promoting risk competence


Adamstown Community Early Learning and Preschool Practitioner Research Team is the winner in the Advancing Pedagogy & Practice category in the 2019 HESTA Early Childhood Education & Care Awards

Awarded for their research-based curriculum which increased children’s ability to perceive, assess and manage risks during play.

The research explored the hypothesis that intentionally supporting children to take risks when playing had the potential to improve their physical capabilities and enhance their ability to make judgements about risks when playing.

Practitioner Research Team Leader, Kate Higginbottom, says the team partnered with the University of Newcastle to learn the academic skills necessary to engage their own practitioner research, in which they selected to focus on developing children’s risk competence.


“Working with the University of Newcastle we identified specific teaching strategies most successful in promoting risky play which had the potential to increase children's ability to better perceive, assess and manage risky situations,” says Kate.  

The curriculum included experiences like encouraging children to climb trees, fire work and using hand tools. Following the research program, children demonstrated greater capability to problem solve and manage risks independently.

“By learning the necessary academic skills to conduct our own research as educators, we were able to determine that the outcomes from the project validated the importance of exposing children to risk-taking in play,” says Kate.

Kate says the team was ecstatic to win the award and plans to use the prize money to work with academics to learn more in the area of infant and toddler risky-play.

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