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Sooner, rather than later: Addressing leadership development in ECE—A response to the 2019–29 Strategic Plan for Early Learning

Maria Cooper

What do we know about the situation of leadership in early childhood education (ECE) in Aotearoa New Zealand? What can we learn from relevant leadership research? How can we use these insights to support change processes in ECE? The release of the draft 2019–29 Strategic Plan for Early Learning suggests we give serious consideration to these questions. Engaging with the goals of the plan will depend on leadership at all levels of the system. We cannot, however, make any assumptions about how ready, willing, and able leaders within individual services will be to address expectations yet to arise from the plan, especially since policy makers have given minimal attention to leadership development up to this point. In this response paper, I refer to the situation of and research on leadership in ECE to argue that engaging with the plan necessitates revisiting the issue of leadership development for our sector. I conclude my response with a recommendation for policy makers: that all leaders be given equitable access to high-quality leadership development informed by relevant research, sooner rather than later.

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