This project will establish Australia’s first evidence base to inform quality improvement in early childhood education services through the development of Educational Leaders. Effective leadership is essential to ensuring the effective implementation of the Australian government’s National Quality Standards for early childhood education. A new theory of ‘learning-rich’ leadership for quality improvement will be developed to influence leadership education in the early childhood sector. Australia will benefit from an empirically valid theory to inform policy and teacher education, and increased effectiveness in service quality for the 1.9 million children attending early childhood education in Australia every week.


  • Australian Research Council, Discovery Project $503,472



Chief Investigator/s

  • Dr Linda Henderson, Monash University

Partner Investigator

Professor Elizabeth Wood, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

Research Team

  • Dr Louise Kay, University of Sheffield
  • Antoinette White, Monash University

Publications about the Project Methodology

Nuttall, J. (2013). The potential of Developmental Work Research as a professional learning methodology in early childhood education. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 13(3), 201-211. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.2304/ciec.2013.14.3.201

Nuttall, J., Thomas, L., & Henderson, L. (2016). Formative interventions in leadership development in early childhood education: the role of ‘double stimulation’. International Journal of Early Childhood, 16(1), 80-91. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1476718X16664555

Publications about the work of Educational Leaders

Nuttall, J., & Thomas, L. (2015). Time and temporality in early childhood educators’ work. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 23(4), 512-523. https://doi.org/10.1080/1350293X.2014.970851

Nuttall, J., Thomas, L., & Wood, E. (2014). Travelling policy reforms re-configuring the work of early childhood educators in Australia. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 12(3), 358-372. https://doi.org/10.1080/14767724.2014.916199

Thomas, L. & Nuttall, J. (2014). Negotiating policy-driven and state-mandated expectations of leadership: The discourses accessed by early childhood educators in Australia. New Zealand Research in Early Childhood Education, 17, 101-114. https://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=685747685441131;res=IELHSS

Read a blog post by Dr Louise Kay, Research Associate on the project at the University of Sheffield, about the emotional labour involved in leading in early childhood settings in England.

Videos and podcasts for Educational Leaders

Conceptualising the role of educational leader


Leadership in education and care


Developing yourself and others


About educational leaders, from the Early Education Show



July 1, 2017

Chief Investigator/s

Professor Joce Nuttall

LSIA Research Team

Dr Jenny Martin

Research Status




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