Shared language, shared understanding and collaborative relationships - the importance of relationships in the transition to school process

Year: 2017

Author: Rouse, Elizabeth, Nicholas, Maria, Garner, Rosie

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Transition to school is a critical life event for young children as well as their families, especially so for those who are experiencing vulnerabilities. Across Australia, early childhood and school settings are framed by separate curriculum documents and approaches. This is particularly so in the State of Victoria where educators working in early years programs are guided by the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF) (birth to eight years) while teachers in schools are following the Victorian Curriculum (F-10). While the language of the VEYLDF draws on strengths based approaches focusing on five learning outcomes - identity; wellbeing; community; learning and communication, the Victorian Curriculum focuses on eight learning areas, four capabilities and their associated achievement standards. Common to both documents is continuity of learning. In 2017 the state Department of Education and Training developed a revised transition to school kit aimed at supporting schools and early childhood services to design and implement effective transitions to school processes and programs. The Transition to school Kit is underpinned by three central themes: relationships; equity and diversity and continuity of learning and aims to strengthen the connections and collaborations between schools and early years settings during the transition to school process. Research has shown that successful transitions depend on the nature of the relationships between all involved (Peters, 2010; Dockett & Perry, 2006). Yet despite this only around 25% of teachers participate in cross sector professional learning opportunities.

This paper will present on the findings drawn from a professional learning program (PLP) delivered across Victoria in 2017. With a focus on developing shared understanding and shared language around effective transition to school processes, the PLP aimed to bring together over 5000 teachers and educators from across both the early years and the school age sectors in a space which enabled the sharing of multiple insights and perspectives leading to shared understandings and language around the transition to school process. Preliminary findings show that participation in workshops resulted in teachers and educators moving to joint, cross-sectoral planning to inform effective transition processes in local areas, valuing each sector's practice frameworks. This led to increased collaborations between and across sectors and a sharing of perspectives that resulted in newer, shared understanding around teaching and learning across the two sectors.