CO-DIRECTORS’ ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2017

It is my pleasure to present our Annual Report for 2017.

INTRODUCTION.

My name is Jane Hely. I am Co-Director of Broadbeach Waters Kindergarten. I graduated in 1980 with a Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood) and have taught in C&K and Gowrie Qld affiliated centres and others since then. I am pleased to have been associated with this Centre since 1995. My role is to be responsible for the development of a curriculum alongside my group and to continue to liaise with parents, Committee and my Assistants with regards to all aspects of the curriculum and the Centre’s general administration. I am our centre’s Nominated Supervisor and with that comes additional curriculum and liaison responsibilities. I am also our centre’s Educational Leader and as such, am responsible for supporting the journey of all educators as they grow their knowledge about children, their learning and development and staff pedagogy.

My name is Lauren Regan. I am Co-Director of Broadbeach Waters Kindergarten. I graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education, specialising in Early Childhood. My employment at Broadbeach Waters Kindergarten in 2017 is my first teaching position and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the children and their families in my group. I look forward very much to continuing my association with this lovely centre. My role is to be responsible for the development of a curriculum alongside my group and to continue to liaise with parents, Committee, our Administrator and my Assistants with regards to all aspects of the curriculum and the Centre’s general administration.

During 2017 one of our Assistant Educators was Mrs Amanda Bodna. Miss Mandy holds a Certificate III in Child Care and began her association with our centre when both her now grown children attended. An Assistant’s role is to support the Director in the implementation of curriculum in terms of active participation in daily routines and preparation and maintenance of necessary items and materials for daily use. It is also desirable for assistants to maintain ongoing discussion with the Director regarding the children in care and the developing curriculum.

2017 saw us permanently employ our second Assistant Educator, Mrs Kate Galvin, whose expertise is enjoyed each day in both groups. Kate’s role is Support Assistant for children with additional needs. Kate holds a Certificate III in Child Care and has many years’ experience in various forms of children’s services. She worked specifically with particular children but made herself available to all each day, as the need arose.

In 2017, our fourth team member, Mrs Jakki Benton, continued her work as our Administrator. She too has been given a permanent position at our centre and we are all very happy about this decision. During this, our fourth year under the banner of The Gowrie, Qld, Jakki has continued to navigate our way through all the myriad administrative responsibilities a centre such as ours has. She is the person who liaised closely with our CGB, the Committee of Management, other staff, the families and the greater community as we steered our way together through the year.

OVERVIEW OF THE CURRICULUM.

During 2017 our groups have worked at consolidating and extending the many skills they had already acquired. They have been helped to recognise their own abilities, see and appreciate self-worth and to understand what impact they can have on their own learning journey and the lives of others.

Through the emergent curriculum and the general atmosphere at Kindergarten, the children have been moving towards being independent and secure members of a group who can cope with change, challenge and the occasional failure. The development of these types of characteristics will help children not only in their school years, but also throughout their entire lives.

During the Kindergarten year we work on helping each child to develop as a whole. This means supporting children holistically as they navigate through their learning journey and helping them towards achieving their greatest potential in all areas of their life.

In 2017, we worked with The Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline. This innovative curriculum which centres on socio-cultural development, represents a new way of looking at children, their individual learning journey and the ways in which we as parents and educators can support and enhance their knowledge and appreciation of themselves, the world around them and the ways they think about and respond to all manner of ideas and stimuli. Individual portfolios which parents, children and teachers have access to, contains documentation of our work together, which serves to build a ‘story’ about each child’s development and learning journey throughout the year. As facilitators of children’s learning, we guide and scaffold their thinking and creativity to assist them to gain deeper understandings and knowledge about how the world works.

We have continued to participate in Professional Development opportunities including workshops, seminars and active regional networking during the year in order to understand our role in supporting children and families as we work with the document. In particular, as a result of Jane’s Study Tour to Reggio Emilia in 2016, we have continued to explore and work together to understand the philosophy of the Reggio Emilia Program and begin to use this understanding to inform and inspire our work. All teaching staff took the opportunity to attend a 4-day conference in Sydney from 13 – 16 July, which was conducted by the Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange. This went a long way towards helping us develop common understandings and knowledge and will pave the way for us to continue to develop our beautiful space whilst being inspired by work that is deeply meaningful to us.

2017 also saw us continuing to recognise and utilise the Early Years Learning Framework.  This nationally accepted document provides the framework from which Early Childhood programmes now evolve. The Early Childhood Education movement is continuing to see massive changes and a suitable programme developed and presented by a university-qualified Early Childhood Teacher is one of the major steps towards all Kindergarten children having access to quality education and care.

The Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline and the Early Years Learning Framework marry perfectly to provide us with a premium resource with which we do our important work with the children in our care.

In October 2013 our committee made the momentous decision after 44 years to discontinue its affiliation with C&K (formerly known as the Creche and Kindergarten Association) and align ourselves instead with The Gowrie Qld by nominating them as our Central Governing Body. This decision has been an extremely good one for us. Gowrie’s representatives, our Advisors, Melissa Lee and then upon her leaving on Maternity leave, Fran Griffiths, made themselves available to us at all times and visited often to support us through the provision of advice and resources and sometimes a listening ear. We feel that the philosophy of The Gowrie matches our own in terms of their support for our centre’s autonomy and how we go about recognising and meeting the individual needs of our particular community. We look forward to our continued association for many years to come.

Interpretation of the Curriculum –

 To supplement many aspects of the developing curriculum, and to interpret the curriculum for parents and other interested parties, it often helps to have visitors to the centre or to travel away for the day, and 2017 was no exception.

Such visitors included Sue Jordan and her Fruit and Vegetable Puppets, Crocs and Dragons wildlife presentation, the magical incubator from Living Eggs which produced a clutch of beautiful baby chicks, the Koori Kids Show and Michael Smith with his Little Theatre puppet productions of The Three Bears and The Christmas Nativity.

A Fathers’ Morning was held in March so that the Dads could visit the Centre with their children for some fun, and a Fathers’ Night was held a few days prior to Fathers’ Day. Mothers were treated to an Afternoon Tea made by their children to celebrate Mothers’ Day in May.

In July, in order to extend their connections with the natural world, the children took part in a bus trip to the Numinbah Valley Environmental Education Centre. For many, the highlight was the trip in the bus but the exploration of the environment, the discovery of animals, their habitats and their methods of survival were fascinating for everyone. To have a python within touching distance, and for parents and teachers to feel calm about this was truly remarkable. We were all so well educated about these beautiful creatures by the end of the day, we knew we had nothing to fear. What a wonderful job the staff at this remarkable facility carries out.

Parents were encouraged to participate on roster days and in our daily activities. Parent interviews, whether planned or impromptu were conducted.

A Back–To–Kindy Day was held in March for both of our 2016 groups in order that these children  could come back together for an afternoon to renew their acquaintance and discuss the enormous step they had taken into “Big School”. These were a great success once again.

As part of our ongoing commitment to sustainable practices within the centre, our worm farm was maintained and added to. The children entered into this responsibility with great enthusiasm. Following group discussions and decision-making, routines were devised where food products from lunches were sorted and used to feed the worms and which were to go home. The “worm tea” which is produced has greatly enhanced the health of our gardens. We sell our excess supplies to the community and donate this money to the Leukaemia Foundation, with whom we have a strong tie. Miss Mandy has been responsible for working with the children to maintain our vegetable patch, and under her skill and guidance it has yielded great harvests.

Not only did we spend time working in the garden and feeding the Worms, we also researched and investigated our Native Bee Hive and how we support Recycling, protect Water Consumption and the significance of bringing Litter-free Lunches. These are all practices that fully support our Kindergarten’s Philosophy of connecting to, respecting and caring for our world.

One special visitor this year contributed greatly to our sustainability practices. In 2016 we were able to introduce an Outdoor Teacher to our team. This year that role was filled by Ms Skye Warner. It had been a dream of mine to incorporate this special area of learning into the Broadbeach Waters Kindergarten since visiting Mia Mia, the Early Childhood facility at Macquarie University in New South Wales more than 8 years ago. I was so inspired by their practices that I returned a year later to consolidate my thoughts. Skye’s passion for nature and sharing her ideas, stories and skills with the children has been so meaningful for us all. We introduced a fortnightly visit for each group to the small glade by the river on the western end of the large park that is behind our centre. To do this, the children have been deeply involved in its planning. From Risk Benefits Assessments to making lists of “provisions” to take, the children have had important input. This is for them, so it must be by them. It has been a huge success and the children’s passion has been ignited. Although Skye will not be returning in 2018, we will continue to offer these kinds of experiences to the children as we maintain our interest in and connection to the natural spaces that surround us here at Kindergarten. Living and working in our environment both inside and outside the Kindergarten gate marries perfectly with our Reggio Journey.

Our Artist in Residence programme continued to be enjoyed by both groups throughout the year. Mrs Alanna Swanson worked with the children as they pursued painting, drawing and construction interests and deepened their knowledge about art, perspective, techniques and terminology. One only needs to peruse the room and the magnificent portfolios which were created to see how highly successful this endeavour was on so many levels. This programme continues to be of great value to us as each year we see so many benefits to the children as they gain and then use this new knowledge.

Our Japanese language programme was conducted by Mrs Emily Moryta of Nikko Nikko Japanese School. Both groups enjoyed Miss Emily’s lessons for 15 minutes each week. The progress made by all the children gave testament to the well-researched fact that learning another language is most successful when begun at a very young age. This process also serves to further enhance language development in a child’s native tongue. The synapses in the brain continue to fire and develop at a much greater rate when given these opportunities. We look forward to our continued association with Emily in 2018.

Also during the year staff members attended various meetings and conferences which all served to enhance our professional development and working relationships with each other. All staff attended their annual First Aid Training days and Child Safety Seminars throughout the year.

This year we continued to offer Playgroup sessions to our local community. Playgroup ran on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9:30am – 11:30am during term time. In Term 4 it was reduced to Tuesdays only in order to try to lower costs.  It has been facilitated by Ms Skye Warner. She has been supported by a constant team of dedicated and committed Volunteer Workers. We are very grateful to have had them all with us in 2017.  Towards the end of the year we saw an increase in numbers as families began to learn of the meaningful program Skye has presented. It was the first connection to our centre that families can make and it was important that it was a high quality connection. Unfortunately, due to the excessive costs of running such a wonderful program, our centre will not be offering Playgroup beyond 2017. Although this has been a marvellous opportunity for many families, we believe that support for the Kindergarten itself must remain our priority.

Our centre’s progress and enhancements would not be possible without financial assistance. We continue to work towards long-term goals with the assistance of grants and funding applications. Members of the Kindergarten community who spend many hours completing forms and organising quotes are of invaluable help and we are very grateful.

Philosophy –

 We believe that in an effective curriculum, the teacher’s role is to enhance learning through supporting children to plan and strategise their own learning journey.  We encourage, scaffold and value children’s spontaneous learning. It is through this method that a child’s learning is individualised and meaningful.

The children, teachers and other partners, such as parents and colleagues, co-construct the curriculum. We believe it is a partnership for all concerned. A child’s perspective of a curriculum involves participation in interactions with peers and supportive adults in a flexible, inclusive environment.

As learning is a socially constructed process, children learn best when teachers actively engage with them as they play, observe, explore and interact with people, materials and ideas.

Our curriculum here at Broadbeach Waters is play-based and occurs most effectively in natural, beautiful indoor and outdoor settings. We believe that children can best be supported by ensuring that their play and real-life experiences are purposeful, integrated and relevant to their needs, interests and abilities, as well as their family contexts. We aim to provide direct, first-hand experiences which are set in meaningful contexts with due consideration given to the entire range and diversity of each child’s needs. We believe that this forms the basis for effective learning.

ENROLMENTS AND WAITING LISTS.

 Broadbeach Waters Kindergarten continues to enjoy healthy enrolment numbers despite the far reaching effect of the introduction of a pre-Prep year in private and Catholic schools, and now, in many cases, an onsite Kindergarten at some State Schools.

The added pressure of the introduction of Pre-prep (Kindergarten) classes in schools on the Gold Coast is having an effect to a degree, but this appears to be placing an unwarranted pressure on families. These schools are forcing parents to make decisions about their child’s place of education at an extremely early stage and are, in effect, saying that the Kindergarten year is compulsory if they wish to ensure their child’s enrolment at the school for the higher grades. Kindergarten is not compulsory. Parents are being placed in an untenable situation.

The Federal Government’s pledge to have University-trained Early Childhood Teachers teaching all 4 year olds in the country for a minimum of 15 hours per week, as of 2012, has meant significant changes in what is offered here at our centre to our families, as well as in our working conditions. Whilst both Co-Directors are University-trained, the alteration in working conditions has meant longer contact hours, greater administrative pressures and ultimately, more expense to the centre. This will continue to affect the fees our families are asked to pay because no extra funding will be offered from the government. Despite these conditions it is clear that we are still able to offer families a unique and highly sought-after option.

PROJECTS COMPLETED.

 New equipment is purchased throughout the year. In 2017 we were fortunate enough to be able to add to our extensive variety of book, puzzle and games resources, which is always a constant need.

In 2017 we have worked closely with the Palm Beach Scout Group to construct a Chicken Coop. We are hopeful that this structure will be completed in time to welcome some new feathered friends early in 2018. In the meantime, some Kindergarten community friends will bring their chickens to visit before this year ends so that the children can see how the coop will work for our own chickens when they arrive.

We have plans to construct an additional room, an Atelier, here at Kindergarten in 2018. This room will reflect the renewed view we have on the children’s ability to express their ideas and thoughts through artistic pursuits. Miss Alanna, our Artist-in-Residence will work with the children in this space when she visits, but it will be a place to work in every day. We are very excited about this goal and motivated to see our vision come to fruition in the not too distant future.

The Centre’s lawns and gardens were maintained throughout the year by our gardener Henery Siennicki and parents who willingly participated in Working Bees. Our spear pump has protected the playground from drought damage and we also have the use of our large rainwater tank to supplement our activities. We are hopeful that we can top dress and refurbish the grass in our playground. It certainly gets a constant workout!

CONCLUSION.

 On November 10, 11 and 12, 2015 we underwent our Assessment and Rating Visit, which was carried out by Ms Chris Manners, an Authorised Officer for the Office of Early Childhood Education and Care. We were examined under the National Quality Standards, which contain no less than 58 individual elements covering 7 Quality Areas. This was a massive undertaking by all staff and we looked forward to receiving our rating at the end of the year. We were thrilled to learn that we received the highest possible rating where we received “exceeding” in every Element of every Standard of every Quality Area. We will be working towards achieving the top rating of Centre of Excellence in 2018. We feel very confident about our ability to do this.

 In conclusion, we would like to thank both Mandy and Kate for their wonderful support once again during 2017. Mandy and Kate are the carriers of information as it passes through both groups. Their commitment to their job and to our centre is unmistakeable and we are grateful for their wisdom, expertise and willing participation in the continued progress of our lovely kindergarten.

Jakki Benton, as our Administrator, continues to be her organised, reliable, loyal and committed self. We thank you very much indeed Jakki for your important contribution once again this year. We look forward to another year of collegiate support wrapped in good humour and grace in 2018.

We would also like to extend our congratulations and truly sincere thanks to the Committee of 2017 for their dedication to the continued growth of our Centre and for their hard work and successes. It has been another challenging year with some important decisions to be made and the manner in which all situations were handled and prepared for was exemplary. Our President, Mrs Kate McFall took the helm with her calm, inclusive leadership and continued our path in the right direction. Thank you all.

We bid a hearty welcome to our incoming committee and look forward to a very enjoyable, successful and without doubt, interesting 2018.

MRS JANE HELY and  MS LAUREN REGAN

 Co-Directors                                                       

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Kindergarten – a place for friends and fun.

        2017.