Being a leader in early childhood education and care

What does it mean to be a leader in early childhood education?

A genuine desire to contribute to the wellbeing and care of young children is usually the impetus for those seeking a leadership career within the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector. You’re also going to need some key skills such as patience, organisation and flexibility to build a successful career and be able to communicate successfully with children, parents, colleagues and the greater community.

The independent Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) has packaged a set of leadership capabilities into its The Educational Leader Resource released this year, which includes The Leadership Capability Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care and School Age Care.

“Educational leaders are highly valued and instrumental in establishing, maintaining and continually improving quality education and care for Australia’s children.”

“Inspiring people working in children’s education and care to become educational leaders is in our national interest. Building their confidence, skills and knowledge, and continuing to grow creativity and innovation across the sector will embed a culture of continuous quality improvement.”

“This commitment to developing and supporting teams to achieve the best outcomes for children is the very heart of educational leadership.”

Further afield, the Arkansas State University has developed a set of key attributes that make ECEC leaders successful:

  1. They mentor rising leaders
  2. They make the most of individual strengths
  3. They provide time and opportunities for professional development

What makes a great early childhood education leader? 

Early Childhood Australia (ECA) has conducted an extensive analysis of existing research and has concluded with the following understanding of what makes great leadership in the early childhood education and care sector.

  • Leadership is about identity—it starts from within.
  • Leadership is about influence (both directly and indirectly) and responsibility, and is therefore potentially open to everyone.
  • Leadership demonstrates respect as an enactment of ethical commitments.
  • Leadership is about qualities and values rather than position.
  • There is not just one way to enact leadership—it is complex, dynamic and varies from situation to situation and from culture to culture.
  • Leadership is about purpose.
  • Leadership capabilities can be professionally developed.

Leader in ECEC

Early Childhood Australia has identified the need for everyone working within the early childhood education and care sector to dedicate themselves to continued professional development and ongoing learning, to keep up-to-date with the latest research on leadership in early childhood settings.

“… the context of early childhood is continually changing and becoming increasingly complex. Roles are changing and expanding. Old solutions to issues and problems do not always work. These ‘change challenges’ suggest a real imperative for the field to develop new and robust frameworks for leadership that can support people in facing, grappling with, initiating and facilitating change rather than simply reactin

(Fasoli, Scrivens & Woodrow, 2007, pp. 232—233).

Based on existing research, ECA has developed a set of capabilities for early childhood and school care leaders to frame their professional leadership plans, based on encouraging emerging leaders to reflect on how they:

  • make children’s learning, development and wellbeing the core focus
  • address children’s rights and honour diversity of all kinds in positive, constructive and courageous ways
  • build respectful, trusting, nurturing and equitable relationships
  • build respectful and genuine connections with families and communities
  • collaboratively develop a culture of ethical inquiry
  • collaboratively create a community of learners.

Study pathways 

Working in ECEC is an incredible fulfilling career pathway to take – after all, you are taking on the responsibility for nurturing the minds and spirits of Australia’s promising future.

At Selmar Institute of Education we offer you the opportunity to invest in your future and get career-ready with industry-leading and nationally-recognised training in Childcare Courses.

“I cannot explain how valuable and appreciated it is to have such prompt and constructive feedback from my trainer Natasha. She is always readily available to provide support. I attribute a large part of my success so far, to the marvellous support and mentoring I am receiving.“ — Caroline Black

Starting with the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care as the entry level qualification for anyone who wants to work in the early childhood education industry, you can then continue to develop professionally through a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care to become a lead educator. The next step for your career is to complete an Advanced Diploma of Community Sector Management to give you a senior management level qualification designed for leaders in the Health and Community sectors.

We now also have a pathway to Swinburne University with a credit exemption to Swinburne Online to study a Bachelor of Education degree.

Find out more about our childcare courses here.


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