International study tour offers opportunity of a lifetime for early learning professionals
In what is believed to be an Australian first for an early learning and care provider, Goodstart Early Learning has developed a program where high-performing employees travel to locations across the globe for professional development opportunities
Goodstart’s Early Years Study Tour
this year sees selected participants travel to Dublin, the UK, Los Angeles and the Northern Territory to meet early learning thought leaders, share professional experiences and be inspired by international best practices. It is also aimed at supporting future leaders in the early learning sector.
Heather Finlayson, Goodstart General Manager for Capability and Early Learning Strategy, said it was a tremendous opportunity for early learning professionals.
“Goodstart places a very strong emphasis of attracting the best people and building capability across our teams and network. Educators are the heart of every childcare centre and the benefits of providing ongoing professional development and training are significant and enduring for both staff and the children in our care,” Ms Finlayson said.
“Not only is this a unique cultural and professional experience for staff, the early years study tour also demonstrates the constant investment Goodstart makes to improve the pedagogical practice across our centre network.
“As the largest early learning and care provider in Australia, our practice needs to be informed by emerging research and evidence about what fosters children's learning and delivers the best outcomes for them,” she said.
Goodstart, a not-for-profit organisation which employees 13,500 staff nation-wide, has one of the lowest staff turnover rates in the sector and enjoys strong employee engagement for an organisation of its size.
Through facilitating professional conservations with other large providers, Goodstart is continuing to build its evidence base with the best early learning research and thinking from the around the world.
Early childhood teacher Glen McKenna has just returned from the first tour to Dublin where he participated in the European Early Childhood Education and Research Association (EECERA) annual conference and spent time touring other early childhood centres, including the world-renowned Pen Green Centre founded by Dr Margy Whalley who he had the opportunity to meet while overseas.
“As an experience both personally and professionally, it was transformative in every measure,” said Mr. McKenna.
“The insights I gained from being able to meet and hear directly from international experts was fantastic. It led to many great conversations about current trends and research and it really highlighted to me just how much the early learning sector has evolved, particularly in recent years. There is a growing body of research around the value of early learning and just how important the first five years of a child’s life are.
“It also validated to me were Goodstart stands on the world stage in early education and I am so proud to be associated with an organisation that strives to create such positive and nurturing environments and instills in children a life-long love for learning,” he said.
“I’m so grateful for the experience and now coming away from it, I hope I can be a bridge between the current research landscape and the issues and challenges that face my fellow educators within Goodstart.”
Glen has a Bachelor of Secondary Education and a Masters in Early Childhood and is currently studying a Doctorate of Education (EdD). His career in the early learning sector spans nearly 10 years and he is currently a kindergarten teacher at Goodstart Murarrie in Brisbane.
The next study tour will take place in Darwin from 4-9 October, where participants will have the opportunity to attend the Early Childhood Australia (ECA) Conference, Australia’s premier conference for the early learning sector.