What's in a name

Over the past months I have been reading posts on early childhood sites and blogs in regard to the role of Educational Leader (EL) and the difficulties some teachers are having with this role. In many cases the EL is a teacher within a service who is trying to do the ‘job’ from a non leadership or power based position. They are often not the Nominated Supervisor or Director. This in itself is causing problems.

ACECQA fact sheet on EL states:

“The educational leader has an influential role in inspiring, motivating, affirming and also challenging or extending the practice and pedagogy of educators. It is a joint endeavour involving inquiry and reflection, which can significantly impact on the important work educators do with children and families.

“Neither the National Quality Standards (NQS) nor the legislative standards are prescriptive about the qualifications, experience, skills or include a role description for the person chosen to be the educational leader. The flexibility of these provisions allows approved providers to choose the person in the service best suited to take on this role.”

Many teachers I talk to who are in the EL role and who are not in a leadership role within their service are saying that in many cases they are not able to implement change, improve program and practice or motivate others to reflect and take action.

Why is this so? Is it because teachers don’t take the role seriously? Is it because it challenges their practise and by reflecting and making change their previous practise will be seen as lacking or not up to standard? This issue has arisen across the board both in community based and private services. If change requires financial input then often this is a barrier if owner/operators/approved providers are unwilling to spend the money.

Perhaps the role description for the EL needs to state that it is a ‘real leadership’ position and not just a title we have to have to comply with the NQS. This needs to be looked at by ACECQA and state regulatory bodies as well as the Approved Provider, to ensure that practise and pedagogy continues to be extended and evolve, to ensure that teachers keep up with current research and that they are not afraid to implement change and take risks in their practise, and that children and families have the best possible outcomes.

I am hearing about tired, disillusioned ELs who resign from their roles, frustrated and disappointed in themselves.

Perhaps the EL needs to have a higher level of pay attached to the role as co-ordinators in schools have. This could be written into enterprise agreements. The role certainly needs to have more importance and respect attached to it to avoid the pitfalls that are occurring now.

Gabe Connell
Vice President ECS