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Thomas, L., & Nuttall, J. (2014). Negotiating policy-driven and state-mandated expectations of leadership: Discourses accessed by early childhood educators in Australia. NZ Research in Early Childhood Education Journal. Special Issue: Early Childhood Policy, 17, 101-114.
Original Policy Paper
Negotiating Policy-Driven and State-Mandated Expectations of Leadership: Discourses Accessed by Early Childhood Educators in Australia
This paper draws on two recent studies of educational leadership in early childhood education to examine the ways in which educators draw on a variety of discourses to articulate concepts of ‘leader’ and ‘leadership’ in the present early childhood policy context in Australia. The specific focus is on leaders’ responses to expectations of leadership within the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care and School Age Care [NQF] in Australia (Council of Australian Governments [COAG], 2009a), which promotes leadership focused on curriculum and pedagogy rather than on management and administration (COAG, 2009b). A poststructuralist lens is used to analyse the ways in which concepts of leadership embedded in the NQF work to mobilise various discourses of leadership. We argue that educators’ accounts indicate possibilities for new ways of theorising leadership in EC settings, to find ways to hold together seemingly opposite discourses of ‘leadership for management’ and ‘leadership for learning’ in response to current policy shifts.
Key words: Educational leadership; early childhood education; education policy; Australia; discourse analysis.
Recent policy shifts in early childhood education and care (ECEC) in Australia have resulted in new expectations of leaders in the sector and changes to the way leadership is positioned in relation to quality in early childhood services. The introduction of the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care and School Age Care [NQF] (Council of Australian Governments [COAG], 2009a) in Australia reflects an enhanced focus on provision of education and care services for young children, not only to increase the availability of services but also to increase government’s capacity to improve the quality of services provided (COAG, 2009b). One element promoted within this policy agenda as a direct contributor to enhanced quality is educational leadership (COAG, 2009b). To this end, the identification of an ‘Educational Leader’ is now a regulatory requirement for all early childhood centres and services in Australia (Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs, 2011). The act of legislating for a mandatory educational leader is a somewhat risky move for government. In accessing a positional discourse of leadership, where leadership is available and enacted through the existence of the position of leader in each service, there is the possibility that the discourse of leadership becomes locked into managerialist constructions of leadership. The research reported in the present paper suggests however that, in Australia, discourses of educational and managerial leadership are emerging – and potentially converging – through the implementation of the NQF.
Our research is attempting to track how this requirement is impacting on the enactment of leadership in early childhood services. We speculate that the discursive practices of educational leadership made available through mechanisms of governance (i.e, driven by shifts in policy and imposed through regulation in an attempt to form particular kinds of subjectivities) will be experienced and enacted as processes of ‘leader-identity’ construction by the early childhood educators involved. Furthermore, we suspect these construction processes will take place in the spaces between the expectations of the legislative policy agenda and the varying lived understandings at work in early childhood services about what it means to lead, as individuals within services implement the new regulatory framework.
We begin by discussing existing definitions of the concept of educational leadership and briefly describing the design of the two studies. In the central section of the paper we report data that we interpret as suggesting a troubled relationship between a managerialist leadership discourse in ECE in Australia and an emerging educational leadership discourse, an experience also evident in the United Kingdom (Whalley, 2011a). We demonstrate how, by applying a poststructural lens to participants’ talk (Alvesson, 2011), we were able to identify both acceptance and disruption of expectations and assumptions about what it means to lead in early childhood settings, as presented (and re-presented) through the legislative requirements of the NQF. In our concluding discussion we consider the leadership discourses made available to the participants as both positional and relational constructs, and how educators are working to re-theorise their conceptualisations of leadership practices.
Concepts of educational leadership
The work of leadership has attracted considerable attention in the education literature over recent decades, including in ECEC. It is important, however, to understand precisely what we mean when we speak of ‘leadership’. For example, when the concepts of leader and leadership are referenced in the ECEC literature they are sometimes positioned within an educational leadership discourse and at other times within a managerialist discourse (Rodd, 2006; Whalley, 2011a). The NQF is likewise equivocal about the stance it expects leaders to take in ECEC through the role of the Educational Leader. The regulations resulting from the NQF require only that centres and services designate an Educational Leader, without a detailed role description (i.e. a positional construct). However, the description of the role in earlier COAG documents (see COAG, 2009b) is instructive, in that it also reflects relational notions of leadership:
The educator or coordinator identified as the ‘pedagogical leader’ should:
- have current knowledge of child development and effective approaches to teaching and learning;
- have a knowledge of planning, assessing and documenting children learning and the importance of sharing information with families;
- oversee and lead other educators to implement the Early Years Learning Framework including pedagogy and curriculum decision making;
- plan and deliver the preschool program for children in the years prior to school;
- work with other educators in observing, supporting and extending children’s learning and lead discussions on reflective practice;
- support educators in the process of assessment for learning;
- lead and share information, knowledge and expertise on practice, policy developments and community changes that may impact on curriculum;
- be a professional role model for high quality education and care for children;
- build the capacity of all educators by supporting and mentoring others to take on leadership roles in areas of expertise or of potential interest. (pp. 30 - 31)
This description provides a rich portrait of what is required to be a pedagogical leader (the term ‘pedagogical leader’ was subsequently changed in the policy and legislative documents to ‘educational leader’ [EL]) and the practices expected of the person holding that position, including particular forms of knowledge, the disposition to share and build capacity, and the capacity to monitor and influence the practices of others. However, as we have argued above, these expressions of leader and leadership can be interpreted as implying both positional and relational discursive practices.
Positional leadership locates leadership within the practices permitted by virtue of holding a particular position, such as ‘Director’, ‘Room Leader’, or ‘Educational Leader’. In ECEC, positional leadership has traditionally been closely linked with practices of centre and service management. Inevitably then, leadership becomes bound up in the exercise of power relations, principally through the existence of positional hierarchies. A relational notion of leadership, by contrast, interprets the enactment of leadership primarily as distributed (Ho, 2011; Dunlop, 2008; Pound, 2008) and networked (Woodrow, 2011), with a move away from the focus on the individual leader to a more participatory focus. Pound (2008) discusses this in terms of the requirement on staff to move between various roles and at times take on varying leadership responsibilities.
In exploring definitions of leadership, Hard and O’Gorman (2007) and Goffin and Washington (2008) suggest that positional leadership is often enacted when leaders are called on to implement change. This can be seen as primarily a management exercise and can result in discord and tension between those leading and those being led (Hard & O’Gorman, 2007), or it can be highly productive. Problems in the enactment of positional leadership arise, however, when leaders do not have the specialised knowledge to engage in what Whalley (2011b) refers to as ‘leadership of practice’, or what we have come to call ‘leadership for learning’. It is these two positions – the Educational Leader as located within pre-existing hierarchies and the Educational Leader as fostering distributed expertise – that are both found in the NQF.
Theoretical perspective brought to the research
It is tempting to identify the differences between the various representations of leadership in the early childhood literature (e.g. Rodd, 2006; Whalley, 2011a). To take this stance would situate such representations as binary opposites. This offers a modernist framework for responding to the emergence of leadership practices out of the NQF policy agenda. Another possibility is to examine this emergence through a post-modernist lens. This opens up an opportunity to look for ways in which it is possible to hold seemingly opposite elements of these representations of leadership together, and to look at how leaders weave in and out across the boundaries between leadership discourses that were previously held as opposites. This approach offers the possibility of deconstructing and reconstructing concepts of leadership and, in doing so, identifying new possibilities for doing leadership and being a leader.
Constructions of ways of being a leader and doing leadership, in response to the changing context of early childhood education and care shaped by the NQF, can be further interpreted poststructurally as the working out of one’s subjectivity – i.e. a continual process and production of self that is constructed in relationship with others (Jackson & Mazzei, 2012, pp. 52-53). In this context the ‘others’ take the form of policy initiators and colleagues. We have primarily used the post-structural notion of subjectivity to read participates’ talk of leadership. Subjectivity encompasses identity (in this case identity as leader) not as a fixed point but as a process of ‘self-construction’ (Foucault, 1994/1997) or a constantly changing form (O’Farrell, 2005). This notion of identity allows us to look at exercises of identity construction at work as participants attempt to position themselves as leaders (or in relationship to leaders) in their centres. We were interested to see how, in their work to position themselves, their talk presents new configurations of leadership discourses in the early childhood sector following the implementation of the NQF.
Data reported in this paper are drawn from two studies conducted in 2011/2012. Participants were drawn from a range of centres and services in two states of Australia operated by three major not-for-profit providers, and included Co-ordinators or Directors (i.e. centre Supervisors) and experienced educators. Following Human Ethics approval, a total of 19 individuals agreed to participate in the studies. The recruitment process for each study involved all participants giving informed, written consent to be part of the project.
There were 10 participants in the Victorian study and 9 in the Queensland study. Each individual was interviewed at least twice about their understandings of leadership in ECEC, with a particular emphasis on the role of the Pedagogical Leader and their perceptions of leadership as an element of the NQF reform agenda. The interviews were semi-structured and ranged in length from thirty to ninety minutes. In Queensland the interviews were followed by two focus group sessions; in Victoria, the interviews were paralleled by a series of professional development workshops, which did not form part of the project data set. Each interview was transcribed and checked against the original audio record, then shared with the participant to ensure that they were satisfied with the representation of their perspectives. The final combined data set comprised 52 transcripts of up to 48 double-spaced pages each.
Data analysis primarily involved repeated readings of the transcripts to gain “a sense of the whole” (Hatch, 2002, p. 202). The first step in this process involved each of the authors independently highlighting elements in the participants’ talk about what it meant to be a leader and to engage in leadership in their context. The identified elements were then compared across the two researchers. A second intensive reading of the transcripts focused on identifying ways in which the participants’ talk about leadership drew on varying discourses. From this reading, extracts were drawn from the combined data set that we understood as evidence of how the participants were working out their subjectivity (Foucault, 1980) in relation to expectations of leadership emerging from the NQF. Data reported here have been de-identified, after the participants have had the opportunity to identify any material they did not wish to have included in the reporting of the study, and all names are pseudonyms.
Discourses of leadership at work
In this section of the paper we share our interpretations of the ways in which the participants in the two studies appear to negotiate boundaries between the emerging, NQF-expected, discourse of educational leadership and a traditional, familiar, managerialist leadership discourse that has dominated early childhood education and care. We have interpreted their boundary negotiations as experiences of bringing together – and attempting to hold together – these seemingly opposite leadership discourses. In this negotiation participants drew on those discourses that have been most commonly available to them: the discourse of positions and the discourse of relationships. As boundary riders the participants were at times also ‘border crossers’ (Davies, 2004/2006) and, as they worked to establish and maintain a category of leader with which they could identify, they at times, found themselves in ‘territory’ that was known and, at other times, in territory that was unknown. The following extracts show participants weaving across and bringing together the boundaries of these two seemingly opposite ways of engaging with leadership.
In this first example, Emily describes how leaders need to work within the established relationships – and positions – of Directors and staff:
Emily: .....It’s me building my relationships with my staff, not being the person sitting at the desk typing away at emails, answering phone calls, ... myself being one of them, changing a nappy for them, .... Building up a trust and knowing that, if they see me doing their jobs, I think they understand, “Well, ok if she’s going to pull us up on something, or she has her concerns, there’s obviously a good reason”, because I do the nappies, or I mop the toilet floors at rest time. ....I think they need to know that there is paperwork to back up, usually, what I’m saying, like the policies of [the organisation], the regulations, the standards. .... (Director, Interview1)
For Emily, it is her position as a manager that enables her to enact the required educational leadership and influence educators’ practice. Emily suggests that the way she relates is important (“building up trust”) but, because of her position as Director, she also has a responsibility to manage practices, which she can do by “pull[ing them] up on something”. At the same time, Emily suggests she is “one of them” because she does the tasks that they do (i.e. “the nappies”, “mop the toilet floors”) then, just as quickly her talk moves back to her position, which requires her to engage in managerial leadership – “the regulations, the standards” to back up what she, as the Director, is requiring of staff. Emily’s talk shifts between a focus on engagement with a positional discourse and a relational discourse. This talk can be read as an example of a director moving between the boundaries of two familiar representations of managerial leadership. However, what has been required of leaders through the NQF is leadership with an educational focus. The extracts presented in the following section again see the participants drawing on positional and relational discursive practices to position their representation of educational leadership.
In the case of the Queensland participants, the role of Educational Leader in each centre had been appointed based on a specific position – the Director – that had traditionally focused on the supervision of others and their practice. The Directors participating in the study presented a strong sense of turbulence about how the new role was impacting upon their work life:
Helen: … That transition that they’re [policy makers, the sector] going through at the moment is very much – so I don’t actually know where I sit in the team any more. We’re all educators. Where do I actually sit in this situation? Am I supposed to be leading this person? Am I supposed to be doing more than this person? Am I supposed to be sitting alongside this person and moving together? I don’t know. (Director, Focus Group 1)
In another of the Queensland focus group sessions, Emily and Anne (a Director and an educator from another centre, respectively) also discussed this issue of who should take on the role of Educational Leader in centres. When the NQF was released in 2009, it appeared likely that designated Educational Leaders would have to hold a four-year Bachelors degree but this requirement was abandoned prior to the release of the new regulations. In discussing the workload involved in being the Education Leader and the skills required, Emily and Anne express relief about this policy change:
Emily: ... So, trying to get them [the four-year qualified teacher] to do their programming plus checking everyone else’s paperwork, we felt the workload would have been massive. But now it's come out you don't need to have your four year qualified, we felt that was [a relief] because all our service managers were able to take that role [Educational Leader] on. (Director, Focus Group 2)
Anne: … I'm saying it'll be good to have a qualified teacher as a Director [who is also the Educational Leader], but you also need a good manager. Teachers aren’t trained to be good managers particularly, so I don’t know whether it would work as an Assistant Director, to be an Educational Leader. … So if she [the Director] took that role on then it could be something that could be looked at satisfactorily, because she would have that time off the floor to look at everybody's programme. (Educator, Focus Group 2)
For Emily and Anne, it is not enough to have the knowledge of a qualified teacher as Educational Leader; you also need to have good management skills. Likewise, the Director could only take on the role of educational leader if she was given the time to do the expected task of checking programs (also drawn from a management discourse). Like Helen in the earlier excerpt, Anne can be understood as moving across the boundaries of two sets of expectations – on the one hand the expectation that an Educational Leader needs to have sound early childhood knowledge and qualifications, whilst on the other hand having the management skills and expertise to meet the practical requirements of the role, something that Anne doubts can be found in a degree-qualified teacher. We read this data as evidence of a search for certainty amongst the unsettling impact of the NQF. Anne and Emily are working on how they understand their expectations and enactment of leadership and to position themselves in relation to this enactment. In moving between educational and managerial discourses, they draw on both their known experiences of leadership – a positional discourse, with leadership coming from a person in a particular role – and the unknown possibilities of providing educational leadership on the basis of educational qualifications (provided enough time is allocated) or the Director providing the educational leadership because she has the management skills and the time. These unknown possibilities require the leader to engage in a relational discourse where the relationship is enabled and constrained by her qualifications and management expertise. Each of these participants move between positional discursive practices and relational discursive practices as they articulate their experience and perception of what it means to be a leader and do leadership.
Emily and Anne, in struggling to distinguish the role of Education Leader during one of the focus groups, spoke in ways that suggested they wanted to resist the possibility that educational leadership should be defined by a particular role:
Emily: I think the title is the title, like it's - the title gives you that - not gives you that position but it provides that – you know that that person’s responsible for all that’s occurring. But educational leadership, as an educational leader I would think I'm able to support my senior staff, my educators who have been in the service for quite some time, for them to lead the other staff as well, not just primarily on me [the Director who has a managerial focus].
Anne: I think that from the conversation that we've had, it's made me realise that we need staff, teachers, people out there who are prepared to take on leadership of what they're doing. It's not just the role but…
Emily: They're [the roles] just designed or they're named after…
Anne: The leadership.
Emily: Yeah there's leadership from the time you walk through that door [of the centre] until the time you walk out the door. It doesn't matter what role you carry, because with the National Quality Framework, everyone’s accountable.
By this stage in the discussion, the attempt to hold apart the positional and the relational has broken down to the point where Emily acknowledges “everyone’s accountable” for the work of leadership. Here we also see Anne actively working out her subjectivity within the focus group itself, when she says “… from the conversation we’ve had it’s made me realise…” Immediately after this, Emily invokes the NQF as the factor that has unsettled their familiar subject positions. In working across these possibilities, a third unknown arises, where leadership is no longer driven by a particular position or by qualifications, but is an expectation placed on everyone.
The participants’ discussion across the interviews and focus groups about who is responsible for educational leadership brought to the fore a wide range of examples of what such leadership might look like. These included leadership as a form of support, leadership as involving accountability (both being accountable and ensuring others are made accountable), leadership as “having the knowledge” and leadership as knowing how to “pass this knowledge down to your peers”. The range of images and possibilities offered by the participants led us to look more closely at ways the participants described how leadership happens. Again, we were confronted with the struggle to distinguish between the positional and the relational, and the known and the unknown. In the excerpts that follow, we see two educators (both Directors) ranging across the positional and relational discourses as they attempt to negotiate the boundaries between leader-as-manager and educational leadership, when they are asked how leadership happens in their centres. For Clare, position does not necessarily equate with leadership:
Facilitator: So how would you describe what leadership looks like in your centre?
Clare: There are other staff in the centre that I go, ‘Yes, they are group leaders, but they’re not my leaders in the centre.’ They're not the people that I go to and say, ‘Look, I need this done today, can you do it for me’. .… I think it’s a level of leadership, but it’s put along the lines of management, I think, with the things that we do.
Here Clare is accessing a discourse of management – getting things done – when she speaks of leadership. Cathy, by contrast, accesses a relational discourse – being “emotions-based” and part of the “team” – as she explores the boundary between management and leadership:
Cathy: It almost feels like manager is a dirty word in childcare because we are all so emotions-based and that sort of thing. At the same time, there are things that we do have to manage like – it’s a business – it is. We are working with staff or whatever and we do have to manage, but I feel guilty when I have to manage the staff because it takes me out of the team, because I – I don’t want to say I have to be above it – but I do. … I don’t want to be seen as a manager. I’d love to be seen as a mentor and to provide leadership… - well, leadership and mentoring is getting alongside people and bringing them with you. A manager’s more from above, I guess. That’s how I see it.
The struggle we interpret in Clare and Cathy’s expression of leadership at work in their centres is only the beginning of resolving the expectations of educational leadership driven by the NQF policy agenda. This agenda focuses on working with staff to support their work with children, not to more effectively manage centres and services. For some Directors and experienced educators who have taken on the role of Educational Leader, leading the professional development and learning of the adults in the centre is familiar territory but for many it is entirely new.
We argue that, in working out their new subject positions as early childhood professionals who are both managers and Educational Leaders, Emily, Anne, Clare and Cathy are generating new possibilities for their subjectivity, for how they position themselves and their colleagues, and, ultimately, for how they theorise their work as leaders in relation to power and knowledge within the profession. In a further example, drawn from the Victorian project, we interpret Sophie as working out a new and complex subject position: that of someone who manages, relates, holds a hierarchical position, and leads the education of other adults:
Sophie: I suppose the first thing that I found really challenging was I was on the same level as my peers and then stepping up to be their centre Director, that was the first challenge I had. Also my best friend, I also worked alongside, and now I am her Director. What I find hard is though that my knowledge of everything that’s happening and evolving, I don’t feel as up to the standard where I can pass on that knowledge down to my peers in a concrete way, the right way, the right information.
Facilitator: What do you want to learn? How do you want to develop through this project?
Sophie: I suppose the confidence within myself to deliver the information that I need to get across to my educators and to show them that I am a strong leader and that I can support them within the way things are changing now, not just working within the room .... I suppose just a stronger sense of what is actually happening and I want to be able to answer their questions. I know we all have to sometimes say I’ll get back to you about that, but I want to make sure that I have it, yeah, concrete, and understand things now.
In Sophie’s account of becoming a centre Director in the NQF policy environment, we see the ongoing work Directors are doing to weave together these multiple possibilities. Sophie is troubling a positional discourse – which requires leaders to have particular forms of knowledge that exist in a hierarchical relationship to the knowledge of others – when she uses the oxymoron “down to my peers”. Sophie wants to privilege educational knowledge (“the right information” and “everything that’s happening”) alongside her leadership capacity (to “pass on that knowledge down to my peers”), but she is still struggling out of the ties of managerialist discourses (knowledge is passed “down” and becoming Director involves “stepping up”). In her managerial capacity (i.e. to manage the change happening because of the new policy agenda) Sophie seeks to be a “stronger leader” who wants to “make sure” she understands the emerging expectations and that she is able to answer questions, yet she remains sensitive to the challenges posed by positional forms of relationality when thinking about how best to lead her centre.
Where managerialist discourses have been conflated with leadership discourses there will need to be active negotiation of new subject positions, as discursive practices of leading come to include a shift to management and leadership, and a shift from a focus solely on leading the development and learning of children to a focus on the development and learning of adults as well. Where these discursive shifts fail to occur there is a danger that educational leadership will become yet another form of service management, where opportunities for distributed involvement in decision making are constrained. In such an occurrence early childhood educators will have lost an opportunity to reshape their professional identities in ways that move them beyond the binary of being either compliant or resistant. If policy and legislation are interpreted as modes of governance, one way to view early childhood educators is as either compliant subjects whose identities are shaped by external forces or as resistant subjects who reject the identities constructed by these forces. Another possibility is to identify educators as active agents in their leadership identity construction as they work to both accept and resist the expectations of the NQF agenda. As Directors and educators explore the concept of educational leadership through deconstructing and reconstructing discourses of leading, they are potentially engaged in processes of re-theorising practice as they work to re-construct their subjectivity as leaders.
Our argument can be summarised in the claim that early childhood educators are not merely accepting or resisting the expectations presented through legislation for leadership, but are working to theorise and re-theorise their conceptualisations of what it means to claim leadership and act as a leader. We see this process as inevitable under the imperatives of the NQF. The discourses and subjectivities previously available to early childhood educators are insufficient. One option is to stop being a manager and start being an educational leader but this is not an available discourse, so educators find themselves resisting the binary implied by modernist notions of ‘moving forward’ that require them to identify as either manager or leader. This resistance does not present itself as a rejection of either the old or the new discourse, or as acceptance or compliance in the form of taking on board a new dominant discourse, but in the form of an active re-crafting of discourses of leadership in order to avoid the traps inherent in the binary. When understood in this light, it is inevitable that reactions to the implementation of the NQF present as uncertainty. Educators present a sense of knowing and also of not knowing as they shift between engaging with relational discursive practices and positional discursive practices. The dialogue of the participants in these projects, however, hints at how the field can actively resist the transformation of the work of early childhood leaders in what Dahlberg and Moss (2005) refer to as a shift from “the ethical and political … into the technical and managerial” (p. 142). If we are to take this leadership work seriously, we need to respect the process of educators re-working their understandings of leadership and what it is to lead through their ethical exercises of power and subjectivity in the minor politics (Dahlberg & Moss, 2005) of their daily work.
The danger remains that the intent of current policy reforms, aimed at enhancing practices of leadership for learning, will be diminished by the actual experience of legislated leadership positions being viewed purely through the discourse of managerialism. This possibility is evident in the participants’ talk of issues such as time, staff and group organisation, relationships within centre hierarchies, and programme organisation. Our conviction is that effective leadership for learning will only be evident where educators’ agency is at work in the form of re-theorising who they are in relation to imposed legislative expectations. As we continue to pursue this research interest, further question arise for us as we think about educational leadership, both within the NQF and more broadly. How, for example, do educators differentiate between holding the position of leader and engaging in practices of leadership? And what is implied for practice – and ultimately for children and families – when particular discourses come to dominate under the NQF? In this paper we have argued that ways of knowing, doing and articulating leadership, i.e. discourses of leadership, are drawn on to construct subjectivities as leaders and that these identities are constructed for and by early childhood educators. Such constructions of ‘leader’ come not from a ‘projection of power’ (Jackson & Mazzei, 2012) through mechanisms of governance, in the form of legislation, regulation, quality standards and the like, but from the power relations that work to produce knowledge of the self – or possible self – as leader.
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The research reported in this paper was funded by Gowrie Queensland, Centacare Child Care Services (Brisbane), and the City of Knox.
About the Authors
Dr Louise Thomas is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Australian Catholic University, where she is National Director of Early Childhood and Deputy Head – Learning and Teaching (Qld). Louise’s research focuses on professional identity constructions, ethics, intentional teaching and educational leadership in early childhood education and care. The theoretical lens informing this research is predominantly poststructuralism.
Associate Professor Joce Nuttall is a Principal Research Fellow in the Faculty of Education at Australian Catholic University, where she is Director of the Faculty’s Centre for Early Childhood Futures. Joce’s research focuses on the continuing professional learning of teachers, particularly in early childhood services, and is principally informed by cultural-historical activity theory.
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