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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Issue 57 Summer 2014
REFLECTIONS • GOWRIE AUSTRALIA • SUMMER 2014 - ISSUE 57 The investment is indeed significant and if used wisely by services will support continued quality improvement and meet the requirements of the National Quality Framework. According to Russell (2009) and Waniganayake et al (2008), ".. there is recognition that engagement in professional development and support by those employed in early education organisations can improve their knowledge and skills and in turn enhance learning and positive experiences for young children." Quality professional development has the potential to enhance pedagogy, contribute to children's learning, and build linkages between education settings and other settings. It can challenge long-held truths and assumptions so that knowledge and skills are acknowledged and built on and, in turn, support change and a shift in thinking and practice. "But engagement in professional development opportunities is not in itself an indicator of quality education and care" (Sheridan et al, 2006). The measure of quality should rely on evidence of change and enhanced pedagogical reflection on actual practice -- the impact of the professional development experience once the educators are back in their settings. Raban et al (2007), state that ".. there is recognition that change after professional development is a slow process. Professional development is likely to forge change in educator practice only when it is sustained and intensive, and where the change is likely to be gradual and incremental". Professional development of early childhood educators, at all levels of expertise, should be an ongoing process. All professionals need to continue to update their knowledge and skills through a coherent and systematic program of learning experiences. The LDCPDP provides this opportunity as the funding is provided over a period of time until 2017. The leader within the service plays a crucial role in guiding educators to reflect on the effectiveness of their professional development experience and supporting sustained change. One-off professional development experiences without follow up mentoring and coaching may not be as beneficial as a whole of service approach. A holistic integrated approach has the potential to optimise educator involvement, provides consistent information, fosters collaboration and consolidates shared understanding. The LDCPDP allows services to identify their specific professional development needs in order to support the National Quality Framework, adhere to the National Quality Standard and deliver the Early Years Learning Framework or other approved learning framework. Services will be able to use the funding to meet their training and skills development needs and have the flexibility to do so in line with the circumstances of their service. While services have only recently received the LDCPDP offer, already there has been a myriad of marketing material to the sector promoting a broad range of providers and services which are aligned to the LDCPDP. In order for this investment to be maximised and used wisely, services are actively encouraged to undertake a systematic and strategic approach to planning for the use of the allocated funds over the funding period. The LDCPDP guidelines outline the approved use of the funds and reporting and acquittal requirements. Finally, when engaging professional development providers it is important to ensure they have: • appropriate credentials • knowledge and experience in the subject matter being provided • an understanding of the principles of adult learning • programs structured to promote linkages between research and practice • an outcome based approach • a commitment to follow up and ongoing support. References: Raban, B., Nolan, A., Waniganayake, M., Ure, C., Brown, R., & Deans, J. (2007). Building capacity: Strategic professional development for early childhood practitioners. Melbourne, Australia: Thompson. Russell, A. (2009). Child care staff: Learning and growing through professional development. Canberra, Australia: Professional Support Coordinators' Alliance (PSC Alliance). Sheridan, S., Pope Edwards, C., Marvin, C., & Knoche, L. (2009). Professional development in early childhood programs: Process issues and research needs. University of Nebraska, Lincoln: Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools. Waniganayake, M., Harrison, L., Cheeseman, S., De Gioia, K., Burgess, C., & Press, F. (2008). Practice potentials: Impact of participation in professional development and support on quality outcomes for children in childcare centres. Canberra, Australia: Professional Support Coordinators Alliance. Zaslow, M., & Martinez-Beck, I. (2006). Critical issues in early childhood professional development. Baltimore, United States: Brookes Publishing Company. The Abbott Government's $200 million Long Day Care Professional Development Program (LDCPDP) supports long day care services with the cost of training and up skilling educators. The LDCPDP is a result of the Abbott Government's decision to redistribute the former Government's Early Years Quality Fund (EYQF) equitably amongst the sector, following an independent report that found the EYQF would have benefits for only one third of long day care educators.
Issue 56 Spring 2014
Reflections Issue 58 Autumn 2015