Rebecca Slade

On Friday we had the pleasure of opening our doors to Mark Barraket, the Deputy Secretary Early Childhood Outcomes from the NSW Department of Education. The visit spanned across three of our unique service types; term only preschool, long day care and out-of-school-hours care, providing a comprehensive overview of our community-oriented practices and values. 

 Bellambi Point Community Preschool, a service that proudly holds an ‘Excellent Rating’ under the National Quality Standards, was our first stop. Director Cassie took the opportunity to demonstrate the deep-seated community connections and familial relationships that form the very core of her practice. Bellambi Point Community Preschool is a great example of how the Start Strong and Disability and Inclusion Program funding can bring about tangible benefits to children and families. Providing high quality early education and care, in a safe environment to all children is ingrained in our philosophy, and it was a delight to showcase this commitment. 

Our next stop was Bulli Community Preschool, a service with an ‘Exceeding’ rating and a high demand from the local community. Big Fat Smile’s recent extension to include a second preschool room, has enabled us to meet the needs of our community and accommodate an additional 20 places for three-to five-year-olds.  

Bulli’s Early Childhood Teacher, Belinda, and Practice Manager, Nichol, shared remarkable examples of intentional, play-based pedagogy, emphasising the importance of intentional and child-led preschool programs within our long day care environments.  

Lastly, we visited Big Fat Smile’s Thirroul Fun Club, where the children were eager to share their favourite aspects of their outside school hours care (OSHC) program. Be it the opportunities to be with friends or the joy of creating green treats for St Patrick’s Day, their enthusiasm was palpable.  

Thirroul Fun Club, under the guidance of Director Bridy, epitomises a successful partnership between the school and our service. This collaboration ensures the children have access to appropriate facilities and continuity of care, a testament to the benefits of collaborative efforts. 

By opening our doors and initiating open conversations as we did with Mark, highlights the importance of early childhood education and the necessity for sustained funding and support. Advocacy in this form is a powerful tool that helps shape the future directions of our sector, ensuring that we demonstrate the transformative work we do every day in our services. 

This engagement with the department helps to create a mutual understanding, fostering a stronger relationship that benefits not only Big Fat Smile, but more importantly, the children and families we serve. 

We were grateful for the opportunity to engage in enriching conversations with the Deputy Secretary. We remain committed to providing quality early education and out-of-school hours care, and to lift the status and standing of the profession. 

 At Big Fat Smile, we believe in the power of connection, the importance of inclusion, and the transformative potential of education. We look forward to continuing our efforts to bring smiles to our communities, one child at a time. 

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