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Coveted Excellent rating for Goodstart Red Hill, Brisbane

Q and A with Centre Director Renee Mitchell on her team’s “Excellent” achievement

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Goodstart Red Hill in Meanjin (Brisbane) stands out as a beacon of excellence in early learning, embodying Goodstart’s commitment to creating exceptional learning environments that maximise every child’s potential and their learning, development and wellbeing.

The Excellent rating from the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority  recognises the centre team are setting new benchmarks in the early learning sector. Currently only 30 services in Australia hold this prestigious rating, making Goodstart Red Hill’s achievement even more significant. This accomplishment has been the result of years of hard work, strong leadership, perseverance and an unwavering commitment to achieving the best outcomes for children.

Goodstart has an ongoing focus on quality improvement, with over 98 percent of our centres assessed as Meeting or Exceeding the National Quality Standard (well above the sector average). More than a quarter of Goodstart centres are Exceeding, and Goodstart Red Hill now joins Goodstart Clayton in holding the coveted Excellent rating. Since 2020, four Goodstart centres have achieved an Excellent rating– a rating that was previously held by centres for three years but from 1 July 2023, newly assessed centres now hold their rating for five years. Red Hill is the first Goodstart service to go through under this new condition.

The team at Goodstart Red Hill have built a strong reputation in the early learning community, ensuring best practice is at the heart of all they do. The Red Hill team have a strong focus on play based learning, nature play, and “becoming safe, kind and fair citizens of the early learning community”.  

In achieving the Excellent rating, the team rated at the highest possible level across the National Quality Standard’s seven areas including; Educational program and practice, Children’s health and safety, Physical environment, Staffing arrangements, Relationships with children, Collaborative partnerships with families and communities and Governance and Leadership.

Some great examples of their best practice include:

  • Their approach to reconciliation – which celebrates First Nations culture through their community “Sea of Hearts” initiative (see here), their partnerships and relationships with the Turrbal people and Elders (traditional owners of the Brisbane area), integration of Turrbal language in the centre, and collaboration and guidance from their Cultural Support Team.
  • The team developed a Children's Council (CC) to support child engagement and empowerment, as well as supporting their quality improvement process. The intent of the CC is to encourage children to offer their voice and engage in active citizenship – involving children in conversations that seek the children's input and perspective on different things occurring within the service and wider community.
  • Family involvement in the centre in which Parent committees are consulted and play a role in determining and planning for future goals within the centre. 
  • Events, catch ups and meetings to ensure team culture is strong and each member of the team feels valued. 
  • Sector and community involvement to share ideas, experiences and collaborative opportunities – such as the Social Justice in Early Childhood Network to support “anti-bias education”. 

In what is an incredibly exciting time for the Red Hill team, we had a quick chat to Centre Director Renee Mitchell about her team’s reaction to the news, her team’s journey and her love for the Goodstart community.

What was your centre’s reaction hearing the news?

Renee: There happened to be five people in the office at the moment the phone call came through. It has already been a roller coaster day for us, with flash flooding meaning that we had a rushing creek at our playground fence in the morning, and when the phone rang at lunchtime I gasped, realising that it was a Sydney number.

The call failed twice before successfully connecting, and there was a collective silence as I took the call. After hearing our case worker say that they are happy to inform us that ACECQA are happy to award us the excellent rating, my head spun for half a minute before I hit speaker for everyone to hear the rest of the call. When I hung up the phone there was a cheer, and the afternoon at Red Hill was spent basking together in our happy news. How grateful we were to hear the day before a planned alumni team celebration, so we were able to really slow down and enjoy the moment together the following day.

The feeling of professional joy is indescribable.

What does the Excellent rating represent for you and the team?

Renee: The rating is acknowledgment of the exemplary practice and collective pedagogy which has been established over many years, involving many heads, hearts and hands. More than that, the Excellent rating is proving to be a deep driver for our team as we work purposefully to write the next Red Hill chapter for our team, our children, and our wider community.

Tell us about your practice journey - from Exceeding to Excellent 

Renee: Red Hill has been a place of exemplary practice for many years, though we have been patiently waiting to be fully staffed before compiling an application.

Our Educational Leader Kaitlyn Johnson took on the main author role of the application, which has been written for well over a year. The application itself reads like a beautiful advocacy document which showcases the strengths of the service, alongside ‘the what’ ‘the why’ and ‘the how.’ We held off submitting the application while we settled five new full time team members in, and the excellence application actually became a Red Hill guidebook for our inductions. The excellence application was also used during our Invitation to Play events, with panels displayed around the service for participants to read. We hope to gift a version of “The Little Book of Excellence” to the sector to further amplify the exemplary pedagogy and thinking of the team.

 The thing about a practice journey is – you are never done. We might have moved officially from Exceeding to Excellent but know that the team are already striving for Exceptional.

 What do you love most about being a Goodstarter? 

Renee: There is a sense of community within this large organisation, and nothing showcases this more than the support messages that come through to acknowledge a milestone like Excellence. I have felt acknowledged, supported and valued by each of the well wishes which have come through, by email, LinkedIn or Teams.

 Red Hill are one of the four Goodstart centres that have achieved an Excellent rating over the past four years (a rating that is held for 3 years), including Goodstart Bathurst (2020), Goodstart Tuggerah (2021), and Goodstart Clayton (2023): 

Goodstart Clayton: In October 2022 Goodstart Clayton became just the 36th service in Australia to be rated as Excellent by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA). Clayton was awarded the rating for its pioneering approach to setting ‘best practice’ in their everyday delivery of early learning, delivering excellent outcomes for children, families, and the community.   Read more.

Goodstart Tuggerah: The team was awarded the Excellent rating in January 2021. Goodstart Tuggerah was recognised for its exceptional practice, outstanding commitment to inclusive partnerships, workplace culture and community involvement. Learn more here.

Goodstart Bathurst: Awarded in October 2020, One of many initiatives at Goodstart Bathurst that earned it an Excellent rating, is its partnership with the Bathurst Local Aboriginal Land Council and its CEO, a partnership which has led to enriching learning experiences including a Bush Kindy Program with access to a site by the local Wiradjuri people, to a weekly Playgroup NSW to increase early learning and support services. Learn more here


Helpful information

The National Quality Framework (NQF) provides a “national approach to regulation, assessment and quality improvement for early childhood education and care and outside school hours care services across Australia”. You can learn more about Goodstart and the NQS here. 

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