More than 1200 Educational Leaders and Centre Directors across Goodstart gathered in person and online for Goodstart’s Educational Leader conference ‘Leading Together’ in Melbourne today.
Attendees heard from a line-up of renowned international pedagogical leaders and researchers, including Sir Kevan Collins, Professor Iram Siraj OBE and Professor Jane Bertrand.
Sue Robb OBE, Goodstart’s Pedagogy and Practice General Manager, said 2023 was the year of the Educational Leader at Goodstart and the conference was about connecting, inspiring and empowering Goodstart’s resident pedagogues to lead together for improved children outcomes.
“We know that our Centre Directors, Educational Leaders and Centre Leadership Teams, are leading their own journeys of practice improvement within their centres. That’s tremendously empowering,” Sue said.
“It’s our ambition, that every centre has the pedagogical knowledge to ensure that every child is taught using best practice evidence to affect the best children learning outcomes.”
Educational Leaders are crucial to the quality of teaching and learning in Goodstart’s 661 centres and are supported with up to 10 hours of non-contact time.
“We’re ready to stretch ourselves in pedagogical leadership, and improve how we critically reflect and how we stretch our children to improve their learning and development outcomes,” Sue said.
98.2% of Goodstart centres are Meeting or Exceeding the National Quality Standard – above the sector average.
In his opening address, international education expert Sir Kevan Collins (who is also a Goodstart Board member), told attendees that they have an incredible opportunity.
“On any given day in an early learning centre, the real action is happening on the floor between an educator engaged with a child, and children engaged with each other,” Sir Kevan said.
“What really matters is the quality of the relationship between you, the educator, and the child. Every day, you have enormous freedom to make your own practice decisions to affect positive child learning outcomes.”
Sir Kevan encouraged Educational Leaders to trust their judgement and read the evidence.
“Be sceptical, not cynical. Be curious and question,” Kevan said.
Sir Kevan told educators that they have more freedom than they think in their daily practice and that critical reflection was vital, asking yourself, “is this practice sound? Show me the evidence.”
Professor Jane Bertrand from Canada, and project director of Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation, spoke about international perspectives of pedagogical leadership and started with a reflection about what is pedagogy? Jane said at end of day, we’re talking about the how we carry about our practice and how we engage with children and support them.
Professor Bertrand promoted three strategies for pedagogical leadership for Goodstart centres, including “noticing and naming matter a lot” when it comes to practice.
“Pedagogical leaders should be asking questions, what learning outcomes are supported by this learning environment in this moment?” the Professor said.
“When a pedagogical leader and centre director walk into a room – even if it’s about an administrative matter – take a moment, and ask yourself, “what learning outcomes are being promoted here?”
“Then notice and name it when you’re in the learning space. It takes 30 to 45 seconds…Be aware of the interactions children and educators are having, the organisation of the learning environment. If there’s time, ask a provocative question.
“Be specific and be in the moment. Your comments mean a lot. It carries weight. It reinforces good practice.”
Iram Siraj OBE, Professor of Child Development and Education at the University of Oxford, presented the latest evidence and research about pedagogical leadership for improving teaching and learning, including Curriculum Leadership and Interaction Quality Rating Scales.
“Leadership matters. We know from a lot of our research that successful leaders improve teaching and learning and children outcomes.”
Professor Siraj says it takes team effort to lead practice uplift, and that the end goal is that every room has an educational leader.
To learn more about Goodstart and working as an Educational Leader, keeping reading here and take a look at our current roles here.
Last year Goodstart invested more than $19 million in the professional development of Goodstart educators and teachers, including Educational Leaders, and initiatives like the 2023 Goodstart Educational Leaders are one of many ways our people are supported to be their best to make every moment count for children in our early learning centres.