Educational program and practice
We respect the right of every child to be in an early childhood environment which has love, nurturing, fun and safety as its core goals. We know that children learning through play and therefore embrace an emergent curriculum. An emergent curriculum responds to the interest, needs, abilities and skills of children in the moment and throughout the day. Our teaching is both inclusive of all children and intentional, whether it arises from a spontaneous idea or is a planned activity or experience. We value the contributions of Aboriginal culture to the wider community and aim to incorporate that culture in our day to day work. Our program strives to continuously improve our practices and reflects the National Quality Framework, incorporating the National Quality Standard (NQS) and the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF).
Children's health and safety
We recognise that children are capable, competent learners and that each child develops at his/her individual pace. We promote a safe environment where children are slowly taught how to protect themselves and at the same time we nurture them through our knowledge of child development and connections with other family support agencies. Our programs aim to embed sustainable practice and environmental responsibility, by marrying the crops grown in the garden with the foods that will be prepared in the kitchen.
We are advantaged by having a larger than regulated outdoor environment, which is planned with drought resistant plants. Our outdoor environment is set up to be inclusive, having open spaces for large muscle play, established spaces for sensory play and quieter enclosed spaces where children can play in small groups. Children become environmentally responsible when they can experience gardens as places of life and learning.
Mitchell Early Learning Centre has a history of working above staff:child ratios. The relationships between staff are valued equally with the relationships with other stakeholders of the service. The ECA Code of Ethics is used as a standard towards which we identify our work as a team. We use observation, collaboration and reflective practice to build the structure of our work as well as the programs within the learning environments. We are committed to continuous improvement by the use of professional documents within the National Quality Framework, The Code of Ethics, the ethical response cycle, our philosophy and the policies and procedures that guide our practice.
Relationships with children
We acknowledge that building relationships is fundamental to our work. The children that attend our program come from a diversity of backgrounds and we always try to hear the child’s voice in their behaviour. By building a strong relationship with love and trust, the children develop a sense of belonging, which is the basis for living a fulfilling life. Therefore, we work without bias, building the bridges that children need to grow their potential.
Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
Mitchell Early Learning Centre is a ‘sister’ centre to the TOWRI Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Service in Bathurst. We want to establish links with Aboriginal elders to further our knowledge of Wiradjuri language and culture. We want our relationship with TOWRI to be authentic and collaborative so that our children can grow strong in knowing the lands on which they live and the many cultures included on that land. When we had concluded our ‘sister’ status, our future direction was to grow this relationship within the wider community. Our links with the community also include the educational centres that surround us, such as Charles Sturt University, TAFE, other early childhood services and the Bathurst Child and Family Network.
Leadership and service management
Mitchell Early Learning Centre has a history in Bathurst since 1988. We are a community-based long day care centre that caters for up to 64 children every day. At our last assessment, we achieved an exceeding rating. We endeavour to maintain this rating standard through continuous reflection of our programs, policies and procedures. The centre receives above average support from the management committee, which comprises centre families and university staff. The centre operates at above required staff:child ratios and we access funding and support to promote the inclusion of children with high ongoing support needs. We strive for continuous improvement using reflective practice and collaborate with each other and the wider community in order to best meet the needs of the children and families in our care.