Bankstown Montessori Academy team receiving flowers and hamper to celebrate their ACECQA Exceeding Rating

Vicky Naesse, Centre Manager at Bankstown Montessori Academy, discusses how they’ve achieved an Exceeding the National Quality Standards rating.

In July 2022, Bankstown Montessori Academy went through the Assessment and Rating process by ACECQA and achieved an Exceeding the National Quality Standards rating. 

The team at Bankstown Montessori Academy demonstrated exceeding practice in all seven quality areas: Educational program and practice, Children’s health and safety, Physical environment, Staffing arrangements, Relationships with children, Collaborative partnerships with families and communities, and Governance and leadership. 

To achieve an Exceeding NQS rating, the Bankstown team demonstrated that they are committed to delivering a high-quality practice at all times that reflects on opportunities to enhance children’s learning and development outcomes and that draws on the voices and strengths of children, families, and the community.

The Centre Manager, Vicky Naesse, shares her insights on how the standards and elements of the National Quality Framework (NQF) Quality Areas are embedded in centre operations at Bankstown Montessori Academy. 

How do you ensure your educational program is child-centred?

At Bankstown Montessori Academy, we encourage and promote independence, confidence, concentration, initiative, interaction, socialisation, and problem solving. Most importantly, our program allows children to make their own choices and learn at their own pace, and therefore promotes each child’s agency.

Educators are facilitators who provide children with opportunities and activities to meet each child’s individual needs and interests. They observe how children interact with their environment, their educators, and peers, to implement specific learning experiences suited to each child’s interests, stage of development, and competence. They aim to create a learning environment that is both engaging and stimulating for the children. 

The program is largely child-centered and there are ongoing opportunities for children to explore their autonomy and have their voices and ideas heard. Children’s ideas are explored respectfully and families are engaged to participate and further extend in learning ideas. Learning spaces and displays are reflective of children ideas demonstrating respect and provoking opportunities for further scaffolding. Children initiate play experiences from their own ideas and educators listen to what children are saying about the experiences.

How do you support children’s physical health and wellbeing?

Educators regularly discuss children’s changing needs with families and work directly with the families and professionals to develop targeted practices that are responsive and consistent to individual children’s needs. Healthy eating, physical activity, and effective hygiene practices are actively promoted both in the delivery of the daily program and with families. Children are encouraged to be active every day through outdoor play and games which not only promotes a good physical and mental health, but also help in developing motor, problem-solving, and social skills. 

The educators and management team reflect together on wellbeing, health, and hygiene-related matters, and make changes to practices and procedures where opportunities for improvement are identified.

How does the service environment support children’s learning and development?

All educators work collaboratively to assess each child’s learning and development as part of an ongoing assessment and planning cycle that drives the development of the educational program.

Educators consistently engage in critical reflection on children’s learning both as individuals and in groups. Each child’s participation in the program, their learning and development is communicated in an understandable, accessible manner to their family through various forums.

The approach to assessment and planning, as well as the methods of communication, draws on the voices of the children and families at the service, with ongoing opportunities for family feedback and engagement in the service.

What are the strategies you use to promote collaboration with families and the community?

We have demonstrated consistently high quality practice with facilitating supportive, respectful relationships with families.

All educators and the management team are involved in reflecting on the services’ approach to engaging with families and implementing strategies which support families to be involved in service decision making, promoting a sense of belonging and collaboration. 

At Bankstown, we offer a range of methods for families to contribute to the service such as open conversations at drop-offs and pick-ups, communication boards, emails and phone calls, regular surveys and individual meetings. Our team demonstrates respect in valuing the expertise, culture, opinions and values of families, and implements changes based on family feedback received.

We collaborate and form ongoing partnerships with our local community by hosting regular incursions at our centre. This includes visits from our local fire station, police station, and health professionals to share about their roles within our community. Learning about community roles is essential as it helps children develop a sense of belonging. 

How do you ensure children feel secure, confident, and included at your centre, and develop trusting relationships with educators?

Supportive relationships and interactions between educators and children are constantly observed across all educators and at all times. The children’s sense of wellbeing and belonging at Bankstown is supported by the responsive interactions of the educators. Educators make themselves available, accessible, and interested in what children are saying, doing, and feeling, and always respond respectfully.

The children’s ideas are seen as important and significant, contributing to their confidence in the service and sense of belonging. 

Educators value relationships with families and the community, and reflect on these as an integral piece in forming strong meaningful relationships with children.

What does Bankstown Montessori Academy do differently? What do you think makes it special?

At Bankstown, our vision is to be true to our philosophy and to be dedicated to our children, families, and community. To be able to inspire, create and explore our children’s world through their eyes and for them to discover and find their place amongst it.

Bankstown Montessori Academy believes in supporting families by identifying their individual needs and beliefs and incorporating them into our daily practices. The inclusion of each child is an integral part of our foundation. We believe that children’s voices need to be heard and respected. The education of the whole child requires teachers, children, families, and the local community to be connected. We listen to families’ feedback, brain-storm ideas, and work together for the benefit of the children. 

We believe that each educator brings unique and individual perspectives from diverse backgrounds that are valuable and crucial to our practice as a team. Our educators are passionate and always put children first, they genuinely believe in the Montessori philosophy, and they commit to bringing their whole selves to work each day because this is the key to delivering the best learning outcomes for children. 

At Bankstown, we are committed to supporting the children, young people, staff and families within our learning community achieve their best possible mental health. Through our focus on continuous improvement and our policies and practices, we work towards building and maintaining a positive, inclusive, and resilient learning community for all.