The role of Educational Leaders in building reflective practice
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The role of Educational Leaders in building reflective practice and driving improvement

by Freya Lucas

October 16, 2023
Educational leader in long day care centre with children

Educational Leaders play an important role in early childhood education and care (ECEC) services. Since the formal introduction of the role in 2012, the position has grown and evolved to one which supports and develops teams to deliver the most desirable outcomes for children. 


When Educational Leaders are effective in their roles, a culture of reflective practice and robust discussion follows, supporting continuous improvement not only of the service as a whole, but also of the individuals within it. 


According to the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) the role of the Educational Leader is to guide educators in maximising learning, development and wellbeing outcomes for children. 


Embedding the role in the National Quality Framework reflects what is already well understood in other educational sectors—paying particular attention to pedagogy and assigning the responsibility of educational practice to a position of leadership ensures the learning and wellbeing of children is upheld as the key purpose at all times. 


More than just legislation


Far more than simply ticking a legislative box, having an effective Educational Leader at the forefront of service operations drives continuous improvement and change by motivating others. 


Quality Educational Leaders set strategic directions, foster professional values and promote a positive workplace culture that encourages collaboration and reflective learning.


A day in the life…


While every Educational Leader’s role will look a little different, to account for differences in service size, philosophy, organisational structure and other individualities, there are some things all Educational Leader roles will have in common, such as: 


  • Supporting lead educators to run their rooms
  • Supporting the service leadership team to meet strategic objectives 
  • Mentoring and supporting educators 
  • Connecting the service with research and contemporary thinking 
  • Observing practice 
  • Providing programming support
  • Guiding in the implementation of the approved learning frameworks
  • Establishing systems at a service level to promote continuous learning
  • Networking within and beyond the service to inform the development of the program 


What do Educational Leaders need to know?


ACECQA has simplified the knowledge that Educational Leaders need into three main categories:


  • Information.
  • Evidence.
  • Understanding.


Within these categories are three different types of knowledge:


  • Pedagogy knowledge.
  • Theoretical knowledge.
  • Contextual knowledge.


Depending on the state or territory where the Educational Leader is working, additional knowledge of any local frameworks – such as the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines (QKLG) or the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF) would also be required. 


Personal qualities which support Educational Leaders 


Educational Leaders need to be strong role models for others, who are able to reflect on their own practice and career journey, explore new ideas, receive feedback graciously and are who are able to give and receive constructive criticism.


Some of the other qualities of an effective Educational Leader include:


  • Empathy: showing respect and being aware of the needs and rights of others.
  • Commitment: to the role, to learning and the team.
  • Patience: to lead and instigate change.
  • Courage: to address difficult situations.
  • Passion: showing enthusiasm for new ideas.
  • Approachable: being receptive to collaboration.
  • Organised: being excellent time managers.
  • Open-minded: to new ideas and approaches.
  • Creative: having the ability to think of new ideas and solutions.


ACECQA has prepared a comprehensive resource for Educational Leaders to guide and support them in their role. 

Access the resource here. 

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