at the next set of topics that are most important to them. You're going to be surprised to hear that the reason why there's such a focus currently on the parent and carers have around that transition to school was because that was what was most important to parents when we engage with them on the topic. So looking at how we can expand it really it's doing some good user testing to ensure that all of the products on there are very usable and accessible to all types of parents and making sure that there's the right range of tools available and obviously we'll keep the content updated as when things change to make sure that it remains up to date. So that's it on the parent and carers hub and I think if I flick back to you now.

Louise Farrell:
You do. So, as I mentioned earlier students who have an NDIS package may well be receiving supports from external providers and parents may want those supports provided in a school setting and equally students who don't have an NDIS plan may also be receiving support so might require additional supports, externally provided supports in the school setting to support them with their education. So principals are best place to decide the extent to which externally funded providers including NDIS providers can deliver services within the school setting, during school hours. And we encourage them to really work closely with parents in kind of making these decisions. They need to think about a range of factors. And in some schools, particularly schools with a larger number of support classes, SSPs, there can be quite a large number of providers who may all want to come into the school to provide supports to students. So principals and teachers will need to think about things such as how having the external provider come into the school impacts on their participation in the classroom or other school activities, how well the service being provided or the service that the parents may want provided in the school setting supports and links to students' learning needs and the impacts of having external providers on other students, school staff and operations of the school. Having said that there are a lot of external supports delivered in school settings but it is kind of one of the challenges I think that principals have logistically just to balance it also it works. We also know that different sectors can all be talking about the same thing and using completely different language, which can be a problem 'cause we all have the child at the centre but we're not always quite on the same page, just because of those small, but kind of large things around language. So in order to make it easier for schools and therefore easier for providers, my team developed an external provider information package, it's available to all schools and it helps them to work with familie and external providers and reduce their admin burden as well, which I think is a really key thing here for schools. It includes information and checklists for principals and providers, information for parents and carers and a simple agreement between the school and the provider about kind of how the process will run, so I think that's a really important thing. There's also some work happening around the ECEI, the Early Childhood Early Intervention pathway and supports in the transition to school. I've covered off on a lot of this before but I think absolutely it's around consenting to provide information but where it is possible to share information and appropriate to share information, it really helps the parent, the school and the provider relationship and in doing that it therefore supports the student or the child in order to have their needs best meet. So it may be appropriate for an ECEI provider to kind of observe the student at school when assessing their support needs but again, those kinds of decisions are made in consultation with the principal and the child's parents or carers as well. So I think just to wrap up, we will continue to build on these projects and I think it's fair to say, continue to identify more work that needs to be done or that we can do in order to implement the four pillars of our disability strategy and support students, keeping them at the centre and support all of our students to be able to fully engage and connect with school and maximise their learning outcomes and achieve their goals. And there are our contact details. Thank you.

[End of transcript]

Irrespective of individual circumstances, all children have the right to an education and a number of principles guide quality inclusive practice. Enrolment does not equal inclusion. This presentation willoutline what inclusive education encompasses, and how you can ensure you are building a culture of inclusion in your educational environment. The foundations of inclusion need to start in early childhood settings, where play is a great leveller and provides a foundation for valuing and embracing diversity.

Inclusive Education in early childhood – What does that really mean?

Duration 34:32

Dr Jane Warren:
So I would also just like to acknowledge the Wodiwodi people of the Dharawal nation on whose land I'm presenting. And I'd like to pay my respects to all Aboriginal people who were and always will be the traditional custodians of our land.

If you've heard me present before then you're probably going to go, she sounds a little bit like a broken record with this starting. And I probably do, but I feel like this is a really, really important thing for us to always remember. And so I like to always start with this kind of idea and remember that inclusion isn't really about a choice. It shouldn't be about a choice.

And Kay mentioned in her welcome this morning that we're talking about all children and there was so much in this morning's presentation so far that just resonates with me and that I keep thinking it's exactly what we need to be thinking about. But remember, we're not talking about one particular child or a group of children. When we talk about all children, we are meaning all children. And I think we need to also remember that we're not looking at these things as just words. So all of the positive things that we talk about, we have to make sure that they become actions, not just words that we use.

So the connection on the rights of the child is something I'm sure everyone's familiar with. And obviously, I've just pulled out some examples here, but there's nothing in the Convention on the Rights of the Child that says that some rights apply to some children and not other children. So, we really, really need to think about remembering all of the articles within the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and really think about what they mean.

So one of the things I just want to identify here is this one that I've put on the screen that we are talking about all children, and it doesn't matter who those children are, but no child should be treated unfairly on any basis. And while we might all have good intentions, sometimes our intentions don't manifest into actions that actually reflect really fair treatment of all children. And I'll be exploring that a lot more throughout this presentation. Now I'm sure also you are familiar with the National Quality Standards and I'm not going to spend too much time on these, but I just want to, again, identify, I've just pulled out some things there. And when we look at those, we don't always need to just look at the ones that use the word inclusion or use the word diversity, or any of the particular elements that use the word inclusion. We need to be thinking about that every single one of these.

So if we just look there on the screen, for example, relationships with children, the dignity and rights of all children maintained at all time. If we think about, the environment being inclusive that children are allowed to independently explore, obviously different children's disabilities might mean that that looks different, but we still need to provide that opportunity to children. So these are just things to always think about what does it really mean? Not just paying lip service, I guess, to some of these standards or elements. And the same happens with Early Years Learning Framework. And we have these principles and people understand them and they hold them in esteem.

But sometimes when we look at that transference into practise, are we really making sure all children are feeling unsupported. Are we allowing all children to develop respect for each other, to develop empathy? Are we encouraging all children to interact? Are we allowing all children to develop confidence? So remember that top part there where it says about belonging. And we need to remember relationships and the fundamental nature of relationships to that sense of belonging. And so whatever your environment is, we may have to make sure we're not only fostering that within the children, but that we're actually role modelling that as well. So we are role modelling these positive relationships, we're role modelling that sense of belonging in every look that we share, every nonverbal communication, as well as all of the things that we do in practise.

So they're just a few examples to think about. But basically no child has any less rights than anyone else. And we have to make sure that we don't see inclusion as something that's optional. Everyone is unique. And we've already heard that this morning and we need to be thinking about what does it actually mean. Now, the other thing I want you to think about all the way through this is if some of these things I'm saying you go, you already know that, I'm hoping that that is absolutely the case. But all the way throughout the day, you need to be open to learning, open to thinking about reflecting on your own practise, reflecting on the way you do things, not just what it says in documents that you have, for example, or what you're supposed to be doing.

And so, even this morning while I was joining into the sign language thing going, oh, I need to get that video so that I can share that with them with other people and help other people to learn that as well, because that was a fantastic thing that I learned today, as well as a number of other things from Sarah and Louise's presentation. So we also have the Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability. And that's also something we need to remember all the way through. So not just about Convention on the Rights of the Child, but also the Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability.

Sarah or Louise, one of them mentioned this in their presentation about the medical model and social model. And I'm not going to spend much time on this either, but I assume this is something that some of you are very familiar with and some people maybe not so much. But basically one conceptualization around approaches to disability is the notion of having a medical model versus a social model. And the medical model basically is coming from a deficit. So the medical model is where we are looking at what's wrong with people and how can we fix them. And while that is absolutely essential in some components, if we leave and breathe by that model, then basically we are seeing disabilities are tragic and something we need to fix.

Obviously, as educators, we can't always be, if there's somebody who can't walk, we can't make them walk as much as I'm sure they would love to be able to, nobody's choosing to be born with a disability. But what we can do is think about if we only focus on the medical model, then we are perpetuating this sense of ableism that people who don't have disabilities are somehow superior to the people who do have disabilities. And that's really negative way to be approaching disability. We can also be making assumptions, assumptions that we make based on disabilities can really lead to inaccurate understandings. And there's a video I have at the end, because it really is based on people being perceived just by their disability and the assumptions that people make. And one of the things that's important for, there's a lot of research that has demonstrated that one of the most disabling things of having a disability is the attitudes of other people. And that's really what leads into that kind of notion of the social model.

So the social model of disability basically is focusing on the idea that disability is actually a response to the social perception. So it's not implying that the disability itself doesn't exist. So, if somebody has a cognitive delay, for example, it doesn't take away the cognitive delay. But what it's saying is that disability is around this unequal social relationship. So restrictions are then imposed on people based on how others perceive them. And I think it's a really important thing for us to be thinking about because it can make a huge difference to how we think about disability.

And I guess the opportunities then that arise for people who have disabilities as well. And it leads to this kind of idea of, like I said, disableism, that there's a dominant group of people who are accepting others. And it's the dominant group that kind of have this essence of power over other people. But really who made that rule, that the dominant group needs to be the one that is making those decisions. And it does reinforce that dominant discourse. So I have a little video on-

Imagine a town full of physically impaired people, all wheelchair users, they run everything. There aren't any able-bodied people. So naturally when they built the town, the community decided it was pointless to have ceilings 10 foot high and doors seven foot high. So the ceilings were built at seven foot and the doors at five foot. In every way, they designed the place the way they wanted it. One day, a few able-bodied people come to stay.

One of the first things they notice is the height of the doors. And the reason they notice is because they keep hitting their heads. They come to stand out by the bruises they carry on their foreheads. Soon doctors, psychiatrists, and social workers, all become involved. Committees are formed. Many people are worried about what becomes known as the problem of the able-bodied.

Throughout the town, there is a growth of real concern, especially toughened helmets are handed out free to the able-bodied to be worn at all times, braces are designed which give support and relief while keeping able-bodied wear are bent to normal height.

Various groups of compassionate wheelchair users get together and form registered charities. Every quarter, they have a collection day. Upturn helmets are left in pubs and shops for people to drop their small change into. There is talk with founding special homes.

But then one day it dawns on the able-bodied that there is nothing actually wrong with them, just that society excludes them.

Dr Jane Warren:
So I think that's a really nice little video just to remind us about that it's not up to one group of people to be making the decisions for everyone else. I just wanted to mention this site in case you're not very familiar with Reimagine. So they used to be called Early Childhood Intervention Australia, and there's a load of different resources available through there that will help around early childhood inclusion. But I want to just talk about the idea of this definition around inclusion.

And there's so many different definitions of inclusion and what people think about as being inclusive. So this definition here is about embracing our diversity's strength and viewing people for unique qualities. And again, remember that these can't be about lip service. They need to be genuinely embedded. This one comes from, that is our conclusion project, and you can see there that there's a joint position statement from Early Childhood Australia and Early Childhood Intervention Australia. And if you're not familiar with that, then

I'd suggest that you want to have a little look at that as well. And that's on the Reimagine site, which is at the bottom. But you can see that this is just another definition around inclusion, but again, looking at valuing and supporting and giving people access to opportunities, and the diagram that Sarah and Louise showed around, ensuring that we're not just looking at giving everybody the same thing. So remember that children aren't all the same and we're not trying to pretend that they are. We don't want to say, we're all the same because that just confuses children anyway, because we're not all the same.

This is another great document that you might want to have a look at from a sequence it's about National Quality Standard inclusion in practise. And you can see there that there's some definitions around inclusion. But the third point, for example, looking at everybody being viewed as capable and valued for what each individual person contributes. And I think the second point there I want to mention, and that's something that we do need to remember is that meaningful participation isn't just the same as being present.

So having children with disabilities in your environment doesn't make them automatically included. I'm not going to spend any time on this because Sarah and Louise actually did cover this quite extensively this morning, but the Department of Education Principles there also really aligned with all of the other things that I'm talking about. I'll just skip over that bit.

There's also some great resources available again through Reimagine. And I have those resources so to just quickly show you what they look like, but I'm not going to, you can go in and have a look at them. But this is the best practise guide which looks at strengthening inclusive practise. And it's not just about early childhood intervention services. And you can download it as well. But it's got things here, like general inclusion improvement strategies. It's got things like best practises in promoting inclusion.

And the other one here is a self-reflection tool. And this tool goes through, it's got sections for early childhood interventionalists, but it's also got sections here, like for example, working in an early childhood setting, and this allows you to, I guess, just use as a tool to be able to reflect on where your practise is. Is your practise at level one? Obviously, we want to strive to level five. But if your practise is at level one in something, instead of being defensive about that, look at that as well, okay, this is an area we're not doing so well. So what we do need to do is think about how we can move towards level two. So taking small incremental steps that will then help to improve your practise.

So they're both things that might be useful for you. So thinking about your own environment and thinking about, if you're in a Mainstream Early Childhood Education and Care Centre, you have a different environment to an Early Intervention Unit. Or if you are a classroom teacher, you have a different environment. But it's about thinking about how to take all the information you learned today and adapt it to your environment.

So really reflecting on what inclusion means specifically to you. Reflecting on why this is important is an essential thing to do. And the reason there's new pictures of newspapers there is because we need to think about what's ethical in our decisions and what are we comfortable with. And I think around inclusion of children with disabilities is a really good thing to think about in relation to this. Every decision you make around inclusion, would you be comfortable with that decision if that decision was publicly available? So if there was a news story about your decision around something you did with inclusion, and that was going to be on the front page of the newspaper, would that be okay with you? And if not, then you need to be thinking about what would I have done differently to ensure that I would be comfortable with that. And that's a really good way to kind of give yourself a bit of accountability around your decisions.

So there's a whole lot of different strategies for inclusion, and I'm going to go through some different bits and pieces very quickly, but these will be available to you afterwards. But think about the third point down, focusing on what children can do, not just what they can't, but we also need to remember that we have to adapt to our environments. Don't try to change the child to fit your environment, look at your changing your environment to fit your children. And that's all of the children within your environment, whether or not they have disabilities.

And the bottom one, answering children's questions honestly and respectfully reinforces what I was saying before. Don't pretend we're the same, but answer questions honestly, because young children are not automatically discriminatory. They learn that. Young children are asking questions out of interest, not about judgement . But as adults, sometimes we shush children because we are uncomfortable by their question. But if we answer their questions we're conveying to the children there's nothing wrong with what they've asked or the person they've asked about.

So I was also really pleased to hear that Sarah and Louise also mentioned culture of inclusion. And I'm always talking about that because it's not just about some strategies that you use. It's about everything that you do. It's about making sure you think about the language you use. Think about how you challenge children's comments when they're inappropriate, think about everything in your displays, in your centre. And inclusion isn't something that you do. Inclusion needs to become part of everything. It needs to be part of who you are as an educator and as a teacher. Play is a really important thing for us to consider though, because play is such a low leveller. So, not everyone can play the same, but everybody can play. So we need to look at encouraging play between children sometimes take away the pressure of the area of disability for the child.

So if the child has a physical disability, then we need to think about playing with children in ways that don't rely on that physical need. Or we need to think about the child on the autism spectrum who's having difficult with overload of sensory things play in a way that removes some of that. So it takes away some of the challenges for children, and it allows that social interaction that's so important for everyone. So there's a whole lot of different things that I've got listed down here. And I think if we look at access at the top, we need to make sure to build this culture of inclusion. We're talking about access, but talking about social access, as well as just physical access. And it's great if you have a ramp for a child who uses a wheelchair, but that ramp is no use for the child who has autism, because they didn't need the ramp, but they need other things. We need to remember that we can't fall back on this idea of it's too expensive. Things don't always have to be expensive. And while I absolutely understand that there's a lot that we need to support children with disabilities, don't use that as excuse for not doing things.

We do need to continue with education and training which is why forums like this is so important because it helps you with your confidence, it helps you to continue with your learning. And the support, we need to think about how to support children and families, but we also need to think about how to support each other. And the working together agreement on Reimagine or, Sarah and Louise were also talking about their external provider information package, those kinds of things to support and encourage learning from other people. Don't see a therapist coming in as an intrusion, think about that as helping you to build capacity.

Encourage participation and engagement at everyone. But remember everyone doesn't have to participate in the same way. And I think for me, I always think that your attitude is the most important, because if you think of things as being a challenge, then they're going to be a challenge. If you think that there's barriers, there's going to be barriers. And while we need to acknowledge those things, we need to remember that fundamental thing about rights of the child and our attitude coming from that. So, if we had time, if we were actually in in-person workshop, we could work through some of these things, but really the point I'm trying to make here with this slide is really thinking about all of those children that are listed on the right there, have different needs.

And we have to think about what's the balance between encouraging them and gradually working them toward their potential, but also not forcing them to do things that are too difficult for them about the time, but it's not okay to just let children do their own thing all the time. And I think sometimes people can also hide behind that, that the child with autism doesn't like groups. Well, we know the child with autism won't like groups, but if we never encourage them and never take those small steps to working towards being part of a group, they will never be able to be part of a group.

So we have a responsibility to all children. One of the things I think we need to do is we'll build a bank of strategies, build up a bank of your own strategies. So whether it's including visual communication, whether it's thinking about some of the sensory things that for a child to sit in a group maybe if they hold a sensory toy, that will be what they need to be able to sit in a group. Think about developing IEPs or information sheets. And if you are someone who has years of experience, you are looking at all these things, probably going, we use all of these things. Somebody who maybe has less experience, you might not know all of these things. But you don't have to know everything at once, but it's about building up that bank of strategies. So when something doesn't work, which invariably you'll experience that, that you can draw on something else in your bank of strategies.

So our expectations, we need to remember that we have to have high expectations for everyone. So this little boy in the picture who, this was a preschool picture, and he's now in year three at his local public school, and he has cerebral palsy, but you can see he's not parked in his wheelchair, not doing anything. He's practising standing in his standing frame. He's participating in something, he's got his communication device there. So there's expectations that he can participate. We need to remember potential isn't a defined construct that you reach and that's the end of it. You continually think about shifting children's potentials when they reach what we think their potential is, then we look at what's next. And remembering that if you are from an Early Childhood Education and Care Centre, the education part is important. It's not just about caring and making sure the child with the disability is safe. Of course that's important, but it's about ensuring that they're getting optimal opportunities for education as well.

So we have to remember all children are individuals irrespective of whether there's a diagnosis or not. Focus on strengths, but acknowledge the areas that people need help with. And remember those rights aren't dependent on particular aspects of ability. So these things, just to recap on some of these around building that culture of inclusion in your service, remember that capacity is really important. Building capacity in the team. If you have one person that is really, really good at including children with disabilities, that's fantastic, but don't always default to that person.

Everybody else needs to learn from that person so that you build more capacity within your entire team. And that's some of the things that I was thinking about when Sarah and Louise were talking and there was the poll around which principle was most important. And I was kind of really glad really that that one wouldn't work for me because I was going, I don't really know which one's the most important. We need to make sure that we all have an individual responsibility with what we do. But if we don't look at change at a system level, then we are not getting that support necessarily to build that capacity that we all need. So communication with families, with other staff is really important. Share with your colleagues the things that are challenges for you. But share them in a way that you're going to be solution-focused. And what can you do to move forward rather than seeing it as a challenge that becomes a barrier. And that commitment. Make a commitment to positive change, make a commitment to all children which is what ultimately as educators we are doing anyway.

I love this quote by Einstein, I'm sure lots of you have seen it, that "Everyone's a genius, "but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, "it will live its whole life believing it's stupid." So if we have standardised expectations then there are children who are never going to meet those expectations. So we want to make sure that all children are welcome, valued and supported to achieve.

- My name's Elijah and I'm supposed to tell you about my dad. His name is Matthew, and he is a pretty normal dad. He's really into technology and sports and that kind of thing. So we argue about the Yankees and the Steelers. He works at NAU as a professor. He has a bunch of degrees from Berkeley. He's been a huge advocate of people with disabilities. Hey, dad, you're almost done then?

- Yeah.

- Perfect. So you're ready for the movie, great.

- Hey, we'll catch you later, Matthew. See you, Elijah.

- See you.

- I was not A-F, affected mentally. Some of my F-R, friends would disagree.

- When I was seven I asked when I was going to get my chair 'cause I thought that everyone when they became an adult, got to get their own wheelchair. And I wanted to get a wheelchair. Assuming how someone is based on like a quick glance, considering like we humans have gotten lucky enough to have these like magnificent things called brains which allow us to use complex logic, why are we still acting like a mouse, which is like, oh God, it's a big shadow, I'm going to run not even consider anything about my surroundings. I T-H, think it is A-T, attitudes that R-E, really, D-I, disable people. I think it is attitudes that really disable people.

- Hey, Matthew. I think your conversation about disability went really well. A lot of people were stopping by to see what was going on. D-I, disability should be out in T, the open. Yeah, definitely.

- This week you should have read about Ed Roberts and independence.

- A general conception of independence is that you're completely able-bodied and able to do anything that you need to do even though that that's not necessarily true about independence, you don't have to be able-bodied. You just have to be able to do what you need to do.

- W, with S-U, with supports.

- My name's Dani, I'm Matthew's favourite. I've been working with him for like over a year now. It is C-O, cool to be P-A, part O-F, T, the team, yeah.

- I wish you guys know professor Matt three years ago became an honorary assistant coach on our staff. And we had an opportunity to share our programme with him and his life with ours. Let's re-welcome him with five on three.

- Just L-I, live your life to the F, fullest. And just W-I, just win tomorrow.

- All the assumptions and all the things we see as disabilities or how we see people with disabilities comes from our culture. It doesn't come from any other place. It comes from just how we've grown up. And that means that we can change that, that we can see people in different ways. People talk about how we just need to accept people with disabilities and accept the way they are. But I think that's really taking kind of a wrong approach to it. You can accept you just cut your finger. You can accept that you got a bad grade. And I think it kind of sounds more like you're tolerating them than anything else. And I think what we really need to do is appreciate them 'cause of who they are as people and what they can do to help everyone else. I love dad because who he is. And I think he's awesome. You A, are A-W-E, awesome too. Love you.

- What's up, Matt? See you on Monday. Thanks for coming out.

- I appreciate you.

- I appreciate you coming out, man.

- Appreciate you, man.

- Thank you.

- Appreciate it.

- Appreciate you.

- Hey, dog.

- Hey boss, man.

- Appreciate you being here.

- It's good, what's good.

Dr Jane Warren:
Sorry, just to finish off, one of the things that I really want you to think about is, you're going to learn lots of different things over today, throughout this. And as I said, I already have a list of things that I want to follow up with based on Sarah and Louise's presentation and things I want to share with families at playgroup and also with students. And I think that this diagram really allows you to think about the process of change, and it reflects our Standard 7.2, and it reflects

Principle five in the EYLF that we do need to be thinking about that continuous improvement and reflecting on our practise. But you can see that this model basically says that to achieve change on that bottom line, we need to have a vision, we need to have skills, incentives, resources, and an action plan. And if we take out one of those things in the process, it's going to lead to different things. So if we think to ourselves, we say the second line down. We've got a vision that we really want to make positive change around inclusion, or we really want to improve on that. But we take out the skills. We don't build capacity in the team. We don't have a bank of strategies even with an incentive to make change, appropriate resources, we are still going to feel anxious because we actually don't have the skills to be able to make that work.

So there's lots of conceptualizations of that change model by Ambrose that are just, you can look it up on the internet. But it's a really good thing to think about what do we need in each of those boxes to make a proper change. And something else I just want to say to finish off really is thinking about the idea that sometimes we think it's too big, it's too hard to make change, it's such a big thing. But I know I've mentioned this before. So if you've listened to this before, you'll think I repeat myself. But I often think about in my lifetime, the smoking culture in Australia has totally changed. So we've gone from when I was young, there was advertisements on TV of making smoking look glamorous to now if you are a smoker, you probably sometimes feel quite ostracised that you have to kind of hide around because you can't just smoke in all the places that you used to be able to. And I think if we'd been talking in the early '70s about what it might look like in relation to smoking in 2021, people wouldn't have believed it. And I think if we can do that, why can't we build a more inclusive society? And I think that happens by making one small step.

So, from the end of today, if you all think about one thing you've learned, and one thing you can take back to your practise to make a change, rather than just going, oh, that was all great information, and then not making a change, really think about what you can do in a practical sense to make a difference.

[End of Transcript]

Principal Kimberlee Collas and Early Intervention teacher Judy Chan will share how they have used the Pictability tool to train and support parents with setting IEP/ILP goals and develop positive partnerships with families.

Bankstown South IS Amplify Practice

Bankstown South Infants School -
Setting IEP/ILP goals with Pictability

Duration: 07:11

Kim Collas:
Welcome to Bankstown South Infants School. I'm Kim Collas, the Principal, and this is Judy Chan, our Early Intervention Teacher. We are a small P-2 school located in southwest Sydney. We have one hundred thirty-four students K-2, a preschool, and an early intervention preschool. 99% of our families come from a language background other than English and we have twenty-two different languages represented in our community. Last year, we were part of the disability strategy innovation program, where we got to trial the Pictability kids. Judy's going to tell us more about them now.

Judy Chan:
Thank you Kim. We're going to start off with showing you a short video clip about Pictability.

Life sometimes it doesn't go to plan, especially when you're the parent or carer of a child with a delay or disability. You seem to always be on the go, but left wondering if you're actually getting anywhere. What if we told you, you don't have to feel like this? Pictability allows you to catch your breath, have a play, follow the steps, take your time. By the end, you'll be reconnected with what's important to you, your child and your family, without even realising it. That's just how Pictability works. Pictability helps you turn what's important into what's achievable. What's achievable then turns into a map for a great life. Your family's life. And before you know it, you're on your way.

Judy Chan:
Pictability is an evidence based tool that is rooted in positive psychology and is a fun, fast method to engage the parents and family into writing their IEPs or the goals and the positive vision on their child. With the process that we sit with the family, and we write one using the tools, we write one goal for the child, one goal for the parents, and one goal for the family. I put it in my IEP or ILP. We give each other regular feedback on that goal through everyday conversation where there, whenever I see my parents and also through our class dojo app, where I can upload photos and videos. This helps to engage parents and increases their participation and motivation in the program.

Hi, my name is Shelley. I am the mother of Christian who started at the Bankstown South Early Intervention Preschool this year, Christian has probably severe needs. So he is at the moment non-verbal he has a few words. So it's been amazing starting at Bankstown South. And so using Pictability I found a great connection with Ms. Judy in explaining what we wanted to achieve with Christian and going through his goals. And then I think the program is so amazing that it gave me sort of that light bulb moment to them start working through using it for my, my oldest child as well, who doesn't have the same issues as Christian, but to then be able to help him with his goal setting and what he wants to achieve for the year. So I found it a really amazing program, even though we've only just started using it. I really liked the, the planning of using the pictures and then leading towards Christian one day,being able to set up the goals himself through selecting the pictures, even if he maintains being non-verbal, he's able to then really tell us the goals that he wants to work towards and, aim to achieve.

So what I see and last year we have thought of some goals and as a family, as my individual goals and my daughter, and looking at them now make me understand that what really has done to my life.I have done a lot of things and a lot of goals has been already achieved, which I was not focused until now, but already been achieved. So for me, the ability is not just limited to the parents with special needs. Rather it is, it is a very diverse program which can make you understand, every parent for me, every parent has to do, because it helps you how to deal with your daily routine, how to deal with your child routine and how to cope with the struggles you are already dealing with.

I think it's very important. Like I said, especially when you see it visually and it just gives you a key picture of the goals you want to set for your child, yourself, whatever it is, whoever it is. So, yeah, I do. I recommend it. Give it a try. Why not? Like you have nothing to lose.

100% recommend it for other parents. I think not only parents of children with additional needs, but I think for any parent, I think it's really great to come together as a family and set goals as family, as well as goals for each individual within the family.

Judy Chan:
I'm very fortunate that my principal Kim were able to set me to do the Pictability program and also to implement the tool with all my early intervention students this year. Finally, I just want to remind everyone that this is a tool that we use to engage families and parents that to help them to become experts.

Kim Collas:
Thank you, Judy. For sharing the Pictability program with us. It has been a welcome addition to our school and not only have we used it in early intervention, but in our K-2 and preschool classes as well. Parent feedback has been outstanding and they have never felt more connected or been more informed about their child's progress and learning. Our vision is that all teachers in special education know how to use Pictability and use it to involve students and their families in writing their own goals. We want to see it continue into primary school and to high school so that every student's voice is heard, valued and supported. We are extremely lucky to have such a dedicated educator in duty, who is supported by Elle Marte are amazing SLSO. They continually go above and beyond to connect with families and to increase the outcomes for all their students. Pictability has been another great way to bring parents into the classroom and to make a strong home-school connection.

[End of transcript]

Director Jackie Staudinger will share how KU Macquarie Fields provides inclusive mainstream preschool to 80 families each week. The service provides a program that is responsive to the needs of the community – giving ‘wrap around supports’ to ensure quality inclusive education for all children.

Amplify Practice – KU Macqurie Fields

KU Macqurie Fields – Response quality inclusive education

Duration: 05:57

Jackie Staudinger:
KU Macquarie Fields Preschool has been operating for over 45 years. In 2021, there are 100 enrolled children all Start Strong funded with 38 diagnosed additional needs children across the week. We have a current waiting list of over 240 children. The centre values community diversity and inclusion. Families come from a wide variety of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. The prevalent cultures being Bengali and Indian influence. We also have Torres Strait Islander children, Serbian, Chinese, Nepalese, Russian, Samoan, and Vietnamese. The centre has many families that are vulnerable for many reasons, which plays an integral part of the Macquarie Fields community and has influenced the program and community supports the preschool has offered over the years. As a result, the preschool has developed strong relationships with the local and wider community and collaborative relationships with a range of inter-agency groups that refer families to the preschool.

The family coordinator supports the family from the very beginning. The coordinator will assist the family to complete the waiting list form and to discuss any needs the family or child may have. During orientation the family coordinator will attend individual meetings with families and their children due to further discuss interests, strengths and support needs along with linking the family to any community services such as paediatricians and allied health. The family coordinator is highly involved in supporting families and children in the following examples. Writing ILPs for children, transitioning from preschool to school, completing documentation for school and community services, attending meetings and assessments when requested by families. Education in training and early childhood development for parents, such as Circle of Security and guarding children's behaviour apparent approach.

Orientation is provided for parents and children. Each family completes documentation, including a mind map to gather information such as the child's strengths, interests, cultural background, and any additional needs support. Children then attend a series of play sessions prior to starting preschool. This provides the opportunity to form relationships with children and families and allows for observation to risk assess the physical environment for inclusion support, additional support needs, or support and resources for acquiring English. The preschool summits applications for PDIP funding. And with this funding, additional educators are employed to support each child's development and inclusion in the program. Each child is supported with individual learning plans, which is developed with the family and the educators. The enrollment of children with diverse complex needs began to increase at the preschool. The educators engage with families to gain a better understanding of their unique individual needs. Through this, it was recognised that ongoing professional learning and development was required. The staff have completed training in the Circle of Security and play spaces. As this has been tabled component that is now embedded within our programming. It focuses on understanding the relationships of theory and practise in attachment.

Professional learning is ongoing. Commitment by the educators who work at Macquarie Fields. Training has included ESD and certification. One of the Kids, guided practise, Mara Mayo, Circle of Security, parent training, play spaces, guiding children's behaviour, child wellbeing. Just to name a few. An example of support provided is outlined in the following case study. Family came into complete a waiting list application. From that application and talking with the family, a referral was made to community health and to local paediatricians. The family returned 12 months later as the child was diagnosed with a disability. The family was then invited to attend the "KU Connect and Play" Playgroup. It's provided an opportunity to further develop the relationship with the family and the preschool. It also provided opportunities for links and support services to be given to the child and parents. Such support services as NDIS, Department of Education, mental health, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and psychology. The child then moved into the preschool program where he was continued to be supported for the next two years. With those above mentioned supports along with the PDIP program. The child is now in the school system. The family and school continue to update us with the child's progress. This case demonstrates the support that preschool was able to provide over a three-year period, holding the family's hand to guide the journey through each step.

Inclusion at Macquarie Fields is an ongoing partnership with the child and family as soon as they enter our doors. We provide support and collaboration with the family at each step of our involvement. Educators are constantly reflecting on the program and quality inclusive practise, seeking professional learning to reflect the needs of the children and families. Quality inclusion is complex and needs to be well-thought-out and resourced. KU Macquarie Fields is resourced through KU Professional Learning Team, KU Early Education Care Team by accessing the available government grants and funding. All these support assist the inclusion of the child and the family. It provides tools in which we deliver a highly inclusive program. The elements of the family coordinator, professional learning funding, commitment of educators, individual learning plans, and the resources within the community assist this preschool to wrap around the family and the child into a quality inclusive programs.

[End of transcript]

Pauline Iacono, Director/ECT will share how they use email documentation as a means of communication with all stakeholders including invited feedback and program input, doubling as reflection of strategies used towards ILP goals.

Mittagong Preschool – Amplify Practice

Mittagong Preschool – Communication is the key

Duration: 05:39

Pauline Lacono:

Hello, my name is Pauline Lacono, and my presentation today is about communication is the key, keeping all stakeholders in the loop via email. Start off by going through planning and written communications as in the past. Now, we used to write a communication book and that was daily feedback, and was often about the just the day-to-day occurrences, sleeping, eating those kinds of things, and didn't really get into the nitty gritty of goals or strategies that we were using within our program. Parents and other services did record information, but it was quite infrequent often because it had to be at the end of a session or something like that.

We also then had the individual learning plan, but it was really only goal-based. And then we had a separate critical reflection where we evaluated the ILP goals, reflecting and documenting on the ELYF, the planned experiences, teaching strategies, child response progress, any verbal feedback from parents, families, or even from therapists and services involved. We evolved from that, and now our individual learning plan, which at my service are right, is based off the back of the IFSP meeting, and we include long and short term goals, teaching strategies as well. And then the support educator in this case, Aarav's support educator, Andrea, then tracks all the facilitated experiences, either planned or spontaneous over the term. And then each of those tract experiences then become part of the email each fortnight, including everyone from the core preschool staff to the parents and families, OTs, speech pathologists, physios, psychologists, allied health therapists, EIU teachers, dieticians, whoever's involved with that particular child's case.

Now here I show how a tracking sheet goes then to the reflection evaluation of teaching strategies and goals in a word document. So you can see here how we've got, Andrea has mentioned about some things that have happened in weeks one and two, and then she's reflected that in this email here, and then you can see, she's also talked about it in the seven and eight week term email. So, and so on and so forth. Now we come to the email. This is an example of imagings email, and Jenny, her support worker has sent that out on a fortnightly basis. The contents included in the body of the email, because we honestly found that when we attached it, that people are less likely to open an attachment and read it than they are to if the body's right there, as soon as they open the email. Feedback is welcomed and encouraged, and any feedback that we do get is incorporated into future planning.

Now we'd like to hear from, some feedback from our team. These emails provide me with chronological bites of information, invaluable when writing progress summaries. The timely record keeping ensures are on the pulse with areas of growth and understand each child's learning profile more deeply. As a support educator, I find the emails beneficial as it is a way of communicating families, therapists, and stakeholders. Through feedback and working collectively towards goals, they work as a springboard to go in a holistic understanding of where the child's current needs and strengths are. Thanks girls.

Now we're going to hear some feedback from involved services. These all came through to me via email. "The communication from staff is regular and comprehensive and provides an avenue for collaboration to ensure all parties are working towards common goals." That's from Laura, an early intervention teacher. Angela, the OT said, "Communication such as the fortnightly progress emails makes a significant difference in the successful planning and implementation of therapy at preschool."Michelle, a speech pathologist said, "It is this communication I find most valuable in monitoring students' progress and enabling myself in the preschool to adapt strategies to best support the children as their needs change." The fortnightly email is a great way to get a snapshot of what is happening at preschool, I usually plan my therapy sessions around these emails. Sharing information between all providers, therapists and carers contributes to greater success for the child." That's from Ruth an OT. Cammie, an early intervention teacher said, "I have found the regular learning goal and observation updates very useful when planning. It assists us to focus on similar areas and goals and to provide consistency to the child and their ongoing development." Lastly, Kelly, an OT said, "The fortnightly communication that is sent to the whole team is always timely, relevant, and often reveals a lot about the child that you wouldn't have always observedduring your sessions."

Finally, we'd like to hear some feedback from our families. Melanie, mother of Arlo said, "He has a significant physical disability and the team at the preschool have welcomed and embraced his every need. We love hearing how he has been included in every aspect of preschool life, and it's wonderful to know he's enjoying socialising and learning alongside his peers."Michelle, Imogen's mother said, "Regular emails about my child's progress at pre-school has been invaluable. It has provided a platform for my child's teachers and educators, therapists, and us her parents to be able to connect to help my child to successfully participate in her preschool." Thanks so much for listening to my presentation, I hope you enjoy the rest of the forum.

[End of transcript]

Midori Jobling, Deputy Principal Instructional Leader Preschool, shares their journey of inclusion, focusing on improving inclusive practices to benefit all children, especially those with disability.

Punchbowl Public School – Amplify Practice

Punchbowl Public School – Coloured hats, an ongoing journey of inclusion

Duration: 06:34

Midori Jobling:
Hi everyone. I'm Midori Jobling, and I'm excited to share a snippet of our ongoing journey of inclusion at Punchbowl Public School. In this presentation I'll be sharing with you some aspects of our work that have facilitated or enhanced this.

Firstly, the importance of developing our identity and secondly, engaging in two disability innovation projects. Our more focused journey of inclusion, if I was to pinpoint a concrete timelinebegan in earnest in 2019. Firstly taking very small steps but engaging in ongoing reflection. And then through it now, a more disciplined lens in 2020. As a whole school led by our principal Deiss Ellison we began to reflect on our school vision. One of the things that came out of that was that Punchbowl Public School is a P-6 school not a K-6 school with a preschool or a K-6 school with an early intervention unit and support classes. One entity with students been at the centre that drives what we do.

This led us to critically reflect on how our current structures, how we identify ourselves as a preschool and what the language that we used in our everyday interactions was reflective of this. Although we serve as preschool children and their families to access quality early childhood education delivered through the Early Years Learning Framework curriculum back then our preschool early intervention were operating as two separate structures. Without meaning to where we're in a way excluding and perhaps unintentionally segregating our students. Although we know that exclusion negatively impacts students with a disability, we still have two pedagogical and practise challenges that exist at the classroom and school level hindering inclusive early childhood education. One being in Australia 24.2% of students with disability are enrolled in segregated education, and another 15.5% in mainstream schools are separated from their peers. And two, the Early Years Learning Framework is not comprehensively applied to all children early intervention. Even though it represents the national foundation for quality teaching and learning of all children in early childhood education and care settings. This was an important step for us as we identify ourselves influences as the why we think, behave and interact.

Now at Punchbowl Public School, we are one preschool with eight sessional classes with four of those classes delivering an early intervention program. In our preschool, all our staff refer to as educators that is teachers, educational leaders in school learning and support offices. We all contribute and add value to children's learning. We are a community of learners. We engage into disability innovation projects, one, student voice Pictability. And the second one Inclusion Action Research, which I'll go into more detail. For our second project we engage in action research in partnership with Western Sydney University. Looking at inclusion between mainstream and early intervention preschool classes. Here at Punchbowl we've focused on improving inclusive practises to benefit all children, especially those with disability. We all share the playground every day for approximate 45 minutes.

So we wanted this to be the focus of our inclusion action research project. The intervention focused on implementing co-teaching and universal design for learning. You can see our research question now on this screen. The project comprise two action research cycles, one in each term supported by researchers from Western Sydney University. To build staff capacity and embed sustainable changes, including modifications to planning, structures and processes and strategies such as shared planning, roles and responsibilities and communication. The intervention entailed identifying actions or approaches to inclusion. On the slide there are some examples of this. We used a variety of qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. Some of which have been adopted from established research instruments and others adapted. Modified for the purposes of the project to ensure rigorous data was collected. We use surveys with staff and parents, observations of the children engaging on the playground to determine a play score, observation checklist, photographs, and staff reflections to name a few. I mentioned earlier, the pedagogical and practise challenges existing at the classroom and school level hindering inclusive early childhood education. This is what we're trying to change. We not only want to avoid segregation of students with disability at Punchbowl Public School, but we also hope to show that this is a model that can be scaled to other schools in New South Wales.

We're also trying to change how teachers feel about inclusion by increasing the self-efficacy when it comes to working with children with disability. In our work, we critically reflect all the time, but during the actual research, we challenge ourselves and our thinking. Becoming aware of personal biases and working through them, challenging our views, having a shared sense of identity and philosophy, that's what set the foundation for respectful interactions. We had a shared understanding and purpose, and I think the framing of the project around action research, can also provided a really safe platform for that to happen. One big change that happened this year was to change the operating hours of early intervention sessions. So now all children start and are welcoming to the preschool space together at 9:00 AM. Just to conclude my presentation. When you look at this picture, what do you notice? That's right. You notice children playing. Perhaps you also noticed that they have different coloured hats on. What you don't know is that each of our classes here at preschool has a different colour hat. You can see in this photo that all full coloured hats are present, meaning that there is at least one child from each of the mainstream classes, and at least one of each of the EI classes. Just children playing together. That's what children see when they're allowed to participate in an even playing field. It was hard to capture journey so far in this short snippet, but if you have any questions or wish to access further information or some of the research that we use, please visit our school website. And of course, feel free to contact me. Thank you once again.

[End of transcript]

Camilla Robertson, early stage one teacher will share how they establish connections with local preschools to support a positive transition and strong start to school.

Cessnock West Public School – Connecting with preschools

Cessnock West Public School – Connecting with preschools

Duration: 07:31

Camilla Robertson:
Hello, welcome to today's presentation, and thank you for inviting me to share with you what our school is doing to ensure students have a strong and successful start to school. My name is Camilla Robertson, and I'm an Early Stage 1 teacher at Cessnock West Public School.

Before I commence, I would like to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. And I thought I would share with you the acknowledgement that we do in my K-Art classroom. At Cessnock West, we like to say thank you to the Wonnarua, Darkinjung and Awabakal peoples for letting us share your land. We promise to look after it, the animals, and the people too. Together, we will touch the ground, we will reach to the sky, and we will touch our hearts in care of the land.

Education is one of the greatest gifts that we can give, and one of the most crucial moments in education is the transition period from preschool to Kindergarten. As teachers, we have the privilege to set up students with success from an early age, and that comes down to the experiences that we provide for these students and their families. At Cessnock West, we have a strong transition to school program, which supports the needs of students coming to school. Part of this program involves regular visits to nine local early childhood settings. This allows for early childhood settings in schools to work together as networks. So rather than it being about a set amount of transition and orientation sessions within the school, it's really about developing meaningful relationships by collaborating with local early childhood services. These visits allow us to develop strong connection with the staff, children, and communities of these services. We begin in Term 1, by contacting the centers to organise suitable times to visit. It's important to be mindful that the centers are very busy, just like our schools are with lots of external visitors, so it's imperative to be flexible and work around the preschool's availability and what best suits them.

During the visits, we have conversations with educators and ask questions about culture, readiness factors, language, experiences, likes and dislikes, and begin to develop student profiles. It's important to show the educators how much we value their time, the information they provide to us, the transition to school statements, and the opportunity to work collaboratively. In the early phase of the visits, we play, talk, and read to the students, but as the visits progress, we'd provide shared experiences, including dramatic play, nursery rhymes, gross and fine motor activities, finger plays, story puppets, essential moves, and sometimes, just wherever the experience takes us. The visits are between 45 minutes to an hour each and we always ensure that we take with us any of the resources that we will need. Depending on the day, we might have a small group of students that we work with, but usually it's all of the children at the service or the whole three to five year room. Here's some photos of some of the activities we do during our visits.

["We're Going To Be Friends" music playing

Fall is here, hear the yell

Back to school, ring the bell

Brand new shoes, walking blues

Climb the fence, books and pens

I can tell that we are gonna be friends

I can tell that we are gonna be friends]

Through these visits, we also gain information on what their learning has been like, what their learning dispositions are, what intentional teaching strategies have worked well for students, and any additional needs the students may have to ensure appropriate support is put in place for all students when they start school.

Once our school's transition team becomes aware of students coming to our school with special needs or disabilities, the school's Learning Support Team have additional visits to the preschool setting to work one-on-one with students, talk with the educators, and make appropriate adjustments to the transition process to meet the needs of individual students. Our transition team embrace the importance of strong partnerships and know that they support strong transitions. This means, really valuing and respecting the expertise and perspectives of professionals that are involved in the children's lives. So for children with special needs or disability, that involves including all of the allied professionals that work with that child. For aboriginal children, it might involve elders and the AECG. In addition, we have a strong face-to-face transitional program called Leap into Learning, which gives children the opportunity to learn, grow, develop new skills in a classroom environment. It provides a unique opportunity for children and family members alike to be introduced to the school, staff, and routines in a supportive and caring environment.

Last year, due to COVID-19, our transition team had to look at new ways of connecting with families and students. Our program was delivered on an app called Seesaw and activities and information was shared with children. Each week, kindergarten teachers would post a video on Seesaw for families to access, which includes activities such as songs, stories, rhymes, games, and fundamental movement skills. Seesaw also gives parents and families the opportunity to ask questions and provide information to us. This year, we are going to continue using Seesaw as we saw the positive impact it had on our connections with students and families.

Before I finish up, something that our kindergarten team are always conscious of is that the parent's input is just as important as anyone else's as they are their child's first teacher. Creating respectful, meaningful relationships with the parents through our transition program will build that trust in us as a school, and will allow them to pass on vital information. We can draw on their knowledge of their child, and it is another opportunity to help us understand their needs, likes, dislikes, strengths, and challenges. Looking into the future, we regularly evaluate our transition to school program and analyse the data collected from parents surveys. We will continue to develop relationships with key professionals and continue networking with schools and early childhood services to ensure best practice in transition. Thanks for the opportunity to share our transition learning journey with you today.

[End of transcript]

Preschool teacher and AP, Bec Dodds, preschool teacher Suzi Ward and Principal Mat Freeman discuss the process of inclusion for children with additional needs at Waratah PPS and the role that Transition to School Statements play in ensuring smooth transitions for all children. A case study of one child with a physical disability, will detail the transition process at our school.

Waratah Public – Amplify Practice

Waratah Public School – Inclusion for all at Waratah

Duration: 08:03

Mat Freeman:
Hi Suzi and Bec. Thanks very much. Can you just tell me a little bit about what data does the school collect, the plan for continuity and learning, from preschool to Kindergarten?

Bec Dodds:
In terms of community, we, the school, looks at the Australian Early Development Census, to see which domains children are at risk or vulnerable in. For Waratah, we have a need in the social, emotional, and communication domains. When planning the school plan, we look at those areas and use that to inform our planning cycle.

Mat Freeman:
How does the preschool work together with the school to plan for that continuity of learning?

Suzi Ward:
There's quite a few areas involved with that.The completion of the transition to school forms. We've spoken to a lot of Kindergarten teachers about this, and it can be quite overwhelming with a lot of information that is being asked, so it has to be meaningful. For the Kindergarten teachers to access information, that's important, because, 1 of the 22 children in the class. We make sure that we highlight the important areas of need, and work together as a staff. We also speak to Kindergarten teachers individually, and other preschools and centers too, that the children go to, so it's a team collaboration approach. Individual parent-teacher meetings, and then more informal chats, because we need to work together with our families. We want to make it friendly and approachable.

Mat Freeman:
What other practices do you implement to support children with a disability, or that require adjustments?

Bec Dodds:
We have a very active learning support team. What would include our school counselor, early intervention staff, support unit staff, and members from the executive team. In this meeting, we can refer families and students to external agencies, which we accommodate in our classes. We often have occupational therapists, or physiotherapists share information with us, and strategies that can be used to support children. We also are able to get a bit more background about families, and what they might need from us as a service.

Suzi Ward:
The timeframe is important as well, in terms of the physical layout. Children with identified needs, may need physical modifications in the classroom, or in the school. That needs to be done with the timeframe, that's not leaving things too rushed.

Bec Dodds:
We also assist families to access disability services, and help with the application, and NDIS. We can invite learning and support teaching specialists to come in and give summaries to the families about how their child's going within the classroom. A counselor can come in and observe, as well. We've really got a big support network within the school to help any student with a disability.

Mat Freeman:
What impact do these practices and data have, and how children experience the transition?

Bec Dodds:
From feedback from our families and teachers, we have found that the children are happy, and familiar with the environment. The teachers within the school, the families feel that they are supported, and have a relationship where they can speak to us when there is a need for further information, or if they're having trouble with things at home, we can have that continuity across home and school, a really strong sense of belonging for those families, strong relationships, and consistency across all services that the family are working with.

Mat Freeman:
Right. Thanks. Can you tell me a little bit more about a child with a disability that's been transitioned from preschool into Kindergarten?

Suzi Ward:
We have a little girl that was with us last year. Initially we organised, the parent came in for a visit. She told us of her child's disability. We organised a meeting, which involved all of the therapists that she was receiving support from. We talked about goals, and what she would need from us, and what was happening within the home. Any strengths that the child had, any challenges, and what the parents really wanted from their experience at our preschool. We developed an IEP, and a risk assessment, to ensure that the child was safe, but also supported in every possible way. We introduced all of our staff at the school to this child, and gave them a background of what her support needs were, how to manage any behaviour that they came across whilst in the preschool. The school counselor came and observed this child regularly, provided feedback, and gave us suggestions on anything else we could be doing. Regular learning support meetings throughout the year, just to update staff on how she was going, keeping everyone aware of who she was, getting ready for that transition into school for following year. In Term 3, we started very early with our transition to school program, where she was taken to the schoolby preschool staff every Wednesday, and had an hour in the classroom with the teacher that we had identified would be hers for the following year, and also the SLSO teacher's aide. The parents were kept up to date with photos to show that she was settled in the room. We also invited the assistant principal for learning and support, who also provided summaries, and observation notes to the family, giving further suggestions on what they may need to work on for the following year.

Bec Dodds:
Also sharing that information too, with existing childcare during the week as well. All of those strategies, it was a team approach, consistent. We allowed the OT to come to our service, and physiotherapist, and speech pathologist. Term 4, we met with another parent meeting to talk about the goals moving forward. An occupational therapist came to the school to assess the environment, and make sure it was suitable, and safe for the child's transition. The transition to school statement outlined all of the child's strengths, and goals, and strategies used in the class, so that that can be used in the following year, in that classroom. Lastly, we had handover meetings with the teachers, as well, to make sure that they had a good understanding of the child. Once they have started Kindergarten, we would check in each term to see how they were going, and if there's anything that we can help with.

Mat Freeman:
Suzi and Bec, thank you for your time.

[End of transcript]

This session will provide an overview of the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment (BSKA) and the guidelines in place to support inclusion of children with a disability, demystifying the BSKA experience for parents. The BSKA supplementary guide provides clear, explicit options to ensure equitable access to the assessment for all children.

Best Start Kindergarten Assessment for children with disability

Best Start Kindergarten Assessment for children with disability

Duration: 17:32

Welcome to this session of the Inclusive Forum. I would like to begin this session by acknowledging the Aboriginal people who have, for thousands of years, been the custodians of the lands where you are listening to this presentation from, and I acknowledge their strong, continuing connections to lands and waterways across New South Wales. I pay my respect to Aboriginal elders past, present, and emerging and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are joining this meeting.

Today, I come to you from Dharawal land. This session is the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment. My name is Merryn Watling, I'm the Professional Learning Coordinator for the Early Action for Success team, within Literacy and Numeracy, as part of the New South Wales Department of Education. Our team currently oversees the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment.

Our session today will delve into the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment. We'll share key information, bust some BSKA myths, and present established ways to support all students to engage in the assessment. I also look forward to sharing our resources with you. The Best Start Kindergarten Assessment supports the New South Wales Government's Literacy and Numeracy Strategy, and is mapped to the National Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions.

The strategy has been informed by the best available evidence on how to improve student outcomes in literacy and numeracy. The second of the five priorities of the strategy pertains directly to the Best Start Assessments. It states clear guidance on explicit teaching and better, faster diagnostic assessments. Research has shown that teachers are most effective when they can have accurate information about what their students know and are ready to learn next, and to tailor their teaching accordingly.

The Best Start Kindergarten Assessment is a one-on-one assessment for all Kindergarten students upon entry to school. It identifies each student's literacy and numeracy skills, and provides teachers with information to plan for differentiated teaching and learning. It's been conducted in all New South Wales public schools since 2010. It's mapped to the National Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions, and it's conducted in line with existing school practises. It builds upon the teaching and learning programs that support students in the transition to school.

Generally speaking, it's a once-off, point in time assessment that gives teachers a starting point to plan differentiated learning for all students. As early learning teachers, the key information about the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment should be familiar to you. The Best Start Kindergarten Assessment is a point in time assessment that provides teachers with information to plan for teaching and learning to meet the individual needs of students upon entry to Kindergarten. And is followed up by ongoing observations lodged in PLAN2 software that ensures the learning program for each child is differentiated.

A child's result from the assessment may change within a week. The teacher continually follows the student progress, noting observations as the student develops their skills. The Best Start Kindergarten Assessment focuses on some of the key literacy and numeracy skills students may demonstrate at the start of school. It is designed to be implemented flexibly by schools and teachers, and is supported by software designed to capture student information to support planning.

It provides information teachers can share with parents and carers, and enables teachers to record detailed information about the student's current literacy and numeracy skills, knowledge, and understanding. Guidelines state the assessment should be conducted during the first five weeks. This is a school-based decision depending on context, circumstances, and amount of students. It's very different conducting the assessment with five students compared to a larger school with 100 new Kindergarten students.

It is for all Kindergarten children, there are no compulsory or mandatory exemptions. All students in kinder are entitled to participate. It is also administered by a teacher. While this may not be the student's classroom teacher, it's always conducted by a skill-trained teacher. This teacher will have completed accredited training courses prior to administering and this training is updated to include any changes on a yearly basis.

These facts are written in the guidelines and followed by all participants. We know there are myths in the early learning parent community regarding the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment. We're here today to tell you the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment is not a test. It's not done in isolation by the student alone, there is no pass or fail, and there is no preparation required. Some of the myths we've heard involve tutoring, pass-fail grades, and results being used to determine future groupings for extension classes.

A quick Google search finds a large number of services offering academic tutoring for transition to Kindergarten. Some even using the phrase "Best Start Preparation." You might know this is teaching to the test. However, the Kindergarten teacher, who administers the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment, is looking for much more than a correct answer. While these services shown here focus solely academics, we do acknowledge there are also services who assist with transition by focusing on improving confidence, encouraging turn-taking, and play-based learning. What have you heard? What are some of the experiences that your parent community has shared with you?

As the team that manages Best Start Kindergarten, we have become aware of myths and rumours out in the community. The main reason we were asked to be here today to present was the concerns from early learning teachers who heard a lot of parents expressing thoughts about the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment that were unfounded. However, the same early learning teachers felt they weren't sure what was out there to dispel these concerns.

The concerns from parents predominantly were about increasing numbers of students being tutored, but also, how children with support needs would participate in the assessment or even if they were allowed to. As mentioned before, there are no mandatory or recommended exemptions. Each Kinder student is entitled to participate. We'll look at the case for exemptions further on in this presentation, but let's begin by dispelling some of those myths. This is an excerpt from the administration guide.

A common concern is the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment must be done prior to or on the first day of Kindergarten. In fact, schools are encouraged to undertake the process during the first five weeks. This is a school-based decision. There are many factors that affect the time chosen by a school to conduct the assessment, and this may differ even within the same school from year to year.

This year, we've had a school conduct the assessment with one child across a period of a few weeks, completing small components as the child developed their familiarity with the school environment. This arrangement was made with the school prior to the enrollment due to known support requirements. This decision could have easily also been made by the teacher during the beginning weeks, if the support needs were not known previously. There is no defined period of time in which the assessment must be completed, only recommendations.

Let's bust some myths about how the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment is administered. As I mentioned in the previous example, the assessment can be conducted over a period of time. One of the biggest factors here is the student's background including their daycare or preschool experiences. The student may need more time to settle into a group environment if they have not experienced formal schooling or large groups. This is not an exam. While a teacher enters the observations online, they may also make observations on paper while a student is involved in another activity with the whole class, and then, add this to the online program at a later stage.

Extensive guidelines are provided for the principal teacher and any support worker, such as a community language teacher, to provide support for all students to participate. We'll unpack these guides further shortly. Using PLAN2 provides teachers with student skill level information, including the ability to view observations at student, class or cohort level, and to focus on subgroups of skills. They can use this information to plan class programs immediately. Extensive delays or exemptions can delay the individualised programming that a teacher provides for students. This is the main reason we encourage the assessment to be held within the first five weeks. The observations guide the teacher's planning, not the future groupings of students.

Class groupings in larger schools are done with many complex factors taken into account. The parent feedback report is also shared with parents and carers and includes ways to support or extend their child at home. If a child moves schools, the results follow through with the child, so the new teacher can then see what had been assessed previously.

Every student should be given the opportunity to engage with the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment. Reasonable accommodations or adjustments for all students are a large part of the training given to teachers. These accommodations or adjustments may be things that are foreseeable, such as the student requiring braille text, or that the student can only attend school for a partial amount of time due to a medical restriction. There may also be unforeseeable or unplanned situations. For example, the teacher may find that the student requires a longer period of time to formulate an answer to a question.

When the reasonable accommodations and adjustments have been considered and are unable to be made, the teacher will then refer to the supplementary guide. This will support teachers in their creation of differentiated teaching and learning programs. The supplementary guide may be used as an alternative to the full assessment or for partial components as this example shows. If a student responded to the majority of the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment but did not respond to any of the reading tasks, the class teacher may only choose to meet with the student's family about the student's reading skills.

The supplementary guide is designed to be used with families and carers to support the teacher to develop a deeper understanding of the student's abilities when the assessment is unable to be conducted. Teachers may organise a meeting with the students, parents, and carers in order to gain insight into the behaviours observed at home. Meeting with families and using interpreters, when necessary, can allow for detailed conversation, information sharing, and elaboration. Teachers may also observe the student at school. They consider the student's skills, strengths, and areas of need with reference to the indicators in the first two levels of the learning progressions. The supplementary guide encourages the use of a meeting to discuss behaviours seen at home that may fill in the gaps not shown in the assessment.

The supplementary guide has a comprehensive set of questions that teachers use to guide discussions with family and carers that support individualised planning for the student. These discussions can also help to identify additional support needs that the school need to cater for, including any possible funding requests.

The supplementary guide also supports EAL/D students of all abilities to engage in the assessment. It's important to recognise a student with support needs may also be classified as EAL/D. A student's English language proficiency will impact their ability to demonstrate their understanding during the assessment. If available, bilingual staff, community language teachers, or EAL/D support teachers should be involved in the process of gathering information about students' proficiency in languages other than English. Their involvement may provide valuable information.

If all reasonable accommodations and adjustments have been considered, the decision may still be that an exemption is required. This decision lies predominantly with the parent. However, schools will encourage the use of accommodations and adjustments through a meeting with the family and carers before actioning an exemption. The decision and notes regarding this are kept by the school and entered into the software as an exemption. A clear flow chart is detailed within the guide for schools to follow.

The Early Action for Success team have created a variety of resources, easily found on the department's webpage for schools and preschools to use with parents and carers to support them with any concerns they have over the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment. These resources include PowerPoint presentations that are often used as part of orientation sessions, letters to parents, including translations, parent and carer information sheets, helping your child at home resources, including videos, booklets and an audio book, and our brand new animations, including one titled, "What is the Best Start Assessment?" This is where that statement comes from that you can see on your screen now.

The assessment does not require students to prepare or study, so don't be concerned if your child can't answer all the questions. An ideal animation to use with parents inquiring about tutoring. Let's watch that animation now.

- [Narrator] What is the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment? The Best Start Kindergarten Assessment is a statewide assessment that helps teachers identify the literacy and numeracy skills, which your child brings with them at the beginning of Kindergarten. The Best Start Kindergarten Assessment has been conducted in New South Wales public schools since 2010, and helps teachers understand a student's literacy and numeracy knowledge upon entry to school. The assessment does not require students to prepare or study, so don't be concerned if your child can't answer all the questions.

The Best Start Kindergarten Assessment provides teachers with information so they can plan effective teaching and learning programs. The assessment takes about 20 minutes each for the literacy and numeracy parts. Teachers usually conduct the literacy and numeracy components separately. The assessment is conducted one-on-one by your child's classroom teacher, who will make sure that your child feels at ease and is comfortable.

The literacy tasks are designed to identify a range of skills, such as word, sound, and letter recognition, early writing abilities, and ability to retell storylines from books that are read to them. The numeracy tasks are related to early number concepts. They identify a range of skills, such as number recognition, counting, early addition and subtraction skills, and ability to recognise repeating patterns. All of these are important literacy and numeracy skills that students will develop in their first year of school and beyond.

Teachers may organise a follow-up meeting with you as the parent or caregiver with information about the skills your child demonstrated during the assessment, and ideas about how you can support your child during the first year at school. For ways to engage your child in literacy and numeracy at home, please visit the Department of Education's website, education.nsw.gov.au.

[End of transcript]

Question and Answer style using questions submitted during registration and throughout the dayPanel:

  • Dr Jane Warren – University of Wollongong •Sarah Hanson - Director, Disability Strategy
  • Louise Farrell - Director, Inclusive Education
  • Anna McCracken –Social Strategist, Reimagine Australia.
Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion

Duration: 39:48

Jacqui Ward
- Again, I will just reiterate to our panellists that we've had really positive feedback from participants about your sessions. So thank you for sharing your knowledge and expertise throughout the day. It's been great. So this is where I think the first one is a little bit more of a provocation. It says here, "How are barriers overcome to support children with disability and additional needs?" So I'm happy for anyone to take that on and have a bit of a conversation about that.

- That's a big question because it depends on what kind of barriers, I guess, that we're talking about. So I'm assuming we're not necessarily talking about physical kind of barriers because those are the easier ones to overcome, I guess. I think from my perspective, and this is just a starting of this conversation is that when we look at whatever the barrier is, if we can just take one small step at a time. So for example, if it's, and I'm just making an assumption, this may not be at all what the person who posted the question was thinking. But say, there's some resistance with other staff members or other educators or other people within your team, then, you know, it's not about just going, "Well, this is what we're doing, and this is how we're doing it." Because that's going to, that's not necessarily going to assist. So it's about looking at what is their, what's their resistance about? What's the concern? How can we address some of those things to then maybe pave the way for better inclusion? If it's a barrier around other parents saying they'll withdraw their child because my child's getting hurt by that child with a disability. Then some of those things I talked about this morning about, really building that culture of inclusion in your centre. So the children are actually understanding some of those actions. It's absolutely not okay for anyone to get hurt. So we need to make sure we're protecting the children who don't have disabilities as well. But maybe it's about looking at what are those triggers to that behaviour? How can we support that child to potentially exhibit less challenging behaviours that are hurting other children? So what is the stepping stone rather than just going, "Oh, look, our parents are saying they won't come anymore." So we're going to have to ask that child to go. You know, it's pretty sad if someone gets expelled from an early childhood centre, really, isn't it? Like where's educational trajectory going? I don't think that's the answer, but they're just a couple of the barriers that may have been things a person was thinking about. But my advice is always one little step at a time.

- Yeah, I couldn't agree more, Jane. And I really think that there's oftentimes where people come to a sort of an end point with a problem or a challenge or a barrier and think there's no other way out. There is always other ways out if we start to look at different perspectives, we get people together, we build relationships. We talk about things and how everyone's experiencing things. So I definitely think about the idea of approaching something with eventually we're going to find a solution to whatever that problem is, is a good start, isn't it?

- And if you can't even within your own team, sometimes it's about recognising that within your own team. This actually is too hard for us. So rather than going, "Well, that's too hard, so we can't do it." Looking at this is too hard for us on our own, so we're going to have to get some additional help to be able to then take a step forward because while you never take those steps forward, you never take the steps forward. So sometimes we have to take one step forward and two steps back, and then two steps forward and one step back. But it's about gradually building that capacity. But recognising when you do need extra help, it's okay. And you know, we all know that something that works perfectly one day is not going to work even remotely the next day, which can kind of, can rock your confidence a little bit. But that's where having lots of different options, knowing lots of people. So knowing who you can contact or knowing somebody that might be able to provide that additional support to you while you work out. 'Cause if you get to the stage where you just go, "We do not know what to do." Then maybe somebody else can come in with some fresh eyes or a different perspective that might support.

- For sure. Louise or Sarah, do you have anything else to add or say to that one?

- Not a lot to add. I think that was a really good answer, Jane, other than there's probably no one single one size fits all answer. If I'm thinking from a school perspective, I think equally applies to early childhood. It's around, and we were, I've been in a recent meeting where we've been talking about how do we win the hearts and minds of our communities if the early childhood centre community that kind of provides a really great experience for everyone. And often, it's just around how things are framed, I suppose, in the discussions. How do we create a positive culture, a learning culture, supporting staff with professional learning, and all of those types of things. I think are all part of the answer, but there won't be one single one size fits all answer, particularly, in cases where children have and their families may have a high level of support needs.

- Yeah, I couldn't agree more, Louise. And I thought, one thing that when Jane was speaking then it was, the video that she showed kept popping into my head because I think advocacy is a really important answer to this question that we are not just, you know, we're advocates for children, whatever their needs are, whatever their passions are. And I think this is a great one where we do need to show our families why? And often, sometimes it is our job to walk people down a little pathway of showing them different people's experiences. And I think sharing a video like that, where the shoe's on the other foot where everyone, everything is set up to accommodate for disabled people, then it makes people think a little bit about the way they experience the world is not necessarily the way other people do. So I couldn't agree more. I think it's a really important message. Sarah, did you have anything to add?

- I think there've been great answers. The thing I was going to add was I think it often starts with listening. I know, often, particularly when you're in leadership roles and running the centres, everyone turns to you for the answer and you can feel like, "Oh my goodness, I have to have the perfect answer." And we've just heard all the reasons why that's an unrealistic expectation on anyone. And so it is about creating that environment where you can listen, you can bring in those different perspectives, but particularly, listen to the experience of those directly impacted in the scenario and what they think are solutions. It's amazing, even young kids can come up with incredibly creative solutions about what would work for them in a particular scenario that my brain would never come up with in a million years, if I just look at my own child. And there was a great thing that I'm actually going to shamelessly steal from an educator who shared with me that on their wall and computer, they had "WAIT", and it was, "Why am I talking?" And so it was when these issues were brought to them, it was actually to not jump to a solution, but take the breath. And before jumping to the solution, you actually just listen for longer and really hear all of the perspectives rather than jumping straight into solution mode.

- I just absolutely love that Sarah, because it's a good lesson for us in all of our interactions, isn't it? With families, children, and communities? And I think, I feel like it's a bit of an occupational hazard for educators and teachers to think they've got to, like, jump in and solve all the problems and they've got to do all the talking and they've, you know, like, whereas almost everything is going to be better if we do use that acronym. I really love it. Thank you, that's great. Anna's just joined us. Anna, I know that you may or may not have had a chance to either hear the question that we're talking about or look at it. But if you do, we just were talking about that one, "How are barriers to support children with the disability or additional needs? How do we overcome them?

- Yeah, I did hear. And hello everyone, it's lovely to be here. I mean, I'm a storyteller and a story gatherer. I think believing and hearing people into being is the most important thing we can do. And that happens through relationships. So I love what you were saying, Sarah, I call it the sacred pause, which is I try and just take a breath before I want to respond to anything which normally gets me to start to listen and to see what's happening in front of me. So definitely to those points, but on an advocacy level, something that, Can I just screen share? It would just be for two minutes so I just wanted to, it's easier than me to explain. Something that we've been using, so just the backstory really quickly to this one is that I was working with a family who were having challenges with the school they were going to. Their daughter was finding the socks really uncomfortable with that the wires just itchy. And in winter, it was fine because she was wearing long pants, but it came to the summer last year and she had to wear a skirt again. And the school wouldn't accept her, being able to wear different socks until the family had a diagnosis or more support letters around how they could then make reasonable adjustments. And we then became sort of in this back and forth. And I sat down one day and I was trying to explain to the principal around what we mean when we're talking about the medical model versus social model, but in reality. And I just wanted to share it briefly, and it's a tool which you can just take and use if it's helpful or not. What we were trying to say is that we want to move from medical to social model. And we talk about this in theory, but what do we actually mean? So we were saying, the school saying that Charlie needs a diagnosis, that was the name of the child. Charlie needs a diagnosis as she's the problem versus the school saying we do not have adequate support and understanding to alleviate the environmental factors. So we need to look at what the environmental factors are rather than focusing this on Charlie being the problem. So the medical model would say that the child is faulty. Charlie's the problem versus that Charlie's a valued member of the school community. And we want to have an environment that enables her to thrive. That the diagnosis is a push from the school so that in order to have a label and a diagnosis, that means that we then believe the situation. versus that we're trusting the voice of Charlie and her parents to talk about her needs. And we don't need expert advice on how to respond to something such as socks when she's asking how, she's telling them what she needed her to fit in. But we went down in this and we literally talked them through the point that they were taking and where we were trying to shift them to, which moved them from thinking about diagnosing her, which the school required for reasonable and necessary requirements to just actually looking at the environment and ways that you could support. And it was like a light bulb moment for the school that had been completely resistant and also for the family as well, for the father, who was trying to, after he read, he said, "Oh, this is what you're talking about?" So it was just a way to shift, but by putting the examples in there. And that just came to mind when the question came up before around, sometimes it's helpful to actually, we're talking about a big paradigm shift that we want to make when we're looking at barriers for children. But sometimes having them next to each other can be glaringly obvious around what we're talking about, that we're trying to shift that needle.

- That sounds great, Anna. In one of the sessions today, we had lots and lots of feedback from early childhood services saying, "Well, we've had lots of differing experiences of when we approach schools about this early enrollment and other things." And there's that idea that it's not always panning out, I guess, the way we've talked about it today. And so I do think that people do need resources again, to advocate for that message of inclusion and all those sorts of things and breaking down the barriers. But sometimes it's really hard when people approach thing with an us and them kind of, or in this case, it's one or the other and we need this. And so it's breaking down those barriers, I think, and that's a really great resource that I think would be great to share. So thank you, Anna. Does anyone else have anything else to say before I move on to the next one?

- The only thing I just want to add is that I think, I mentioned earlier that early childhood educators are really good at looking at individual children. But I think also early childhood educators are really good at working with children on what problems are and not always having the answers for children and working through things with children. But sometimes, when we're talking about disability, I think people feel bad that they don't know what the answer is. They feel like they should, you know, am I a bad person if I don't understand how to include that person? But you know, when we come across anything in our lives that's different, something we haven't experienced before we do need to get support to be able to learn about that. So I think, remembering that as well, that it's okay to not know things and it's okay to ask questions and it's okay to problem-solve all together.

- That's awesome, thank you. Well, I'm just mindful of time. So I'm going to move on to our next question, which probably is not a question that we can solve here, but maybe I thought I'd put it to the panel to have a think about in terms of if you've got any creative suggestions or whatnot. So the question is, "What are your thoughts around refugee children and families that can't access some supports? For example, NDIS due to visa status?" What can be provided or what could we do? It's a tricky one. that one, I think.

- Don't even start me on this topic.

- Okay.

- But I'll start. We've been pushing for this since like the NDIS drafting of the legislation that started happening in the end of 2011. This has been a national conversation. One of the challenges for it is that before state and territories were funded to deliver the supports. And so when the money and the consent and all of the data rolled into a commonwealth level, this particular situation became like sort of in limbo. Because the Commonwealth had then made it really firm in legislation that they weren't going to include children without permanent residency and states and territories both had sort of handballed most of what they did. And so the conversations still happening about, well, is it states and territories to pick up or not? And so this is a conversation I think that does have to be grounded in what the state and territory is doing. And what we know that is happening nationally is that it's actually community responses that are actually trying to fill the gaps in this issue. Because there's not, there hasn't been a national change in that yet. And as we know, under the NDIS, is that services are already strained in terms of what they can provide. And before, even some states and territories actually didn't necessarily provide supports to children with permanent residency. But organisations were funded in a way that they could sort of bring children in and make it work financially through block and collective funding. And it's different under individualised funding now. There is no answer, but we need to keep getting really, really loud about this because it's increasingly becoming more and more of an issue as philanthropy as well has pulled back from funding a lot of not-for-profit services because of the belief that the NDIS is the cash cow And what we actually need is if we can't get change in legislation and policy, we need a very strong philanthropic or a different way of funding the same services. So we also don't have a residual second class system for children who don't have permanent residency, either that they are accessed the same high quality services through the same pathway, so it's complex. And it's an issue that I love. When I saw it come up before, I cried a bit, just the fact that it's still a conversation. It just needs to keep on being a loud conversation, 'cause it's completely unacceptable, like, it's tragic.

- And is that something, Anna, that your organisation recommends writing to your member of parliament or anything like that to sort of address that issue or?

- Yeah, absolutely. We've done like, over the years, we've done a lot of email campaigns, local MP campaigns, state campaigns. It's in pretty much every submission we make. It's in our national action plan. Yeah, we just keep on talking about it. We know that the legislation hasn't been amended, we thought that they were going to open it up for changes, and so we're pushing for it again. So no, we're now trying to work out creatively, how we make sure that these children are supported. Why don't we-

- That's great.

- [Anna] Yeah.

- It's definitely good to know. I think the bit of the background and that there is some action, someone knows about it and there's some action being taken. But does come back to everybody again, advocating for those children as well. Louise, did you have? Sorry.

- Just quickly, I know if there's, if you have a child in your service that's excluded, then you absolutely should take with obviously consent and on the journey with the family. That's where you really should go with the local MP and go on a pathway. The main changes that we've seen in a lot of the NDIS related things have started with local MPs and state and national pressure happening that has been able to shift policy. Now, this is legislative, so it's a bit different. However, I think when you've got, when you are working with a family, you've got that relationship. It's through story and experience that really gets things happening. So I would encourage that, yeah, that advocacy happening on the ground.

- Awesome, did you want to add anything, Louise?

- I think Anna's covered the NDIS and legislation really well. The only thing I would say, and this is from a school perspective. If there is, and or when there are students in our schools from a refugee background, even if they don't have a diagnosed disability, schools do receive funding to meet the needs of all the students in their school. And so along with every other student, we would be expecting that their needs would be met regardless and without wanting to kind of drum up business for another government agency and not wanting to take disability into a medical model. New South Wales Health does offer quite a lot of supports. I'm sure they would say that they would, could offer more if they had additional funding through the Refugee Health Service and the supports that are provided there, so.

- Yeah, that's great.

- And they're actually really good at finding creative solutions to support refugee families as well. So if you are struggling, then that might be a point of call that might be able to point you in the right direction as well.

- That's really great to know as well. Jane, did you have anything you want to add there?

- No, I think, if there's challenges around in an early childhood setting, for example, certainly the legislation and funding and stuff has been covered. But just like we would with any children, just looking at what is it that that family really needs, and even if it is outside your experience, just working through that again, taking those little steps and thinking about that it might be totally outside of something that you've experienced before. And then if there are further complexities, we're talking here about if a family's experiencing one of these complexities. But sometimes there's families experiencing more than one of these complexities. And it's just about looking at what are the priorities for the family and then taking steps towards trying to achieve some of those.

- Well, that's fantastic. That's a really nice well-rounded answer to all of those. So thanks, panel members. I'm going to move on to the next question. So during the session, "Capacity building to support inclusion", there were many comments relating to schools being available for collaboration around transition. Concerns including gaining feedback on transition to school statements and beginning transition processes well before children start school. Are you able to comment on the expectation of schools around the level of involvement with early childhood services when children with a disability are being supported to transition into kindergarten? I'm just going to say before I throw over to the panel, because that definitely is the Early lLearning team's remit to support schools with transition. And we did publish last year, as I said, some transition to school guidelines, encouraging schools to engage with a range of high quality evidence-based practise around connecting with communities, in particular, early childhood services. And there's a range of resources that support a differentiated approach for different groups, as I said this morning, including one that specifically targets children with a disability or children and families with a disability. So there are lots of resources there. And what I would encourage early childhood services to do is to draw on these guidelines and bring them to the attention of your local schools, obviously, in a very respectful way. But just saying, like, these are the guidelines that are meant to guide our practise. And this is, again, drawing on the evidence-based. So it's not just something that we are, it's not our opinion. It's actually the research is demonstrating that these things are really meaningful. And one thing I didn't mention this morning, but wanted to, as I mentioned, to say that the department has a strategic priority. It's first goal, which is all about children experiencing a strong start to school and life and experiencing, learning throughout. I'm again, getting all silly, 'cause I didn't write down the exact strategic goal, but I'll read it out after you guys have had a little chance to comment and if you'd like to on this one.

- I don't know. I think you covered it fairly well. And I think this morning, I mentioned similarly, we've put out guidance and conversation guides and training and the like, for schools reinforcing that and building off work so that people are hearing the same message from different angles, from the department. But as with anything, sometimes those messages, they take time to filter through. But it also when you're just talking about the sheer volume of staff, it's like every bit helps. However many times different people can raise it and point it out, it's an ongoing effort to ensure that everyone is aware of those guidelines and the evidence-based.

- Definitely, and I think one of the things that we do really need to unpack cross-sectorally is that idea that we're not on different sides of a ravine, we're actually working together. And if we think about children at the centre of around connection and our communication, that's the thing that brings us together, isn't it? The child at the centre of what we're doing. And I think that's a great way to think about a lot of our complex relationships and the way we manage it. If we look at the children at the centre of our decision-making, it tends to bring all the parties together. 'Cause that's the one thing that everyone has in common, isn't it? Families have children at the centre, schools do and early childhood services do as well. So is there any-

- But I think, I was just going to say, I think it often does come down to that individual person, the individual teacher, whether it's from the school system or whether it's from the early childhood centre, and we've probably all seen or hopefully experienced those great examples of where that transition is so beautiful because everybody is working with childhood centre. But we've also seen examples where an early childhood centre says to a family, there's a great centre down the road who would cater for your child much better and palm them off down there. And then we've seen schools where they do a similar thing where, of course, we'll take your child because you know, without saying that they have to. However, we know that that school down the road does a really good job of this. And so sort of directing the parents into an area where the parents weren't originally going to go. And I think, it does often come down to that, to those really individual decisions and individual leadership in schools. And as Sarah said, you can have all the things in place. And you know, sometimes I feel like at conferences, even you're kind of preaching to the converted because even all the people who are in this inclusion forum today have chosen to come because they value what we're talking about. And there's a lot of people out there who didn't come because they don't. And that's the unfortunate thing, I think.

- Yeah, I couldn't agree more. I just wanted to read out that strategic goal properly, 'cause I do know them. It's all children make a strong start in life and learning and make a successful transition to school. So that's the, but there's lots of our strategic goals that relate to children really, schools are supporting children, early child services supporting children to be known, valued and cared for and all of those sorts of things. So I do think it's a real priority. So I've got a few more that have come through while we've been talking. There's one here that asks about, and this is possibly for Louise or Jane. Are there any grants that schools can access to set up Playgroups for families that can't access early childhood education services? It's not something that I know of. I don't know if you, if anyone's aware.

- I'm not aware of anything through education. No, sorry, Jackie. There used to be funding sources through what's now, Department of Communities and Justice, but I'm not aware of anything.

- So that's what pretty much what I was going to say as well is unfortunately, I'm not really sure about different funding sources in different areas. So the support of Playgroup I'm involved in is funded through Department of Communities and Justice. But if someone was looking to start a supported Playgroup within their local area, maybe you could even contact like Playgroups Australia and see what else is available in the local area and whether they're willing to contribute to something like that, or maybe it's about looking for a community grant, more like a Woolworths grant or something like that as a starting point. And then maybe once it is successful in the local area, then it might even be more an organisation like the Lions club or someone like that that might contribute funding. But in terms of any formal sort of funding, I'm not really sure.

- Well, that's a great suggestion. Thanks, Louise, as well. We have also got some Playgroups that's one of the options that we've suggested for our early intervention classes. So if you happen to be in that area or we've also got Schools as Community Centres in some of our schools as well, and they do also run Playgroups as well. So there are some options available, but I know they're not available in every area, but I think there's some great suggestions there for people to run with. Anna, did you want to add anything to that?

- I was going to give a shout out to some of my favourite people in the world, which is Playgroup Australia. And obviously, there's Playgroup state-based as well. But I think having a conversation either with Playgroups in New South Wales or going to Playgroups Australia, which has got a few more staff and resourced is a really good point you go to. 'Cause sometimes I'm looking for reflect on that, that might be useful here. But it might actually already be happening, but we just don't know about it or they might already be in the process of really wanting to start something, but the conversation just hasn't started yet. So I would really encourage going to Playgroups Australia through ILC grant. They're doing some amazing work in the space and expanding as well in some of the ways that they're rolling out programs. So if you are keen on, I would just, yeah, definitely contact them.

- Yeah, I love that. And I think where there's a will, there's a way definitely finding the path.

- And maybe even trying to, like I know of, even in our local area, there's people who don't know about the supported Playgroup I'm involved in. And often, it can be quite a fragmented system that people are doing good things, but other people don't know what other people are doing. So if you do find out that there's something available in your local area or somewhere nearby, then maybe contacting them and seeing, you might be able to develop something together that can support families. So back to that point before, if we all remember what we're here for and who we're here for, then it doesn't have to be about a competition either. It can just be really about supporting the children and families in the area.

- Yeah, I couldn't agree more, definitely. Well, that brings us to a final question and I feel like this is such an age, old question. Any suggestions or strategies to approach a family if there's a concern about their child? So I know that we all probably get asked this one regularly. And again, if we've got some resources to share we can always add them in after the forum. But does anyone have any, I mean, my default one is to be, to think about staying within your own area of expertise. So if you're a teacher and you know what's within the range of, I'm going to use an inappropriate word, but normal development or the range of developmental milestones for that age group, things like that. Things like being patient and building a relationship with families is really important before you have any of these kind of conversations. Because it's not something you can jump in when families enrol their child and the next week you're coming to them with, you think there's all these sorts of concerns like, so observations and evidence and all those sorts of things are good as to say, why do you have these sort of niggling concerns or whatnot? But those are some of the things that I always say rather, I'd like to hear from you guys as well and your expertise.

- So my initial thought was absolutely what you just said, Jackie, about. Remember relationships that nobody wants to hear from someone that they don't care what they have to say. So don't bombard a family when they're new to you, collect that evidence for want of a better word, collect some observations, build the relationship with the family. And remember that sometimes family's resistance in some of those conversations is a bit of a defence for them. We have to remember that this is not an easy bit of news for somebody to get. So remembering that you want to know the family and know a little bit about how they might respond. And that's an important thing. And reimagine Australia does have a great training program around does this child need help, that does look at how to really, it's probably a two-hour component really to try to answer in such a short time. But there's so many elements that you need to think about in terms of having those conversations with families. So don't dive in too quickly. And I think that "WAIT" example before is something we need to think about in relation to this, don't jump into the conversation because it's overwhelming. As teachers, to have those conversations can be overwhelming as well. So sometimes we rush into them without being really prepared and that won't work for you and it won't work for the family. So taking some time.

- For sure. Anna, would you like to jump in?

- Yes, can I build on that? And thanks for the promotion, Jane. I have to say that resource is the way it is because of your magic brain. So putting that back on you, but yeah, that's 'Does this child need help?' Firstly, I was going to say the first thing that came to mind was that it's an uncomfortable conversation and it's okay to be uncomfortable, and you can even name that. And Adrienne Maree Brown, one of my favourite writers talks about moving at the pace of trust in relationships. And I think, when you can move at that pace, which is sounds more romantic than it is on a day to day, because we often have time pressures. And there's a sense of urgency, particularly when there's a concern and I can sense that. But moving at that pace of trust in relationships is critical. And the last thing in terms of acronyms, one of the things I use in my training is solar because I love the solar system. But solar is, firstly, S, is for space. So ensuring that you as a person have the space, have the conversation at that moment in that time that you feel okay. And that you are creating a space that you're able to hold for someone else. O being, having an open conversation. So rather coming in with a concern in with your, the thing that you've got on your mind, having a bit of a conversation and asking someone what they feel, what they've observed and really sharing that power dynamic. Because it's probably, that that's probably comes out and merges in that conversation. L is to listen deeply as someone is speaking. A is to acknowledge. So acknowledge how they might feel, how you might feel that you might be uncomfortable, that they might be really struggling and normalising that as well. And then R is for referral or resource. And so you don't have to have all the answers to solve on that day, but you can commit to maybe in the next conversation sitting down and talking about some helpful resources or maybe someone they can talk to, so you can share that together. So I'm not sure if that's helpful, but that's another acronym which can keep in mind.

- Well, I've got to say, I reckon that's one of the most helpful acronyms I've ever heard. Because so many powerful things that you mentioned there, Anna, about that sharing of the power dynamic, especially really resonated, you know? And I think back about conversations that I've had that, often, we remember the ones that didn't go so well. But when I remember the things, the conversations that I've had around this that have gone really well and the outcome for the children, has for the child, has been so amazing, because you have had that type of solar conversation. So I thought that was really great. I don't know if anyone else has anything to add.

- I'd only say there that I think the R can also Anna be about that reflection, 'cause that is such an important thing to, when we do have conversations and like you just said, Jackie, you can either reflect on how well something went or what you could do differently next time. And we always learn from every experience we have, we learn something from it. And so, if you do have a conversation with a family that you're not very happy about how it went, don't be too hard on yourself. You think just remembering to reflect on that and think about what you could do differently in the future.

- Yeah, and that's a really, really key point, isn't it? Because a big part of our professionalism, and I think in developing our professionalism is developing our emotional intelligence to be able to handle things better next time and to use all of our experiences to, again, be those advocates for children and whatnot. Sarah, did you have something to add?

- The only thing I was going to add, I love the solar acronym and building on that. Not always, but sometimes, what I've seen labelled resistance is genuinely different experience you in an education context as seeing the child in a way and in a set of interactions, which might not resemble anything that the family has seen the child experience. And so it's about how do you actually offer the opportunity for the family to see it if there's not a natural way that that is coming up in their home life? And so it's about bridging that gap between sort of the home experience and the educational experience and giving the family the opportunity to sort of understand how that might be playing out for their child.

- And yeah, I couldn't agree more. When we think about our experience with, we may have worked in our careers, especially, if we've been in the biz for a while, we may have worked with hundreds of three or four-year olds or five-year olds or 10-year olds or whatnot. So we've got that collective experience about what sort of to expect at different stages and in different circumstances. But families have got often only their one child with their experience at that time. And yeah, it can be a bit challenging and a bit tricky. Awesome, well, I think that was really great. Lots of really great positive comments about the acronym as well, Anna, in the chat, so really great to hear. I am aware that we've now gone a minute over, so I just will offer the opportunity. Well, first of all, to say thank you to all of the wonderful presenters throughout today. And thank you to our panel for coming back at the end of the day and giving and sharing so much of your wisdom. I thought that was a really great way to finish the day.

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