Angie Freeman, St Nicholas Pedagogy and Practice manager
The Sector > Quality > In The Field > In conversation with St Nicholas Pedagogy and Practice manager, Angie Freeman

In conversation with St Nicholas Pedagogy and Practice manager, Angie Freeman

by Freya Lucas

April 06, 2023

In December 2022, Angie Freeman took on the next step in her dynamic early childhood education and care (ECEC) career, taking on a role as Pedagogy and Practice manager with New South Wales provider St Nicholas Early Education.


We caught up with Angie to learn more about her career, her role with St Nicholas, and her advice for others who want to expand their careers beyond the path of educator – educational leader – 2IC – Director. 


First steps


Mrs Freeman began her career when she graduated from University in 2010 with a dual Bachelor qualification in Primary and Early Childhood. She spent the first four years teaching Kindergarten (the first year of school in NSW), Year 1 and Year 2, along with some short stints in the early childhood sector. 


In 2014, she took on a role as the centre manager for a 76 place ECEC service operated by G8 Education. 


“It was at this time that I really began shaping my thinking about what ‘good’ looks like in early childhood,” she said. 


“My knowledge of schools became a unique part of my offering. It was a gift to be able to confidently talk about what was and was not falling under the umbrella of ‘school readiness’.”


Using this knowledge, she began presenting regularly to centre managers in the G8 network across the state, and from there, was offered a role as an Integration Manager, working nationally with new acquisitions for G8 and helping move teams through to the systems, culture, and expectations of the company. 


A change of pace


The years between 2016 and 2019 saw her role evolve into delivering best practice workshops around the country, and supporting G8 with teacher accreditation and NESA supervision, as well as being a Practice Partner for the team of Operations Managers in the group, helping them to raise the standards of pedagogy across their teams. 


When returning to the workforce following parental leave in 2020, Mrs Freeman began working for Phoenix Support for Educators, helping ECEC professionals to learn more about human behaviour, children’s behaviour and leadership understanding.


During this time, she also taught education support at TAFE for 18 months, before starting with St Nicholas in December 2022. 


Making a difference


“I have observed the difference that can be made at a centre level when operations and area managers are all speaking a shared language of quality,” Mrs Freeman explained. 


“When we all tune in to the same ideology about high quality practice, it quickly becomes the culture of an organisation. I often reference one of my favourite sayings – ‘the more we sing together, the tune is forced to change’ – and I can always be counted on to be singing very loudly.” 


It’s this capacity to make a difference and to drive organisational change which drew her to the opportunity with St Nicholas. 


“The scale of the operations of St Nicholas Early Education and OOSH really excites me,” she shared. 


We have engaged and passionate teams, who are hungry to push their thinking and continue to develop their practice. We have regular opportunities to bring our leaders together and collaborate to share successes and streamline processes and ways of working.”


While the reputation of St Nicholas in the Newcastle/Maitland area is what led Mrs Freeman to believe she was a good fit for this role, it’s the people and the sense of belonging which confirmed it.


Imparting pedagogical beliefs and values


Asking a passionate ECEC professional to pin down one core belief which drives their work in the sector typically isn’t easy, however for Angie it was simple. 


“My belief is very much underpinned by Critical Theory,” she shared. “We are positioned to instill a sense of social justice into the minds and hearts of children – our future decision makers of this world.”


“We are poised to use language and intentionality to actively shape the thinking of not only these little people, but our teams and communities. I believe the calling of our sector is to understand hidden curriculum and use our influence to focus on the ‘isms’…racism, sexism, feminism, capitalism…ALL children have a right to not only learn in our spaces but feel a genuine sense of cultural safety, and visibility within our spaces.”


This sense of visibility is an important one in her work with children and adults, and is what drives her to recall the saying “you can’t be what you can’t see.”


“We need to work together and show children the positive difference they can make in this world.


A day in the life


For those who are curious about what a typical day looks like in the role of Pedagogy and Practice Manager, Mrs Freeman shared the following insights.


“Initially my days were spent nurturing relationships and getting to know our teams. I have invested the greatest amount of time making sure that the team of area service managers and I are in alignment about what ‘great’ looks like,” she said.


Currently her office days are spent working towards the Pedagogy strategy, completing support visits, analysing the outcome of those visits, and designing support materials for use across the network. 


Following in her footsteps


For those who have ambitions of working in a similar role, the advice is “know what you believe in and why, and be prepared to carry your authentic self into all meetings and interviews.” 


Being able to draw on research, and seek new perspectives which “light you up” is also a strength, along with finding a group of people with whom you can discuss and explore these new concepts.


“Listen to people who disagree with you or push your thinking- they’re valuable,” Mrs Freeman continued.  


“I find we are quick to exist in echo chambers in early childhood- it’s important to know what others are thinking and why.”


Finally, she says, “let go of the need to be right, and be unafraid to consider all sides of a complex situation.”


To learn more about St Nicholas Early Education and OOSH, see here.

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