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Reflections Magazine : Issue 50
14 In October 2012 Buninyong Preschool won the 'Advancing Practice Award' at the HESTA Early Childhood Education and Care Awards in Perth. The preschool was nominated for providing Aboriginal and low income families with access to a free, high quality preschool program in the year before starting school. The award recognised the preschool for its promotion of positive outcomes for vulnerable children, and the award judges commended the preschool for taking a proactive approach to tackling real social issues. The preschool is located in Dubbo, in Central Western NSW and operates on the grounds of Buninyong Public School. According to Preschool Director, Louise Simpson, prior to the establishment of Buninyong Preschool only about one third of local children had access to early childhood education before starting school.This, she says, was primarily due to cost barriers. With the aid of government funding Buninyong Preschool provides a quality program for up to 25 eligible children per day. Since it commenced in 2010, enrolments have doubled, and the service, which was initially operating 2 days per week, is now offered daily, and has a waiting list. The majority of children attending are from Aboriginal backgrounds. The benefits for the children who have participated in the program have been significant in terms of a positive start to their schooling. Louise reports that the children who have attended the preschool have demonstrated greater self-confidence when they start school, and feel more secure about being away from their families. These children have also had the opportunity to develop important school readiness skills, including positive dispositions for learning. The preschool also plays an important role in promoting links between families and primary school educators, so that they can begin to build partnerships that will help support both children and families during the transition to the formal school setting. This, ultimately, has positive long-term results for children's attendance at school and for their future success at school. Louise Simpson and Buninyong Preschool Children who attend early childhood educational programs show better performance and progress in their early school years in both intellectual and social domains (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2011: 60). Author: Angela Owens Communications Project Officer, Gowrie NSW
Reflections Magazine Issue 51