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

We will provide a bio and more information about the winners of the Lil Gwyther Award (2010-2016) going forward.
The inaugural prize recipient was Anne-Marie Hansen.

Since then, there have been 6 more recent recipients:

  • Irene McCarthy
  • Jemma Rainbow
  • Jess Donovan
  • Jason Wilson
  • Michelle Ward

The latest award recipient event for Anna Wareham.

 Speech to QUT Education Faculty Star Awards Ceremony, Decmber 2016

Lil Gwyther Memorial Award to Anna Wareham. By Ross Gwyther

The Lil Gwyther Award has now been presented for the past 7 years since we first established it in 2010. We did that partly to recognise the contributions that my mum, Lil Gwyther, and her colleagues in the Early Education Reform Group made during the 1980s and 90s to advance the cause of young children, and the education we provide for them. But the other important reason for us was, and remains, to highlight the critical importance of play based early education – and an education that is focussed around the needs and development of each young child.

The Early Childhood School here at QUT has for a long time had a reputation for preparing early childhood teachers to venture forth with just that “child-centred” philosophy, and I am just so pleased that Ann and the staff in the school have continued to support the award.

Unfortunately I’m sure that many of us are aware of the immense pressures in early years classrooms to standardise, to test, and to perform. We hoped that this award and the philosophy that underlies it, will play just a very small part in the ongoing struggle to allow children to be children. Lil Gwyther took to campaigning around this issue because as a kindergarten teacher of 25 years who then worked as an advisory teacher in primary schools, she saw first-hand the terrible effects that a pressured and rigid curriculum in the early primary school had on many children, happy and confident on leaving pre-school. In one of the first EERG newsletters, Lil as president of EERG echoed the voices of many when she said that “we should not have parents asking “is my child ready for school” – but rather “is the school ready for my child”.

I am pleased to tell you that a number of us – some parents, some former Early Childhood School staff, and some of Lil’s original companions in EERG, have now re-established a brand new Early Education Reform Group campaign – this time with a website and Facebook page, but also by meeting with Government policy makers, by encouraging public dialogue about the important aspects of early childhood education, and linking up with a growing chorus of others who call for a more progressive early education schooling.

We have also made a start of building an ongoing network of the former Lil Gwyther Awardees, as a nucleus of support for young early years’ teachers when they come face to face with the realities in our classrooms. If any of you would like to join us you will be most welcome! We would like to build up the organisation so it can have a significant voice in the community.

I would like to thank all those individuals who contributed to this award – and there are a considerable number of them who are detailed on the Award website, as well as the Early Childhood Teachers Association, Early Childhood Australia, and the Qld Teachers Union, who have all made significant and on-going contributions.

Lastly of course I would like to congratulate and give heartfelt best wishes for a wonderful teaching career to this year’s recipient of the Award, Anna. I think you still have one year of your training to complete, and our small EERG group would love to keep up contact with you over your last year at QUT, as well as later on. I’m sure that with the preparation you have had from the School here, as well as your philosophy of education, you’ll do a great job wherever you teach!

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