The role of the educational leader: Part 2
During the month of October, We hear you will be showcasing a three-part series exploring the development of ‘The role of the educational leader’.
In the second instalment, we look at the ways educational leaders use their skills, knowledge and understandings to lead the development of the curriculum/program and consider how the service context influences the development of the curriculum.
Part 2: Leading the development of the curriculum
In this second part of the educational leader series, we follow on from exploring the why, what and how of educational leadership in education and care services to considering how leaders use their skills, knowledge and understandings to meet the requirements of National Quality Standard (NQS) Element 7.1.4, relating to leading the development of the curriculum/program.
In unpacking this component of the role, it is important to identify the relevant standard and elements of the NQS and consider strategies to ensure each member of the team is supported to build their capacity and feel empowered to contribute to rich and meaningful learning and leisure experiences for children. In particular, educational leaders can support educators to understand and implement:
- Standard 1.1: An approved learning framework informs the development of a curriculum that enhances each child’s learning and development.
- Element 1.1.2: Each child’s current knowledge, ideas, culture, abilities and interests are the foundation of the program.
- Element 1.1.6: Each child’s agency is promoted, enabling them to make choices and decisions and influence events and their world.
Some questions to prompt discussion and reflection include:
- What are the team’s current understandings of the approved learning frameworks and in what ways are they informing educator planning and practice?
- How do the principles and practices outlined in the learning frameworks inform our work with children and families?
- What could the team do to further build this knowledge and understandings to enhance practice?
- In what ways does the program reflect the view promoted in the learning frameworks of children as capable, competent learners, active contributors, agents of change and co-constructors of knowledge? How might this aspect be strengthened and shared with families?
How does the service context influence the development of the curriculum?
The approved learning frameworks remind us that:
Curriculum encompasses all the interactions, experiences, routines and events, planned and unplanned, that occur in an environment designed to foster children’s learning and development (Early Years Learning Framework, p. 9; Framework for School Age Care, p. 6).
A strength of the learning frameworks and the NQS is the recognition of the importance of the context in which the service is being delivered. The curriculum is influenced by the children, families, educators and community as well as the hours of operation, service type and learning framework implemented. The service philosophy, policies and procedures and the theories that inform educators’ thinking and practice will also shape the curriculum.
These factors influence the uniqueness of each service. You would not expect, for example, the curriculum in a sessional preschool or kindergarten implementing the Early Years Learning Framework to look like the curriculum in an outside school hours care service, as, apart from the difference in children’s ages, a strong focus of the Framework for School Age Care is on leisure and recreation. Educational leaders, in collaboration with educators, are empowered to use their significant knowledge and understanding of the service context to guide the development, implementation and evaluation of the curriculum. The context is also an important consideration for educational leaders when thinking about what mentoring, support and guidance will be most beneficial to assist educators to reflect on and enhance their practices.
The Educator Guides to the learning frameworks – Educators My Time, Our Place and Educators Belonging, Being & Becoming – are invaluable resources for educational leaders providing helpful examples, explanations and reflective activities.
What are some effective strategies to inform and guide the development of the curriculum?
Engaging in professional conversations with educators across the service is an effective strategy to encourage continuous improvement and has the potential to inform enhancements to the curriculum. A professional conversation is ‘the formal and informal dialogue that occurs between education professionals including teachers, mentors, coaches and school leaders, which is focused on educational matters’ (AITSL, 2014).
The following diagram may be helpful in thinking about the key elements of an effective professional conversation.
When considering the opportunities for an educational leader to engage in professional conversations with educators across the service to lead and guide the development of the curriculum, the following questions may be useful to prompt discussion and reflection:
- What do educators talk about professionally?
- Where do these conversations happen, when do they happen, and are they effective?
- What is the impact of the discussions the educational leader has with educators on developing expertise and improving outcomes for children?
- What opportunities exist or can be created for educational leaders to enable, encourage and participate in professional conversations between educators that result in continual improvement of the educational program?
- What strategies could educational leaders implement to keep abreast of developments and research in early childhood and share this information with educators?
- What opportunities exist or can be established for educational leaders to link with the broader community, including other services, professional groups and, most importantly, other educational leaders, to learn and discuss and share information?
Some educational leaders have also engaged with educators in action learning or research projects. Action learning or research is carried out in the course of a professional environment, typically in the field of education, using research and inquiry to improve the methods and approach of those involved to address issues or challenges which have been identified or seek out opportunities for improvement. Action learning or research projects support educators to reflect on and enhance their pedagogy and practice. They can also link to Element 1.2.3 and critical reflection, which is, according to assessment and rating data, the most challenging of all 58 elements.
Further reading and resources
- ACECQA – Information sheet – QA7 The role of the educational leader
- ACECQA – National Quality Standard
- AITSL – Enhance professional conversations
- Rodd, J. (2012) The role of effective leadership in achieving high quality provision in preschools and early learning centres, Association of independent schools of South Australia (AIAAS).
- Rodd, J. (2013) Leadership in Early Childhood: The pathway to professionalism. Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
- Siraj-Blatchford, I. & Manni, L. (2006) Effective Leadership in the Early Years Sector (ELEYS) Study. London: Institute of Education, University of London.
- Waniganayake, M., Rodd, J. and Gibbs, L. (2015) Thinking and learning about leadership. Sydney, Australia: Community Childcare Cooperative.