'Everyone belongs' culture earns Forbes Preschool national award

Forbes Preschool's Amy Shine and Codie Smith were welcomed home by this beautiful banner made by the children.

Forbes Preschool's Amy Shine and Codie Smith were welcomed home by this beautiful banner made by the children.

Forbes Preschool has received a national award acknowledging its "everybody belongs" culture.

Reconciliation Australia last Thursday night named the local preschool the winner of the Narragunnawali Award for early learning in 2019.

Director Amy Shine travelled to Canberra for the gala presentation night with educators Codie Smith, Tahlia Horvat and Shirley Duke.

Reconciliation Australia Chief Executive Officer Karen Mundine said the judges applauded Forbes Preschool for its approach to reconciliation.

"We are so inspired by the contributions that students, teachers and broader communities are making to progress reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians," she said.

"Courageous conversations are being had not only in the classroom, but also with families and community members."

For Forbes Pre School director Amy Shine, it's as simple as wanting everyone to genuinely feel welcome at preschool - setting them up for their school journey.

It's been a deliberate choice to create a space that is inclusive and respectful, with art by local Indigenous artists adorning the walls and the children just as likely to sing "heads and shoulders, knees and toes" in Wiradjuri as English.

"We don't find it hard work," Ms Shine said.

"We love what we do so much.

"It's our whole team and our whole community, our parents and the other services in town."

The goal, she explains, is that every child goes on to school feeling that they have equal opportunities in education.

"The outcomes for our community are so much stronger because of our primary schools and high schools," Ms Shine said.

The awards were more than the gala presentation night, they included a visit with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and a day of workshops with other finalists.

It has reignited the local team's passion and inspired them to continue.

"We met so many amazing people," Ms Shine said.