Leadership within the early childhood sector and narratives of hope

Belinda Downey, Will Letts, Doreen Rorrison

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation onlypeer-review


Background: Leadership can typically be informed by discourses of masculinity, power and agency which can look different in highly feminised fields such as early childhood education. The early childhood regulatory body of Australia has outcomes-based requirements which impact leadership within services differently depending on the discourses embedded within the leadership style.
These leadership styles then impact the educators and the educational program.
Aim: To unpack hidden discourses within the construction of early childhood educator roles that relate to leadership and management.
Method: Participants included 34 early childhood educators working across the ‘top end’ of the Northern Territory in Australia. Yarning sessions (cf. focus groups) were undertaken, discussing the early childhood profession and the impact of Government policy and policy reforms on their role. A constructivist grounded theory approach was taken after a thematic analysis was conducted on
Results: The thematic analysis identified two narratives regarding leadership that educators depicted their role within:
1. Hopeful. Educators stated they felt valued by their leader and/or team due to aligned philosophical and educational values, and
2. Struggling. Educators felt unvalued in their role by management and felt more value was placed on outcomes-based regulatory requirements which led to resistance to management direction and communication breakdowns.
Conclusions: Educators who described their role within narrative (1) felt valued and philosophically aligned with their team this was built on a willingness by all parties to listen, communicate and find a collective common ground. Educators who described their role within narrative (2) felt unvalued, pressured due to management’s focus on outcomes-based regulatory requirements and divided
from management due to a difference in philosophical values.
Implications for children: Your educators think that it is more important to listen to you and teach you through playing with you, than it is to write to the Government on the computer.
Implications for families: Educators believe that spending quality time teaching and engaging with your child and you is a more important use of their time.
Implications for practitioners: You find hopeful well-being in your role when surrounded by philosophically like-minded individuals who value education and care. The sector needs to find a balance between bureaucratic expectations and educational integrity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020
EventEarly Childhood Voices Conference 2020 - online, Bathurst, Australia
Duration: 16 Nov 202020 Nov 2020
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Early+Childhood+Voices+Conference+2020 (presentations on Youtube)


ConferenceEarly Childhood Voices Conference 2020
OtherThe Early Childhood Voices Conference (ECV2020) is a multidisciplinary international conference providing a platform to share research about innovative methods, theories and partnerships with children, families and practitioners that supports social justice during early childhood or within the early childhood sector.

ECV2020 is organised by the Charles Sturt University Early Childhood Research Group, and is an opportunity to present research in a virtual online space. 2020 has been a challenging year, and COVID-19 has altered the way in which we do many things, including research. Many conferences have been cancelled or postponed. ECV2020 provides researchers with the opportunity to present work that they been unable to present in other forums, research that they have been working on during the year, and/or work that responds to challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Leadership within the early childhood sector and narratives of hope'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this