Our Philosophy

At HEY, the passionate and caring educators aim to provide a friendly and nurturing environment. We encourage children to explore, learn through play and build upon their individual interests.

Hawthorn Early Years Philosophy

At Hawthorn Early Years (HEY) we recognise the importance of childhood in building the foundations for future learning and citizenship in an ever-changing world. We recognise children as bearers of rights, capable and competent of participating in society through their relationships with others. HEY prides itself on being recognised as a dynamic and innovative early childhood service that is responsive to all children, both as individuals and within groups.


As children participate in everyday life, they develop knowledge and curiosities, questions and theories about the world around them. Our 21st Century pedagogical approach ensures that all children can develop positive dispositions for learning to realise their full potential from birth through to the transition to school. Our programs acknowledge the individuality and diversity of children and each child’s ideas, culture, competencies and motivations for learning are the foundation of the program. We recognise each child’s right to succeed and develop inclusive programs where we support early intervention, to ensure the best outcomes for all children.

Respectful relationships, which nurture and teach, are at the heart of our educational program. Educators develop positive, caring and responsive relationships with every child to ensure they feel secure, and to create effective executive functioning skills to build respectful relationships with others. Listening is a vital strategy for communication. Educators model listening as a value and listen and respond to children with respect.

Curriculum decision-making at the Service is informed by an ongoing cycle of observation, planning, documentation, reflection and assessment. This process is supported by the Service’s skilled educational leaders, who in collaboration with educators, design programs to enhance and extend each child’s learning and development. We use documentation as a strategy of communication to make children’s learning visible and accessible to families. We provide documentation in the form of portfolios, quarterly summative assessments and documentation panels, via our digital platform, Educa.

The physical, social and affective environments created at the Service promotes a sense of belonging, acceptance of diversity and cultivates a sense of responsibility towards others and the planet. We value play and nature as contexts for learning and curate the environment to provide experiences for children to be curious and creative, take risks in their learning, ask questions, explore and learn from each other. Young children learn authentically through intentional experiences that are holistic in their design.

Every experience at HEY is important and provides the foundation for the future skills and abilities children need to succeed. Research shows quality education and care leads to better health outcomes, education and employment opportunities. In a rapidly changing world, many of our children will ultimately end up working in roles that don’t yet exist. Therefore, we must ensure that we ‘future proof’ them with the necessary skills of adaptability, creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness and innovation to transition to school successfully and beyond.

Families, HEY Teaching and Support Teams

HEY values professionalism, and leaders support staff to act ethically and cohesively based on the principles of mutual respect, equity and fairness.

Our high-quality educational programs for young children are designed by highly qualified teaching teams who successfully work in partnership with families to support optimal outcomes for all children. Therefore, staff are supported in their ongoing professionalism and learning at HEY. We are committed to investing in our staff and encourage their future career pathways. Our daily contexts and quality improvement practices also contribute to ongoing learning and development and therefore, professional identity as a team.

We develop relationships with families and invite them to share their beliefs and values about the Service to ensure that a broad range of perspectives informs our decision-making. Our menu is nutritious and diverse and approved by Nutrition Australia. Our specialist programs, designed in collaboration with families and external specialists, are innovative and unique and distinguish our program from others.


At HEY, we celebrate and encourage the involvement of our community of children, staff, families, and other stakeholders to support our commitment for social justice. We recognise and embrace our diversity in values, culture, beliefs and aspirations for children.

We acknowledge and pay respect to the original custodians of our land and embed inclusive practices, which respect and value equity, empowerment and acceptance, to build a sense of belonging to our community.

Leadership and Governance

The governance at HEY provides leadership and direction for the Service. One of the most significant commitments we make at HEY is to implement effective, mutually respectful and collaborative practices.

Leadership teams implement systems to ensure that regulatory and compliance requirements are maintained, and staff are organised in ways to provide adequate supervision. Expertise is recognised, and policies and procedures are reviewed to safeguard children, families and staff against risks to their safety and wellbeing. Leadership teams are committed to relevancy, authenticity and are advocates for children, childhood and professionalism in the sector.

Research demonstrates that there is a clear link between leadership and improved outcomes for children. Our leadership team is clear about our goals and expectations, and an effective self-assessment and quality improvement process are in place.

HEY staff embrace excellence, and always strive for consistent and embedded practices across the Service, informed by critical reflection that is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and the community.