Support for educational leadership


​​​​Good quality educational programming and practice is vital to improving children's wellbeing, learning and developmental outcomes. However, for some services, educational program and practice (Quality Area 1) and governance and leadership (Quality Area 7) are the most challenging areas in which to receive a Meeting or Exceeding National Quality Standard rating.

Approved providers must ensure that educational programming is well planned and informed by critical reflection.

They must ensure legislative requirements are met and a quality program is delivered to all children that is based on both:

  • an approved learning framework
  • the developmental needs, interests and experiences of each child (section 168 of the National Law).

Educational leaders are critical to ensuring a service has a quality educational program and practice. They must have appropriate knowledge, skills and experience, the support of service leadership and a clear understanding of their role.

Educational leaders need support from the service’s leadership team to effect positive change, including playing an integral role in mentoring, guiding and supporting educators.

The National Quality Standard (Element 7.2.2) requires the educational leader to be supported in their role.

This support could include:

  • capability building opportunities—e.g. the opportunity to develop and build their knowledge, skills and competencies
  • empowerment—e.g. autonomy and professional influence to effectively undertake their role
  • resourcing—this could include
    • clearly defined role description, expectations and outcomes
    • dedicated time
    • professional learning materials and opportunities
    • networking and collegial support opportunities.

Educators need to have a deep understanding of approved learning frameworks and must ensure their programming is responsive to each child’s needs.

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.

Reflective questions

The approved provider, educational leader and educators should regularly reflect on their knowledge and application of the approved learning frameworks and ask themselves the following questions.

  • Is the role of the educational leader in my service clearly defined and understood?
  • Is the educational leader adequately supported to perform the role?
  • What networks or associations would the educational leader benefit from in my service?
  • How is the educational leader supported to focus on pedagogy and practice, both on their own and across the team of educators at the service?
  • Do educators have a deep understanding of the approved learning framework relevant to their service type?
  • Is the program being delivered to children consistently engaging, challenging ​and stimulating for every child?
  • Are all educators adaptive and reflective in their approach to program delivery?
  • Are educators supported to take time to authentically critically reflect on practice?


  • Quality Area 1: Educational program and practice
  • Element 7.2.2 Educational leadership
  • Section 168 Offence relating to required programs
  • Regulation 73 Educational program
  • Regulation 254 Declared approved learning frameworks


‘The children have a lot of autonomy and the whole way we approach our program or our activities, it's coming from a child, it's not coming from an adult. We follow their lead. I think there’s magic in that for the children.’

See the quality practice in tune with young voices page​ for more information. Watch the video below.​​​​​

Video transcript

Outside school hours care, the children have a lot of autonomy, and the whole way we approach our program or our activities it's coming from a child, it's not coming from an adult.

We follow their lead. I think there's a magic in that for the children.

If we see a child engaged in an activity, and that's not necessarily programmed we're not thinking, "Oh, this is a programmed activity. They need to focus on this."

We're really following their lead and what they want to do and we'll start to focus our attention on what they're doing.

So making sure they have autonomy over what they want to do.

Instead of just because it's programmed, this has to run, it's like, no, if the child's interested in this activity, we are going to run with it and we are going to help support them engage in whatever they want to do.

Understanding that we are co-constructors of knowledge, we are equals in terms of construction of knowledge.

It's not just them leading only or us leading only, is a collaboration that we do.

Some of our educators came to this school as children. They have community knowledge.

Some of our educators are from different cultures. They have cultural knowledge.

We're very passionate about acknowledging that all of our educators each hold a certain set of skills and knowledge that then they bring back to feed into our program.

We follow the My Time, Our Place framework and that really underpins everything that we do at our centre. It's a very collaborative approach.

Everyone has a say through the Educator Learning Stories.

And we also have the children's choice iPad as well. If they want an activity, next week it'll be on the program.

They come with this idea.

Some of them, when we pick them up at school, they say, "Stella, I have this idea. I want to make this robot and I need two boxes and I need the sticky tape."

So they will come and they have this idea.

We ask our educators to document our learning story each week, and then we utilise those learning stories as well as the child feedback and the observations that we've done of the children and parent suggestions and information from the school and the community, and we put that all into a program.

So there's the expectation is we have to do the documentation, but there's no rules about what we have to document.

So everything comes through really authentically, and I think that comes across as well in the documentation. It's not forced.

Critical reflection for us is multifaceted. Robust conversations around practice, policy, program are an integral part of what we do here.

How do we critically reflect? We do that in team debrief, but we also do it individually and as groups. And I think we have a really nice balance of that as well.

It's not all just, "Oh, we didn't do this. Well, we should have done this."

It's, "Let's highlight our strengths, but let's also think about how we can do better as well."

So yeah, got to give yourself credit for what we do well.

Children come and bring such a richness of ideas, and then everything changes. Like, it's really amazing.

We want our children to be amazing citizens.

We want our children to care about the environment.

We want to promote inclusive relationships.

We know that the children who come to us are really bright, intelligent beings, and they are going to go off and they're going to do amazing things in their life.

Having the freedom to create an education program that meets the needs of the children, that supports the staff, it's what every leader would like to be able to do.

Last updated 14 September 2023