Amy MacDonald, acting team leader for Australia in the POET Programme

Dr Amy MacDonald is a Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at Charles Sturt University in Australia. Her main area is transitions in mathematics education. She has a background in early childhood studies and is currently building a research programme in early childhood mathematics. She is also the acting Australian team leader of POET.



POET stands for Pedagogies of Educational Transitions and is based around the sharing of expertise across and beyond country projects on educational transitions. POET builds on and extends existing research collaborations and, in opening this up to a wide range of early stage and experienced researchers across Europe, Australia and New Zealand, contributes to the European Research Area aim of making Europe more attractive to researchers.

- POET is a fantastic opportunity to develop transitions research as an international endeavour. The emphasis is on collaboration within and across the  groups, where there are researchers at different stages of their career within every group,  says Amy MacDonald

Five universities are involved in POET: Mälardalen University in Sweden, the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, the University of Iceland, Charles Sturt University in Australia and the University of Waikato in New Zealand. The programme was instigated by Aline Wendy Dunlop of the University of Strathclyde, and Anders Garpelin of Mälardalen University is the leader of the programme

- Part of the work performed in POET will consist of comparing, contrasting and learning from our different settings. In Australia for example, depending on which state you live in, you may for example start school at different ages and there may also have been differences as to what you were required to learn. This is not the case in some of the other countries, explains Amy MacDonald.

However, for the first time there is a national curriculum framework for early childhood as well as a new national schooling curriculum in Australia, which will enable Australia to create an equal playing field, for all children. There are however two key challenges, concerning how a continuity between early childhood and school curricula can be created and also how to ensure that the curriculum is being interpreted the same way all through Australia.

- There is a need for co-operation, between the policy makers, researchers and the practitioners in the field but also between families and schools. If you look for example at Sweden, there is an explicit focus on transition provided by the pre-school class, which proves an interesting point to me. I think that this is something that could be recommended to other countries, concludes Amy MacDonald, who sees POET as a real opportunity for both introducing international perspectives on educational transitions as well as sharing a bit of the Australian context with others.