A legacy of leadership: Defining the role of Centre Director
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A legacy of leadership: Defining the role of Centre Director

by Freya Lucas

March 15, 2024

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) services need strong leaders – but what does it mean to lead a service? What does a Director do on a typical day? If you’re dreaming of a leadership role, here is everything you need to know. 


A wide range of responsibilities


ECEC leaders are responsible for the day to day operations of the service, and for nurturing and leading the professionals who work within it. They work towards achieving high quality outcomes for children, provide guidance, inspiration and support for educators and teachers, and support the use of best practice in their service. 


Guided by professionalism and their own pedagogy, values and experience, Centre Directors play a key role in delivering high quality education and care. 


They connect with families, children, the broader ECEC sector, community leaders, approved providers and others to support them in their mission,which includes attracting and retaining the right mix of team members to make the service run smoothly. 


They are accountable for the health, safety, and well-being of every person in the centre, and have a wide range of administrative functions to perform.  


For many directors, there are also performance and financial targets to meet. 


What might a day in the life look like? 


Some of the tasks which a Director might undertake on any given day include: 


  • Responding to enquiries: new families, educators with questions, requests for information from the approved provider
  • Balancing budgets 
  • Dealing with serious incident reporting
  • Managing records
  • Checking in with the leadership team at the service 
  • Connecting with the local community, such as First Nations elders, local schools and businesses, or other ECEC services in the area
  • Ensuring that all policies and procedures in the service are being followed
  • Managing recruitment and HR tasks such as approving leave, conducting interviews or planning for parental leave accommodations


Soft skills are important 


While Directors need a number of professional skills to perform their roles effectively, it’s the ‘soft skills’ which truly help them shine – things like being empathetic, listening deeply to the needs of others, and being able to respond accordingly. 


The leader of any organisation, team or group of people has a profound influence on others – they ‘set the temperature’ of the space, and others look to them for guidance and inspiration. 


For many ECEC professionals, it is important that their leader can “walk the talk” and show them what to do, and how, rather than just telling them. 


Having a strong work ethic and high degree of commitment to the role is essential for success as a Director, along with creating open and trusting relationships. 


The Guide to the National Quality Standard broadly defines leadership in an early childhood education (ECE) setting as “a relationship between people and the best leaders are those who are able to empower others.”


Thinking of making the move? Here are some things to think about


If you’re considering making the move to a position of leadership, here are some aspects to think about: 


  • Consider how you will manage the logistics which come with early morning calls about staffing, or potentially not being able to walk out the door at the end of your shift
  • What leadership skills and qualities do you possess that would support you in your role? 
  • How familiar are you with the regulatory requirements of running an ECEC service? 
  • Are you aware of the financial responsibilities for Nominated Supervisors in the event of compliance breaches? 
  • Do you have any administrative experience? 
  • How comfortable are you with the business elements of running a service? Are you familiar with financial terms? How much experience do you have with working to budgets, meeting performance indicators and ensuring that accurate records are kept? 


ACECQA has prepared some guidance about the role of the Nominated Supervisor – a position typically held by the Centre Director – which may be accessed here. 

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