G8 early learning centre introduces woodworking programs for children to encourage “risky play”

22 June

As Western Australia grapples with a skills shortage, a local early learning centre is doing their part to start training our future tradespeople early, introducing woodworking concepts to young children.

Great Beginnings Southern River has adopted a unique program of ‘risky play’ since opening its doors in March this year.

In an early learning setting, risky play is defined as learning experiences which provide opportunities to challenge limits, explore boundaries and learn about injury risk.Kindergarten children working on their woodworking projects

According to centre manager Shani Galappaththi, the centre’s woodworking program is one of their most unique ‘risky play’ offerings.

“We introduce the concept of woodworking right from the start in our nursery room, with children using plastic hammers to push balls through a hole,” she said.

“Children work on developing those skills and understanding the concepts right through to kindergarten where they start to use actual hammers, blocks of wood and nails to create objects during supervised play sessions with educators.

“The level of engagement and focus they show during these sessions is well above any other activity.

“The children show incredible restraint and consideration when using these tools which I think highlights their capabilities as engaged learners.”

Great Beginnings is part of the G8 Education network, one of Australia’s largest early learning providers dedicated to its purpose of creating the foundations for learning for life.

G8 Education Head of Early Learning and Education Ali Evans said the benefits of risky play are unparalleled.

“Lessons about safety and understanding risk can be beautifully integrated with early childhood teaching experiences like woodwork,” she said.

“Woodwork and exploring natural materials are critical to children as curious and creative thinkers.

“The risks need to be managed and active supervision is important however these aspects should support not hinder valuable learning experiences for young children.”

The centre is now working to expand their woodworking program to incorporate materials collected through their recycling practices.

“I want to start introducing CDs, bottle caps and other objects we collect to the learning so children can start to create more complex designs while woodworking,” Ms Galappaththi said.

“This will assist in the children feeling a sense of accomplishment and build resilience as they problem solve during the creative and construction process.”

To learn more about Great Beginnings Southern Rivers you can visit the website, book a tour online or call on 1800 517 086.

Major milestone in Far North Queensland child protection education

G8 Education’s early learning centres in Far North Queensland have reached a major milestone this week – educating 1000 local children in important personal safety lessons through a partnership with Bravehearts.

The milestone was reached at Pelican’s in the City One Centre, as the team and children welcomed Bravehearts’ Ditto’s Keep Safe Adventure Show.

The interactive show helps to empower children to identify uncomfortable feelings like anxiety, to know what to do if they feel unsafe and the difference in small and big secrets and which ones are okay to keep.

Bravehearts’ National Education Operations Manager, Emma Petherick, said the ongoing work in G8 Education centres is vital to improve the safety of Australian children.

“Approximately 1 in 5 children will experience child sexual abuse,” said Ms Petherick.

“Due to confidentiality reasons it is difficult to say exactly how many disclosures are made as a direct result of children seeing this show, however it’s safe to say that we have current or future survivors in every audience we see.”

It is estimated that 1000 children in G8 Education early learning centres in Cairns have participated in Bravehearts’ Ditto’s Keep Safe Adventure show since it first took to Australian stages.

G8 Education’s partnership with Bravehearts also extends beyond children’s education, with the two organisations collaborating in 2019 to deliver and develop a sector leading training program for all employees to ensure all children are protected.

“Bravehearts continues to provide consultation to support educators to have only positive interactions with our children and the knowledge to pick up on any signs of abuse or neglect which may be occurring,” said Ms Petherick.

G8 Education Chief Operating Officer, Malcolm Ashcroft, said child safety is the company’s highest priority.

“We prioritise creating child friendly environments where all children are respected, valued and encouraged to reach their potential,” he said.

“Our purpose is to create the foundations for learning for life and that extends to the classroom and daily life.”

Every G8 Education centre also has a Child Protection Champion who works to embed practices into centres by supporting and educating team members and promoting a child safe culture.

The Pelicans in the City One Child Protection Champion, Mayara Rocha, said she leads her team’s participation in ongoing training and monthly focused discussions to ensure everyone is aware of their obligations.

“It is important for us as educators to take the time to reflect and recognise what we are being asked to do in relation to reporting and supporting,” she said.

“I also like to make sure everyone understands why the training is so essential, and how it impacts not just children’s safety but also benefits families and the whole community.

“Our educators must be educated and empowered before we can educate our children.”

All G8 Education educators also complete and sign an ‘I Will Statement’ which is a commitment to child protection and safety that is displayed in centre for families to view.

For more information on Pelicans in the City One or book a personalised tour, visit the website here.

40+ and still learning – how G8’s Study Pathways Program helps tackling staff shortage in the sector

15 years after local early childhood educator Fatthima Husain migrated from Sri Lanka, she has overcome language barriers and the limitations of online learning to graduate from her Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care.

Ms Husain is an educator at Greenwood Hunters Hill, which is part of G8 Education, one of Australia’s largest providers of early childhood education and care, dedicated to its purpose to create the foundations for learning for life.

Ms Husain completed her Diploma course through the G8 Education Study Pathways Program, an industry-leading program aiming to combat sector-wide challenges by attracting and developing high-quality educators and teachers.

While the online learning environment and juggling between work and study was hard, Ms Husain said it wouldn’t have been possible for her to complete it without the extra support of the program.

Early Childhood Educator Fatthima Husain with children

“It would have been too hard to work and study at the same time without support from G8,” she said.

“The allocated study time, team support and financial contributions is what made it possible for me to graduate.”

HESTA State of the Sector 2021 Report1 found one in five early childhood workers are intending to leave the industry in the next one to two years, sighting a ‘desire to develop new skills’ as the number one reason for job dissatisfaction.

According to G8 Education’s Chief People Transformation Officer Tabitha Pearson, the company’s Study Pathways Program is supporting the G8 team to grow and develop, and in turn tackling the sector shortage.

“We have heard the call from the sector workforce, and are responding by consistently reviewing and growing our Study Pathways Program to better meet the needs and wants of educators,” she said.

“Employees who complete a VET qualification through the G8 Study Pathway Program stay, on average, twice as long as non-study pathways qualified team members.

“Turnover rates were also 20 per cent lower in our Study Pathways graduate cohort during 2021 than non-Study Pathway educators.”

Ms Husain said she isn’t surprised by the G8 Education statistics, adding that she is now considering continuing her studies after such a positive experience.

“I was a preschool teacher back in Sri Lanka and I am so happy I have been able to continue that work here in Australia,” she said.

“It’s great, that even though I’m 40+ years old, that I can continue learning and be supported by G8 to do that.

“Now that I’ve graduated from my Diploma, I am now considering furthering my studies to a Bachelor level and becoming an Early Childhood Teacher.”

G8 Education currently offers part- and full-time traineeship opportunities for both Certificate III and Diplomas in Early Childhood Education and Care, and a Bachelor Scholarship Program.

These programs vary in support, however allocated study time, mentoring support and financial benefits are included across all.

In March 2022, the Study Pathways program saw record enrollments, which Ms Pearson said shows the hunger of educators to progress and learn.

“Developing our team is a priority, for both the benefit of our G8 network and the wider stability of the sector workforce,” she said.

“Our program enrollment rates, and sector survey results show this is where our focus needs to be to guarantee a sustainable workforce into the future.”

Childcare sector vacancies are at an all-time high, having doubled from 2019 and rising by 50% in the past 12 months alone.

National Skills Commission’s Employment Projections to 2026 is projecting a 21.6% increase in early childhood sector jobs from November 2021 to November 2026.

“I love coming to work everyday, seeing the children and watching them grow and develop,” said Ms Husain. “I cannot imagine doing anything else with my life.”

To find out more about job opportunities in the Hunters Hill area and other G8 centres visit our careers page or contact our recruitment team on [email protected] or by phoning 07 5581 5480.

Great Beginnings Gilles Plains is a “rare occurrence within the child care sector”

South Australia’s first Great Beginnings early learning centre has opened its doors in Gilles Plains.

Situated in Adelaide’s fastest-growing region, this centre will help to fulfill the heightened community need for early learning services in the northern suburbs.

Gilles Plains childcare centre

Centre Manager, Ryan Kroon, said he is excited to provide a high-quality service for local families and create a homely space to nurture children into confident learners.

“Supporting children to develop healthy relationships with themselves and other people is what inspired me to work in early childhood education,” said Mr Kroon.

“When children establish healthy relationships and connections to educators, their peers and care environments, it supports emotional well-being and influences them to become confident learners.”

Great Beginnings Gilles Plains is part of G8 Education, one of Australia’s largest providers of early childhood education and care, dedicated to its purpose to create the foundations for learning for life.

G8 Education CEO Gary Carroll said Mr Kroon is a rare occurrence within the child care sector, with the Australian Productivity Commission reporting just 3 per cent of all childcare workers are men.

Centre Manager Ryan Kroon with a child

“It is an absolute positive to have both male and female role models in our educational settings,” Mr Carroll said. “It is a major benefit to children to see our educators interact, and how they communicate and work together.”

Mr Kroon joined the Great Beginnings Gilles Plains team with more than 20 years of early learning experience, as well as an Advanced Diploma in Children’s Services and Leadership Business Management.

“I was very fortunate to go straight from high school into a centre where I was really supported,” said Mr Kroon.

“I am really proud that during my time in management I have been able to support and encourage more men to join the sector.”

In order to support children’s individual learning styles and emotional needs, Mr Kroon said consistency of care is a core focus for his team of 15 educators.

“We use the circle of security model to develop trusting relationships with our children and families,” said Mr Kroon.

“Primary carers develop responsive and respectful relationships with new families, become informed of individual routines and interests and act as a safe base for children.

“That consistency really helps with that initial transition into care for both child and family.”

The centre officially opened on Monday 23 May. Personalised tours of the spacious centre and natural place spaces are available by booking online or phoning 1800 517 086.

G8 Education appoints new Head of Learning to its executive team

15 March 2022

G8 Education has affirmed its commitment to advancing quality education outcomes with the appointment of Ali Evans to its executive team as Head of Early Learning and Education.Ali Evans, Head of Early Learning and Education, G8 Education

Ms Evans brings 30 years’ experience to the role, which will lead the education strategy for G8, one of Australia’s largest providers of quality education and care.

CEO Gary Carroll said elevating the role to the executive level reflected the strategic value the organisation placed on delivering quality learning experiences.

“We want to attract and retain the most passionate teachers and educators to deliver great learning and care experiences for our children and families,” Mr Carroll said.

“Welcoming Ali to our executive team will ensure our organisation is aligned around our education strategy as we deliver on our purpose, to create the foundations for learning for life.”

Ms Evans said she was excited to be leading initiatives that would prioritise children’s development, learning and wellbeing, while also growing awareness of G8’s sector leading study pathways and offerings for Early Childhood Teachers.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to lead G8’s education strategy into the future, building on the great work that has been implemented up until now,” Ms Evans said.

“When it’s a child’s education, we have a responsibility to give them the best possible outcomes through quality teaching and learning. We couldn’t achieve this without our amazing educators and teachers.

“G8 has invested heavily in providing well-supported study pathways from school-based traineeships through to Bachelor scholarships and ongoing professional development.

“This all translates to fantastic learning outcomes for our children.”

Ms Evans started her career as a kindergarten teacher and has held senior roles within early learning as well as worked in higher education.

Her roles have focused on quality teaching and learning, leadership and mentoring, curriculum development, community partnerships, inclusion, wellbeing, and more.

“Every position I have been in has been important in making a difference for children and families daily,” she said.

Alongside her role with G8 Education, Ms Evans is also the President of Early Childhood Australia (Qld) in a voluntary capacity.