Strong Foundations one year on 

A Sacred Heart Early Learning Centre, Palmerston, student learns her numbers.

A breakthrough collaborative project, designed to boost early literacy and numeracy learning for young children and enable a smoother transition to school, is celebrating its first year of operation.

The Commonwealth-funded Strong Foundations program, an initiative involving Charles Darwin University and Catholic Education NT, is the feature of the second “Strong Foundations Early Childhood Conference”, which opens tomorrow in Darwin.

The two-day conference will include a keynote address from CDU’s Head of School, School of Education, Professor Alison Elliott, a number of showcase presentations of programs from the Strong Foundations initiative, and workshops for delegates.

Deputy Director of Teaching and Learning at the Catholic Education Office NT, Brenda Keenan said Catholic Education NT had relished the opportunity to partner with CDU and the Australian Government to improve teaching and learning in the early years.

“Partnering each of our early learning centres and preschools with a CDU academic is proving to be a practical and highly effective way to provide on-site mentoring support for our educators,” she said.

“In light of overwhelming evidence that good beginnings are important, Action Learning projects have been implemented at each early learning site to focuses on building culturally rich and nurturing environments where children are immersed in quality language, literacy and numeracy experiences.

“The project continues to be a wonderful and unique educational opportunity for staff, parents and children in our Indigenous Catholic community preschools and our urban Catholic early learning centres.”

The Australian Government, through the Literacy and Numeracy Pilot projects, is funding Strong Foundations until December 2010.

Ms Keenan said that strengthening literacy and numeracy for all children, and particularly Indigenous children, continued to be a priority for Catholic Education.

“Our continued goal is to develop innovative and sustainable approaches to literacy and numeracy learning in the early years and, in doing so, provide learners with the strong foundations essential to becoming confident, successful and motivated learners for life,” she said.

The “Strong Foundations Early Childhood Conference” will run from 12-13 November, 8am – 4pm at CDU’s Mal Narin Auditorium.