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Collaboration Focus of Early Childhood Ed Seminar

Friday 9 June 2006

Closer Collaboration Key Focus of Early Childhood Education Seminar
- Whānau, Pasifika collaborations and contexts explored -

How can we make early childhood education a ‘one-stop shop’, where families and whānau can access a full range of integrated services, support and advice that allows their children to have the best start in life?

This question is a key focus of the upcoming University of Otago Children’s Issues Centre National Seminar held at Wellington’s Mercure Hotel, Willis Street on Sunday 18 and Monday 19 June.

The event, Getting People Together in Early Childhood Education, will draw on national and international research and experiences in fostering innovative collaborations between early childhood education (ECE) services and other agencies, and with parents, whānau and communities, says Centre Director Professor Anne Smith.

Over 30 speakers will be presenting, including several who are researching and working alongside Māori and Pasifika communities. Hon Steve Maharey, Minister of Education, will deliver the closing address.

“New Zealand ECE services lead the way in combining education and care, but if we want to maximise our children’s well-being and development, we have to look at the wider picture and fully integrate areas such as health, income support and child protection into ECE,” says Professor Smith.

“As the majority of under-fives in New Zealand attend an early childhood service, these are uniquely placed to act as focal points where families can access services and support for themselves and their children and forge stronger links within their communities,” she says.

The seminar will explore issues including whether ECE centres are currently adequately resourced to provide this kind of holistic service, the importance of leadership in effective collaboration, and barriers or incentives for working together, she says.

Keynote speakers reporting on the latest research and initiatives in the area include:

 Mini McKenzie, Project Director, Atawhaingia Te Pa Harakeke, Ministry of Education. Her topic is “‘Kei te ora, kei te whakatipu te tamaiti kei waenganui i tona ake Whānau.’ A Child Lives and Grows within the Context of a Family or Community”. Her paper presents a model of early childhood practice developed in a Whānau or community context, which is a living example of Te Whāriki. Examples are given of the meaning in practice of “placing the child at the centre” (Te Rito), and the implications of this for effective engagement with parents, caregivers and Whānau, and responsive teaching informing parenting (Whānau, Tangata/Whakawhanaungatanga). Lastly this discussion will explore the implications of this model for tamariki, Whānau and community engaged in lifelong learning in a range of contexts or settings (Hononga).

 A keynote panel of Linda Mitchell (New Zealand Council for Educational Research), Diane Mara (National President, PACIFICA - Pacific Women’s Council), and Dr Arapera Royal Tangaere (Policy and Research Development Manager, Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust) will draw on recent research to provide leading examples of collaboration in three key areas: with parents and whānau; with Māori, iwi and marae; and with local Pacific and other ethnic communities.

 Dr Margy Whalley, founding head of Pen Green Centre in the UK. Pen Green has been highly successful in working with and supporting parents in providing integrated services for children and their families in Corby, a Midlands town economically devastated by closure of its steelworks in the 1980s. She will speak on “Leadership in Integrated Centres and Services for Children and Families - A Community Development Approach”.

 Professor Jacqueline Hayden of the University of Western Sydney will describe the Health Promoting Early Childhood Program in New South Wales, which uses child care services as entry points for enhancing sustainable heath and well-being for children, families and communities.

 Dr Judith Duncan (Children’s Issues Centre) will present on “Collaborations between New Zealand Early Childhood Centres and Community Resources.”

Workshop sessions:

 “SKIP: Pacific Voices”, Mokalagi Tamapeau and Ramona Tiatia, (SKIP, Ministry of Social Development, Wellington). The aim of this workshop is to show how SKIP (Strategies for Children: Information for Parents) has been provided to Pacific peoples communities in New Zealand and to present what we have learned about those communities and ourselves. In this workshop, Moka will show the way SKIP navigates the many dimensions contained within the richness of our Pacific communities, particularly in the context of how we raise our children – in a way that is positive and intrinsically PACIFIC. A short video of interviews of young Pacific children will be included.

 “Working Alongside Other Services”, Heather Simmons and Pam McGarva (Wycliffe Nga Tamariki Kindergarten, Napier). This workshop will attempt to illustrate the journey of a mainstream kindergarten as it changes and evolves to meet community needs. We will show how we made contacts with the community, how these contacts influenced our programme and attitudes, and how these factors have contributed to the reciprocal relationship established with the local Samoan community. We will attempt to outline the key aspects of this relationship through the eyes of the teachers, parents, whānau and children, as well as explore the impact of the Centre of Innovation project on the kindergarten and the community

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