Presentation - ECV2022-214
Background: Children’s learning and development are shaped by their interactions with early childhood educators (ECEs). The richness of these interactions is key to quality early childhood education. These interactions are affected by government-imposed managerial systems within early childhood services in some countries. Previously researchers have demonstrated the importance of ECEs having time to interact with children to support their learning through play. Quality interactions are dependent on unhurried time with children to promote their play cultures. When ECEs feel unable to support this because of the demands of managerial systems, their job satisfaction and professional identity are affected.
Aim: To explore these issues, our international study of ECEs’ work has revealed insights into the impacts of these systems on children and ECEs. This paper presents findings from one of the five countries involved in the study, namely, Australia.
Method: This study uses a neoliberal framework to study the impact of managerial systems and how it affects ECEs’ work. The project uses an interpretivist paradigm and a mixed-methods approach. The participants were ECEs with different qualifications and roles, working in various service types. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Ethics approval was granted by the Human Research Ethics Committee at the University of New England
Results: The findings demonstrate the impact of managerial systems on ECEs’ feelings of being overwhelmed, overtired, micromanaged, and frustrated. The systems also impacted ECEs’ ability to respond to children’s needs.
Conclusions: The implications of these findings will be of interest to policymakers, ECEs, and teacher educators.
Implications for children and families: You will learn about how children’s education is impacted by the wellbeing of ECEs and the amount of time they have to attend to children’s needs.
Implications for practitioners: You will learn about the systemic reasons behind the stress and poor wellbeing of ECEs and how this impacts children’s learning and care.
Key words: professionals’ voices, workforce issues, wellbeing, education, health, policy, government, qualitative methods, quantitative methods, managerialism, neoliberalism, educator voices
This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: