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Organising for quality for ECE – Sarah the scientist shares some ideas with an ECE network in Wellington.

The Hutt Valley ECE network has become active over the last year, giving a boost to exhausted teachers and support staff. The network offers free professional development and networking to strengthen services in the area. “We have about 20 or even 25 plus professionals turn up,” says Sharee Ormond, the supervisor at Nga Tamariki in Alicetown. She helps facilitate the network. “We run it just once a term because we appreciate that people get very busy.”

“We start at 6.15pm and people come straight from work. We provide some food and start informally so people can unwind and catch up. Then we move onto the workshop.”

Besides Sarah (aka Dr Sarah Kenworthy – pictured above) who looked at how to work with young children on science experiments, the group has had Professor Carmen Dalli from Victoria University as a speaker.

“She shared her research on quality infant and toddler care, which was really interesting. We got a lot out of it.”

Sharee says that it’s important everyone in the area is invited to the network meetings – members and non-members, from community and for-profit services. She says staff working in some for-profit services don’t get a chance to see what quality looks like. “We get the students who come here from for-profit services and they’re really quite surprised by the ratios and the good atmosphere.”

A community centre with a long history in the area, Nga Tamariki has recently rebuilt its outdoor area. A new boardwalk winds its way through new equipment, a new whare and spacious grounds. Sharee says the centre had a difficult patch two or three years ago, when “we realised we didn’t have a marketing budget”

But action was taken and rolls are now full and the centre has maintained its high ratios and qualified staff. ECE networks in other areas are also working together on PLD and marketing initiatives to ensure quality is maintained in the face of aggressive marketing by low-quality, for-profit services.

Watch a video of Sharee Ormond talking about how to run an ECE network at:

To find out more about ECE networks in your area ring the NZEI Helpline 0800 693 443

Visit Sarah at www.sarahthescientist.co.nz