Element 7.2.2: Educational leadership

The educational leader is supported and leads the development and implementation of the educational program and assessment and planning cycle.

What Element 7.2.2 aims to achieve

Educational leadership

The role of the educational leader is primarily to:

  • collaborate with educators and provide curriculum direction and guidance
  • support educators to effectively implement the cycle of planning to enhance programs and practices
  • lead the development and implementation of an effective educational program in the service
  • ensure that children’s learning and development are guided by the learning outcomes of the Early Years Learning Framework and/or the Framework for School Age Care or other approved learning frameworks.

The educational leader of a service plays a significant role in guiding and developing educators’ and families’ understandings about play and leisure-based learning, and the significance of the early years in the education continuum for children. Their approach to leadership for learning has the potential to build the knowledge, skills and professionalism of educators, and to help communicate these important messages to families, schools and the broader community.

‘A lively culture of professional enquiry is established when educators, co-ordinators and staff members are encouraged to build their professional knowledge, reflect on their practice and generate new ideas. In a culture that values professional learning, issues relating to curriculum quality, equity and children’s wellbeing can be raised, debated and used to enhance programs, practices and policies’ (Early Years Learning Framework, p. 13: Framework for School Age Care, p.12).

Selecting and supporting the educational leader

Leadership in education and care is complex, multi-faceted and diverse. Emerging research on the role of educational leader in the Australian context demonstrates that this type of pedagogical leadership may present a range of challenges and require a different set of skills than other types of leaders within the service. It also recognised that for the educational leader to be successful in generating quality outcomes, they need to be supported in their role. An approved provider/nominated supervisor might consider the following skills, knowledge and attributes in nominating and developing the educational leader:

  • communication and interpersonal skills
  • comprehensive knowledge of theory that relates to early childhood education and care (for example, child development, attachment, learning), professional standards and approved learning frameworks, and contemporary understanding of evidence-based best practice approaches to teaching and learning
  • knowledge of leadership theory and the use of a range of leadership styles
  • thinking skills, including the ability to critically analyse and challenge conventional practice and ideas
  • a sense of purpose and direction, and the ability to influence
  • a willingness to mentor and support educators from diverse backgrounds and with varying levels of knowledge and experience
  • commitment to learning and participating in professional learning opportunities.

Approved providers and nominated supervisors might also consider how they provide support for the educational leader and what the outcomes for the role might look like in terms of improved quality programs and practice. Some key features include enabling capacity building opportunities, empowering leaders and ensuring the role is well-resourced. Resources may include time, professional learning materials and opportunities, clearly defined role description, expectations, networking and collegial support opportunities.

Leading, developing and implementing the program

The educational leader provides guidance on educators’ pedagogy and professional practice, by supporting educators to build and nurture secure respectful relationships with children and families, and assisting educators to articulate how and why they make decisions about the curriculum/program.

An effective educational program includes realistic goals which have a clear purpose in line with the service’s philosophy (see Element 7.1.1). The educational program and practice reflect the principles, practice and outcomes of an approved learning framework (see Element 1.1.1).

Other key aspects of the educational leader’s role in leading, developing and implementing the program include:

  • mentoring and supporting educators’ understanding of educational program and practice, such as:
    • how theory supports best practice in all parts of the program
    • building relationships and interactions with children to assist their learning through play and leisure-based programs
    • intentional teaching strategies and thoughtful, deliberate educator practices that support children’s wellbeing, learning and development
    • routines and transitions
    • providing for continuity of learning when children transition to, from or within the service
    • developing documentation that is meaningful, relevant and promotes reflection on educators’ pedagogy and practice
  • drawing on a range of understandings about learning theories and styles, as well as educators’ strengths, to develop educators’ professional skills and confidence
  • encouraging and empowering educators to draw on their creativity, intuition, knowledge of child development, as well as children’s knowledge, identity and culture in their teaching and planning for learning
  • liaising with other early childhood education and care professionals (such as therapists, maternal and child health nurses, and early childhood intervention specialists)
  • assisting educators to make connections in the community, including with diverse cultures and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Elders or their representatives.

Assessment and planning cycle

An ongoing cycle of assessment and planning is critical to the delivery of a quality educational program. The educational leader plays a pivotal role in this process, including:

  • leading educators to use current approaches to documentation and planning
  • mentoring and supporting educators in how they assess learning
  • ensuring that the assessment and planning cycle is applied to each child and the program as a whole (see Element 1.3.1); note some jurisdictions have different requirements for the program in school age services)
  • assisting educators to understand and implement reflective practice (see Element 1.3.2)
  • leading critical reflection discussions to examine program and practice, investigate alternative approaches and ways of thinking, identify quality improvements required and plan for improvements
  • leading further discussions after educators have implemented a change to program or practice, and identifying if other improvements are needed
  • communicating in sensitive and meaningful ways with families when they need more information about the educational program and/or their child’s learning.

For more information about the assessment and planning cycle, see Standard 1.3 and Element 1.3.1.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 7.2.2 (for all services)

Educational leadership

Assessors may observe the educational leader working with educators to build capacity and understanding about their pedagogy and practice, including ways they assess, reflect on and plan for children’s learning.


Assessors may discuss:

  • how the service supports the educational leader to have opportunities for discussions with educators, provide mentoring, lead reflective practice, and realise the intent of their role
  • how the educational leader assists educators to promote children’s learning and development and, when necessary, facilitate discussions with families
  • what strategies and processes the educational leader uses to lead the development of effective programs within the service and to ensure that the planning cycle is implemented effectively
  • how the educational leader supports and builds educators’ understandings of how to assess, plan for and evaluate children’s learning, including supporting the development of documentation that is meaningful and relevant
  • the ways that leadership is tailored and targeted to reflect individuals’ strengths and areas for growth
  • how educators are mentored and supported through learning communities, positive organisational culture and professional conversations
  • how the educational leader works with the service’s leadership and management structure to support educators through periods of change.

Assessors may sight evidence of:

  • designation of the educational leader in the staff record
  • documentation of the educational leader providing feedback and guidance to educators about the assessment and planning cycle
  • reflective practice discussions that critically examine current practice and that lead to quality improvement.