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Goodstart delegates have returned from the 2017 EECERA Conference in Italy reassured in our approach to early learning research and practice.

The conference, organised by the European Early Childhood Education Research Association, was held at the historic Dante University in Bologna. It brought together leading early learning thinkers and practitioners from Europe and the world.

Five Goodstart delegates attended and showcased Goodstart’s approach to early learning through a series of presentations and a self-organised symposium.

Dr Kate Liley, Goodstart’s National Research Manager was among the delegates and was delighted with the passionate conversation and debate which permeated the conference.

“The atmosphere was remarkable and even though it was a European conference there were delegates from all over the world. It was a real melting pot of ideas and discussion,” Dr Liley said.

“Goodstart’s presence at EECEREA 2017 was particularly strong. Translating evidence into practice is where we excel and we brought both strong academic and practical perspectives to the discussion.

“Our contribution to the conference as a large not-for-profit and social enterprise helped to ground the discussion into what makes the biggest difference in practice and outcomes for children.

“It was rewarding to see that we’re at the forefront of thinking and practice globally.”

Greg Antcliff, Goodstart’s National Manager Professional Practice, agreed that the conference provided a strong endorsement of the ‘Goodstart Way’.

“There’s no doubt that our recent focus on both interactions and relationships, and language and literacy, has been confirmed as best practice for professional development and improving outcomes for children in our centres,” said Greg.

The conference was also an opportunity for two centre-based delegates – David Martin, an educator at Goodstart Ashgrove and Sheila Kiaei, a teacher at Goodstart Double Bay – to connect with researchers and educators and bring valuable perspectives back to their daily work.

“Being in the company of some very knowledgeable people was quite exciting, and seeing best practice from around the world was so reassuring as it really confirmed to me that we’re right up there or even ahead of the best,” David said.

For Sheila, the experience has proved inspirational and offered her a chance to build valuable relationships within her professional network.

“This journey helped me to be more thoughtful, creative and passionate as an early childhood teacher and reminded me of the quote from Carla Rinaldi, that ‘we should remember that there is no creativity in the child if there is no creativity in the adult; the competent and creative child exists if there is a competent and creative adult,’” Sheila said.

Being exposed to a diversity of perspectives and practices offered all delegates a chance to reflect on their work in the global ECEC environment which Dr Liley believes is invaluable.

“It’s absolutely vital that we have a presence at these leading academic and practitioner events.

“While we might not necessarily replicate what we learn from other countries, it’s important for us to be able to compare and contrast what we do every day in our ECEC context.

“The experience really strengthened our thinking about our approach to early learning. There is some amazing research and practice going on in Europe, Scandinavia and Canada which gives us so much hope and confidence in the future of the field.”
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