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Congratulations to the winners of the Victorian Early years Awards 2020

The Victorian Early Years Awards celebrate the exceptional contributions of the early childhood education sector.

VIT would like to congratulate seven organisations and an early childhood teacher who have been recognised for their contributions to improving the learning and development of young children and their families.

Early Childhood Teacher of the Year 

Josette Nunn, kindergarten teacher and educational leader - Yarram Early Learning Centre

Josette Nunn has developed a unique educational philosophy based on an interweaving of contemporary early childhood theories and practices, and the ‘fabric’ of a place through this approach, Josette designs learning programs that include the heritages of the children, families and community.

By emphasising the importance of the community, Josette refers to the area surrounding the Yarram Early Learning Centre as being “surrounded by a tapestry of possibilities” and, through her teaching, encourages children and families to immerse themselves in their community.

“Jo has shown exceptional skill in making learning visible to children, families and the community so that it is informative, user-friendly and inclusive,” judges noted.

Josette’s ability to create inclusive and engaging environments for early years learning, recognises the diverse nature of children's learning styles and knowledge. By engaging children’s curiosity and ability to learn through discovery, she is giving agency to children’s voices and fostering their ability to explore and grow in understanding in ways that meaningfully engage their local environment and community.

The Minister's Award

Selected by the Minister of Early Childhood, the award is a special commendation that has been selected from the pool of finalists across all seven categories.

Special Kindergarten Program – Royal Children’s Hospital Education Institute

In April 2013, the Royal Children’s Hospital Education Institute (RCHEI) introduced a funded kindergarten inpatient program at the Royal Children’s Hospital, facilitating their engagement in early learning for four-year old children hospitalised due to illness, injury, or for children experiencing disadvantage and adversity. 

In partnership with families, enrolled kindergarten programs, hospital medical and paramedical staff, and cultural organisations, the program provides high-quality learning opportunities to children who have limited to no access to community kindergarten settings due to ill-health, vulnerability, disadvantage or hospitalisation.

Head of Education at the RCH, Erin O’Rourke, said the Education Institute was honored to receive the acknowledgment. “We are thrilled to be recognised at the 2020 Victorian Early Awards," she said. "Our Special Kindergarten Program provides improved access and participation in early learning for children, by implementing a comprehensive virtual learning program to support children and families.”

The RCHEI Special Kindergarten Program is improving access to education and the participation of children in hospital and post-discharge by supporting early learners and their families during and after their hospital experience.

The Emeritus Professor Collette Tayler Excellence in Educational Leadership Award

This award is presented to an early childhood service or approved service provider that has led their educators and teachers to significantly improve the quality of their learning and teaching practices, with a focus on intentional teaching practices to achieve improved outcomes for Victorian children and their families.

Haileybury Early Learning Centre

The leadership team has based their approach to learning on what children know now and are ready to learn next, using evidence-based practices to inform differentiated learning approaches and to measure their impact, ensuring exceptional learning outcomes for all children.

Place-based education, kinship, culture and language in early years education is an important focus for the education leaders at Haileybury’s ELC. Embedding values of sustainability and evidence-based inquiry into their early years learning program, they are developing innovative age-appropriate assessment tools and enabling teachers to inform approaches to further children’s language and literacy skills.

Continuity of Early Learning

This is awarded to two or more early childhood services, schools and / or other organisations that support continuity of early learning through successful transitions.

Buddy Reader Program – Leopold Child and Family Centre

In 2019, the Leopold Child and Family Centre initiated an innovative Buddy Reader Program linking the children at Jellyfish Kinder with Leopold Primary School students. The Leopold Library Grade 5 children were buddied-up with the kindergarten children as they would go on to be their buddy in the following year at school. The program had the Grade 5 children visit the Kindergarten weekly for a session followed by a walk to the local library with their buddies. Nicknamed ‘Jellypold’ by the children, the program is easing the transition of early learners into school and making a positive impact on children and their families. As well as improving children’s literacy, a greater focus on improving relationships and wellbeing has developed – for the kindergarteners and their buddies.

Congratulations to all the winners and the finalists.