Researchers guide national policy for children starting school

5 AUGUST 2011

A position statement to guide the policies and practices of transition to school across Australia has been developed by a research group led by CSU.

A position statement to guide the policies and practices of transition to school across Australia has been developed by a research group led by Charles Sturt University (CSU).
Professors Bob Perry (left) and Sue Dockett in the Murray School of Education.The team, led by Professors Sue Dockett and Bob Perry of CSU’s Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education, has developed the Transition to School Position Statement which urges all concerned with the education, care and wellbeing of young children to think about their transition to school in terms of social justice, human rights, educational reform and ethical agendas.
“Starting school is a time of opportunity and challenge for all involved. We need to be aware of these challenges and opportunities if we are to promote children’s wellbeing, learning and development,” Professor Dockett said.
An important part of the statement was the way it was developed.  In October 2010, Professors Perry and Dockett gathered key education researchers from USA, UK, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Hong Kong and New Zealand as well as key Australian researchers to a week-long international conference at CSU in Albury-Wodonga.
Over the week, researchers shared their research and major developments in early childhood education around the world. They used this information to develop a draft position statement. The researchers then met with policymakers from around Australia and local early childhood educators, seeking feedback and incorporating suggestions and changes.
The final document provides practitioners, policymakers, communities, families and children with a useful tool through which they can inform and actively shape and evaluate future practice and policy in transition.
Governments recognise the importance of children’s transition to school, and this is reflected in the 2009 Early Years Learning Framework endorsed by the national Council of Australian Governments and in the new national curriculum.
“It has been shown around the world that the start of school can be a positive time and an opportunity to build the relationships that support and nurture children throughout their educational career. Children who have positive transition experiences are more likely to have positive school experiences,” Professor Dockett said.
“This position statement is different in that researchers, policymakers and practitioners have all provided input into and overwhelmingly support the statement,” she said.
“It combines the different contributions and perspectives of all involved in the transition to school while recognising the role children play in their own transition.”
The Transition to School Position Statement will be launched at 4pm on Monday 8 August at the Gums Café, CSU in Albury-Wodonga, by the director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, Professor Alan Hayes.

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