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  • What is the NQS saying about using the EYLF?

    H all, I thought I would start a new converstion given that most states and territories have now had access to the DEEWR Information sessions about the National Quality Standard. If you ahev nt been able to get to one of the sessions here is the link to the DEEWR web page with the information.
    I guess as a start I was excitied to see that curriculum and pedagogy are up from in Quality Standard 1. I guess for me this signals the importance and recognition of learning in the early years for all children in whatever setting. So then I move on to the wording of what is expected under this standard in realtion to the EYLF.
    I have copied over the relevant section of the document.

    The Early Years Learning Framework (or other approved learning framework) informs the development of a program for each child that enhances their learning and development. 1.11 The Early Years Learning Framework (or other approved learning framework) guides curriculum decision making and enables each child’s learning in the five outcomes:
    • Children have a strong sense of identity
    • Children are connected with and contribute to their world
    • Children have a strong sense of wellbeing
    • Children are confident and involved learners
    • Children are effective communicators.
    1.1.2 Curriculum decision making is informed by the context, setting and cultural diversity of the families and the community.
    1.2 The program for each child takes into account their strengths, capabilities, culture, interests and experiences.
    1.2.1 Each child’s current knowledge, ideas, culture and interests provide the foundation for the program.
    1.2.2 Every child is supported to participate in the program.
    1.2.3 Each child’s learning and development is assessed as part of an ongoing cycle of planning, documenting and evaluating children’s learning.
    1.2.4 Critical reflection and evaluation of children’s learning and development, both as individuals and in groups, is used as a primary source of information for planning and to improve the effectiveness of the program and teaching strategies.

    I am delighted and relieved to see that there is no expectation that we need to present evidence of children 'performance' against the outcomes. The emphasis I see is wisely on the curriculum decision making that 'enables' children's learning in the five LO's. I would love to hear what others think about this and whether I am reading this accurately.

  • #2
    I agree with you Sandra, I think this is great that the curriculum and pedagogy are up front.

    I not sure there is no expectation for evidences though against the quality standard, I think we have to find ways that demonstrate how we plan and implement so that outcomes are embedded in our decision making processes. I would think that by carefully reflecting on the Principles and Practices within the EYLF that this would be the key to how these are embedded - understanding our mission, who we are and what we are doing and where and how we connect with children, families, each other and beyond.

    The trap for many is that they could think we have to reinvent what we do now, I think we have to revisit, but I am reflecting on another of your posts, and do we have to change everything we do - I think maybe we have to know more deeply why we do it! That is I think one of the challenges. Just my thoughts really. But Im also thinking of agencies/companies out there selling the next big solution to meeting the new NQS and people being sucked into buying systems they don't fully understand.

    If we sat down in our teams and unpacked each of the statements above, we would find (hopefully) a myriad of ways that we do this, and the evidences that demonstrate this.

    I hope that made sense. Still mulling over staffing teams for 2011 and also in the midst of finalising our transition statements for children moving onto "big" school in 2011. I would love to hear what others think on this.

    Have a great day.


    • #3
      Hey Sandra - I think I'll challenge you (because its Sunday afternoon and I'm avoiding the things that I should be doing) and say why wouldn't we want to present evidence that children are achieving those outcomes? How else will we know that we've made a difference to children? Why are we so scared of showing that we've made a difference to children?

      I always think about what Bernard Spodek said about early childhood education - he said that it was a deliberate intervention in children's lives and that children were supposed to come out of our centres in a less natural state than when they went in. Isn't the issue HOW we measure children's achievement against those outcomes, HOW we use that information and HOW we report on it?

      In South Australia, preschool teachers have been required to write reports on preschool children for more than 10 years now using the SACSA outcomes as their reference point ... they are now asked to write them using the outcomes in the EYLF as their point of reference. Isn't this part of supporting a transition to school and doesn't this information help school teachers think about who the learner is in front of them as they then think about that child's learning in relation to the Australian Curriculum.


      • #4
        I know I should be doing other things as Sally mentioned, but I was just about to close my connection to the Forum when I read the posts from Sandra, Neville and Sally and I had to respond. Thorndike said something much like Spodek but much earlier...
        "The word education has many meanings, but in all its usages it refers to changes. No one is educated who stays just as he was. We do not educate anybody if nothing we do makes a difference or change in anybody..."
        When I discussed this idea with student teachers I always had strong resistence to the idea of changing children....not sure why they felt that way because change is central to what we do and the EYLF supports that when it talks about the 'distance travelled' by each child...distance travelled in development, learning, skills, values etc. I thought the NQS in mentioning assessment of children's learning as part of a cycle is expecting that educators can track or map the distance travelled or progress towards the LOs?
        Anne K


        • #5
          Well I am pleased that I provide a distraction on a Sunday afternoon for some! I wonder if Spodek & Thorndike ever conceived an idea like a Naplan or a 'my Kindi' website? It is not the assessment that bothers me. I actually think that EC educators have wonderful skills of assessment - we have just not been comfortable calling it assessment. I feel that the work of the SA teachers in reporting using the SACSA and now the EYLF as a reference point is highly appropriate - just wouldn't want to see (at this stage at least) that being part of the evidence base for the NQS. I also note (and I know Sally you will corerct me if I am wrong) but the teachers undertaking those reports are all University qualified EC teachers. This would not be the case if the reports were to be included in the NQS evidence for all children's services in Australia. Further I wonder how it might look if were applied to younger children? Love the idea of 'distance travelled' and think that we shodul not shy away from assessment - just feel a little hesitant that it should become a part of a national standards scheme. bring it on!


          • #6
            hmmm 'distance travelled" - I like that.


            • #7
              I agree that assessment is used in EC all the time. I think now we are being asked to be clearer about what we are assessing and to use a framework as a guide to that assessment. I know the use of the summative reports in SA have been of varying standards, mostly look different from site to site and some teachers in school read them and others don't. I think building relationships based on meaningful discussions with EC teachers across school and prior to school settings opens up the way for some really good transitions for children better than written reports alone. Also I think that rather than just focussing on a summative style of assessing the formative assesment that informs our teaching in the here and now is what we should focus on????


              • #8
                I agree Kate. Written transition statements can be really useful snapshots of a child at a particular point in time, but they shouldn't replace conversations between teachers in prior to school settings and in the first year of school. One of the interesting things that has happened in Victoria as a result of kindergarten teachers being mandated to write transition statements is that kindergarten teachers have worked on them collaboratively with parents, and encouraged and supported them to take the statements with them to interviews at the school, to use them to talk to teachers about their child. So the written material can be a tool to support partnerships with families and to support parents as they and their child move to the school setting.

                As worthwhile as the transition statements can be, it's disappointing when you hear stories of them replacing networks and opportunities that have been in place in some communities for teachers to get together and build relationships.


                • #9
                  This is great- I can't help myself either. I think I have to put up the isolated state hand- over here in the west. You write as though everyone does more or less the same thing- we don't have transition statements. Although I haven't seen one I can imagine what they contain. We are in the midst of discussions of what reporting will look like for the non-compulsory years of school which for us are kindergarten and pre-primary (PP is the year before year 1). Many early childhood educators who work in kindy's are thrilled to have the EYLF and are hoping they can report children's progress using the EYLF (yes- they are on school sites and accountable to the school for children's learning). There have been discussions here about the Australian Curriculum and the ructions it will cause in Pre-primary- because of the formality of the benchmarks. Reporting there is going to look quite formal I think and kindy's are hoping not to get a watered down version of that. I agree that we shouldn't shy away from this discussion we have been having it over here for a while as kindy's have been the schooling system for decades- it is a great opportunity for early childhood educators to set the agenda. Again we are a mobile country if we move state then it would be great if we could report along the same lines for clarity of understanding. We don't always have the luxury of a conversation with the next teacher. I think the EYLF is a great tool for guiding our thinking about how we might report children's progress in achieving the outcomes. Bring on the debate! lennie


                  • #10
                    Lennie - I think we have a few isolated states in this =- there is no formal transition statement for NSW - though I think there is talk of developing something - DET talk I think, but possibly mirroring the Victorian transition statement.

                    We have provided a transition statement from our setting for children moving onto school since I started at the Service (in 1986). I felt that it was part of the continuum of learning - schools needed to know that children knew stuff, could do stuff and had ideas on stuff ( I love the word stuff). The statement has transformed over the years, in 2002 we moved to the language of the NSW Curriculum Framework and in 2009 incorporated the language of the EYLF. It is a powerful document, it talks about the possibilities that sit within these children who are about to enter school, how they interact with others, their creative potential and about they think. We also have long conversations with their families and also with the schools about these children - so it is more than just what we write.

                    I'm well aware that we are the only setting in our community that does this, however I also know that the statement is valued by parents and teachers. It is positive, honest picture of their child. I have had parents on the phone (Dad's) through tears, asking how did we know their children so well, how could we capture the child that they knew so clearly! A powerful reinforcement for me and my team to get it right as much as possible, that this is a shared process - between all the players - children, parents, educators and others.

                    Our statement suits us and what we do. They are developed by the whole team - so its a collage of the child in our setting. Not one persons view.

                    Why did we start doing it? Reality is I wanted schools, families and the broader community to understand that children know and can things before they start formal school, that the early years are critical. We had the issue of just being child care and that formal learning was taking place in "preschool" and at school! By developing a transition statement we could talk about each child and what they knew, could do, where they might struggle, potentials for success, interests etc. I also wanted to get past the concept that schools were telling us - children need to be able to line, know their name, take care of their belongings and be quiet when asked! That was the extent of the expectations for child commencing school - and we all know that children are much more than that. Once I had started that journey its been about tweaking it each year to meet the changing audience.

                    I think the EYLF will give us lots of ways to have conversations with colleagues and colleagues at school - it certainly gives us a great tool to hand on and say - this is where we are coming from.

                    Just my thoughts - neville


                    • #11
                      Hi all

                      I guess that one of the things that I was doing when I initially responded to Sandra's posting was to flag the differences that exist in early childhood practices around Australia ... sometimes I think that one side of Australia is understood to be indicative of early childhood education throughout Australia - and that's not the case. I wasn't really trying to defend the quality of the report writing in SA - as Kate rightly points out, some of it is dreadful (and Sandra, no not all of them are written by trained people ... and I don't think that you can draw a straight line between training and high quality reporting - and in fact, I worry that the advent of summative reports have positioned preschool teachers as the 'most knowledgeable' in terms of children as they transition to school, rather than families or children themselves. But I digress.

                      They reason that I responded to Sandra's initial posting really was tied up with the idea about why wouldn't we want to show that children have 'performed' or, perhaps more appropriately, 'achieved' what we set out for them to achieve (which, in effect, is what outcomes are all about ... the EYLF is effectively saying, these are the kinds of learners we think children should be). I thought Anne's comment was interesting - I've had a similar response when I've quoted Spodek and I think that there is something in that that relates to the fact that we are sold the idea that what happens in early childhood education is natural whereas what happens in schools isn't. So, we here early childhood settings spoken of as 'naturalistic' settings but we never hear schools referred to as such. But just how 'naturalistic' are our settings - as one colleague once said to me 'Where else on earth do you stick cotton wool on an egg carton?'.

                      Some of the literature says that not only are our settings not naturalistic, they are much more covert in how they set out to change children. Think about it - we observe children and make decisions about what to do on the basis of those observations (read that as make decisions about how to change children) but rarely do we make that explicit to children. How then do children have a voice about what happens to them or have input on how they want to change?

                      The other thing for me is, if early childhood educators are going to argue that the first 8 years of child's life are the most important (and personally, that's not an argument that I fall for), then surely they need to be able to show what the difference is that they actually make? Of course, our fear always falls back to how do we do that without reducing the complexity of children's learning to a checklist of skills (i.e. can cut with scissors). I think, going back to Sandra's initial posting, that that is where the work is for us ... its not about being scared about providing evidence ... but its about engaging with the question of HOW ... how do I show the difference that I've made to a child, but keep at the forefront the principles about learning that I'm committed to?




                      • #12
                        I think documentation for learning has many benefits. I like to think of documentation as assessment for learning because we are making links between our intentional teaching, children's ideas, actions and thoughts, and what we know about how children learn, based on best practice. This assessment provides us with a document that we can share further with children who are engaged, further linking with intentional thought and action, with families to engage in conversations and link together, but also with the community as a means of advocacy, where we can showcase children's ideas and provide a medium for agency.
                        Thinking back to the original post by Sandra, i wonder of discussion also involves how the role of documentation is evolving FOR learning, rather than OF learning, where 'evidence' was required in a shallow, skills based checklist. I think NQF provides space for us as educators to take a bold step and think about what is happening around us, including what we say, and do, what we don't say and do, why, and what children are saying and doing or not saying and doing!!! Confusing myself!
                        The challenge for me, when considering assessment is to engage families in valuing process rather than outcome- 'thats all great, but can he count backwards from 30?' To get there, i feel that documentation/assessment can provide a space for families and communities to become engaged, and to realise that they have a role to play.


                        • #13
                          Assessment for Learning and the NQS

                          I am yet to fully explore the NQS in detail however the little I have gone through seems to provide ample opportunity for educators to focus on assessement for learning rather than assessment of learning. Listening to educators in our site today finalise children's portfolios for the year I was so pleased to hear them talking about the development of children's learning over the year AND what they were hoping would happen for children next year. Even with our summative reports for children transitioning to school we have been able to suggest what might come next for them in some areas of learning. It will be interesting to see how the NQS assessors view assessment during their visits and I guess this will depend greatly on the depth of training and knowledge they have and their ability to encourage and support educators to articulate the processes they use for assessment and why.


                          • #14
                            Interesting Kate to think of transition statements as an example of assessment for learning. What you've described is just like the process used in prior-to-school services -- that is, document children's learning, make meaning of it, think about the implications for practice. The idea of doing that over the year and making suggestions for children's experience in the first year of school is a great one.

                            And yes, hopefully assessors for the NQS will be open to many possibilities for assessment and will rely more on conversations with educators and observations of practice rather than looking at stacks of portfolios and learning stories!


                            • #15
                              Great conversation! So many 'assumptions' and 'truths' to reconsider. If The discussion about summative and formative assessment or assessement 'of' and assessment 'for' learning is really important and I can see scope for using the notions of Belonging, Being and Becoming to help us think about this. If we aim to see all of these things as important in children's lives and leanring then we can see opportunities for many sides of assessment. Belonging can help us to see how the views of chidlren, families and all staff involved with children can contribute to understandings. Being helps us to give focus to formative assessements and conversations as flags to children's thinking and learning and Becoming helps me to think about where children are headed and summative assessments that build on the knowledge gained through the other sides off assessment. I know it is not this simple or linear but it does help me to capture an essence of assessment in EC.I think Lennie and Andrew are right in saying that this is an opportunity for EC to step up, be bold to put our stamp on the knowledge we have about assessment. great conversation - keep it going.