Winners of the 2019 Victorian Early Years Awards announced

20 NOVEMBER 2019

Now in its 14th year, the Early Years Awards ceremony was held at the National Gallery of Victoria on Tuesday 22 October 2019 to recognise the crucial work of early childhood professionals in helping young children to learn and thrive. Seven organisations and one early childhood teacher were recognised for their achievements and contributions to the Victorian early childhood education sector.

VIT would like to congratulate the following teachers involved in these awards.

Early Childhood Teacher of the Year

Awarded to an early childhood teacher who demonstrates innovation and exemplary practice in early childhood education, and making a significant contribution to the development and delivery of high quality early childhood education programs that improve outcomes for children.

Leanne Mits, Pope Road Kindergarten, Blackburn

Leanne has an unwavering commitment to early childhood learning and is dedicated to providing children with a rich and rewarding educational experience. Her practice combines current teaching skills with broader thinking of what early childhood education means and the importance of children's formative years.

She believes strongly in connecting children with the history, culture and stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and has led development of the kindergarten's Reconciliation Action Plan. Leanne's commitment to early learning has evolved through progressive thinking and continued research.

Minister’s Award

The Minister’s Award is a special commendation that has been selected from the pool of finalists across all seven categories and presented by the Minister. The winner of this year’s Award is for a partnership that has demonstrated remarkable success in supporting their children to transition from kindergarten to school.

Keysborough Primary School; Walking from one room into another won this years Minister’s Award for their partnership with Darren Reserve Kindergarten in supporting children to transition from kindergarten to school.

The Walking from one room project team decided to improve the transition from kindergarten to school for local children by developing a shared curriculum and a suite of new initiatives.

This approach was designed to support the developmental journey of children and help them build oral language, curiosity, confidence, creativity, commitment and cooperation skills.

The partnership team has noticed significant improvements with children being more comfortable learning in school and parents are better informed about what to expect during the transition.

The Emeritus Professor Collette Tayler Excellence in Educational Leadership Award

This award is presented to an early childhood service that has supported its educators and teachers to use intentional teaching practices to achieve improved outcomes for children and their families.

The Geelong College received this award for a collaborative project between teachers and educators form the College’s early learning centre and Junior School that has led to greater understanding between the two learning areas.

In 2019, teachers and educators from the early learning centre and the Junior School trough to year 3 have been undertaking a professional learning project together. Learning projects have included audits of technology use across the Junior School, an audio-visual representation of the 'hundred languages' using children's many expressive arts, and sharing numeracy experiences and teaching strategies.

The project has drawn an enthusiastic response and has allowed early childhood educators, early childhood teachers and primary teachers to work together and improve their understanding of each other's learning environments.

Creating Collaborative Community Partnerships

Balnarring Preschool was awarded the Creating Collaborative Community Partnerships Award as a service or initiative that promotes collaborative practice to support and demonstrate positive outcomes for children and families. This centred on their programs promoting engagement with Australian First People’s cultures.

Since 2010 the organisation has been introducing First Peoples world views into its practice and community. This has been carefully guided by Elders from the Boon Wurrung Peoples, on whose land the preschool stands.

First Peoples perspectives are now incorporated into all areas of the daily curriculum, allowing children to learn and explore the Boon Wurrung language, stories, songs and dances.

In 2015 the Bundjil Nest Project (BNP) was established, extending the learning at the preschool to other local services, including schools and early learning centres. In 2018 the Balnarring Preschool held a festival celebrating and honouring First Peoples Cultures.

The popularity of these initiatives, and the high level of enrolments, demonstrate the success of the program.

Supporting Parents through Evidence-based Practise

Rosanna Golf Links Primary School has improved the reading skills of its Foundation children through the Sound Partnerships program.

Families are central to the program, as it views parents and carers as active educators in inclusive, three-way partnerships with staff and children. Parents are empowered through being given access to learning intentions and resources that allow them to understand and reinforce classroom teaching at home. Family knowledge is further built through information nights and sharing information with other parents.

The program works by teaching children letters, sounds, reading and spelling explicitly, synthetically and in a systematic and cumulative manner.

The program has yielded excellent outcomes. Reading ability in Foundation students has improved significantly and many parents have reported a growing love of reading at home.

View the other winners and finalists for the 2019 Early Years Awards.