Title

Early childhood leadership: Risk and protective factors during the COVID-19 pandemic

Publication Name

Australasian Journal of Early Childhood

Abstract

COVID-19 has impacted Early Childhood Education (ECE) globally. The cancellation of a final year leadership practicum presented an opportunity to partner with pre-service teachers as co-researchers to investigate the leadership experience of four service directors during COVID-19. A multi-case study design included four focus groups consisting of one early childhood sector leader, final year pre-service teachers and one academic mentor aimed to explore the impacts of COVID-19 on service leadership while identifying the leadership strategies that offered protective mitigation for the risks posed by the pandemic. Leadership challenges included shifting health orders, support for the home learning context and disseminating policy shifts to staff and families, all while maintaining viability, managing anxieties of staff, parents and children, while negotiating lockdowns and service restrictions. Findings spoke to the complexity of the situation for leaders, while spotlighting the protective function of high-quality practice; strong service-based philosophy; and prioritisation of relationships.

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Link to publisher version (DOI)

http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/18369391221103286