This week on We Hear You, Christine Harrison, founding President of the Montessori Australia Foundation, tells us about their NQF journey and how they have implemented changes on a national scale.
What began as fairly widespread anxiety around implementation of the NQF and the EYLF eventually provided the Montessori Australia Foundation with a unique opportunity. We have been able to connect with our diverse Montessori community, build a relationship with regulatory authorities and ACECQA and begin a process of understanding and accepting the changes.
So, does Montessori fit well with the Early Years Learning Framework as we were being told? Actually, yes it does – we just need to adjust our lenses slightly, understand the intent of the changes for the benefit of all children in early childhood settings and work with regulatory authorities so that they understand a bit more about the world’s best kept secret (Montessori education).
In 2012 we ran a series of workshops in each capital city to assist Montessori services to comply with the NQS and especially the EYLF. We made these workshops informative, entertaining and empowering. They also enabled us to get to know some services that we had not previously had any contact with. Earlier this year we followed up with similar workshops, again well attended. We focused on the NQS one year on. In each State we invited a regulator representative to present and received nothing but co-operation from everyone involved – some even participating in our assessor visit role plays as either an educator or regulator! The level of professionalism shown and willingness to share information and understand more about Montessori principles and practices was consistently high across jurisdictions.
Together with the timely statistics from the ACECQA Forum we were able to present up to date information about the NQS and measure these with our own data and feedback. We were particularly pleased to note the work of the Quality and Consistency Committee as participants had some concerns regarding the quality and consistency of the work of assessors in our services. However, participants were generally feeling much more confident after the workshops and regulator Q & A sessions, particularly knowing that there is ongoing professional development and training for assessors.
Our journey continues as services receive their rating and some of the challenges continue but we remain confident that we share these challenges with regulators on a journey to put outcomes for young children first.
“The unknown energy that can help humanity is that which lies hidden in the child” Dr Maria Montessori.
Christine Harrison has been involved in early childhood education since 1985 and was Principal of the Canberra Montessori School, one of the largest Montessori schools in Australia, for over twenty years. She is the founding President of the Montessori Australia Foundation. She was Chair of the Association of Independent Schools in the ACT and on the Board of the Independent Schools Council of Australia. Christine is involved in government liaison, policy development, compliance, early childhood and school age curriculum development and liaison with ACECQA on behalf of Montessori ECEC centres. She has a background in mediation, conflict resolution, adult education and a particular interest in governance in community organisations.