Early Childhood Conference

The 2016 Early Childhood Conference was held on Thursday 28th and Friday 29th July at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. This highly successful event organised by the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL), was specifically designed for leadership within the Early Childhood Education (ECE) sector. Sponsored by the QLD Department of Education the event attracted over 500 delegates from all states and territories as well as New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and China.

The conference provided delegates with an opportunity to engage with the core theme of “Leading in a New Era”. Delegates from a wide range of early childhood contexts, including childcare centres, preschools, primary schools, and teacher education departments at universities, learned and participated in sessions delivered by speakers who showcased best practice within the sector.

The Queensland Minister for Education, Hon. Kate Jones MP opened the Conference, and articulated the sub-theme of the importance of quality early childhood education on life-long success.  ACEL President and QLD Department of Education and Training Director-General Dr. Jim Watterston spoke passionately of the value of establishing the foundation for success in life through quality early childhood education.

Delegates engaged with the Conference keynotes who are international and national leaders in research and practice in early childhood education, as well as leaders in policy and system development, and advocates of the importance of quality early childhood education.

Dr. John Medina, author of best sellers, Brain Rules and Brain Rules for Baby, spoke of the mechanisms of the brain through his expertise in neuroscience. Prof. Nina Sajaniemi developed this further through her research into the impact of stress on the effectiveness of brain development in children. Delegates were encouraged to reflect on the science of the brain and the implications of system and life stress on life-long learning and ongoing success. Prof. Edward Melhuish developed this further by articulating his research on the impact of health and society and the importance of quality early childhood education and care on success.

Prof. Susan Prentice shared her extensive knowledge of positive system and policy development, using the Manitoba (Canada) experience. Associate Prof. Joce Nuttall shared her research in policy developments at a National level and Kerry Arabena (Chair of Indigenous Health, The University of Melbourne) reflected on the needs and developments for quality care in the first 1000 days in indigenous communities. Delegates gained in-depth insight into this quality research and how they and the children in their care may be impacted.

Advocates of quality Early Childhood education and care, Maggie Dent and Jay Laga’aia inspired and motivated the delegates, by acknowledging the importance and challenges of their work.

Presenters from all states shared leading practices, policies and research with early childhood leaders to connect back to their work environments.

Delegates were provided with opportunities to engage in a wide range of innovations, from a system to a class level, leading to increased reflection and possible action to further progress their quality workplace.

Aasha Murthy, ACEL CEO said “The enthusiasm and engagement at the conference reflects the passion and commitment early childhood educators have for their work. We are thrilled to commit to the ongoing development of leadership in the early childhood sector at a local and national level. We look forward to continuing to promote the ongoing importance and developments in quality early childhood education and care through our annual ACEL Early Childhood conference, publications and events.”

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