When writing the Early Learning Policy and Procedure document throughout 2016 and 2017, I chaired an Early Learning (EL) Working Party consisting of representatives from diocesan Catholic primary schools, as well as Catholic Schools Office personnel.
I searched for a critical friend for the EL Working Party who could provide an academic lens. A critical friend is an individual who provides feedback on a project by asking questions, offering critique and provides a different perspective through which to view the project.
I contacted Professor John Fischetti, Interim Pro Vice-Chancellor in the Faculty of Education and Arts at the University of Newcastle to seek suggestions for a critical friend.
Professor Fischetti provided me with some suggestions and after some research, I contacted Associate Professor I-Fang Lee (Ph.D) for the School of Education at the University of Newcastle, who became a critical friend to the Working Party.
This began a collegial partnership between myself and Associate Professor Lee, where we met on a regular basis and established a strong connection between Early Learning at the CSO and the School of Education at the University.
Both Professor Fischetti and Associate Professor Lee attended the launch of the Early Learning Policy in March 2018 and both speak highly of the EL Policy and its positive implications for the education and wellbeing of children in the early years of school across the Diocese.
It was Professor Fischetti who invited me to apply to be Conjoint Fellow in the School of Education. My appointment was recommended by the Faculty of Education and Arts Conjoint Appointment Committee and approved by the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Faculty of Education and Arts.
The University of Newcastle continues to build a global reputation for delivering world-class research and innovation. The University has attracted some of the very best researchers in the world, providing an important platform for the development and future growth of key research fields. The University is ethical, rigorous and committed to the highest standards in academic enquiry and professional responsibility.
As an honorary staff member at the University, I am able to be involved in research opportunities in the School of Education, specifically in relation to Early Learning.
My Conjoint Fellowship provides me the opportunity to work together with researchers to further pursue knowledge and practice in Early Learning and enhances the relationship between the University and Early Learning at the Catholic Schools Office.
My first meeting at the Ourimbah Campus of the University will be as part of a forum to consider a future research project.