Kindergarten KRKINE LUČKE at the Elementary school Vavta vas operates as a part of the Elementary school Vavta vas (kindergarten and elementary school have the same management). Elementary school operates from 1974, kindergarten has joined in 1996.
Vavta vas (village) lies in Municipality of Straža, which lies 70 kilometers south-east of the capital Ljubljana. Vavta vas has aproximately 300 inhabitants, Municipality of Straža around 3000.
Kindergarten operates at three locations, and has 23 educational staff employed. 10 of them are preschool teacher assistants, 11 preschool teachers, 1 assistant of a physically disabled child, and 1 deputy director. There are also preschool councelour, special pedagogue and speech therapist employed. The managerial, financial-administrative and technical staff is common with the elementary school.
Kindergarten includes little more than 165 children, of which approximatelly 65 are included in the dislocated unit Straža. 4 children need additional professional support from special pedagogue, one girl has a constant assistant. In two groups, children whose mother tongue is not Slovenian are enrolled. For five children kindergarten prepare special dietary food.
The kindergarten was one of first kindergartens in Slovenia that started with implementation of child-centered approach (Step-by-step methodology). After many years of cooperation with Educational Research Institute (ERI) who was promotor of child-centered approach in Slovenian preschool system, the change in the leadership of the institution resulted in the suspension of cooperation, which has been revived in recent years.
Within VALUE project, Kindergarten see opportunity to create a common and continuous professional path for all employees. As kindergarten wrote: “We want our kindergarten to finally become connected with our local community, to be recognizable by its professionalism even in a wider environment as it used to be. For this purpose, we joined a two-year program, leaded by the National School for Leadership in Education. In addition, we have again joined the Step by Step Network for changing quality,” leaded by the ERI.
In the last five years, they faced a large fluctuation of employees (retirement, maternity leaves, changes in leading structure), which resulted in weakened professional connections among professionals. Under new, strong and motivated leadership, they see the project as an opportunity to create a safe space for professional debates, professional networking and teamwork, reflection of their own practice and consequently higher quality of work. This will be done through meetings in professional learning community (PLC), in which all staff regularly meets. PLC is leaded by three staff members (2 preschool teachers and deputy director). ERI’s researchers (Slovenian partner in VALUE project) supports PLC leaders in development of competences (knowledge, practices, values) for successful work in this context. In PLC, professionals research their practice in the field of inclusion, and reflect their work by the support of International Step by Step Association (ISSA) principles of quality pedagogy. By this, they develop a shared understanding about quality ECEC, they reflect their own practice and build supportive environments for their work.