Research into mentoring, induction and professional networks in Early Childhood Education and Care

The challenge

This research project aimed to identify effective mentoring, induction and professional networks in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services throughout Australia. The research was commissioned by the Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO). It asked the question:
What constitutes effective mentoring, induction and professional networks in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services throughout Australia?

Project overview

The research participants consisted of early childhood teachers and/or educators and service leaders:

  • located across all Australian states and territories
  • from all types of approved ECEC services
  • from varying sizes of providers
  • employed under different agreements and ownership arrangements
  • located in metropolitan, regional, rural and communities.

Participants were invited to:

  • complete an anonymous survey (expected to take about 20 minutes)
  • participate in a focus group (up to 15 participants for 50 minutes; via zoom or face-to-face)
  • participate in an interview.

Outcome

The project included:

  • Expert review and augmentation of AERO’s desktop review of contemporary research and policy literature on mentoring and induction for early childhood teachers, and professional networks for early childhood teachers and educators.
  • Fieldwork (focus groups and surveys) to gather insights about mentoring and induction (early childhood teachers) and professional networks (teachers and educators), including their effectiveness and the factors that determine it.
  • Collaboration with AERO to synthesise insights from the fieldwork into clear, actionable options for policymakers and sector leaders, informed by and informing AERO’s engagement with key National Children’s Education and Care Workforce Strategy (NWS) stakeholders in 2023 and 2024.

Significance

The National Children’s Education and Care Workforce Strategy (NWS) sets out a ten-year strategy to ensure a sustainable, high quality ECEC workforce. The strategy outlines six focus areas: professional recognition, attraction and retention, leadership and capability, wellbeing, qualifications and career pathways, and data and evidence. The NWS Action Plan, published in September 2022 alongside a summary of workforce initiatives, sets out 21 actions across the six focus areas to guide collaborative efforts across all ECEC stakeholders.

AERO was given responsibility to work with stakeholders to deliver two of the NWS actions. AERO chose the Deakin University team to conduct this research which examined induction, mentoring and professional networks as three potential approaches to improving quality, evidence-based ECEC practice.

The project findings were presented at the National Workforce Forum in December 2023 and will inform directives going forward.

 

Project team

Professor Andrea Nolan (Project Lead)

Jenni Beahan (Project Manager)

Dr Deb Moore

Carole Lanting

Jessica Ciuciu

Kim Kinnear (NIKERI)

Timeline

January to August 2023

Funding

$186,876

This research was commissioned by the Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO)

 

Keywords

AERO, Australian Education Research Organisation, Early Childhood Education and Care, induction, mentoring, National Workforce Strategy, professional practice networks