Presentation to ECA National Conference 2019

At the 2019 ECA National Conference held in Hobart 25-28 September, Dr Megan Gibson presented on Portraits of exemplary early childhood educators: Voices from the profession. The presentation gave an overview of the research project, with a focus upon Phase 2, Focus Groups. Audience members included representatives from ACECQA, research partner organisations, academics, and educators. Very positive feedback and encouragement regarding the importance of the study was received. For full presentation, please open this link:



Annual meeting with Partners, June 2019

The Exemplary Early Childhood Educators at Work (EECEW) Research Team held a highly successful meeting with representatives from Partner Organisations on 18 June 2019, hosted by the IEU NSW/ACT Branch in Wattle Street, Ultimo. Catering was generously provided by QLD C&K and IEU (NSW/ACT).

The meeting was attended by:

  • Partner representatives: Jane Bourne (QLD C&K), Louise Brennan (Inner West Council), Megan Bruce (IEU NSW/ACT), Ali Evans (QLD C&K), Verena Heron (IEU NSW/ACT), Gabby Holden (KU Children’s Services), Tracey Long (CELA), Sylvia Perdikaris (Inner West Council)
  • Research team: Linda Harrison, Sandie Wong, Megan Gibson, Frances Press (by videolink), Tamara Cumming, Kim Crisp, Sue Richardson, Lesley Stoneman
  • PhD students: Mandy Cooke, Leanne Gibbs, Sene Gide, Salima Yeung

Apologies were received from Emma Cannen (United Voice), Michele Carnegie (CELA), Tina Holtom (Child Australia), Chris Legg (KU Children’s Services), and John Spriggs (IEU QLD).

Summary of key items

Dissemination (Megan Gibson)

We began the meeting with an overview of our publications and presentations about the EECEW study. The research team is committed to disseminating the findings of the study for optimum impact through a variety of venues and media. These include: peer-reviewed publictions (Journal of Research in Childhood Education, Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, Journal of Family Studies); partner organisation publications (Rattler, Broadside, Cascades, Bedrock); Australian and international conferences (AJEC Research Symposia, Queensland Early Education and Care Conference, British Educational Research Association, Early Childhood Australia national conferences, ECEC workforce research forum, QLD CandK Research Symposium, Destinations Tasmania); media releases; interviews; presentations to partners; newsletters; EECEW Blog.

Partner meeting 2019 1

Attendees were delighted that Frances Press was able to zoom in from Manchester, and provide an update on her continued involvement with the Project, including forthcoming presentation to BERA Conference in September 2019, in conjunction with Jane Bourne (QLD C&K). Image courtesy Angus Hoy, IEU (NSW/ACT).

Phase 1: Random Time Sampled Time Use Diary (RTSTUD) (Linda Harrison)

Over 300 educators have participated, resulting in 3,000 work hours of data. Recent analyses of this large and complex data set undertaken by Michael Bittman and Jude Brown is exploring educators’ perceptions of ‘job demands’, which includes their ratings of the pace of their work, multiple demands/frequent switching of tasks, and stress.

We have also commissioned an upgrade to the App which will enable us to invite further participation from eligible services.

Phase 2: Focus Groups (Megan Gibson)

46 focus groups have been conducted in regional and metropolitan areas throughout QLD, NSW and WA. A total of 111 EC educators have participated in face-to-face and online meetings in qualification specific groups. Focus group questions were based upon main findings from the RTSTUD data, and the broad theme of the research: what makes for an exemplary educator?

Focus group transcript data is being analysed using thematic analysis as well as using inductive-deductive analysis with the Theory of Practice Architectures (TPA) as a heuristic frame. An annotated bibliography of TPA research have been completed.

Phase 3: Case Studies (Sandie Wong)

Case studies will be conducted in ten exemplary early childhood education services in NSW, QLD and WA, commencing in February 2020. As part of this phase, selected participants will be asked to complete Supportive Environmental Quality Underlying Adult Learning (SEQUAL) online survey.

Preliminary work has been undertaken to adapt SEQUAL to the Australian context, in collaboration with our Partner Investigator Sharon Ryan and the SEQUAL designers at the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, University of California, Berkeley.  Ethics approval has been given by the Macquarie University Human Ethics Committee to conduct a pilot study to test the acceptability of the adapted SEQUAL. Ten educators of various qualifications from NSW, QLD and WA will be invited to participate in the pilot. Partner organisations have offered to nominate staff.

Presentations by HDR students

Mandy Cooke: Stirring in to risk-taking research: An update on the project Towards a Re-Conceptualisation of Risk-Taking in Early Childhood Education Practices
This presentation offered an update on Mandy’s research project, including a recent publication and the progress of data analysis.

Leanne Gibbs: Leading in a landscape of complexity
In this presentation Leanne shared preliminary findings from the study of how organisational practices support the emergence and development of leading in ECE settings.

Robbie Warren (via podcast): Children’s Rights…and a game of Snap!

In this presentation Robbie discussed preliminary findings of her data collection over the past six months. Her research investigates the practices of educators in exemplary early childhood services in relation to respecting and enabling children’s rights.

Partner meeting 2019

Listening to presentation by Mandy Gibbs, PhD student.  From front row right, anticlockwise: Linda Harrison, Salima Yeung, Louise Brennan, Megan Gibson, Kim Crisp, Verena Heron, Sue Richardson, Leanne Gibbs, Tamara Cumming, Tracey Long, Sene Gide. Image courtesy Angus Hoy, IEU (NSW/ACT).


3rd Partner Meeting

The Research Team were pleased to hold a meeting with representatives from Partner Organisations on 13 June 2018, at IEU NSW/ACT Branch Offices in Wattle Street, Ultimo.

The meeting was attended by:

  • Partner representatives: Louise Brennan (Inner West Council), Megan Bruce (IEU NSW/ACT branch), Emma Cannen (United Voice), Gabby Holden (KU Children’s Services), Lisa James (IEU NSW/ACT branch), Sylvia Perdakaris (Inner West Council), Pam Spall (CandK Qld), John Spriggs (IEU Qld/NT Branch),
  • Chief Investigators: Frances Press, Linda Harrison, Sandie Wong, Megan Gibson (by videolink).
  • PhD students: Mandy Cooke, Leanne Gibbs
  • Project Manager: Lesley Stoneman
  • Research Assistant: Kim Crisp


Row 1 (l to r): Louise Brennan, Megan Bruce, Emma Cannen, Linda Harrison, Leanne Gibbs, Sandie Wong.  Row 2 (l to r): Gabby Holden, Kim Crisp, Sylvia Perdakaris, Lesley Stoneman, Frances Press. On screen: Megan Gibson

The following is information presented at the meeting:

Presentation by PhD candidate, Mandy Cooke

Towards a re-conceptualisation of risk-taking in early childhood education and care practices

Presentation by PhD candidate, Leanne Gibbs

A study of practices that support the emergence and development of leading in exemplary early childhood education settings

Random Time Use Data Rollout and Analysis

Please refer to Newsletters, and full presentation by Linda Harrison, under Publications on this site.

Focus Groups

Megan Gibson is coordinating this second phase of the project. Focus groups, to be rolled out from June 2018, will be held in QLD, NSW and WA.

Using RTS TUD data as a stimulus for discussion, focus groups will provide deeper insights into the roles undertaken by educators at each level of qualification working in different EC centres and the resources (including understandings) they draw upon in the course of their work.

Based on preliminary data analysis from RTD TUD, discussion will include participants’ consideration of the following: i) rapid changes in primary activity; ii) multitasking; iii) positive ratings for work satisfaction. Participants will be asked about whether these findings resonate with their experience; to think of a time when they have been in that situation; their understandings/possible explanations of for example, high levels of work satisfaction.

Publicity and Dissemination of Information

The research team is committed to disseminating the study for optimum impact. Dissemination includes: articles in peer-reviewed journals, AJEC, partner organisation publications; research team presentations at Australian and international conferences; media releases; project newsletters; Blog.

Case Studies

This third phase of the project, coordinated by A/Prof Sandie Wong, will commence in mid-2019. Participating centres will be invited to participate based upon a range of geographical locations and type of service.

National Rollout of Project

All eligible early childhood settings in Australian states and territories have now been invited to participate in the Random Time Use Data application. This first phase of the project will finish in December 2018.

Stakeholder Forum

A tentative date of 20 November 2018 has been set to hold the Stakeholder Forum in Sydney. Representatives from federal and state government departments, partner organisations, key national and state early childhood providers and peak bodies, and key academics will be invited to attend this one-day forum.

For more information, please contact: Frances Press ( 63384287) or Lesley Stoneman ( 63384440)

New team members

Lesley Stoneman, Project Manager

Lesley commenced as Project Manager in February 2018, taking over from Vianne Tourle. Lesley has a long affiliation with Charles Sturt University: as an undergraduate student in the Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood) course; in various administrative positions, including Academic Governance Officer, and Professional Experience & Partnerships Coordinator for the Faculty of Education; and several academic positions, teaching to the early childhood and primary courses in the School of Teacher Education. Lesley strongly supports the need for Australian government and society to recognise the importance of early childhood education.


Sue Richardson, Research Assistant (WA)

 Sue is our newly appointed research assistant in WA. Sue has worked across early childhood, primary and secondary education, in a variety of teaching, planning and assessment roles. A keen advocate for quality early childhood education, Sue currently teaches at Edith Cowan University and is involved in ongoing research. Sue will be working predominantly with our WA and SA centres.

Sue Richardson

PhD Graduates


Mandy is an experienced primary and early childhood teacher who embarked on a PhD as a way of generating positive transformation of educational practices. Mandy’s research focused on risk-taking for children and educators in early childhood education. She views risk-taking as courageous act necessary for change and transformation in education and life. Mandy completed her PhD in late 2020 and now works as lecturer in early childhood education at Deakin University.

Mandy Jpeg


Leanne Gibbs has worked in the early childhood education and community sector for over 35 years and is currently Senior Manager with Early Start at the University of Wollongong. She has a PhD, along with qualifications in education, public policy, politics, leadership and management, and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Her roles have included teacher and director of long day care and preschool programs, adviser and manager with local state and federal government, teacher and lecturer within early education, management and leadership programs for TAFE and Universities. She has been a manager of professional development programs for major providers and Chief Executive Officer for an Australian sector peak organisation.

Leanne is an active member of Boards and advisory groups on ECEC workforce and science within ECEC. She is an author, researcher, and podcaster. Her research interests are leadership, management and governance and their influence upon social justice and ECEC quality.

Leanne Jpeg

PhD Student


Sene Gide joins our team as a PhD candidate. Sene’s project explores the leadership experiences of Early Childhood Education (ECE) directors from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds in high quality ECE settings.

Sene has been working in the Early Childhood field for the last 20 years. Sene has also presented her leadership experiences and findings of her master project at multiple symposiums and conferences, with her most recent presentation being at the EECERA conference in Greece in 2019. Sene’s Master of Research thesis was about leadership practices in high quality early childhood services. She also has a chapter in the book ‘Talkin’ Up and Speakin’ Out: Aboriginal and Multicultural Voices in Early Childhood (Authors: Kerry Mundine and Miriam Giugni).

This PhD study is an extension of our project. In multicultural Australia, the needs of CALD children and families in ECE settings have been examined by researchers, however, the needs or challenges of the CALD ECE workforce are yet to be considered. Sene’s study seeks to address this gap and aims to explore the experiences of directors from CALD backgrounds by investigating the specific issues this minority group have been facing and dealing with, and the enablers and barriers for them in becoming a leader and enacting leadership in their current high quality rated ECE settings.

Sene Jpeg



Research skills seminar – the Theory of Practice Architectures

In October 2017, the Faculty of Education at Charles Sturt University generously hosted a 2 day seminar on the Theory of Practice Architectures (TPA) with Professor Emeritus Stephen Kemmis (CSU) and Dr Andi Salamon (Australian Catholic University).

The Theory of Practice Architectures provides the conceptual framework for the IMG_6697Exemplary Early Childhood Educators at Work study. We are using TPA to identify and understand the mediating factors that shape and are shaped by educators’ work and educators’ sense of who they are as educators. Significantly, TPA recognises the moral agency of educators, their praxis, as well as the conditions that impact upon their work.

We felt very privileged to be able to work closely with both Professor Kemmis and Dr Andi Salamon. Professor Kemmis’ scholarship has been seminal in the development of this theory while Dr Andi Salamon is one of the few early childhood scholars to apply the TPA to early childhood contexts.

The seminar was attended by the research team Chief Investigators (Fran, Linda, Sandie and Megan),  the doctoral students attached to the project (Leanne, Mandy, Val and Robbie), our project staff (Vianne and Sylvia ) and other researchers and scholars in education from Charles Sturt University, the University of Western Sydney, and the Social Policy Research Centre (UNSW).

2nd Partner Meeting

2nd Partner Meeting

A second meeting with our Partner Organisations was held on May 19th, 2017 at the IEU meeting room in Wattle St, Ultimo.  Partners had the opportunity to meet with the new members of the team – Vianne, Sylvia and Kim; be  introduced to the new PhD candidates attached to the project – Leanne, Mandy, Robbie and Val,  and help finalise preparations for the first stage of data collection.

The meeting was attended by:

  • Partner representatives: Kim Bertino (KU Children’s Services), Louise Brennan (Inner West Council), Megan Bruce (IEU NSW/ACT branch), Emma Cannen (United Voice), Verena Heron (IEU NSW/ACT branch), Cinzia Immuni (Community Early Learning Australia), Felicity McArdle (CandK Qld) John Spriggs (IEU Qld/NT Branch), Nadia Wilson-Ali (who patiently skyped in)  (Child Australia).
  • Chief Investigators: Frances Press, Linda Harrison, Sandie Wong, Megan Gibson.
  • PhD students: Leanne Gibbs, Robbie Warren, Mandy Cooke, Val Tillet
  • Project Manager: Vianne Tourle
  • Research Assistants: Sylvia Perdakaris  and Kim Crisp

At this meeting everyone had the opportunity to download and trial a demonstration model of the Random Time Sampling Time Use Diary (RTS TUD) smart phone application.   This app is central to the first stage of our data collection which will be commencing in July 2017. Educators working in centres in NSW, WA and Qld that have achieved an exceeding rating in every eligible standard and element will be invited to contribute data about their working days using this app.

Our new team members

The administration of the roll out of the RTS TUD will be ably supported by Vianne Tourle (Project Manager) Sylvia Perdakaris and Kim Crisp (Research Assistants).  Here is a little bit about them.

Introducing Vianne Tourle

Vianne is the Project Manager for the research. Vianne has supported and managed a variety of research projects across all faculties of Charles Sturt University on topics as diverse as: the expanded role of rural paramedics; girls and IT education; simulating crisis management communication; narratives of the Anthropocene; and resilience in the rural elderly. She enjoys helping academics achieve their research goals and is delighted to take part in this early childhood educators workforce project.

Introducing Kim Crisp

Kim photo

My name is Kim Crisp.  I have 20 years experience working in the early childhood education sector.  My experiences are varied and include teaching in long day care services, teaching in schools, quality assurance roles, and most recently working as a director/manager of an early childhood program.  I view myself as a lifelong learner, with an active interest in the early childhood workforce and in raising the profile of early childhood educators.  I feel very privileged to be part of this research study and I am look forward to engaging with services so that we can better understand and advocate for the work that exemplary educators do.

Introducing Sylvia Perdakaris

SylviaI am an early childhood teacher who has worked with children’s services for over twenty years.  I have worked as an educator with a TAFE Diploma, an early childhood teacher, a director, a professional development trainer and a consultant. I am currently upgrading my Bachelor of Teaching degree to the Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood Teaching) at the University of New England. As the Educare Training, Resource and Research Officer at Inner West Council, Sydney I support educators across all service types to better understand mandatory legislation and requirements. I also create professional development programs and action research projects with sector professionals to run within/for our services. I am an advocate for Children & Family Services .

Our First Partner Organisation Meeting

We were excited to hold our first face to face meeting with our research Partner Organisations on the 28th September, in the IEU offices in Wattle St Ultimo. Tina Holtom, from Child Australia in WA skyped in for the day. Sharon Ryan, our Partner Investigator from Rutgers University in the USA, also ‘beamed in’ and spoke to us about SEQUAL (Supporting Environmental Quality Underlying Adult Learning). SEQUAL was developed by Marcy Whitebrook from the Centre for  the Centre of Child Care Employment, Berkeley, and will be adapted for Australia  for this study.

It was a terrific day. The researchers were able to discuss the research methodology in depth and share the results of the pilot of the Random Time Use Time Sampling smart phone ‘app’ developed especially for this study.  The partners provided many important insights, enabling us to be well prepared for the commencement of the research.


Front Row (L to R): Jack Dungca (Inner West Council), Lisa James (IEU NSW), Nikkita Venville (United Voice), Sylvia Perdikaris (Inner West Council), Prof Linda Harrison (CSU), Louise Brennan (Inner West Council), Dr Megan Gibson (QUT),Dr Sandie Wong (CSU), Pamela Spall (CandK).

Back Row (L to R): Wilma Murdoch (Community Child Care NSW), Megan Bruce (IEU NSW), Kim Bertino (KU Children’s Services), John Spriggs (IEU Qld), A/Pro Frances Press (CSU), Miriam Thompson (United Voice).

Exemplary Early Childhood Educators at Work

Exemplary Early Childhood Educators at Work is a three year study of early childhood educators across Australia. Researchers from Charles Sturt University (CSU),  Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Rutgers University (United States) are leading an investigation of what it is great early childhood educators actually do.

Contrary to popular images of work with young children as easy and instinctual, we think the work of early childhood educators is complex. And it’s very different to teaching in a school. So we have teamed up with employers, unions and professional support agencies from across the early childhood sector  to dig deeply into what it is expert early childhood educators do, what informs their work, and how their workplaces support them to be excellent in their care and education of infants and young children.

The study is made possible through the Australian Research Council Linkage Program.  For more information, please click on the “About” tab.