A Uniting Church coeducational independent day and boarding school in Marion, South Australia
Early Learning to Year 12

Early Learning Centre

Even our youngest students at the beginning of their wonderful learning journey are given the opportunity to discover the benefits of a Westminster education.

Our Early Learning Centre (ELC) accepts children from three years of age and offers a stimulating and fun environment that develops social, emotional, physical, spiritual, and cognitive potential.

We respect that children develop differently, and encourage each student’s willingness to be curious, take risks, and try new things that lead to new discoveries and connections. As ELC staff have access to the School’s extensive resources, technology, grounds, and facilities, our ELC students develop lively and enquiring minds in a happy, stimulating, caring, and secure environment.

The Westminster ELC is accredited as an approved child care provider, which allows eligible families to access the Child Care Subsidy.

This means that our ELC offers its own early morning and late afternoon care either side of the structured Early Learning program, as well as vacation care. In line with the School’s excellent staff/student ratio, and appreciating individual progress, the program also caters for grouping students who share a similar level of maturity and readiness for a particular task, each with their own qualified teacher and support staff. Food is provided during the day, which includes morning tea, lunch, and afternoon snack.

Specialist staff take our youngest students in key learning areas such as Physical Education, Music, and Library, to provide a brilliant start to their education.

Our comprehensive orientation process ensures a smooth transition between Early Learning and Preparatory School in either our mid-year intake into the Transition class, or start of year intake into Reception.

Orientation allows students to meet with Junior Primary teachers, to become familiar with both the classroom environment, and the many staff members who will be expertly guiding them through the next stage of their education.

It has been revealed in the media that nearly half of the nation's childcare centres have failed to meet strict new government quality standards. Westminster families will not be surprised to learn that according to independent assessors, our ELC surpasses the expectations placed on it by the National Quality Standard Assessment and Rating, performed by the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority. Our overall rating was ‘Exceeding National Standards’.

Ages of Students

We cater for children aged three years and over, who are ready from a social and independent toilet training perspective to spend time at pre-school.

Hours of Operation

The Early Learning Centre operates from 7.30 am to 6.00 pm. The ELC children may attend the program between these hours from Monday to Friday for 48 weeks of the year. The ELC closes for four weeks over the Christmas and New Year period.

Child Care Subsidy

Westminster School ELC is an approved child care provider which means that Westminster families may be eligible for the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) in relation to their costs for using our ELC. It is important to note that the Child Care Subsidy is based on family income.

It is the responsibility of the parent to register for the Child Care Subsidy. Information and forms can be accessed from the Family Assistance Office (through Centrelink), or families can call direct on 136 150. Alternatively, to find out more about the Child Care Subsidy please visit education.gov.au/childcare It is imperative that all families with children attending the ELC provide their Parent Reference Number, Birth Dates, and Child CRN to receive the rebate on fees.

Absences

The minimum booked attendance in the ELC is two days per week. Students are allowed 42 absent days per financial year while still receiving their Government Subsidy payments. Families exceeding the 42 absent days within any financial year will not receive their payments, once the 42 days have been used. Any absences due to sickness, where a doctor's certificate is supplied, will not be counted in the 42 'allowable absence' days provided per annual year. If your child is away due to sickness and you visit a doctor, please ask for a certificate and provide it to one of the ELC staff so that a record of medically approved days of leave is maintained.

Facilities

As the ELC is an important part of Westminster School, students have access to a wide range of appropriate facilities. These include the Haslam Library, the Forder Centre for sport, and visits to the on-site School farm.

Meals

Students attending the Westminster ELC are provided with a nutritious snack, morning tea, lunch, and afternoon tea as a part of their daily routine.

Staff

Westminster ELC works on a ratio of 1:7, meaning that for every seven children there is a qualified staff member. Other Westminster specialist staff, such as our Music, Library, and PE teachers, also support the learning program in various ways. This integration assists in making a smooth transition for children leaving the ELC, and entering their first year of schooling.

Location

The Westminster Early Learning Centre is located securely within the grounds of Westminster School at Alison Avenue, Marion. It is a part of the Junior Primary area of our School, and parking within the School grounds is available for parents, for ease of drop-off and pick-up.

Uniform

The ELC uniform is the same as the Westminster Preparatory School sports uniform - a combination of shorts, shirt, tracksuit, and rugby jacket all designed for children to be active, warm, and comfortable. Children can continue to wear this uniform for sport once they start their schooling.

When to start school

Westminster appreciates the importance of starting school. The first year of full time school is called Reception. Children who turn five years of age before the end of June are able to start in Reception at the beginning of Term 1 (late January). Children who turn five years of age in the second half of the year are also catered for with our Transition class which runs for Terms 3 and 4. This is a class for children of this age to help them get established in the routines of full time school before entering Reception the following year. Our ELC and Junior Primary staff are more than happy to work with parents to determine the most appropriate time for their child to start school.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is early learning important?

Researchers have discovered that the human brain develops the vast majority of its neurons, and is at its most receptive to learning, between birth and five years of age. In fact, the intake of new information is critical to the formation of active neural pathways (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000).

Early education can play a critical role during this important developmental period. The research linking early learning experiences to both cognitive and socio-emotional gains has had a huge effect on the amount of early childhood programs and services offered to families of young children around the world.

What educational philosophies underpin your approach?

Our educational approach is inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy, providing an innovative and inspiring approach to early childhood education and values the child as strong, capable, and resilient; rich with wonder and knowledge. The Reggio Emilia approach has been adopted because we believe that children are motivated by their interests to understand and know more. Our role as educators is to observe our children, listen to their questions and their experiences, find what interests them, and then provide them with opportunities to explore these interests further.

The Reggio Emilia philosophy also takes a child-led project approach. The projects aren’t planned in advance; they emerge based on the child’s interests. Children at our ELC may be involved in individual, small group, or large projects.

How does the Westminster ELC program differ from Child Care?

At Westminster ELC we provide an education program in a dedicated preschool setting, catering for children aged between three and five years of age. Our program is based on the developmental needs, interests, and experience of each child and guided by a national framework, Being Belonging Becoming. In addition to a play-based curriculum, ELC students are also involved in:

  • Literacy and numeracy activities
  • Explicit and intentional teaching
  • Music, Physical Education, and Library lessons
  • The Arts
  • Science and Technology
What does the Westminster ELC daily program look like?

The following timetable provides an insight of our ELC program which varies from day to day:

7.30 - 9.00 am - Before preschool program
Lesson 1 - Sport/Outside Play
Lesson 2 - Music/Inside Play
10.40 - 10.55 am - Morning Tea
Lesson 3 - Literacy Group time/Farm visit
Lesson 4 - Inside Play and Socialisation Program with Centre Director
12.25 - 1.30 pm - Lunch and rest time
Lesson 5 - Inside/Outside Play
Lesson 6 - Numeracy Group time
3.00 - 3.30 pm - Afternoon Tea
3.30 - 6.00 pm - After Preschool Program

What specialist lessons are provided to Westminster ELC students?

ELC students are provided with specialist experiences in the areas of Music, Physical Education, and Library. Our Music program is conducted by specialist music teachers, and includes singing, creative movement, use of percussion instruments and listening for appreciation. ELC students also visit the Haslam Library each week. Their experiences focus on how the library operates, the enjoyment of reading a wide variety of literature, and the exploration of authors and illustrators. Our Physical Education program aims to encourage the children to gain confidence in their ability to engage in physical activities, and to develop gross motor skills and co-ordination skills. The activities involved in the program include balancing, jumping, throwing, catching, hitting, kicking, climbing, and obstacle circuits. Art education and Information Technologies also form an integral part of the ELC curriculum.

What are the educator to child ratios in the Westminster ELC?

Licensing requirements specify a ratio of 1 adult to 10 children. However, our Early Learning Centre generally operates on a ratio that is lower than this, meaning there are less children for every qualified staff member.

Are the Westminster ELC staff qualified teachers?

We are very fortunate to employ eight fully qualified teachers in the Westminster ELC. Our ELC Assistants also have either a Certificate 3 in Education and Care, Certificate 4 in Education and Care, or a Diploma of Education and Care.

We believe our program strength lies in the expertise, dedication and commitment of our staff. We support our staff with professional learning, resources, and opportunities to create a unique and meaningful learning experience for the children.