UnitingCARE Tasmania’s Scots Early Learning Centre, in Hobart, is moving forward in leaps and bounds.
The centre recently received its National Quality Assessment Rating. The assessment determined Scots was exceeding the national quality standard in collaborative partnerships with families and communities as well as in leadership and service management.
Director Marie Wilson is overjoyed with the results. Mrs Wilson said the Scots’ educators had worked as a team to implement nature-based programs and deserved the success of working through the demanding National Quality Assessment Rating process.
She said staff gained additional knowledge and understanding of the National Early Education and Care Law Act including National Regulations and Standards. Educators and Scots’ families were excited with the results the centre received as the new standards have been difficult for many agencies to achieve.
The service is meeting national quality standards in educational program and practice, children’s health and safety, physical environment, staffing arrangements and relationships with children.
Of the 16 assessed sub areas, Scots achieved eight ‘exceeds’, six ‘meets’ and two ‘not applicables’ because Scots is not a registered kindergarten.
Scots has shifted its focus to learning with nature. It is developing budding environmentalists who are in touch with their surroundings and keen to lessen their carbon footprint for a sustainable future.
The centre displays storage containers made from natural products – such as cane baskets, wooden boxes and bamboo containers.
Scots’ families and staff have worked together to revamp playground areas with recyclable and sustainable products such as large logs, natural timbers and interactive gardens for the children to explore and learn through play. Recycled pots and pans are used for musical instruments and play on a bus made out of recycled chairs and a steering wheel. Corks, rocks and recyclable bottle tops have become counting aids instead of plastic counters.
The children also enjoy working in the garden beds. They are not only learning how to plant vegetable seeds but are working alongside educators to learn to cook, serve and eat their own products.
Mrs Wilson said the sustainable programs complied with expected learning outcomes of the National Early Years Frameworks and the National Quality Standards.
She said Scots hoped to foster in the children a love of the natural environment and respect for the world they live in.
Tasmania has recently gone to a statewide management model for its centres, with the Launceston-based Pilgrim Occasional Care Centre, under Mrs Wilson’s guidance, gearing up to improve its nature-based program as well.