Monday, 16 November 2020

Dianne Berton has been named as a finalist in the Victorian Early Years Awards for her outstanding achievement in creating positive opportunities and educational outcomes.

Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes announced Dianne Berton from Harrietville Bush Kinder is among the 20 finalists across the state in the category of Early Childhood Teacher of the Year.

The finalists have been named across seven categories which focus on improving engagement in learning, supporting parents, building collaborative community partnerships, improving health and wellbeing, exemplary practice in early childhood education, leadership, and significant service improvement.

Now in their 15th year, the prestigious awards include a Early Childhood Teacher of the Year award and a separate 2020 Minister’s Award.

Dianne believes that a living relationship with nature is critical for children’s wellbeing.  Dianne structures her teaching to utilise learning outdoors using the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework, and she guides children to experience nature’s positive effects on their ability to concentrate, to learn and to be creative.

Dianne has developed new nature-based resources to reinforce the early childhood curriculum, modifying these to meet the specific needs of each child.

Dianne has also incorporated Aboriginal culture into her teaching, and her vision to implement an innovative bush kinder program in Harrietville has inspired children to draw upon their natural curiosity and explore the pedagogy framework ‘8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning’ (8 Ways). The embedding of the local Aboriginal language and culture – Dhudhuroa – into the program is enabling children and their families to connect to country through the local bush environment. Dianne also resources natural materials for children to create and extend their learning and encourages reusing, recycling and reducing practices to promote a sustainable future.

Dianne’s leadership of the program is creating positive social, behavioural and educational outcomes for Harrietville children and their families. In all her teaching approaches, Dianne has a strong commitment to promoting the value of connecting children with the native land to enhance physical, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing. She has created a program which immerses children in nature and fostered their capacity to understand and respect the natural environment and the interdependence between people, plants, animals and the land.

The finalists were shortlisted from 115 nominations received in 2020.

This year’s winners will be announced on November 25 online, consistent with the coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

Winners of each category will receive a grant of up to $15,000 for professional development or to support their nominated initiative.

For the full list of finalists, visit:

Quotes attributable to Minister for Early Childhood Ingrid Stitt

“Congratulations to every finalist in the Victorian Early Years Awards for their contribution to our children’s education.”

“These awards showcase the hard work and determination in the early childhood sector to provide the best opportunities and educational outcomes for children, even during a global pandemic.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes

 “Congratulations to Dianne on being named as a finalist in this year’s Victorian Early Years Awards and for putting Harrietville on the map in the Education State.”

“While this year has been like no other, these awards shine light on the strength of the early childhood sector and the wealth of expertise creating positive educational outcomes for our children.”