Strong and Successful Start to School
The target audience for this session is Early Stage 1 and leadership teams to inform the strategic approach they will take to promoting a strong and successful start to school for the Kindergarten 2021 cohort.
The aim of this session is to support the implementation of the updated ‘Strong and successful start to school: Transition guidelines’ and provide strategies that schools can implement to inform best outcomes and reflect on learning programs.
This presentation outlines key information in the guidelines, links to resources and professional learning.
- [Jacqui] Welcome to today's presentation, Strong and successful start to school. My name is Jacqui Ward the Early Learning Coordinator at the department and I'm here with my colleague Kelly Burkett. You're watching today's presentation on stream however there is an interactive PDF that you can download as well as a handout with all of the resources that are mentioned in the presentation today. Before we commence our presentation I'd like to acknowledge the country that we're all on today. At the New South Wales Department of Education we recognize the traditional custodians of the lands and waterways, where we work and live. We celebrate the First People's unique cultural and spiritual relationship to country and acknowledge the significance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures in Australia.
- Education is one of the greatest gifts we can give. And it's our job as a public school system to ensure that all our students receive the best education possible. One of the most crucial moments in education is the transition period from preschool to kindergarten. And as teachers, you have the privilege and responsibility to set students up for success from an early age. And that starts here, with every lighting activity you provide, with every book you read and with every positive interaction you have with students and their families. Your work is vital in supporting young learners to make a successful transition to school. That's why we've released, Strong and successful start to school, Transition guidelines for all primary principals and teachers. Additionally, the transition to school webpage contains resources that will assist schools to plan, implement and evaluate the transition practices. I hope that the use of those resources will ensure all children experience a successful transition into school. Finally, can I thank you all for your commitment to the children of new South Wales and everything that you do to support their futures.
- [Jacqui] Okay, throughout today's presentation, we've got a range of different things that we'll be discussing today. First and foremost, some strategies schools could implement right as successful start to school, particularly for the 2021 kindergarten cohort who may have had some additional challenges throughout their preparation for school may not have achieving universal access in the year prior to school, may have had a disrupted preschool or daycare experience. So there's lots of information that we suggest about that. We've also got an introduction to the Strong and successful start to school, Transition to school guidelines, which were launched term four 2020. We've got links to great resources and professional learning that support the implementation of the guidelines. And suggested tools to support schools in the evaluation of current transition practices to compliment the school's planning cycle. Okay, so some really key messages to start this presentation off with about your Kindie 2021 cohort. Definitely, obviously we've already mentioned that having had a different experience last year whatever that might be, they may be experiencing a little bit more separation anxiety than previously with families working from home. There's gonna be a lot of different things that you might like need to factor in because their whole experience might've been different. So have a think about that, what does that look like within your context, your community and what do you need to do different based on that? What are some different strategies you could apply? What are some additional support that might be required for those students? What are some opportunities thinking about transition not just leading up to school but what does it look like once children have already started school? Some recommended actions that we've thought too about analyzing your data to inform your planning. Have you looked at the Transition to School Statement. Children who attend an early childhood service will often come with information of what their learning has been like, what's their learning dispositions, what intentional teaching strategies have worked well for those children, so that's a really good place to start. Looking at your AEDC data, utilizing age appropriate pedagogies which I'm gonna unpack a little bit more on the next slide. Also intentionally teaching social and emotional skills, just taking a little bit slower starting kindergarten 2021, and continually monitoring the COVID safe staff advice as well. So as I mentioned on the previous slide, age appropriate pedagogies might be something you might consider in working with the Kindie 2021 cohort. And that's really about recognizing that young children are learning in a different way, in different styles to older children and supporting a smooth transition and continuity of learning in those early years of school means thinking about how and why, which ways of learning that children have been engaged in prior to school. So we've actually recorded a whole lot of professional learning to support young learners as part of the learning from home resources. There's a list of three. If you're interested to find out a bit more in the best way to support your kindergartners in 2021 I really encourage you to engage with the three professional learnings that are on the screen at the moment. The first one is really unpacking some words that Queensland have done around age appropriate pedagogies and the framework that they've developed around that. The second one is play-based learning, and age appropriate learning is more than play-based learning, but that's one of the things that we talk about. It could be project-based learning, it could be interests or investigations, all sorts of different things. The play-based pedagogy talks about supporting young learners through play and actively engaging them in their learning from early on. And of course, the third one on the screen there is play-based pedagogy working with families as well, so a great opportunity to build some strong relationships with family and community in the early days of school as well. So as you can see throughout the presentation today we've got some light blue slides that have got reflection prompts on them. We recommend that throughout the presentation you pause the presentation at this slide and have some conversations with your colleagues and your teams about the best way you can draw on and use the information that we've covered so far. What does it mean for your practice in 2021? This reflection prompt slides are all about the Kindie 2021 cohort and have a thinking about what you might need to do to plan effectively for those children.
- [Kelly] Thanks, Jacqui, we'll have a close look now at the Transition guidelines document. The guidelines provide schools with policy advice and practical support to ensure all children experience a strong and successful start to school. The guidelines, as Jacqui said, were updated in the second half of 2020 after extensive consultation and feedback from stakeholders. The guidelines cover off on the areas listed on the screen. So we start with alignment with departmental priorities and policy, and evidence base, then we have the principles and practices of high quality transition practices, strong partnerships and continuity of learning. To access the document, you can click on the front cover there or the button to read the guidelines and you'll be taken to a PDF copy of the guidelines. The guidelines support school in defining what high quality transition practices look like and developing a shared understanding of terminology. The guidelines also support schools to explore the evidence base in particular the importance of cross curricular and pedagogical links with early childhood settings. The guidelines also will help your school to understand the importance of whole-school transition planning that engages children and families, as well as the local early childhood service providers and the other professionals in the community who may be supporting a child or family. And finally, the guidelines also unpack what is and isn't an appropriate orientation. The department has developed some resources to support schools to implement Transition guidelines. The first one noted here on the screen is the strong start to school transition assessment and planning tool. This supports planning for effective transition practices through the school excellent cycle of continuous improvement. It all gives detailed examples of high quality evidence-based transition practices. It also supports schools to develop a situational analysis by scaffolding evaluative thinking and the self assessment of current transition practices. And also it is suggested that at this stage early in the year, the tool will be used to support reflection and evaluation of the transition practices implemented in the second half of last year. Another key resource, which is going to be really helpful for your school is a video featuring transition experts, Emeritus Professor Sue Docket and Bob Perry in conversations with the Early Learning Coordinator, Jackie Ward, around the evaluation of transition practices. You can follow the buttons there on the screen to access both of these key resources. Two other key resources that have been developed by the department are these posters. The first is the transition timeline poster, this suggests timing for transition planning and implementation actions across the whole school year. And the second is the strong and successful start to school poster, this describes characteristics of effective transition for different stakeholders, and suggests actions teachers and schools can take to promote a strong start to school. It'll be really helpful to print both these posters and to display them in your staff room, this will show that transition is valued and that supporting children and families to develop a sense of belonging to the school is important. Also by displaying these posters you'll be highlighting that transition as well as being everybody's business is an ongoing process.
- [Jacqui] Thanks Kelly, so just a very brief sort of mention, I guess, that the guidelines is also obviously it's an important release in relation to the department's strategic goals. In particular that all children make a strong start in life and learning and make a successful transition to school. So the guidelines are really important in helping us to achieve that goal. Also they're very important in terms of making sure every student is known, valued and cared for in our schools. And the community confidence in public education is high. So the guidelines really work towards achieving all of those things. And in terms of school excellence framework there's a strong link to the same and the notion of that the school engages in strong collaboration between parents, students and communities and that that informs the continuity of learning for all students at transition points. So there's a strong link to core business with the guidelines and their launch. So the next point that's really important to know about the guidelines is that they have been developed on a strong evidence base of both local and international research and evidence that highlights the critical importance of early learning and school supporting that children attend to early learning services and the links to a positive start to school. And that there's early engagements with positive transition have long impacts throughout a child's time at school and their performance throughout school. So it's a really, really important investment of time and energy to focus in on transition to school and making sure that it's as smooth and as effective and as strong as possible for schools. There's also a really important link there also to the links between early childhood families and schools working together as networks. So the guidelines also highlight principles and practices of high quality transitions. So rather than it being about unpacking a formula of success, as in do X amount of transition sessions for X amount of weeks, it's really encouraging schools to engage developing meaningful relationships, collaborating with local early childhood services, having high expectations for children and families, and ensuring that there's an understanding of learning and pedagogy and what a child brings to school. What they've learned before and how that links into the new South Wales Curriculum content and the key learning areas. What learning is happening in early childhood services through the earliest learning framework and the learning outcomes there. And making sure that our transition practices are inclusive and respectful of diversity and that there's a holistic transition program. It's not just one particular thing that we do because we know that when we engage in different ways with families we have different results from different families. So definitely very much based on the ideas and concepts of what works best, including on data informing, planning, reflection, and evaluation. And also very reflective of the early childhood curriculum document, the early years learning framework where high expectations, collaborative partnerships, respectful relationships are all guiding principles of that document as well. So the main idea there is go to the guidelines and have a look at these sections and unpack them as well. Another key factor in engaging with the guidelines is the notion of continuity of learning. Again, directly related to the expectations of the school excellence framework and a strong component of the earliest learning framework is that we are supporting this continuity of learning for children to experience an idea of that recognition of the learning and building on the learning that's happened before that teachers in both spaces know where to next and where did this child come from. So there's lots of information in the guidelines about that and how schools and teachers can facilitate a continuity of learning by building on that current knowledge, using age appropriate pedagogy, developing their knowledge of the early childhood curriculum, the earliest learning framework. And also drawing on information about children use to inform planning, so not just best start kindergarten assessment but also their Transition to School Statements, information from families, information from children. And if you want more information from early childhood services beyond the Transition to School Statement that you'd reach out and make some connections. A great resource that we've developed, again in consultation with academics Dockett and Perry, is a video on packing the importance of continuity of learning. So you can click on the button on the slide there, if you'd like to find out more. The final part of the guidelines that we really wanted to draw people's attention to is the importance of strong partnerships in the way that they support strong transitions. And that is really valuing and respecting the expertise and perspectives of professionals that are involved in children's lives. That's a really important part of that engaging, collaborating and ensuring that continuity. So for children with a disability that will be involving all of the allied professionals that work with that child. If it's children from an Aboriginal background that might be elders and AECG and other people might be involved in making sure that there's a supportive and strong transition. Orientation programs provide an ideal opportunity to connect with families and for them to become more active participants in their child's learning. So if children and families experience that sense of belonging to a skill early on, it makes a real big difference in the way that they'll be engaged in the school and their child's learning throughout their time at school. And again, families who support their child's transition there's a lot of opportunity to leverage off that to make sure that children are experiencing that positive engagement with schools. If you'd like to use some more information about some great ideas from Tarro Public School, listened to our podcast recorded with the leaders in that school and the great things they're doing with their transition to school practices.
- [Kelly] To further support your school's implementation of the Transition guidelines there are some additional resources. The department has recorded some professional learning specifically addressing transition to school. There's a transition practices checklist. There's some resource sheets, each of these deals with strengths based tailored practices for an identified equity group. And there are some resources for families. Depending on your school's context and areas of need we suggest that you choose the most relevant resource to engage with to support your planning, as well as your evaluations.
- [Jacqui] Thanks Kelly, I just wanted to mention that we have two lots of professional learning that would be very useful for schools to participate, particularly if they're interested in improving their transition to school practices. The first one is beginning school strong and successfully, and it's all about supporting schools to engage with the guidelines and plan an effective tailored transition to school program and practices. The second one is all about engaging with the transition to school statement which is a really important piece of information sharing between early childhood services and schools. So both PLs are available from my PL and you can also access them through our early learning website.
- [Kelly] The transition practices checklist is a quick reference guide listing evidence-based transition practices. It can be used at any stage of the planning cycle to determine how a school is tracking in terms of supporting a strong and successful start to school. It's a short document, it's a very easy read and highly recommended. You'll see it on the slide here the titles of six resource sheets. These resources provide differentiated advice on transition strategies and information to support strengths-based transition practices for children from identified equity groups.
- [Jacqui] And finally, we wanted to finish off promoting some resources that we've developed specifically for family. So you've got a wide repertoire of resources to draw on. First and foremost is a strong start to school video animation which shares the message of what families can do to support a strong transition to school. We've also got some resources for families that really families to engage with young learners and the important role that they play. We've also got a podcast series, and also some resources on the starting school webpage as well. So make sure you check out those resources as well. And on the last line that we have is an evaluation. Please do click on the QR code to give us your thoughts on what you thought of our presentation so we can use that information to inform our future work, thank you.
- [Kelly] Great, thanks Jacqui. And also on the last slide our contact details for the early learning team if you need any help locating those resources.
- [Jacqui] Thank you for participating in today's presentation, we hope that you found it very useful and that you are keen to engage with lots of the resources mentioned in the session today. Don't forget to download the handout and click on through the links to the additional professional learning and other resources, the animations and videos as well. Good luck on your journey of continuous improvement in transitional school practices.