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Linking evidence to practice at Goodstart Blakeview

Goodstart centres

Linking evidence to practice may sound a little clich├ęd, but it’s actually a very powerful statement which guides us in our mission to give children the best possible start in life.

In simple terms, this statement ensures that the things we do in centres all across Australia are linked to the evidence of what works best for children in early learning settings.

To meet this challenge we’ve worked closely with centres like Goodstart Blakeview to develop the Goodstart Practice Guide, which provides our teachers and educators with tangible and evidence-informed practices that are known to achieve positive outcomes for children.

The Guide is organised into five components which we call the ISTEP framework (ISTEP stands for Interactions, Space, Time, Experiences and Planning). In a nutshell it helps our teachers and educators plan their daily activities in ways that evidence shows work best for children.

Goodstart Blakeview played a key role in the development of the Guide, being one of 30 centres that completed a 12 week trial before a national roll-out.

Centre Director, Melissa Griffiths, started the trial by reflecting on what the Guide’s ISTEP framework was calling for against what was already occurring in the centre.

“We looked at each area of the Practice Guide and realised it was closely aligned to what we were trying to achieve in the centre, but being there in black and white provided us with more structure and direction.

“We focussed on each ISTEP element individually and reflected what we could improve, which in our centre mostly came down to changing our room environments, materials and resources.”

Melissa and her team decided to use their nursery room as a test case within the centre, before implementing more widely in the other rooms.

“We figured if we could embed the Practice Guide in the nursery room, we could do it in any room.

“As we started implementing the Guide, we soon realised we’d been underestimating babies as being competent learners and the room environment was reflective of this.

“The room’s resources weren’t challenging or accessible. We needed babies to be exposed to items that weren’t so plastic and structured so we replaced many items with natural products and created a section of the room just for sensory exploration.

“We now use many loose parts in the room which encourage babies to develop and extend their own learning without the limitations of more structured items like plastic toys, and we’ve placed most of the resources in clear containers so they can crawl over and let us know when they want to explore with something further.

“When we started showing photos and video evidence to the families, they were amazed to see how competent these very young children were.”

Having now embedded the Guide across all rooms in the centre, Melissa has also developed a template for educators which links the Early Years Learning Framework, National Quality Framework and the Guide’s ISTEP framework.

“We use this template as a planning tool to set goals for rooms and children. Stepping through each section of the template helps us articulate learning objectives and ensure the actions we take are consistent with our approach to early learning.

“It’s made it easier to ensure we cover every area of learning possible and has been great for new educators, helping them to implement the Practice Guide without becoming lost.”

In 2017, Goodstart Blakeview was formally assessed as Exceeding across six of the seven national quality areas, a remarkable achievement for the centre team.
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