Addressing the evaluation gap

Doveton College is a place-based approach to meeting the needs of children and families within the community. The College has created a one-stop-shop in which a range of important child, family and community services are integrated with an early learning centre, primary and secondary school on site.

Identifying a gap in early childhood practice and evaluation, Doveton College, the Early Start Research Institute at Wollongong University and Dusseldorp Forum have partnered to develop new tools for the ongoing evaluation of early learning at Doveton.

The Early Years Monitoring to Optimise Development and Early Learning (MODEL) seeks to develop a collection of evidence-based tools for those who work directly with children on a regular basis, in particular early years educators. These tools will be predominantly delivered through digital platforms and will support a richer and deeper understanding of the early years environment, the importance of different kinds of interactions with children for learning and development, and individual child needs and capacities.

In keeping with current evidence, the Early Years MODEL will make child development relevant for educators who largely work within a child-centred, strengths based approach. Rather than trying to fit all children into broad developmental frameworks (e.g., milestone checklists or screening tools), the Early Years MODEL will make developmental and educational research relevant to individual children and their environments, and provide actionable insights to complement the programming and planning cycle.

The aim of these uniquely, well designed tools is to empower educators to recognise and address more complex needs in children and, in doing so, build educator capacities to bring developmentally informed, intentional pedagogy into practice.