Differentiated/Play-Based Inquiry Learning in the Early Years of Schooling

The Department of Education and Training in partnership with Deakin University is delivering the Differentiated/Play-Based Inquiry Learning in the Early Years of Schooling Professional Learning Program designed to support a clear progression in teacher knowledge and inquiry to inform practice.

The Professional Learning Program will develop and strengthen teachers’ knowledge and understandings of the role of play and inquiry in children’s lives and learning. This knowledge is essential to enable teachers to engage in planning, teaching and assessing children’s learning within a play-based approach in the primary school context.

For program information, please email Jenni Beahan, jenni.beahan@deakin.edu.au


Professor Andrea Nolan is a Professor of Early Childhood Education in the School of Education, Deakin University, Australia. She has worked on a number of State, National and international projects concerning literacy development, program evaluation, and the professional learning of teachers. Since 2007, she has produced a significant body of research focusing on the capabilities of the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) workforce with a specific interest in the professional learning of teachers. Andrea has researched the impact of the current Australian reform agenda on professional identities, mentoring, inter-professional work, and reflective practice. Educator practice is a complementary theme to her research where she has focused on young children’s language development, transition to school practices, and practice that improves outcomes for children and families.
Professor Louise Paatsch is the Associate Head of School (Research) in the School of Education, Deakin University. She is also the Deputy Director of Deakin University’s Strategic Research Centre in Education – Research for Educational Impact (REDI). Her research focuses on children’s and young people’s communication, language, pretend play, and literacy development, with a strong focus on metapragmatic and pragmatic language use and the link to social communication. She also investigates teachers’ talk patterns and intentional teaching practices in supporting children’s and young people’s communication, language, and play abilities. Louise also undertakes research that focuses on the communication, spoken language and literacy abilities of deaf and hard-of-hearing children and young people. She also works with teachers and educators to explore their own practices as reflective researchers to support positive outcomes for children, young people, and their families
Dr Virginia Kinnear is a Lecturer in Education (Mathematics Education) at Deakin University. She has teaching and leadership experience as an early childhood educator in both prior-to-school and school settings, and as a University lecturer in mathematics and early years at universities in South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. 

Prior to working in education, Virginia was a government solicitor working  in both criminal and civil practice. Virginia’s initial education qualification and teaching experience was in early years Montessori education (3-6 years) which she gained while living in the USA. In addition to her law and Montessori qualifications, Virginia also holds a BEd. (Early Childhood) from the University of South Australia and a PhD from Queensland University of Technology where she researched young children’s statistical learning and reasoning.

Dr Liz Rouse, Associate Professor, Education (Early Childhood). A Senior Lecturer in Early years education at Deakin University. She has been researching in the area of family partnerships for nearly 10 years and has published a number of academic articles and professional books in this space. Prior to commencing at Deakin University she spent many years as a teacher working across early childhood settings, primary schools and in early intervention. She has also worked in community based family support, and at both state and local government in the management of family and community programs.
Dr Deb Moore is a lecturer in Curriculum and Pedagogy (Early Childhood) at Deakin University. Deb’s background includes over twenty years as a kindergarten teacher; working as a preschool field officer and early years sustainability officer for local government; and more recently, as a tertiary teacher in early childhood curriculum. Her research interests are primarily around young children’s outdoor spaces and the places they construct themselves for their imaginative play.
Dr Natalie Robertson is a Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education at Deakin University. Natalie’s research focusses on children’s pretend play, and play-based learning approaches in early childhood education and the early years of school. 
Naomi Nirupa David is a Lecturer in Education (Early Childhood) at the NIKERI Institute in Deakin University. Her role is largely centred on teaching and learning for undergraduate students enrolled in the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education. This includes understanding the learning needs of different cohorts and developing strategies for retention and successful transitions to university. Currently a doctoral candidate, Naomi’s study seeks to explore family curriculum in the context of transnational families. Her research interests focus on issues relating to identity, narrative, mathematics, curriculum, professional practice and diverse childhoods.
Anne-Marie Morrissey  is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at Deakin University, and Course director for the Master of Teaching Early Childhood and Primary/Early Childhood courses. She has a strong research and teaching interest in play-based and inquiry pedagogy and how it supports the learning and wellbeing of young students.
Dr Kim Davies, Lecturer in Education (Inclusive Education)
Kim is an experienced teacher educator, former primary school teacher, learning support teacher and Principal. She loves working with practitioners and researchers to recognise and respect learner and community diversity and to realise inclusive educational experiences for everybody.