Early Education Reform Group EERG

Using play to create a Child-Centered Curriculum in the early years of school.

The more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core. David Sobel

This committee is a self-nominated group who have previous connections and affiliations with Lil Gwyther and her Early Education Reform Group. Their current role is to ensure that Lil's legacy (see Background) lives on because of its relevance within current early school years curricilum. 


Ross Gwyther has recently retired after working for 10 years as an organiser with the National Tertiary Education Union. Prior to that he spent many years as a research geophysicist at the University of Qld and at CSIRO studying earthquake processes. He has had a long involvement in educational issues, through the World Education Fellowship, the Public Education Coalition which was active in the 1990s, and the Early Education Reform Group, which his mother Lil Gwyther helped to establish in 1980. He is passionate about the importance of education, particularly early years education, as one of the most powerful ways of enabling all of us to develop our own unique capabilities to the fullest – a public good in the best sense.

Yani Janny Boersma spent her working life as an early childhood teacher and was active in EERG from its inception. The EERG group was instrumental in two major developments in Qld education, the growth of multi-age education in early years teaching in many State and private schools, and in the establishment of the Prep year in Qld State Schooling.

Felicity2 small

Felicity McArdle is Associate Professor at Charles Sturt University, NSW and A/Professor at QUT, School of Early Childhood (Adjunct).  Before working in Teacher Education at universities, she taught for over 14 years, in urban, rural, and remote districts, in before school settings, and in Primary schools.  She was a member of the consortium that wrote the first national framework for the early years in Australia, the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF). She is co-author of the book “The Trouble with Play” (Grieshaber & McArdle, 2010), and more recently has co-authored “Being an early childhood educator: bringing theory and practice together” (McArdle, Gibson, & Zollo. 2015).

megan gibson

Megan Gibson is an early childhood educator committed to enriching early learning experiences for all children and their families. Megan is delighted to be connected with the Early Years Reform Group (EERG) and championing Lil Gwyther's work as her family has a long history with Lil. Along with four of her siblings Megan attended what was fondly known in her family "Lil's preschool". Lil's influence was apparent in Megan's family with her parents having regularly recounted the enriching experiences from preschool, and challenging school practices that were not child-centred. Megan's own experience as an early childhood educator includes teaching and leadership roles across a range of contexts over a 16 year period. Notably, Megan was the Director of an internationally recognised child care centre, where she led the centre’s substantial growth and evolution for ten years. Megan currently works in teacher education with key responsibilities for units on leadership, professionalism and health and well being. Through this work Megan brings her commitment to child and family-centred approaches to early childhood education and care. She currently researches in the areas of early childhood workforce, pre-service teacher education, leadership and sustainability.

Michelle Schue Profile pic small small

Michelle Scheu is a passionate early years teacher who has taught at Chevallum State School for over 20 years.  Being awarded an ASG NEiTA National Teaching Award in 2014, provided Michelle with an opportunity to be a spokesperson for children and educators struggling with the validity of the Australian Curriculum for young children.  Michelle mentors many teachers implementing Thinking Play through classroom visits, the internet, providing following up clips for her YouTube channel, the most well-known titled, “Let the Children Play”.  For the last two years, she has presented her Thinking Play pedagogy with educators, including Queensland C&K and ECTA annual conferences.  Michelle has written teacher and parent e-guides for the ASG website and is currently writing a book where she advocates for quality play based learning in early years classrooms for children Under 8.

lyn Winch

Lyn Winch was Principal for 30 years at Chevallum State School on the Sunshine Coast.  Lyn remains committed to learning and futures orientated curriculum reform not only at the local but also at the State and National levels. This is reflected in her participation in many professional organisations such as QSA, ACSA and ANSN. She believes that to be a good professional, one must be actively engaged in the union. She has held many positions in the QTU and AEU including QTU Hon Vice President (6 years), QTU State Executive of the Queensland Teachers’ Union, Chair of the Education Administrators Committee and Curriculum Committees of the QTU, and many Education Department Curriculum Reference Groups. Lyn was chair of the AEU National Principals Committee and on AEU executive.


Noelene McBride has been involved in many aspects of Early Chilhood Education over a period of 40 years as a teacher, teacher educator, parent and more recently a grandparent. She is passionate about providing the best educational experiences and opportunities for young children and has been actively involved in groups who advocate for the rights of young children.

This section is designed to share information from organizations and groups who are actively involved in and advocates for protecting the rights of children. 

The ECTA conference is on the last Saturday of June (25/6/2016) http://www.ecta.org.au

Megan wrote:
Hello friends/colleagues

Felicity and I are presenting a session, aimed at having a rich conversation about contemporary practices and pedagogies in early childhood education (see abstract below). Ideally we would like 3-4 people to join us in this session to be part of a panel. Felicity will Chair, using a lovely Quaker style strategy where each panel member prepares a response to a key question, and then has the opportunity to speak to this question (first uninterrupted and then building up to a cross panel conversation).

At this stage Michelle, Marie and Irene have indicated their willingness to join us on the day… This will be a terrific professional growth opportunity and as well will be fun! We are conscious of this being a 'safe space' without things turning into a whinge - rather constructive critiques…

So, for now play around and explore the website and let me know if you can come along to join us in the to ECTA presentation.

Regards and thanks (the abstract is below)


Just because they can, doesn't mean that's best: Stop, Look, Listen, Think.

Presenters: Felicity McArdle, Megan Gibson.

This will be a conversation conducted using a Quaker Strategy designed to enable frank and fearless exchanges of views. The conversation is a call to action, for those who share concerns over current approaches to teaching and learning in the early years, including primary schooling and the before-school sector, and responds to Maggie Dent’s call to 'Stop Stealing Childhood' – in the name of education. It is over forty years now since Lil Gwyther began to speak up for young children, their rights and their capacities. We take up Lil's commitment to 'flexible, child- Return to contents centred and ungraded teaching practices' aimed at enabling children in their 'belonging, being and becoming', without judgements that put their development and therefore their growth in constraining boxes. Lil was particularly interested in pedagogical approaches, and challenged schools to engage with child-centred curriculum: 'Primary schools have the greatest responsibility because you cannot undo what is done in the early education stage'. Early childhood educators are required to be skilled readers of curriculum, designing, creating and reflecting on the learning experiences they provide for young children. This is a story that can sit alongside stories of NAPLAN, reading levels, learning outcomes and curriculum directives which originate elsewhere.




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