The Step up into education program is a Queensland Government commitment to better prepare and support children to make the transition to school, and to support parents to become involved in their child's education. Under the Step up into education initiative, Bowen State School received funding to deliver school readiness and transition initiatives to suit the needs of their local community.
For more information about the program visit: http://education.qld.gov.au/schools/stepup/.
Bowen State School is a Band 8 primary school with an enrolment of 460 students in 2016. The school caters to children in early childhood, and Prep to Year 6. The school is located within the North Queensland education region.
Its student population is drawn from rural areas.
Approximately one fifth (18%) of the student population identify as Indigenous.
Bowen State School has an ICSEA score of 932.
For further information about the school visit: www.bowenss.eq.edu.au
B owen State School has placed a high priority on supporting both children and their parents or caregivers transition into the Prep year since Prep began in 2007. The school has organised orientation events and developed relationships with Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) providers by:
participating in informal discussions with ECEC providers.
Feedback about orientation activities indicates that they were valued by the majority of families who attended.
Prior to the commencement of its Step up into education program, the principal and the program coordinator documented current school practices in relation to the domains of the Australian Early Developmental Census (AEDC) survey.
The school identified areas that needed attention and developed goals and proposed actions to achieve them. Consultation also occurred with other schools, ECEC providers and early childhood officers within the North Queensland education region.
The launch of the school’s Step up into education program occurred in Semester 2, 2013.
In 2015, the school’s program focus broadened from orientation to transition. Existing orientation activities were evaluated through a survey and confirmed as effective. Transition events were further developed, for example:
establishing a local early childhood educators network
delivery of presentations about the program at ECEC centres.
In 2016, the Step up into education coordinator and principal evaluated the goals established in 2015. The focus for the year would be to maintain and refine (if necessary) transition events and activities.
AEDC data indicated:
Children were making good progress in adapting to the learning environment of the school increased from 50.8% in 2012 to 65% in 2015.
Parents/caregivers active engagement with the school increased from 54% in 2012 to 63.3% in 2015.
The number of children who were regularly read to/encouraged in their reading at home increased from 58.6% in 2012 to 66.6% in 2015.
Parent survey information indicated that day care centre visits, Prep open days and information nights, the information booklet and Prep interview were very useful and helpful.
Bowen State School used the domains of the AEDC survey to develop goals for its Step up into education program. Initially the program’s goals included:
Orientation — Evaluate and refine the existing orientation program and transition events.
Transition — Increase awareness of Early Childhood Development Programs (ECDP) within the community. Work with ECDP staff to create a transition program to meet the individual needs of parents or caregivers, children and Prep Year teachers.
School Readiness and Capacity Building — Maintain visits to early childhood education and care services to build relationships with parents or caregivers and providers to increase the readiness of children for starting the Prep Year (2015 & 2016).
Parental Engagement — Conduct parent or caregiver information sessions (during and after school) about supporting their children to develop early literacy and numeracy skills (2015 & 2016).
Partnerships and Relationships — Establish a local network of early childhood education and care professionals to discuss transition. Continue to promote and facilitate collaboration between schools, local early childhood education services and other stakeholders to influence and support positive transition to school experiences.
In 2015, the Step up into education program at Bowen State School was characterised by:
implementing a survey of parents and caregivers to assess the effectiveness of program events or activities
providing a ‘Starting School Pack’ for new enrolments (includes a welcome letter, enrolment forms, Prospectus, ‘When I go to school’ story book, brochure-Supporting Successful Transitions)
Prep teachers visiting early childhood education and care services to answer any questions, observe the context and develop understanding about the kindergarten curriculum
operating an open day program and ‘Preparing for Prep’ packs
conducting parent information sessions during the day and evening
continuing transition visits by child care centres
attending professional development to build teacher capacity in understanding transition
funding a Prep year teacher to coordinate the program
funding release of Prep year teachers to visit ECEC services and deliver information sessions
facilitating Bowen Early Years Network meetings each school term
including the North Queensland Education region’s ECEC officer in all network meetings.
The school’s AEDC data for 2012 showed vulnerability in the domains of Language and Cognitive skills as well as Communication skills and General knowledge. As a result the school initially established its Step up into education program to focus on:
deepening relationships between the principal, program coordinator, Prep year teachers and parents or caregivers
delivering information to parents or caregivers about ways to support children in the transition to the Prep year
strengthening parents or caregivers familiarity about transition issues through information sessions.
The school’s AEDC data for 2015 showed vulnerability in the domains of Social competence and Physical Health and wellbeing indicating the school’s program needed to be more explicit with parents and caregivers about the purpose of and how to access ECEC services. Partnerships between the school’s program and ECEC providers needed to be deepened.
Assessment of the effectiveness of Step up into education program at Bowen State School was undertaken to monitor the children’s progress or readiness to learn using a range of data collection techniques.
Prep Interviews — 88% attended and 82% felt it was very helpful
Advertising of events at Child Care Centres — 60% used it and 53% felt it was very useful.
2015 feedback from teachers about the outcomes of the transition programs indicated that teachers of Prep Year reported that they knew the children and their families better and were able to cater for their needs.
Information about families gathered during ECEC service visits and interviews informed the composition of classes which contributed to the positive transition of children into the Prep Year.
There were high levels of participation and agreement from participants about the value of the Bowen Early Years Network as a forum for professional development exchanges.
Meeting participants observed that, ‘this year’s (2016) Preps were the best prepared ever.’
We have established parent forums at ECEC centres where information (preparing for prep, transition to prep, curriculum, required support from home) to support children transition into the Prep Year is presented.
Organisation of and delivery of the Step upinto education program identified challenges, such as:
sourcing and employing staff with the necessary knowledge and experience
accessing families who do not attend an ECEC service.
Recommendations for the future
Bowen State School will continue to deliver the Step upinto education program. Proposed actions for future programs include: