Exploring a system-level approach to leadership in early childhood centres

There is growing evidence that effective leadership is linked to many important indicators of success in early childhood services, including staff wellbeing and retention, good governance, and – most importantly – the quality of programmes offered to young children and their families. Yet leaders in early childhood services are often under-prepared for leadership, professional development for the role is limited, and researchers know very little about how leaders actually work to improve the quality of early childhood programmes. 

In this presentation Joce will share insights from a ten-year program of research into managerial and educational leadership in early childhood services in Australia and New Zealand, beginning with busting the myth of ‘teamwork’ as the basis for effective programmes. Joce will present a new model for thinking about the work of leaders in early childhood services and share multiple examples of the model in action, drawing on recent successes with services rated as ‘under-performing’ in the Australian context. In the workshop following the presentation, Joce will guide workshop participants in exploring the model for use in their own settings.


Target Audience: Centre Directors/Principals 



Professor Joce Nuttall

Prof Joce NuttallProfessor Jocelyn (Joce) Nuttall has over forty years of experience as an early childhood educator, primary teacher, teacher educator, and education researcher.

Joce’s research focuses on leadership and workforce capacity-building in early childhood education services. With colleagues in Australia and England, she has recently completed a project funded by the Australian Research Council that developed a new theory of leadership for pedagogical leaders in childcare settings.

Joce’s current research, with colleagues in Singapore and South Korea, examines the experiences and learning needs of migrant early childhood educators in the Asia-Pacific region. Joce is a member of the Ministerial advisory group supporting the rollout of fully-funded kindergarten programs for children aged 3 and 4 years in Victoria, Australia, and was a Board member of the Australian Children’s Education and Care Authority for six years.

Joce was made a Fellow of the Australian Teacher Education Association in 2019. Joce has a long association with Singapore, having co-ordinated Monash University’s early childhood teacher education programs in Singapore from 2004 to 2011.

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