In 2021, HESTA held their annual Early Childhood Education and Care Awards.

The national awards recognise early childhood professionals and services who have made a valued contribution to their profession or have significantly advanced early childhood education and care through innovation and enhanced outcomes for children. Of the nine finalists from across Australia, we were incredibly proud that three finalists were KU staff.

KU Isobel Pulsford Memorial Preschool

The KU Isobel Pulsford team was recognised for embracing a culture of inquiry and creating a space for the community to thrive.

The preschool adopted a revitalised view of pedagogical practice, viewing young children as capable, resourceful thinkers and producers of knowledge, with children being celebrated as co-researchers, co-constructors and key companions in the learning and teaching experience.

This innovative way of thinking enabled families to reexamine their assumptions and engage with their children in new and exciting ways, with many families embracing a more inquisitive approach to early learning.

KU West Pymble Preschool

KU West Pymble was recognised for embedding sustainability into their pedagogy and practice, contributing to their vision for a better, healthier world.

In consultation with families, the children initiated actions regarding recycling, waste, water, power management and identifying practices to be adopted in the home, and engaged in civic participation by working with council to monitor the water quality in a local creek.

This culture of learning helped the children at KU West Pymble to develop empathy, resilience and respect; inspired the entire community; and positioned the preschool and children as leaders in sustainable practices.

Jackie Staudinger, KU Macquarie Fields Preschool

Jackie was recognised for the astute and dedicated leadership of her team at KU Macquarie Fields, supporting educators to create an innovative and thriving learning community.

As Director of the preschool, Jackie guided the team in research and evidence-based practice, re-imagining new ways of teaching and delivering programs that have been valued by the local community.

Through the Healthy Eating Program, Jackie established partnerships to help communicate information on nutrition and healthy eating. Jackie partnered with the NSW Government’s Munch and Move health initiative, community health services, and KU chef Charlotte Patterson, who provided cooking experiences for children and families.