Reflecting on Assessment and Rating
Fran Bastion interviews Director Yuki Moyle and the KU Sunbeam Preschool Team
As an early childhood community, we are acutely aware of the need to ensure that the rights of every child to enjoy a rich and positive early education experience is an imperative. We advocate strongly for quality early education and care and the results of this commitment are evident.
The process of Assessment and Rating can be daunting, overwhelming and sometimes disappointing. Reflecting on shared stories of often-challenging A&R experiences, we take this chance to begin a different conversation with Yuki Moyle and the team at KU Sunbeam Preschool about their positive and affirming experience of the A&R process.
We thank Yuki and the team for their reflections on the A&R experience.
At KU Sunbeam we have worked hard to create a culture of community. A real sense of togetherness was very important to the team and definitely contributed to the success of the A&R experience.
Our journey began a couple of years ago with team reflections. The team slowly started to realise that critical reflection and reflective practice are complex processes. We questioned our practice and our collective approach to early childhood literature as well as the exploration of different practices and approaches. These reflections allowed the team to identify challenges, recognise team strengths and create time and space to discuss and apply new ways of engaging with children. It also allowed opportunities to evaluate our new practices toward transforming our practice.
We began to approach our work through a reflective cycle, with the intention to be slow and present, to acknowledge and unpack our reflections, question our practice and work together to transform our thinking and offerings. This reflective and engaging learning culture enabled us to provide the children with a consistent and responsive learning environment that supported opportunities for children to demonstrate kindness and care. It also enabled a team of educators to feel confident in their practice and relationships with children, families and each other.
The culture of community that is very evident at KU Sunbeam is captured in the Sunbeam Song. It is about the interdependent relationships that exist between people, nature and animals and gives voice to developing with children an ethic of care and responsibility. The song was written by the children, supported by families and applauded by educators as a way to live and practice compassion. The song is very special to the children and is often part of the children’s play narratives. The process of developing the song, the intent and the daily use of it was highlighted in several areas of the self-assessment as a significant tool to demonstrate a cohesive commitment to practice that embodied the three themes. It was a main topic of conversation when the self-assessment tool was discussed with the assessor via Zoom prior to the visit and proved to be an important and positive factor in the A&R process.
On the Assessment and Rating day, the assessor observed a two-year-old and a three-year-old singing part of the Sunbeam Song…
We look after each other.
We help each other.
We share with each other.
We care about each other.
Because we're all in this together.
This in essence supports Sunbeam’s pathway to Reconciliation. It has empowered the children to communicate how they want to play together and what is important about being a friend. This resulted in one peer saying to another peer that they didn’t want to engage in rough and tumble play and then came together to sing the Sunbeam Song. This interaction unfolded in front of the Assessors' eyes. It was a rich and spontaneous moment that allowed the Assessors to witness children as drivers of their own learning and highlighted this very ordinary encounter as key evidence of embedded practice. After the children sang the Sunbeam Song they started playing together again; in collaboration and in harmony; in total alignment with our Sunbeam Song.
These two children were newer members of the Sunbeam community and the team reflected upon this moment as something that had really captured and defined the culture of the service. They were delighted that the Assessors too, recognised the significance of the exchange. It gave the team an opportunity to think about the ‘tradition’ that had been created in the sharing of the song as it is passed on and adopted by the community of children year after year.
The team were very positive and energised by the experience and felt particularly proud of the children who so capably articulated to the Assessors the value we place on their early childhood experience.