Spotlight On – Forbes Preschool, NSW
Photograph: Narragunnawali Awards 2019, Nathan Dukes
When the Narragunnawali Awards judges visited Forbes Preschool in 2019 they were struck by the safe, relaxing and welcoming education environment the school had created for its students and families.
We sat down with Amy Shine, Director of Forbes Preschool to discuss life since their Narragunnawali Awards win in 2019.
One of the key focus areas for Forbes Preschool in the past decade, has been to develop respectful and collaborative relationships with local community, the local council, and the local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG).
As Amy Shine explains, “we worked with councils, sought out community, worked with our local AECG, and employed Aboriginal staff with the premise that our staff employment should be reflective of our enrolments.
“For example, 40% of our children are Aboriginal, so we should have 40% of our staff being Aboriginal.”
Developing respect and relationships didn’t happen overnight for Forbes Preschool.
All staff received extensive cultural awareness training from local organisations and community members as part of capturing the essence of a whole community approach, and to provide growth for all involved in the centre.
The community was thrilled when Forbes Preschool won the Narragunnawali Awards 2019 Early Learning Category.
Since winning the Award, Forbes Preschool has grown the number of pop-up preschools within the community with the help of a new vehicle, and has become a certified NDIS provider to assist families in feeling safe and supported, while putting the young ones first in care.
Despite the challenges that COVID presented in 2020, Forbes Preschool worked with early learning centres in neighbouring communities, such as Condobolin, to share best practice, ideas, and to highlight reconciliation and the importance of building relationships with local Aboriginal community members and organisations, such as AECGs.
“Our community is proud to have won this award”, says Amy, “we share the celebration with our whole community.
“This cannot be done alone, it takes a whole community to do what we have done… we are shifting preconceived ideas and hopefully making a change to a more inclusive community.
“The preschool is and will always be a place for everyone, and I truly believe that sense of belonging is spreading.”
See more about the Narragunnawali Awards 2019 winners here
Your early learning service or school could be recognised nationally for your reconciliation in education initiatives. Applications for the Narragunnawali Awards 2021 are now open. Find out more at https://www.narragunnawali.org.au/awards
Photograph: Forbes Preschool