Chapter 32: The emergence and cultivation of leadership within early childhood education
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This chapter is about the emergence and development of effective leadership within early childhood education (ECE) settings. Effective leadership makes a critical contribution to the quality of an ECE programme and, in turn, high-quality ECE programmes influence children’s developmental trajectories potentially having a far-reaching impact on the economic, social and civil outcomes of society. The development of effective ‘leading’ and leadership within ECE sites, is, therefore, an important yet underdeveloped focus within research and practice. In this chapter, leadership is conceptualised as a practice located within complexity leadership theory. Using this conceptualisation, the phenomenon of leadership emergence, cultivation and enactment is explored through a qualitative study of Australian early childhood education settings. The mini-ethnographic case study examined the emergence and development of leadership in three high-quality, diversely governed ECE settings. We illustrate the enactment of leading as a set of collective, dynamic practices undertaken by both emerging and positional leaders and the conditions for the cultivation of leadership within ECE settings utilising the theory of practice architectures. The findings indicate that organisations should consider diverse approaches to leadership cultivation. The organisational arrangements for leadership cultivation and development must be considered, however, in the unique context of jurisdictional regulations along with governance practices and early childhood education traditions.

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