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The Impact of Inquiry Visits at Gowrie NSW: A Transformative Approach to Professional Development

Gowrie NSW has long championed a unique method of professional development through inquiry visits, underpinned by a demonstration model. Michelle Richardson, Gowrie NSW's Executive Director of Pedagogy, passionately advocates for this approach, emphasising Gowrie's history and foundation in "research and demonstration" and its effectiveness in enhancing early childhood education. 

What happens in an Inquiry visit? 

An inquiry visit at Gowrie NSW is deeply immersive, involving direct observation of children and educators in a dynamic classroom setting. This hands-on experience allows participants to see educational theories in action. Michelle Richardson describes it as an opportunity for educators "to observe, to question, and to engage in dialogue about the pedagogy being practiced right in front of them." 

Participants also have the opportunity to engage with Gowrie NSW educators in a Q&A after the observation, too ask questions and clarify ideas.

Clemton Park April visit (1)

Reflections on the Experience

The feedback from those who have participated in these inquiry visits has been overwhelmingly positive. Si Ning Koh, a Pedagogy and Practice Mentor from Orchard ELC, notes the profound impact of these visits: "The opportunity to come back and digest and reflect on what we've observed is critical. It’s not just about seeing—it’s about understanding and implementing practices such as attuned bottle feeding and mealtime rituals that we observed." 

Comparing Traditional and Inquiry-Based Learning 

Traditional professional development often lacks the engagement and practical application that inquiry visits offer. "Traditional workshops or webinars are primarily about information sharing," Michelle Richardson explains. "They can be restrictive. But with inquiry visits, we embed dialogue and reflection into the program, providing a richer, more sensory learning experience." 

Building Professional Confidence and Community 

The inquiry visits not only enhance learning but also build professional identity and confidence. Educators learn from seeing others in action, which encourages a community of practice that extends beyond individual centres. "Having colleagues observe your practice requires courage and confidence," says Michelle Richardson, "but the benefits for our educators in building their own professional identity are immense." 

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Future Directions and Integrating Research 

Gowrie NSW is advancing its inquiry visits by incorporating action research cycles. "Each educator identifies a niggling question about their practice, which is then explored through research methodologies," Michelle Richardson details. This approach deepens the foundation of their pedagogy and practice, ensuring continuous improvement and adaptation. 

Participant Testimonials 

The transformative effect of these visits is vividly captured in participant testimonials. Donna Boaden, Director at Little Explorers, shared her enthusiasm: "It’s so valuable. My notes don’t do it justice. I recommend it to anyone. You’re not just hearing about best practices; you’re seeing them, feeling them in action." Koh added, "Seeing these practices in reality, it’s huge. It changes perceptions about what is possible in early childhood education." 


Gowrie NSW's inquiry visits represent a paradigm shift in professional development for early childhood education. By moving beyond traditional didactic methods to a more interactive, practical, and reflective model, these visits offer a compelling alternative that not only enhances pedagogical practices but also fosters a vibrant community of learning and practice among educators. 

Register you Interest in an Inquiry Visit