280 – Educator networks enhancing children’s transition to school in rural areas

Presentation - ECV2022-280

Educator networks enhancing children’s transition to school in rural areas

Jessamy Davies, Charles Sturt University, Australia (jdavies@csu.edu.au)

Background: The importance of a positive transition to school has been linked with positive educational and social outcomes for children. Transitions to school are enhanced when educators from prior-to-school settings and schools work together. While educator networks are widely recognised as an effective tool for improving professional practice, little is known about how educator networks are used to enhance transitions to school.

Aim: To understand how educators from both prior-to-school settings and schools in rural areas collaborate using networks to enhance children’s transition to school.

Method: Qualitative data were collected across four sites in rural New South Wales and Victoria from network meetings, focus-group interviews, and follow-up interviews with network members. Network members consisted of prior-to-school and school educators, and other educational professionals.

Results: Educator networks were identified as being a worthwhile tool for enhancing transitions to school, giving educators an opportunity to come together and work collaboratively with a shared aim of promoting positive transitions to school in their rural areas. In addition, the networks also enabled the facilitation of a range of other practices to support children’s transitions to school. While the networks looked different in each site, they shared characteristics around effectiveness and sustainability.

Conclusions: The educators in the networks were brought together by an understanding of the importance of positive transitions to school and a shared aim to improve transitions in their communities. The networks themselves were effective as a tool for enhancing positive transitions to schools and promoting other effective transitions practices.

Implications for children and families: When educators collaborate and work together, this can help them build positive relationships with you and your child, share important information, and support you and your child during the transition to school. Educators are focused on making this exciting time of change as smooth as possible for everyone.

Implications for practitioners: Educator networks help facilitate positive transitions to school. Through participation in a network focused on transitions, you may have the opportunity for professional collaboration, sharing of information, improved communication, building of relationships and reciprocal understandings and fostering professional support and respect across prior-to-school and school settings, and with other educational professionals.

Funding: Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant (DP130104276)

Key words: transition to school, professionals’ voices, early childhood education, networks, regional/rural communities, qualitative methods

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

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