Author:
Department of Education
Date:
13 July 2023

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A warm welcome to a chilly Term 3, 2023

In this edition, we reflect on NAIDOC Week celebrations and a special honour for Aunty Fay Stewart Muir.

Dear colleagues

A warm welcome to a chilly start to Term 3, 2023. Here at the department there’s energy in the air as we come off the back of our NAIDOC Week celebrations, and as we’re seeing some of the early childhood education announcements from the Victorian Budget 2023/24 take shape.

NAIDOC Week ran from Sunday 2 to Sunday 9 July 2023. This year’s theme – ‘For Our Elders’ – gave a meaningful opportunity to recognise Elders for their roles as knowledge holders and sharers, as trailblazers, activists and resilient community leaders, and to thank them for laying the path for all those who come after. In this edition, you can read about ways you can still mark this important week. We also pay tribute to a special honour given to Aunty Fay Stewart Muir, whose outstanding cultural contributions to education have been so important for our sector.

NAIDOC Week also brings into focus the critical need to ensure First Nations Victorians are part of our early childhood workforce, so that we continue to have First Nations’ perspectives and approaches incorporated into kindergarten programs across the state. Supports for this include financial incentives to study and work in early childhood education as a teacher or educator, through the Aboriginal pathway scholarships program.

With Term 3 a key period ahead of the 2024 school year, I encourage you to remind families of children heading into Foundation (Prep) next year that school enrolments are now open. Parents and carers are being asked to apply to Victorian government primary schools by Friday 28 July 2023. The Enrolling in Foundation (Prep) webpage has resources and information about the new state-wide enrolment timeline that you can provide to families and staff, including a factsheet now available in more than 40 languages. Please share these resources through your communication channels so that your families are aware of the timeline and children can get excited about the start of their school journey.

Lastly, I encourage providers to remind themselves about which early childhood infrastructure grants are open for applications, with many streams now offering increased funding following the recent budget. It’s a great time to be able to look ahead to how services will look in the future as we continue to roll-out Three-Year-Old Kindergarten and prepare for Pre-Prep.

As the results of the Kindergarten Parent Opinion Survey 2022 attest, Victoria’s kindergarten services and professionals are known for their quality programs and support for children. I’m proud to be able to continue working with you across the next term and beyond on all the things we are doing together to help young children and their families thrive.

Yours sincerely

Kim Little

Deputy Secretary

Early Childhood Education

Kindergarten Parent Opinion Survey 2022 sees positive results

More than 17,000 parents shared their views, offering important insights to support quality kindergarten programs.

Kindergarten-Parent-Opinion-Survey-2022-sees-positive-results

The department has received resoundingly positive feedback from the Kindergarten Parent Opinion Survey 2022, with great results coming in from across the state.

Through the survey, Victorian parents have given their feedback on the quality of the kindergarten program, relationships between teachers and their child, and experiences with their child’s kindergarten.

The results are a testament to the wonderful work of our kindergarten services and educators.

Survey responses give services, councils and the department valuable input from parents to support our work to provide quality kindergarten programs across Victoria.

A brief rundown of the survey results is available below, with more information available on the department webpage.

Overview of results for 2022

In 2022, 17,810 parents of children enrolled in a funded kindergarten program responded to the Kindergarten Parent Opinion Survey.

Responses from parents at a state-wide level show that:

  • 90% of parents thought the overall quality of education offered was good
  • more than 94% of parents think attending kindergarten is important for their child’s education
  • 94% of parents said that the service is welcoming and inclusive of all children.

Quality in early childhood education

The survey is an annual initiative overseen by the department to monitor kindergarten education quality and increase kindergarten program quality.

The National Quality Standard sets a high national benchmark for early childhood education and care in Australia.

The standard sets out 7 important quality areas, which outline the importance of seeking parents’ views and building partnerships to support quality improvements.

Find out more

For more information, refer to a summary of the results.

NAIDOC Week: honour and recognition ‘For Our Elders’

Honour for Elder and educator Aunty Fay Stewart Muir highlights NAIDOC Week celebrations, which ran from 2 to 9 July 2023.

2023-National-NAIDOC-Week-Poster-by-Bobbi-Lockyer

From Sunday 2 to Sunday 9 July 2023, we celebrated NAIDOC Week 2023. In keeping with this year’s theme – ‘For Our Elders’ – the department congratulates distinguished Elder and educator Aunty Fay Stewart Muir (OAM).

In the recent 2023 King’s Birthday Honours, Aunty Fay was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to the Aboriginal community of Victoria. This is a richly deserved honour for Aunty Fay, who has made an extraordinary contribution to the Victorian community.

Through her work as a community language specialist and cultural educator for the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages, Aunty Fay has brought deep knowledge of her culture and languages into early childhood services, school classrooms and community settings, enriching all those who have had the privilege to learn from her.

As a mentor, author, and educator, Aunty Fay provides cultural guidance to students and teachers at all levels of the Victorian education system. As an example, Aunty Fay has previously worked with the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, embedding Aboriginal perspectives in the Victorian curriculum. Aunty Fay has also contributed to this year’s Kinder Kit, with 2 books Birds in the Bush’ and ‘Whose Animals? Australia’, co-authored with Jeannette Rowe.

NAIDOC Week is celebrated across Australia in the first week of July each year (Sunday to Sunday), under the leadership of the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee.

We are grateful that Aunty Fay was celebrated in NAIDOC Week alongside other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Aunty Fay – a proud community leader

Aunty Fay is a Senior Boon Wurrung and Wemba Wemba Elder, First Nations’ community leader and Koori Court Elder. She is a Boon Wurrung and Wemba Wemba language specialist and works as a prison educator in First Nation languages and a creative language revival consultant and collaborator.

When asked what the award meant to her, Aunty Fay said: ‘It means recognition of the work I’ve done in community; not just my own community, but especially in early childhood and school settings – also the justice space.’

Aunty Fay’s quiet dignity and commitment embodies the spirit of self-determination practised by her, and which shapes all her work with community.

Aunty Fay was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2020 and the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll in 2021.

What can you do to mark NAIDOC Week?

It’s not too late to celebrate NAIDOC Week! Take the chance to learn more about the week and First Nations culture by visiting the NAIDOC Week website.

You can also promote the week by:

Find out more

For further information, we encourage you to check out these resources to:

Stay well this winter

Measures early childhood education and care services can take to reduce the spread of influenza and other respiratory illnesses.

Stay-well-this-winter

As winter continues, health professionals anticipate that infections of influenza (flu) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) will increase among children in early childhood education and care services and the early years of school.

Most children experience mild to moderate illness with symptoms such as fever, runny nose or cough. Some children, particularly babies and children with underlying medical conditions, can develop more severe illness.

To help reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses this winter, please follow the tips outlined below.

How to reduce the spread of flu and respiratory illnesses

Services should encourage staff and children to:

  • wash and sanitise their hands regularly
  • avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • cover their nose and mouth when they cough or sneeze
  • use air purifiers
  • maximise external ventilation
  • stay home if unwell and consult their GP or NURSE-ON-CALL as required
  • stay up to date with their flu vaccinations.

Our service has masks for staff and visitors if they want to wear them.

Flu vaccinations

Annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone aged 6 months and over.

Flu vaccines can be booked through GPs, pharmacies, or local council immunisation service, many of which can also provide COVID-19 vaccinations.

Free flu vaccines are available as part of the National Immunisation Program for:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and older
  • children aged 6 months to under 5 years
  • people aged 6 months or older with underlying medical conditions.

Resources to promote good habits

For support sharing this information with staff, children, parents and carers in your community, we have prepared the below draft text you can use in your newsletters or communications. For further information, please refer to the resources listed below:

Newsletter text about staying well this winter

Share this newsletter text with your community to let them know about measures they can take to prevent influenza and other respiratory illnesses.

Find out more

Early childhood education and care services will shortly receive more information about the management of notifiable diseases. In the meantime, if you have any questions, see Local Public Health Units | health.vic.gov.au.

Early years professionals’ unique contribution to information sharing

The Child Information Sharing Scheme can help you understand the whole child, ensuring all children can learn, grow and thrive. Free training is available.

Early-years-professionals-unique-contribution-to-information-sharing

Participants at the Sharing Places Workshops held earlier this year highlighted the unique and valuable contribution that early years professionals make to children’s wellbeing and safety.

The workshops, held in Robinvale and Doveton, brought together leaders and practitioners from early years services, schools, child protection and Victoria Police. Attendees shared how they have been using the Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS) to gain and share information to help children thrive, and were eager to explore how services can continue to build on this collaborative work.

Early childhood professionals have a critical role in child information sharing, thanks to the perspective they gain from their close relationships with children and families. Seeking information under CISS can also support the key learning and development outcomes of the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYDLF), particularly identity, wellbeing and community.

In welcoming participants to the Doveton workshops, co-chair and Doveton College Principal Debra Gibson commended the work participants were doing to strengthen their information sharing practices and build collaborative relationships with other professionals to support children. She said this work must continue.

‘Never before has it been more important to fully understand the complexities of our children and their families so that we can support, nurture and guide them towards a successful future,’ Debra said.

‘Our kids and their families are complex, and if we are to do our best work and have the greatest impact we need to know and understand them and their histories.’

Sign up for training to learn more

Many early childhood services are authorised to request and share information under the information sharing reforms, including kindergartens, long day care and most outside school hours care services.

To learn more about your responsibilities and obligations under CISS and the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS), access free eLearn or webinar training options through the Information Sharing and MARAM Online Learning System.

To organise tailored information sharing training for your team, contact the department’s Victorian Child Information Sharing team by email: childinfosharing@education.vic.gov.au

Register for our Webinar: Information Sharing for Education Workforces

These 3.5-hour interactive webinars are presented by a team of educators and are appropriate for all early childhood professionals.

Morning and afternoon sessions are available several times a week.

Register through the Information Sharing and MARAM Online Learning System. To enrol, select the ‘Education Workforces’ tile and select from the webinar options available.

Funding is available to support early years educators who want to attend information sharing webinars.

For more information, contact the department by email: cisandfvis@education.vic.gov.au

Find out more

For more information, refer to Child protection in early childhood: privacy and information sharing.

For further enquiries, contact the Victorian Child Information Sharing team by email: childinfosharing@education.vic.gov.au

Updated early childhood Mentor Map

Provisionally registered early childhood teachers can search for an Effective Mentoring Program-trained mentor nearby.

Updated-early-childhood-Mentor-Map

If you know a provisionally registered early childhood teacher looking for a mentor to support their progress to full registration with the Victorian Institute of Teaching, please encourage them to visit the early childhood mentor webpage.

This refreshed Mentor Map means teachers can search their local area and find an Effective Mentoring Program (EMP) trained mentor near to where they live or work.

The map lists more than 45 EMP-trained mentors, who have confirmed their details and willingness to be featured on the Mentor Map.

The EMP enhances the mentoring capabilities of experienced teachers, so they can support graduate and returning teachers to achieve full registration with the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT).

EMP-trained mentors support provisionally registered early childhood teachers to achieve full registration through ongoing professional learning embedded in day-to-day practice.

Want to get involved as a mentor?

If you know of an EMP-trained mentor who would like to be featured on the Mentor Map, please contact the department by email: EC.Mentoring@education.vic.gov.au

Find out more

For more information, refer to the early childhood mentor webpage.

For further enquiries, contact the department by email: EC.Mentoring@education.vic.gov.au

2023 Annual kindergarten census

All funded kindergarten services must complete the census in KIMS by 1 September 2023.

2023-Kindergarten-Census

The annual kindergarten census week is the first week of August each year, and this year falls between Monday 31 July and Friday 4 August 2023.

All funded kindergarten services are required to complete the census by Friday 1 September 2023. This is a requirement of receiving kindergarten funding regardless of the kindergarten program type or delivery model.

The census will need to be completed in the Kindergarten Information Management System (KIMS).

Services will be required to enter:

  • attendance details for each child enrolled
  • information on fees paid during the census week
  • name of person who entered the details.

Further instructions on how to complete the census will be provided shortly.

Supporting resources

Guidelines and instructions on how to complete the census in KIMS will be provided by the department in the coming weeks.

What is the data used for?

Information from the census is used to inform policy and reporting requirements including reporting on benchmarks included in the Preschool Reform Agreement

Find out more

Please contact your local Early Childhood Improvement Branch for questions about the kindergarten census.

Complying with Australia’s foreign relations Act

Early childhood services interested in forming new or varying existing foreign arrangements must contact the department by 21 July 2023.

Complying-with-Australia-foreign-relations-act

The department is seeking expressions of interest from all school and school council-run Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services wanting to form a new or vary an existing foreign arrangement, such as a ‘sister school’ partnership with an international counterpart, in 2023.

To enter or update an arrangement with a foreign entity, you must first obtain Australian Government approval under Australia’s Foreign Relations Act 2020. The Act stipulates that all arrangements between state and territory governments and foreign entities must align with Australia’s foreign policy objectives.

Under the Act, all school and school council-run ECEC services must submit their proposed arrangements or variations to existing arrangements for approval to the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

To do this, please contact the department’s International Education Division in the first instance, before negotiating or entering into arrangements with foreign entities.

This ensures that arrangements between state and territory government departments and international counterparts are aligned to Australia’s foreign policy objectives.

How to submit an expression of interest

The department’s expression of interest process for new or existing foreign arrangements happens twice a year ‒ in Term 1, and in June.

If you are considering varying or entering into a new foreign arrangement before the end of the year, please contact the department by Friday 21 July 2023 with:

Please send these documents to the department’s International Education Division by email: ied.stakeholder.engagement@education.vic.gov.au

Arrangements that need approval

The Act extends to any written arrangements, agreements or contracts between school and school council-run ECEC services, and foreign entities, including overseas governments, universities, and other schools.

Common examples of foreign arrangements requiring Australian Government approval include:

  • partnerships with other early childhood education and care services
  • agreements
  • written arrangements
  • contracts
  • memoranda of understanding (MoU)
  • teacher exchange programs.

Arrangements may be in any form, and do not need to be signed or legally binding to fall within the scope of the Act.

Find out more

For further enquiries, contact the department by email: ied.stakeholder.engagement@education.vic.gov.au

Consider delivering a bilingual kinder program from 2024

Register for a one-hour information session in July to find out more about the program.

Consider-delivering-a-bilingual-kinder-program-from-2024

The department is providing an opportunity for 10 Victorian early childhood services to join the Early Childhood Language Program and be funded to deliver a bilingual kindergarten program from Term 1, 2024.

The program allows participating funded kindergartens to employ a suitably qualified language teacher to deliver part of their 4-year-old kindergarten program in another language, at no additional cost to parents.

Expressions of interest, through an application form, are open until Sunday 13 August 2023. The department will let all applicants know the outcome of their application in early Term 4, 2023.

Register for an information session

The department is hosting 2 information sessions for services to:

  • learn more about the bilingual kindergarten program and what is on offer
  • understand the expression of interest application process
  • decide if your early childhood service is ready to deliver a bilingual kindergarten program.

Register for an online information session by using the links below:

  • Session 1: Tuesday 18 July 2023, from 4 pm to 5 pm
  • Session 2: Thursday 27 July 2023, from 4 pm to 5 pm.

Program funding and other details

The 10 successful services will receive funding to employ an above-ratio language teacher to deliver 12 hours of their 15-hour kindergarten program in a language other than English.

Services can decide the language they deliver, as well as the days and times of their bilingual kindergarten program.

Funding to deliver a bilingual kindergarten program to children in 3-year-old kindergarten programs is not available unless the service delivers mixed sessions, with both 3-year-old and 4-year-old children in one session.

Funding is only available for early childhood services with up to 4 groups (allowing 12 hours of contact time and 6 hours of non-contact time with each group). In an integrated kindergarten program, language teachers might work across multiple days.

Early childhood services that apply must be willing to deliver a bilingual kindergarten program to all of their 4-year-old children.

Find out more

For more information, refer to the Early Childhood Language Program.

For further enquiries, contact the department by email: ec.languages@education.vic.gov.au(opens in a new window)

More government funding available for early childhood infrastructure

Apply for an infrastructure grant to upgrade your kindergarten service.

More-government-funding-available-for-early-childhood-infrastructure

The Building Blocks Grants program is an integral part of the government’s Best Start, Best Life commitment.

The program supports the sector to create the extra kindergarten places needed to ensure universal access to increased hours of 3- and 4-year-old kindergarten over the next decade.

The following grants are now open for applications, with many offering increased funding following the recent Victorian Budget 2023/24.

Improvement Grants now open

A new round of Building Blocks Improvement Grants is now open with increased funding available in some categories.

Following the Victorian Budget 2023/24, funding for Early Learning Facility Upgrade projects has increased from $500,000 to $750,000, and funding for Minor Infrastructure projects has increased from $70,000 to $150,000.

Grants of up to $2,000 per service are also available to fund new information technology (IT) equipment.

The Improvement stream offers grants to help providers and local government refurbish or renovate early childhood buildings and facilities.

There are 3 categories of grants under the Building Blocks Improvement stream:

  • Early Learning Facility Upgrade
  • Minor Improvement
  • Information Technology.

Applications for Early Learning Facility Upgrades and Minor Infrastructure Grants are open until Sunday 3 September 2023.

Applications for Information Technology Grants are open until Sunday 30 July 2023.

For details on how to apply, refer to the Building Blocks Improvement Grants webpage.

Capacity Building Grants now open

Earlier this year the Victorian Government announced a major boost to funding for Building Blocks Capacity Building Grants.

Crucially, this budget allows for these increased Building Blocks Capacity grants rates to continue for builds completed beyond 2026, to better support partnerships with local government to meet the needs of the community into the future.

Under the Capacity Building stream, projects that create additional kindergarten places for 3- and 4-year-olds can now receive funding of up to $9 million to build a 4-room Integrated Children’s Centre offering up to 132 new approved kindergarten places.

Applications for Capacity Building Grants are accepted year-round and assessed in batches.

For details on how to apply, refer to Capacity Building Grants.

Planning Grants now open

Building Blocks Planning Grants are open and now available year-round.

The Planning stream offers funding for planning and pre-construction work on kindergarten building projects that support the roll-out of Three-Year-Old Kindergarten and Pre-Prep across Victoria.

This might include designing, developing the scope or calculating construction costs of the project.

This grant is for applicants who will be applying for a Building Blocks Capacity Building grant once planning is complete.

Applications for Planning Grants of up to $150,000 are now accepted year-round and assessed in batches.

For details on how to apply, refer to the Planning Grants webpage.

Find out more

For more information, refer to:

For further enquiries, contact the Victorian School Building Authority’s Early Childhood Grants team by email: building.blocks@education.vic.gov.au

Early Years Assessment and Learning Tool update

Use the tool for help being intentional and targeted in your teaching practices. Training and resources are available.

Early-Years-Assessment-and-Learning-Tool-update

The department has now provided change management grants to all services that have signed on to use the Early Years Assessment and Learning Tool in 2023.

The grants will support early childhood teachers and co-educators to participate in activities that will help them to implement and embed the tool at their service.

In addition, you can access a range of resources to support you in implementing the tool, including online professional learning and ‘how to’ videos, as outlined below.

About the Early Years Assessment and Learning Tool

The tool enables early childhood teachers and co-educators to make consistent observations and assessments of children’s learning. It provides intentional teaching strategies to help teachers and educators with planning and delivering high-quality kindergarten programs.

At this mid-point of the kindergarten year, services should have created records in the tool for children attending funded 3- and 4-year-old kindergarten programs.

Teachers and educators should also be observing, assessing, and documenting each child’s progress against the 5 Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF) Learning and Development Outcomes:

  • Outcome 1: Identity Children have a strong sense of identity
  • Outcome 2: Community Children are connected with and contribute to their world
  • Outcome 3: Wellbeing Children have a strong sense of wellbeing
  • Outcome 4: Learning Children are confident and involved learners
  • Outcome 5: Communication Children are effective communicators.

Resources to support implementation

The department is committed to working with services to successfully implement the tool and improve assessment and observation of play-based learning.

A range of implementation supports are available to assist teachers and co-educators to use the tool, including:

You can also register for day 2 of the free Early Years Assessment and Learning Tool: Online Professional Learning Program that began earlier this year.

The second part of the program will run from July to August 2023, focusing on how to implement and use the tool.

Refer to the website of program provider Semann and Slattery website for more information and to register.

Find out more

For further enquiries, contact your local Kindergarten Improvement Advisor, through your local Early Childhood Improvement Branch.

If you have technical questions, refer to the tool’s guidance materials. If you need further support, contact the department by email: early.years.assessment@education.vic.gov.au