The Ministry of Education has chosen the Faculty of Education at Western University to lead the Provincial Centre of Excellence for Early Years and Child Care along with the Ontario Reggio Association. Leading this initiative are Western Education faculty members Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw and Rachel Heydon.
Based on the guiding principles of democracy, social justice, and experimentation, the Centre is a public forum where educators, children, and families across the province are invited to collaboratively invent and imagine early childhood education together. The Centre will solidify Ontario’s capacity to cultivate the well-being of its citizens and be an example of successful early childhood education transformation – nationally and internationally.
Centre goals include to improve and sustain the quality of early years programs, support a dynamic and holistic early years sector with long-term investment in continuous innovative and cutting-edge professional learning, nurture a commitment to truth and reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities within the entire early years sector, promote a view of children as citizens of today with rights and responsibilities, and promote strong and culturally-relevant local communities of practice among early years programs.
“Children are citizens of today with rights and responsibilities, capable of complex thinking, co-creators of culture and knowledge, and relational beings,” says Pacini-Ketchabaw. “The Centre’s design acknowledges the sociocultural, linguistic, geographic, and material particularities of children across the province. Its initiatives will acknowledge children’s diverse perspectives and contexts.”
The Centres of Excellence are part of the Canada-Ontario Early Learning and Child Care Agreement. As part of the agreement, practitioners, education institutions and service providers across the province will be connected through innovative learning networks.
“The Centre leverages the knowledge and strong work already present in the province by collaborating with researchers, policy makers, early childhood educators, families, and children to promote innovative early childhood pedagogies,” says Heydon. “Every aspect of the Centre is designed to have pedagogy, diversity, knowledge-sharing, and accountability at its core, all for the benefit of children and families.”
The Ministry will work with Western Education to facilitate the establishment of the Centre and the Secretariat in 2018.
In total, the province has announced three Centres of Excellence and will also establish a Secretariat to coordinate province-wide planning amongst them to ensure professional learning goals are effective and consistent.
“Without a doubt, the Centre will improve the quality of early childhood education programs,” says Dean of the Faculty of Education, Vicki Schwean. “The Centre will also strengthen our community’s capacity to improve the well-being of children and it will be a national and international leader in transforming early childhood education.”
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