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Using evidence to build a strong foundation
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Using evidence to build a strong foundation

ACER news 5 minute read

A new book published by ACER brings together research in education, health, social care, child safety, science, mathematics and the arts to support early childhood educators in improving long-term outcomes for children, families and communities.

Strong Foundations: Evidence informing practice in early childhood education and care by Anna Kilderry and Bridie Raban showcases evidence from Australian and international research and case studies of early childhood educators applying evidence-informed actions in a wide variety of education and care settings.

In the book’s foreword, Alison Elliott, Central Queensland University Professor of Education and foundation Board member of the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority, underscores the critical importance of early childhood education and care (ECEC) and the access, equity and quality challenges that remain across the sector.

‘Building a strong foundation early augurs well for smooth transitions to school, reduced later learning problems and associated support costs, and increased school retention,’ Professor Elliott writes.

Professor Elliott says effective ECEC programs are dependent on quality inputs: environment, curriculum and pedagogy, and skilled educators who can plan individualised programs for each child.

‘The strong growth in ECEC services since the late 1990s, accommodating around a million children, has placed unprecedented demands on recruiting and retaining early childhood educators and supporting and enhancing their professional practice,’ Professor Elliott said.

While primarily designed to assist aspiring and practicing early childhood educators in the process of completing formal teaching qualifications, Professor Elliott explains Strong Foundations also provides more experienced educators with a refresher that enables engagement with evidence across quality dimensions and real-world contexts that shape practice.

‘The pace of change in education means that keeping up-to-date with research and dynamic curriculum and regulatory environments is no easy task,’ Professor Elliott writes. ‘Strong Foundations … brings research and on-the-ground practice together to support designing and implementing quality learning experiences.’

Edited by Anna Kilderry, Associate Professor of Education (Early Childhood), and Bridie Raban, Honorary Professorial Fellow, Strong Foundations translates high-quality, peer-reviewed research into everyday practice. The book contains 22 chapters by 34 contributors from 13 universities and institutions around Australia.

Each chapter highlights reciprocal relationships between research and practice and explores guiding principles around key content to support early childhood educators’ learning. Core content knowledge addresses the five Learning Outcomes of the Early Years Learning Framework together with the seven National Quality Standard Quality Areas.

The critical importance of health, wellbeing and safety in the first five years of children's lives is reflected in a particular focus on supporting positive lifestyle choices, on social and emotional development, and on the role that adults play in keeping children safe.

‘Assuring and strengthening the professional capacity of early childhood educators is at the core of meeting children’s development and learning needs in the light of contemporary community expectations,’ Professor Elliott writes. ‘Strong Foundations highlights that evidence can and does inspire and lead engaged teaching and inform creative practice.’

Strong Foundations: Evidence informing practice in early childhood education and care is published by ACER Press (2020) and is available to purchase through the ACER online shop.

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