Reframing Early Childhood Leadership
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Education / Centre for Research in Early Childhood
Rapid changes in Australian education have intensified the role of early childhood leaders and led to unprecedented challenges. The Australian Curriculum (ACARA, 2011), mandated Australian National Quality Framework (NQF) for Early Childhood Education & Care (DEEWR, 2010b) and the National Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) (DEEWR, 2009) have heightened the need for leaders to guide and move the profession forward. Leaders need to build professional knowledge, pedagogical capacity and infrastructure in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce in order to deliver reforms and achieve high-quality outcomes for children. Yet research on early childhood leadership remains sparse and inadequately theorised, while the voice of the early childhood profession remains marginalised (Woodrow & Busch, 2008). In this paper I draw on my previous research in leadership and change management which investigated principals', early childhood teachers' and teacheraides' conceptual and behavioural positions on educational changes in work contexts. I present a model of leadership that connects to practice, builds professional capacity and capability, and recognises the importance of relationship building and quality infrastructure. The model calls for robust constructions of leadership and improved professional identity that will reposition the profession so that it keeps pace with the critical needs of early childhood professionals. Within this model, tertiary educational institutions and professional organisations will play their role in guiding the profession forward as new paradigms evolve and federal and state initiatives begin to surface.