Wanslea created an interesting new position this year to enhance the quality of children’s services. Here’s how it works.
Two highly qualified people were appointed to job-share the new Practice Leader, Pedagogy, role: Dr Jenny Jay and Kylie Ridder.
They support staff across all of Wanslea’s early learning and development centres, out of school hours care, family day care and in home care.
But first, what is pedagogy? It’s the method and practice of teaching.
“The staff in Wanslea’s childhood services are classed as educators,” says Kylie. “Sitting behind the work they do is a long history of understanding the way children learn best, how they develop over time and how best to support them.
“We help the educators to put into action all the quality principles of early learning and development, in a way that puts the child first. We look at how educators can provide the environment, program or support that is best for young children.
“The best early education is driven by the needs of the child and what’s best for families to support their children. We help educators to give the right information to families with confidence.
“Behind early learning and development is the mandated Early Years Learning Framework, a national curriculum based on what’s best for young children. This is supported by a stringent accreditation process.
“We look at how to educate the educators to get the optimum outcomes for young children and we encourage them to reflect critically on their own work.”
Kylie and Jenny agree that their role highlights Wanslea’s emphasis on quality care and education for young children.
Getting to know the educators
Kylie and Jenny started by spending time with the educators to form a picture of the support they needed. From there, they tailored very targeted programs for specific learning.
“We use a full range of ways to do professional learning – workshops, modelling the behaviour, one-on-one coaching,” Kylie explains. “We will work with educators who have challenges in their roles, for example, looking at how to talk to a parent, or build relationships in the workplace.
“Each Early Learning and Development Centre must have a quality improvement program. This is a mandatory document for accreditation. We are working with the educators to help them understand what the document is about, how each staff member can contribute to it and to see it as a living document. Professional learning is long-term, it doesn’t happen in one workshop. We will continue to work with educators to help them make sure the improvement program is generated by all staff contributing and regularly updated.
“Another workshop stimulated creative ways for educators to create interesting and engaging environments for children. We then supported the educators as they put their ideas into practice.
“We are seeing changes in the way educators are building their service environments. They are putting more thought into the resources they collect, depending on the children’s interests and strengths, and building on observations of the children. There is intention and purpose in the way the environment is set up. We have also been working with educators to think about the sustainability of the resources they use.”
Wanslea has signed up to REmida, which collects clean industrial waste materials for recycling through education centres. Educators can use materials such as fabrics and plastics in a number of ways, for example in arts projects to make plant pots, for children to use in play and stimulate imagination.
“In the sector, we call this Loose Parts Play,” Kylie says.
“Wanslea is forward thinking in creating this position dedicated to improving practice. It says something important about Wanslea’s desire to have high quality services in its work with young children.
“We acknowledge how educators and coordinators have embraced the pedagogy role and are keen to improve their practice. They ask questions,invite us in, suggest topics for us to cover – really reaching out to us.”
Jenny was the Associate Professor for Early Childhood Education at Curtin University, and Kylie Ridder, a member of Wanslea’s Early Childhood Early Intervention Program, also lectures at Murdoch University’s teaching courses (Early Childhood/Primary).