This presentation outlines a research project into early childhood education funded by Queensland Department of Education and Training’s Education Horizon research grant scheme. The project will run from July 2016 to June 2017. This project involved two main research activities: an online survey of early childhood educators of young Indigenous Australians and a small case study of early childhood and early years education programs in Logan, Darling Downs and Far North Queensland regions. The pilot case study sought to identify ‘X-factors’ regarding the contextualisation of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment for young Indigenous Australian learners. This presentation will outline the case study model, describe and discuss the findings of the research at Cherbourg State School (Darling Downs region, Qld). It will outline initial findings and elements regarding experiences, expectations and praxis that underpinned the decision-making of parents, educators and school leaders.
The regulatory contexts of early childhood services prior to compulsory schooling are found to add significantly to the roles of early childhood educators. This impacts some educators’ efficacy to make professional decisions; for others, it impacts upon their professional identity. If educators are teaching out of their specialisation, these systems expectations can generate disconnections in their work to contextualise the curriculum, pedagogy and assessment for young Indigenous Australian learners.
How to look for the X-factors in education:
- Understand how the level of regulatory burden in early childhood education programs impacts educators in contextualising curriculum, teaching and assessment. This shouldn’t be an excuse to lower the expectations of children, families, educators, schools and communities.
- Look for ways educators apply professional knowledge and demonstrate capabilities to mediate systems expectations and contextualise these in classrooms (don’t solely focus on the ‘gaps’ or deficits as per testing outcomes).
- Look for in and across the contexts of classroom, year level, school level and community (this is an ecological approach).
- Look for evidence of the culture of the classroom and the culture of the school (and not only the culture of Indigenous Australians).
- Look for curriculum competence that engenders and facilitates cultural competence.