New leadership program From the Ground Up offers valuable PD to the ECEC sector
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > New leadership program From the Ground Up offers valuable PD to the ECEC sector

New leadership program From the Ground Up offers valuable PD to the ECEC sector

by Freya Lucas

February 28, 2023

A leadership program co-designed by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) is offering early childhood educators across Australia valuable professional development, a chance to network and a renewed sense of purpose.


With early childhood education and care (ECEC) educators often characterised as overworked and underpaid, the program is designed to build leadership capabilities, to empower and raise the profile of the workforce, providing valuable links for teachers from regional communities.


The second round of the From the Ground Up program involved more than 70 educators in a six-month leadership program last year, with the numbers of participants almost doubling for this year.


Participants in the program are enrolled in pairs with one being an experienced leader and the other an emerging leader. A third round of From the Ground Up program is offered for 2023, with educators undertaking fortnightly workshops and coaching and mentoring sessions.


QUT Associate Professor Megan Gibson, a former early childhood educator and leading research academic, worked closely with QUT colleagues Dr Julia Mascadri, Dr Marie White and Ms Cathy Nielson as well as the ELACCA to deliver the program.


“The program has sown the seeds for a more engaged workforce and with the high probability of better outcomes for children,” said Associate Professor Gibson.


She said there was a need for an online leadership program that could leverage the experience of existing staff and quickly upskill new recruits.


“We’ve found that participants have really thought about their career development. It is giving them a sense of worthiness in the sector, that they are valued,” she added.


From the Ground Up aligns with the National Children’s Education and Care Workforce Strategy goal to support the supply, attraction and retention of a high-quality ECEC workforce.


ELACCA CEO Elizabeth Death said a strength of the program was how it built leadership skills through collaborative learning at a local level.


“Our members are committed to engaging and retaining their workforce, and From the Ground Up ticks a lot of boxes for them,” Ms Death said.


“We know that making a difference in children’s lives is what motivates our teachers and educators. The program’s linkage between QUT, the workforce and providers, is a critical success element, closing the collaborative loop and providing support for the early years’ workforce.”


The training has inspired Newcastle’s Mount Hutton Goodstart Early Learning Centre Director Paige Smith to research early childhood educators’ capacity to enact First Nations perspectives for a Master’s degree at QUT.


Ms Smith said the program helped her stay connected at a time when services had to also juggle staff shortages, COVID-19, and community expectations.


Busy Bees Service Manager Jennifer Bell from Chinchilla, 300 km west of Brisbane, said she had considered leaving the sector because of competing pressures before participating in the program, but since partnering with a colleague from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and another in Brisbane, the trio have researched how to sustain leaders in the sector by addressing educators’ wellbeing, and her perspective has turned around. 


“If you build happy, healthy, balanced educators, that will feed down to the children and their families,” Ms Bell said.


To learn more about the program, please see here. Pictured L/R: Cathy Nielson, Dr Marie White, Assoc Prof Gibson, Elizabeth Death, CEO, Early Learning & Care Council of Australia and Dr Julia Mascadri.

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