Early childhood teachers’ work in a time of change

Sandra Grant
Susan Danby
Karen Thorpe
Maryanne Theobald
Queensland University of Technology

This article investigates teacher decision making in a time of rapid educational reforms. Institutional ethnography is used to discover how teachers’ work is coordinated by the texts of a new national curriculum, and a system for the assessment and ratings of kindergarten, preschool and long day care services in individual settings and across sites.

The research draws on video-recorded interview data gathered from five teachers working with three- to five-year-old children in kindergarten classrooms throughout South-East Queensland. Analysis shows the reported effects of policy regimes, designed to improve the quality of learning young children experience, on classroom teachers’ work. Findings suggest that increasing levels of governance enacted through policy texts are creating an audit culture where teachers’ educational work with children is changing. This article argues that the reported workload associated with the production of evidence, and the focus on providing ‘proof’ of quality, is taking teachers away from time spent building educative relationships with children.

Australasian Journal of Early Childhood—Volume 41 Number 3 September 2016.

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