Goodstart’s leaders gather for "Leading Together" conference
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > Goodstart’s leaders gather for “Leading Together” conference

Goodstart’s leaders gather for “Leading Together” conference

by Freya Lucas

February 21, 2023

Centre directors and educational leaders from across the Goodstart Early Learning network gathered both in Melbourne and online recently for Goodstart’s Educational Leader conference ‘Leading Together’.


More than 1,200 leaders heard from a line-up of international pedagogical leaders and researchers, including Sir Kevan Collins, Professor Iram Siraj OBE and Professor Jane Bertrand


Goodstart Pedagogy and Practice General Manager Sue Robb OBE explained that the conference set the stage for 2023 being the ‘year of the educational leader’ for the provider, and aimed to connect, inspire and empower those in the position of centre manager or educational leader, which in turn leads to improved outcomes for children. 


“We know that our centre directors, educational leaders and centre leadership teams, are leading their own journeys of practice improvement within their centres. That’s tremendously empowering,” Ms Robb said.  


“It’s our ambition that every centre has the pedagogical knowledge to ensure that every child is taught using best practice evidence to affect the best children’s learning outcomes.” 


Educational leaders employed by Goodstart are supported in their roles with up to 10 hours of non-contact time, but Ms Robb acknowledged that there’s scope to do more, saying “we’re ready to stretch ourselves in pedagogical leadership, and improve how we critically reflect and how we stretch our children to improve their learning and development outcomes.” 


Be skeptical, not cynical – Collins


In his opening address, international education expert Sir Kevan Collins (who is also a Goodstart Board member), told attendees that they have an incredible opportunity. 


“On any given day in an early learning centre, the real action is happening on the floor between an educator engaged with a child, and children engaged with each other,” Sir Kevan said. 


“What really matters is the quality of the relationship between you, the educator, and the child. Every day, you have enormous freedom to make your own practice decisions to affect positive child learning outcomes.”  


He encouraged educational leaders to trust their judgement and read the evidence. 


“Be skeptical, not cynical. Be curious and question,” he added, saying that educators “have more freedom than they think” in their daily practice and that critical reflection was vital. 


Notice and name – Bertrand 


The next speaker, Professor Jane Bertrand from Canada, spoke about international perspectives of pedagogical leadership, promoting three strategies for pedagogical leadership for Goodstart centres, including “noticing and naming matter a lot” when it comes to practice. 


“Pedagogical leaders should be asking questions” the Professor said. 


“When a pedagogical leader and centre director walk into a room – even if it’s about an administrative matter – take a moment, and ask yourself, “what learning outcomes are being  promoted here?”  


“Then notice and name it when you’re in the learning space. It takes 30 to 45 seconds…Be aware of the interactions children and educators are having, the organisation of the learning environment. If there’s time, ask a provocative question.”


She encouraged leaders to “be specific and be in the moment,” reminding them that “your comments mean a lot. It carries weight, it reinforces good practice”.   


Successful leaders improve outcomes 


Professor Iram Siraj OBE presented the latest evidence and research about pedagogical leadership for improving teaching and learning, including Curriculum Leadership and Interaction Quality Rating Scales. 


“Leadership matters,” she said. “We know from a lot of our research that successful leaders improve teaching and learning and children outcomes.” 


She spoke about the collective team effort needed to lead practice uplift, and that the end goal is that every room has an educational leader. 


To learn more about educational leadership, please see here. Information about Goodstart Early Learning is available here

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