A little preschool in the deep, some say remote part of the southern Bega Valley has been identified as one of the best in the industry. Rocky Hall Preschool has been rated as ‘Exceeding the National Quality Standard’.
The National Quality Standard (NQS) sets a national benchmark for the quality of children’s education and care services across Australia.
“An overall rating of Exceeding NQS is given to services that go above and beyond the requirements of the NQS in at least four of the seven quality areas,” Rocky Hall Preschool Director Jodie Dickinson says.
Jodie has worked at the preschool for twenty years, prior to that her children attended.
“The first five years of a child’s life are fundamentally important. They are the foundation that shapes children’s future health, happiness, growth, development and learning achievements,” she says.
“Children learn more quickly during their early years than at any other time in life. They need love and nurturing to develop a sense of trust and security that turns into confidence as they grow.”
Preschool’s like Rocky Hall are assessed against the NQS by the state regulatory authority and receive a rating for each of the seven quality areas of the NQS, as well as an overall rating.
“Our refurbished outdoor play environment including our new fort, Yarning Circle and fire pit, which were designed and built in a collaboration between the children, educators, and the community was acknowledged in the assessment as being innovative,” Jodie says.
“Our local Yuin culture, art and language programs and the attention educators and children give to caring for their environment and relationships were also highlighted as being exceptional.
“We are in our fourth year of local Indigenous language and culture learning with young Indigenous leader Nathan Lygon. Educators, children, and families have learned words from the local language for birds and animals they encounter daily in the bush.”
The 12 families who make up Rocky Hall Preschool come from Pericoe, Towamba, Wyndham, Rocky Hall, Lochiel, Candelo, and Eden.
“The preschool’s location makes for a unique learning. environment. We sit under Big Jack Mountain among a rich environment surround by historic farming land, old sprawling eucalyptus trees, and ancient Port Jackson Figs.”
“The Towamba River snakes its way past the preschool, and we enjoy walking excursions to the river to observe seasonal changes and to learn water and road safety. The children love visiting the river and our annual Fig Tree excursion.”
Not content with their gold stars from the National Quality Framework, this passionate group of educators and learners continue to stretch themselves.
“We have started using the science App – Atlas of Life to upload images of sightings of insects, birds, plants, and animals for identification and to add to their database of wildlife in and around the preschool environment,” Jodies says.
“We will soon be adding a motion sensor camera and birdbath to collect images and data of birds and wildlife that visit the preschool.”
The Bega Valey has a number of community-managed preschools, including Bega, Pambula, and Bermagui. Jodie says the partnership with parents, carers, and grandparents is key to their strength.
“We have a roster of parents that prepare fruit and vegetables for morning and afternoon tea. This is such a valuable support, the children love it when their families are part of their daily routines,” she says.
“We welcome community support, for instance, the Men’s Shed provides wood off cuts for the children’s work and local businesses donate supplies and equipment to support our programs.
“We have such amazing support, even past Preschool Director Di and Wyndham School past Principal Paul Whittock provide a voluntary mobile library service that enhances and builds on children’s interests.”
Rocky Hall Preschool is licensed for 18 children from three to five years and runs every Wednesday, Friday, and every second Tuesday.