A professional career structure – we need to start the discussions to get it built.

Imagine for a moment, we wake up tomorrow morning and Australia has no Educators. Imagine every education and care (child care) service is closed.

Imagine they all got a job as, well, lets look at that – if they left for more money, what might they choose? One example:

1st year Educator

Children’s services employee level 1.1 on entry $771.00$20.29
Source: Pay guides – Minimum wages – Fair Work Ombudsman

Call Centre employee (a role with less responsibility)

Customer contact trainee$805.10$21.19
Source: Pay guides – Minimum wages – Fair Work Ombudsman

Suddenly, the prospect of Educators choosing other work doesn’t seem so improbable, does it?

Why do Educators choose their current role?

I asked 5 Educators:

  • ‘I wanted to work with children’ (Educator 22yr old)
  • ‘I wanted to do something like this – I may go on to teach’ (Educator 20 yr old)
  • ‘It was available’ (Educator 54 yr old)
  • ‘My school sent me here for work experience’ (Educator 18 yr old)
  • ‘I really love it – I thought I might, it’s working out’. (Educator 23 yr old)

All of these Educators agreed on one thing – if money elsewhere gets much better, they would definitely leave early childhood. ( Meeting: Educators, various employers November 2019)

The question then is …

What would make it worth staying?

Is it just the money?

No, but the money is critical. I am sick of people saying we get a reward from loving the job. No-one asks Nurses to accept loving the job as payment! I have responsibility for a room of 20 children. Their early learning here is in my hands. If I don’t do this right, each child suffers. If I do it wrong, I get prosecuted under our law. Teachers and nurses have a great rate, and a great career. I want that, but right now, I have to leave to get it.” (Educator 23 yr old)

The structure of a career in early childhood

A career must have a pathway, that pathway is a structure. The structure guides the careers of everyone in that profession, and it has an impact on everyone who interacts with that profession – and so their perspectives must be considered:

What needs to be considered in the development of a career structure?

For the Educator

  • Qualifications – Requirements for entry level and advanced practice; Supported by an ongoing pathway of ongoing professional learning that is research based, specialty specific, quality assured, credited and cumulative.
  • Career structure – Entry level, Specialization (Practicing), and Advanced practice; Supported by staged qualification requirements; Stage specific salary levels to draw practitioners forward
  • Remuneration – Developed around expert level with beginning practitioner below that and advanced practitioner above that; Portability across the profession to like positions; Parity with comparable level positions

For the community

  • Reassurance of quality – Research base; Regulatory Framework; Standards of Practice; Guidelines; Positions statements; Practice support; Related agency consideration
  • Protection – Regulation; High shared expectations; Quality monitoring and assurance
  • Accountability – Linked research, qualifications, and professional learning with practice, requirements and accountability all well understood; Clear Educator identity and shared understanding of purpose; accountability mechanisms well versed in the profession.

For children and families

  • Focus on the child – Research based; Democratic; Rights framed; ‘That the rights and best interests of the child are paramount’1
  • Seamless care and education pathway – 0 to 18 focus; Research based; Linked communication between agencies (with parent or child as the vector); Respected and supported transitions.
  • Supported parenting pathway – Pre-birth to 18; Research based; Linked communication between agencies (with parent or child as the vector); Respected and supported transitions.

What does a career structure actually look like?

A broad career structure

Next week:

The one element that must be considered before all others.


  1. National Quality Framework: Education and Care Services National Law Act 2012
  2. Career structure | Queensland Health
  3. Career Structure — Teaching Service: Overview | education.vic.gov.au
  4. CHAPTER 5 – Parliament of Australia (aph.gov.au)

Professional Recognition – beyond recognition – it needs structure – and we need to discuss this sooner rather than later

To date in this blog series, we have discussed the definition of a profession (see earlier posts), the conclusion – the Early Childhood Educator role has all of the characteristics as a profession – but it has none of the structure.

Famously fractionate, early childhood in Australia is spilt by the characteristics of ownership type, service type, location, federal and state funding policy and a range of funding models. Children (and their families) in the 0-8 years age group that are subject to these services, face what can only be described as a complex system access profile that does not support parents to ask the question “What is best for my child?”, instead parents can only ask “What can we afford?”

“Over the years the early learning system has become complex and outdated… ”

Jay Weatherill CEO Thrive by Five

An Educator seeking to work in this system chooses from ownership type, service type, salary level and role – with wild variations in role, salary and accountability. Why would this be the case? If the role of Educator fits the agreed definition of professional, why is there no complementary salary and recognition profile that meets that definition?

There are many inputs into this situation, most are historical, but all act as a brake on systemic and individual role development and all hold back the individuals in that role.

If we look at it from a structural perspective (it is after all structural solutions that we need), professional recognition is usually systemic and reaches across a profession – see nursing for one example – but within this there is individual recognition – which comes on the back of a professional structure including a qualifications framework, individual ongoing professional requirements, and individual accountability.

Early childhood has a relatively new qualification framework1 that has its own structural issues, it has limited ongoing professional requirements, and it has a differentiated individual accountability (see the difference between those placed on registered Teachers as opposed to those placed on unregistered Educators) all filtered through a heavy organisational accountability framework.

Nurses, who work across a range of employment types and roles have professional recognition across the community, are regulated as professionals, and are paid as such. The expectations on each individual Nurse, to meet practice standards, are high.

The structure of nursing warrants consideration. I use the example of nursing as a predominantly female, care labeled profession that has, in relatively recent times, won a career structure. It is also useful to step back from the Teacher – Educator scenario and look to other professions for a hint of what is possible:

“There are two levels of regulated nurses in Australia – Registered Nurses (RNs) and Enrolled Nurses (ENs). Enrolled Nurses have completed a Certificate IV or a Diploma in Nursing from a registered Vocational Education and Training Provider (VET). EN’s are then registered with the Nursing & Midwifery Board (NMBA) to practice.

An EN usually works with a RN to provide patients with basic nursing care but do less complex procedures than RNs.

Registered Nurses are nurses who have completed a minimum three-year bachelor degree in nursing and have passed a national licensing exam to obtain a nursing license and is registered with the Nursing & Midwifery Board (NMBA).

RNs work independently and in inter-dependent teams. RNs are accountable and responsible for their own actions and the delegation of care to ENs and other healthcare workers.

To maintain registration, both RNs and ENs are subject to a ‘practice’ standard and continued professional development standards, as set by the NMBA.

Advanced Practice Nurses or Nurse Practitioners – Nurse practitioners are the most senior clinical nurses involved in diagnosing and treating patient illnesses. Registered nurse educated to a master’s degree level or post graduate qualifications. Both are able to work autonomously and collaboratively in an advanced and extended clinical role.

You will find them working independently, while alongside other doctors and health care professionals, to assess, diagnose, treat and manage patient illnesses.”2

The role of Nurses and the professional claims of Nurses did not progress until the career structure was put in place in 1986-67.

Educators need a professional structure independent of the diaspora of ownership type. We need a career structure.

More on a potential professional career structure, and what is needed to build it, next week.


  1. The National Quality Framework. https://www.acecqa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2018-03/Guide-to-the-NQF_0.pdf (ACECQA)
  2. https://www.health.qld.gov.au/employment/work-for-us/clinical/nursing-midwifery/career-structure (QLD Government)

We are not alone

In her report, Re-imagining Childhood: The inspiration of Reggio Emilia education principles in South Australia , Prof Carla Rinaldi challenged:

“What is our image of a child?

What is the relationship between childhood and society?

What is the role of school in society?

What does it mean to be an educating community?

Why do we separate education and care?

Is it possible for early childhood services to be places where the educational quality and the rights of children are given priority rather than the needs of parents to work?

These are big questions that challenge our common perceptions of children and invite us to open dialogue about the culture of childhood.”  

The South Australian Collaborative Childhood Project

When I read this for the first time I cheered! [Note: This is behaviour is not warmly received on a QANTAS flight.]

On the second and subsequent reads I began to wonder if the discussion of ‘education’, while valuable, hasn’t limited our thinking and kept us away from having a deeper understanding of the other professions that have a close impact on a child’s life?

I wondered if Prof Rinaldi’s question (echoed by others) ‘Why do we separate education and care?’ could be the key to starting some thinking about what a new early childhood approach might look like, and if it is in the phrase ‘education and care’ that we might start?

What, I ask you, would be the change in your thinking if I told you that we were changing the phrase ‘education and care’ as Professor Rinaldi is referring to it, to for example, ‘guidance and wellbeing’? Would something like this place the emphasis back on the child and de-emphasize the structural impact of divided ‘education and care’ systems? If we did that, would we be able to more closely integrate the health and education professions into our work, and create an expectation that we would all work together for the child?

What skills and knowledge would we need to act as a professional guide for the child in such a system? Hold that thought!

At conferences, round tables, webinars and Zoom meetings, the gatherings of other professions talking about early childhood rarely have a practicing early childhood Educator as the headline speaker.

At a gathering earlier this year, I remarked to an organiser that it was wonderful to be at a meeting with so many other professions and to hear from their multiple perspectives. I was, at the time consulting to an early childhood service who were taking their first steps toward an equal partnership with occupational therapy, physiotherapy, child and family psychology and speech pathology. The meeting topic was case communication and management and how can we all talk together. I had stretched the budget to almost breaking point to travel to the event and was keen to learn. I asked when the Early Childhood Educator would be speaking. The organiser smiled at the remark and said ‘What would they have to say to us?’

I would have responded but could not. How could I respond in a busy meeting hall that the division between early childhood education and care and the school system was a structural problem that broke the idea of early childhood into pieces without regard for the individual child who should flow seamlessly through the system – but that while this division was capturing attention, it could not be said to be resolved until all of the professions working for the child communicated and planned together – for the benefit of that child.

Weeks later I wrote to the organiser and responded ‘I don’t know, I don’t even know if they would understand the early childhood experience in a Centre, but we have to try and we have to be given opportunities to discuss what we do and can do’. I finished by saying that one of the units of study in the Diploma for Early Childhood Education and Care required the student develop their professional knowledge to work in partnership with families, communities, and other services and agencies.

The problem is, we can’t grow those skills and that knowledge, until we have opportunities to do so…

” I worked with these other professions in regards to children in my class on a limited capacity. I believe we should have more visits, time for consultation with Educators and more correspondence between the two services. … I would say Educators need to stand their ground and request those professionals if needed, they’re often keen to do so. It’s sadly our Centres that wont give the time or support needed to work with other professions”

Educator 2020

Re-read the quote above again.

Did you see it?

She said ‘these other professions’, in other words she sees herself as a professional and requires the structural resources to support this area of her professional practice. In the discussions on professionalisation of the sector, there is an argument to be made that Educators are there – that it is external parties that need to catch up.

Going back to the question posed earlier – ‘What skills and knowledge would we need to act as a professional guide for the child in such a system?’ She already has the skills and knowledge – but is being artificially held back by a limited view of Educator professional practice, and by limited support, and so doesn’t get the chance to grow and be recognised in this area.

I have recommended that the next event consider the stream – ‘Working together – The collaborative requirements of professionals working with children’.

Next week in discussing the professionalisation of the Education and Care sector: Mapping one role across 3 professions – The professional role of the Educational Leader in Early Childhood settings – what we learn when we view the role in comparison with other profession’s leaders.

Don’t be afraid of complexity

I am crazy about my hairdresser. As the lifelong possessor of unruly hair, I treasure the hope giving skills of that woman – although the family tale that I moved suburbs because she did, is untrue (I am happy to travel) .

At the end of each cut she stands back, looks at her handiwork and says ‘that looks professional’. Each time I respond ‘It takes a bit more than that’.

Want to build a profession? First understand what a profession is.

AN Educator, Diploma qualified, 7 years Experience

I have been working with some Educators on professional identity and what it takes to build a profession. Why? It is their profession and if it is built around them and not with them, it wont be theirs and they wont be motivated to build it and protect it.

In 1952 Ernest Greenwood published what was to become the seminal definition of a profession. It has gone on to be refined and redefined by a multitude of perspectives, but in essence his principles remain to provide a valuable framework for us as we consider how we may finally, and after a great deal of growth and doubt, build the early childhood profession that we need.

Let’s play with that:

  1. A profession has systematic theory. This can be seen in the way that the profession’s knowledge is organised. Look over your shoulder and you can see behind you, supporting your work, a body of knowledge that is organised and translated in a way to make it possible (for the most part) for the theory to become your practice guidance. One of my favourite examples of this is the work developed by the incredible folks at Evidence for Learning, but the principle is built on and kept alive by every Certificate III Educator when they open the Early Years Learning Framework and then walk out of the staff room into the children’s area. We have some work to do here – including rethinking how the knowledge scaffold is build and how it is organised, recognised and transmitted.
  2. A profession has authority. Greenwood says here that ‘professional authority’ stems from the contrast between the extensive education required for the professional and the comparative lack of knowledge held by a lay person. Now before you imagine this is a slight, understand that doubting the knowledge level required to do the role is a reflection on the commentator who fails to instruct themselves on the professional expertise of the Educator, not on the professional Educator. Our job – we need to think about the purpose and content of courses, the accessibility and quality of delivery, and the need for knowledge maintenance over the life of the career. We also need to think more about how that ‘authority’ is to be protected.
  3. A profession has community sanction. A chance conversation with a policy advisor some years ago resonates here. The early childhood profession has a framework called the National Quality Framework (NQF) [for early childhood education and care]. The policy advisor was dismissive of early childhood as a profession citing services who had been found to be below standard. I countered that a prosecution is evidence that the framework and the community sponsored sanctions available within the NQF were working – that is what happens in a profession. Our task here that we need to work on – licensure for practitioners is only partially covered across early childhood and for the safety and wellbeing of our children we need it to be well thought out, comprehensive, supported and respected.
  4. A profession should have ethical codes. I am a big fan of the Early Childhood Australia Code of Ethics (which I see as ahead of its time and not acknowledged enough for its power, impact and leadership) and the implementation materials they have developed. The work here – the Code has never been operationally aligned with the Codes for other professions, so an Educator will struggle to get a picture on how their role compares with and intersects with, other professions. There is also a gap between the requirements of the Code and the operational base of the service provider. Shouldn’t they be responsible for facilitating the Code? The requirements of the Code should be a line item in the budget.
  5. Culture is the last point he raised in his initial list. Here he says, that a profession has ‘social value’ . The service that the profession provides to the society is such that regulation is required to prevent unqualified persons performing them. This culture includes the rules on how practice is conducted, that is how people behave as they practice. In this we must go back to needing a clear understanding of what we do and how we do it. As a registered nurse I was once told that I was overpriced, and that most of what I did could be done by anyone. A lengthy description of what I was doing at that time changed the journalist’s mind, and they began to see the value of an enclosed profession, but that journo’s argument is more pervasive through society when it comes to early childhood – too many confuse parenting/caring with the role of Educator [BTW – Do you have 20 x 2 year old’s at home?] The messages of the Thrive by Five campaign and its partners must come to the fore here.

I was once told as a registered nurse that most of what I did could be done by anyone … that journo’s argument is more pervasive through society when it comes to early childhood

Doreen Blyth educator, [Former] registered nurse

The steps above to professional recognition are each large pieces of work that intersect and interconnect. Each exists in its own historical context as well as in the contexts of other professions and legislative frameworks. We know that. The thing is, finishing building this profession isn’t hard, it is just a big piece of work. [How do I know that? Now that IS simple – Other professions have achieved it!].

We know what we need to do – we just need to do it.

Next time – We are not alone – How all of the early childhood professions need to work better together as we go forward





We’re back, what happened?

We, the Educators and Educational Leaders at the heart of your child’s early or middle childhood service, are returning from COVID to an unfamiliar world where seemingly suddenly, everybody knows our name.

We are spoken about on the news – nicely. We have allies who understand our importance, and the importance of what we do. After literally generations of struggle, we … are a bit stunned!

The return from local COVID responses, for many of us, has been dependent not just on daily numbers and graphics on the news, rather it has been a working of interrelated puzzle prices that keep changing shape. Lets recap:

  • Australian Government child care fee support packages started and finished. Job Keeper started and finished. Transition payments were deciphered, claimed, lodged and amended, all this keeping many in long computer hours as enrolments and staffing were delicately and hopefully balanced.
  • Educators came, lost hours, went, returned, and went again. Hurt, confused, frightened, worried over diminished, already meagre finances exhausted with so much extra work, and worried/ terrified over rapidly diminishing job security.
  • Parents and children drifted away slowly, then rapidly, then services closed and then opened to the challenge of supporting multiple family returns and where possible, finding new families.
  • Regulators regulated via Zoom and phone calls. Spot checks were time limited and topic limited, sounding attractive to some but for most, the independent regulator is also the only independent supportive voice around.

“I started hearing about child care in the news and it was using words like ‘essential’ and ‘critical’ Educator Vic. (semi-rural service 4 years)

“Is it true? Did the Prime Minister call us an essential service?” Educator WA (27 Years in the role)

What the hell happened while I was stood down?” Educational Leader NSW (5 years in the role)

During the interregnum, Educators joined the world in plugging in to the Zoom lifeline. Fighting isolation and fulfilling workplace imposed learning requirements, suddenly Educator exposure to other services and Educators across the country was not limited to the lucky who could afford degrees, higher degrees, conferences and travel – all Educators could be and were included and it was happening at a scale not seen before.

All the while, Educators who were busy providing care and education for tens of thousands of Australian children began hearing their name. Louder and louder. This public acknowledgement of their worth and their profession was the first time many had heard that acknowledgement from their community and country.

The Zoom meetings and online forums grew. In this great connection, ideas and concepts were starting to be shared in ways that many were familiar with, but so, so many were not. As the public call went up about the value of early childhood and Educators, terms like ‘Professional’, and ‘Professional status’ were becoming common.

Self-identification as a professional is now discussed freely as is accountability and professional practice Agreed at a meeting of 40 Educational Leaders across the country.

Clearly, sector leaders were saying privately, we are professionalising, but we need a clearer idea of what we want and how we are going to get there.

Contributors to this conversation are now standing tall, and the conversations are daily, often many times daily and lately into the night.

The journey toward professional status is not text book, although many will undoubtedly write it up along the way. There are stages to growing a profession. In this blog now, that’s what we will be talking about.

Next time: How a profession is grown.

Normal transmissions will resume … May 1 …

In these days of Corona, it is easy to walk away from any discussion that isn’t framing all thinking in terms of lives, well being, and economic outcomes. This is because the very thought of the Virus has, rightly, created an environment where important decisions must be made in response to its existence, and every decision has impact.

The impacts are global, local and then there are the impacts that are very, very personal:

The biggest call: WA parents left to wrestle with the decision to send kids to school

(@watoday.com.au Twitter 21 April 2020)

Organisations working in early and middle childhood are not immune to this. Across the country, organisations have moved content and relationships across to online platforms.

At the Educational Leaders Association, of which I am Chair, we haven’t walked away from changing our approach, although as we are a networked community and have already developed a growing and agile online presence.

We are also a professionally operational community, which means we all manage services for children and the curriculum and approaches within those services.  For us, the impacts of the virus have reached into our lives, and the lives of our staff, parents and children, and now dominates our professional lives.

Before the Virus, we had already discussed that the ongoing well being of the sector was critically impaired by the lack of current data profiles.

To support a peri and post Virus recovery, accurate and current data will be even more important.

The data collection and analysis work discussed in the 8 March blog here is ongoing, but it was been slowed by:

  • Reassuring team members when there was no clear information available to calm them
  • Supporting families who, amidst worry and fear, were looking to protect their children
  • Creating a focus on health and well being, knowing that this time lives are depending on us
  • Developing Virus response plans, when we didn’t know what the Virus was capable of, and doing this in a climate of opinion crowding out experts
  • Finances weakening and then collapsing, as families made decisions that worked for them, but that impacted on our work in very worrying ways.

The the work was re-framed by:

  • Jobs going, accompanied by sad conversation after sad conversation with managers reassuring staff that this wasn’t about them, that they were held in high regard, that the money just wasn’t there, that government benefits might be available, that one day soon they might be able to get back to normal
  • Then stand downs and closures as funding grants are delayed and the cash just wouldn’t stretch that far.

The data work is ongoing as we look deeply into the sector, leadership, workforce structure and the potential for the future. 

Come by again in May. We will have something very strong to say then.





15 000+ Education and Care Services in Australia and every one has an Educational Leader

15 000+ Education and Care Services in Australia and every one must have an Educational Leader.

In 2012, when the National Quality Framework passed progressively through state and territory parliaments it contained only one direct instruction for the creation of a new position’ It went something like this:

An educator, co-ordinator or other individual who is suitably qualified and experienced must be appointed to lead the development and implementation of the educational program (or curriculum) in the service. This person may have suitable qualifications and experience, as well as a thorough understanding of the Early Years Learning Framework and/or the Framework for School Age Care (or other approved learning framework) to be able to guide other educators in their planning and reflection and mentor colleagues in their implementation practices. ACECQA See: National Law: Section 169 National Regulations: Regulations 118, 148

Now famous for the broad detail, which ostensibly provided individual workplaces with a great deal of latitude; it now is famous for the difficulty that workplaces have found in developing the role and creating a coherent narrative for the role in their service.

The Educational Leaders Association was established to support the development of the role and support individual Educational Leaders as they developed in their role. ELA is working to create a nationally consistent and supportive professional learning community.

Last time we spoke, I was writing daily for 2000+ Educational Leaders. Now the conversations have grown – there are more than 5300 in the ELA community, and it is growing every day.

Now with a standards development, professional learning, and an advocacy role, ELA researches the key issues in Educational Leadership and writes on these 6 days a week.

A specialised professional learning program, delivered by Educational Leaders and academics in the field, is based on the ELA Standards of Practice.

Where is this heading?

We have grown from a very large group of new Educational Leaders early in 2012, to a national cohort of practitioners who are responsible for the curriculum for early childhood.

Think about that.

Discussion, data, and defiance

The creation of knowledge does not, of itself, lead to widespread implementation and positive impacts on health. The knowledge must be translated into changes in practice and policy for the benefits and impacts to flow to Australians.

National Health and Medical Research Council 2020

EC Researcher: ‘It won’t be useful to you, it’s more for academics or policymakers’.

Me: If you collect and analyze data you must be able to explain your work.

Researcher: Yes but your people only have Cert III.

Me: *Holding back the sadness*. If your data isn’t applicable, that’s ok, but assuming we won’t be able to penetrate it because of a perceived lack of qualifications makes you wrong on 2 counts.

Me: My people?

Researcher: You know, child care workers …

Me: Wrong on 3 counts.

Researcher: 3?


  1. We can and do regularly work with academic research. This is an evidence-based profession. We are required by law to delve deeply into legislation, standards, research and evidence, and base and review our practice on it. We are independently assessed to ensure that is exactly what we do.
  2. In our workplace alone there is 11 staff,  9 are studying a degree, 2nd degree or Masters. 2 are teachers, 2 are running research projects and 1 is writing a book.
  3. Don’t call us child care workers. That title died in 2012 when the Education and Care Services Law came into being. We are, by law, called Educators. For heavens sakes, update yourself.

In working for the Educational Leaders Association (ELA), I have met some of the finest minds of our generation, enhanced by learning, practice and a sheer bloody-minded professional determination to advocate for children.

Low pay, patchy respect, being left out of deliberations about the profession is their lot and each acts as a boundary to professional recognition and growth. The fact that they stay is a testament to their professional purpose.  They deserve respect. More so since they work in an area that has extraordinary responsibility for more than 1.2 million Australian children in the critical early years.

It is a long time since I first discovered that research and research translation is also one of the boundaries that seem to prevent Educators from being taken seriously as professionals and practice-based researchers.

In a profession that talks tirelessly about inclusion and anti-bias, the prominence paid to inclusion doesn’t seem to reach far into the Education profession when talking about very early childhood Educators.

Language is powerful. When language like ‘child care’ and ‘child care workers’ is used, it demeans our profession, our work and the professionalism of the Educators within it.

The conversation above was very real … and very, very painful. It was one of the motivators for the now daily microblog on the Educational Leaders Association Facebook page. ELA produces daily injections of evidence-based practice discussion, in accessible language, serves and supports busy Educators and Educational Leaders who simply don’t have the money for further study, unless supported, and who, because of the deep responsibility they hold for more than 1.2 million children in early childhood, need to be fully included in the evidence for practice developing within the Education profession. It must be relevant to the role and it must be accessible.

Educators are held waiting with noses pressed against the glass of the window, looking in at professional respect, professional wage rates, and an accountability system that would serve to hold them professionally accountable and require them to be professionally supported in equal measure – waiting and wondering, if very early childhood truly is so important, why are we out here and why are you in there?

Research requires an audience. If researchers want an audience, the language used must be respectful of that audience. To be translated into practice, the research must be accessible. If it not accessible, it will sit unused.  Who benefits then?

Since that conversation, I have reflected:

Why did that academic speak in the way that they did?

Why did they feel that it was qualifications that were important?

Why did they feel that qualifications trumped the desire to learn?

Why wasn’t it taken as a moment to draw very early childhood into using their research and to provide a window into a valuable topic?

When sharing that response with Educational Leaders, I saw a change.

The group of more than 130 became angry and as that passed, defiant.

They talked about how in their centres and services, they are at times used in research, by researchers, rarely thanked, even more rarely cited. They wondered why this lack of respect should come from so many researchers.

They talked about how they don’t know who to fight, and how to fight.

Together we decided we need to know more about who we are before we can lead the fight.

We are going directly to thousands of Education and Care services across the country and sourcing the input from the practitioners themselves. The 2020 National Educational Leaders Survey is coming. The Educational Leaders Association will discuss the data, the interpretation, the policy implications, and the learning. Watch that space. https://www.facebook.com/EducationalLeadersAssociation/


Its 2020 and I am back on this platform – Let’s talk education and care policy

So much has happened – I hardly know what to say so I will just point you back to my Twitter account @doreen_blyth for the regular reports that I have made on my journey.

In related news, and to catch you up, I am pleased to report that I:

  1. am putting into practice what I learned when I was on the team that developed the National Quality Framework for early childhood and OSHC services [as the Principal Policy Officer – Children’s Services in WA]
  2. consult on early and middle childhood service leadership and policy
  3. write for a closed group on early childhood education and outside school hours care policy
  4. provide professional practice learning on educational leadership
  5. write almost daily for the Educational Leaders Association as a microblog on Facebook, now with almost 7500 followers
  6. have a daily Twitter report #365realstoriesfromEC
  7. am now President of the Educational Leaders Association
  8. lead the innovative early learning and outside school hours care service [working with the most extraordinary team] at Guildford Grammar on the doorstep of the beautiful Swan Valley.

Let’s meet back here next month when we can talk about the new data we are gathering through the new ELA 2020 National Educational Leaders survey and what it will mean for Education and Care services – and early to middle childhood policy.

A daily conversation with 2500 leaders

Every weekday morning I make a strong coffee, walk down the hall to the ‘office’, open the iPad and talk to 2500 + leaders.

The leaders are Educational Leaders; they are part of the 15 000+ strong cohort of professional practice leaders in Education and Care services – these are early childhood services (Centres and Family Day Care) and middle childhood services (Outside School Hours Centres) – across the country. 

It is usually around 4.30 am local time. Yes, I am one of those early risers.  Mornings for me are quiet, cool and perfect – perfect for thinking, reading, writing.

At that time, readers in the Eastern states of Australia are travelling to or arriving at work in their Education and Care Services. It is easy to think of them facing their day, on trains in Melbourne, buses in Hobart, in cars in Darwin, through farm roads toward rural towns and driving through the dust in one of dozens of remote area locations. By the time I have hit ‘post’, the readers in WA are up and ready to go.

Our readers are leaders.

At ELA the team knows that the small and large things matter to professional practice leaders.

  • Have the Educational Leaders as a professional group been developing their professional identity?
  • Are they comfortable and yet challenged in their leadership learning?
  • Do they have a plan for the day?
  • Do they have a plan for their service?
  • Have they got a job description, a clear role, time allocated to it, support for what they are trying to achieve and even, are they paid for the additional leadership role they undertake?
  • Do they need help a grant application, or a cohort for a leadership research project?
  • Do they have lunch?

I write for the Educational Leaders Association. A not-for-profit group that came out of Western Australia in early 2016. The Facebook community links the 2500+ (and growing each week) Educational Leaders across the country. A rolling schedule of state and territory meetings is working on establishing member-run local branches supported out of Perth.

The aim is high quality, evidence and research based, member relevant and developed, low cost support.

The posts are member requested or initiated, often it is more the transmission of gathered stories of great leadership practice, but it is always a short read, pragmatic and empowering …

Why do this? Required by law, these leaders manage the curriculum in education and care services – affecting more than 1 million children across Australia, and there is a problem. We had, as a profession, established our national standards – but the profession hadn’t provided the consistent and very deep supports those very new professional practice leaders (the first generation of professional practice leaders) need to have. So, ELA is there for them EVERY WORKING DAY!

We also have a member developed policy platform – we advocate for the role, what Educational Leaders are trying to achieve for children, professional recognition and support. 

The pages are designed to take about the same time to read as it take to read a large flat white coffee. The Educational Leader community response has been universally – incredibly supportive.

Occasionally there is a comment to the effect that we aren’t academic enough or that there isn’t enough research cited (we keep that register separate to keep the posts readable), or once – that our language is ‘so plain English’. It is tempting to listen to this, it really is. Except that our commitment to clear language is part of our commitment to inclusivity.

We review our language, our topics, our research and our work. As part of this, we gather as a group, and we always end up talking about those Educational Leaders … on trains in Melbourne, buses in Hobart … as we read their feedback and ideas.

Next day, … pours a strong coffee and …