Leadership in the early years: Challenges and opportunities


  • Kate Thornton Victoria University of Wellington




leadership, early years, policy


The lack of recognition and support for leadership and leadership development in the New Zealand early years’ sector has long been recognised (Thornton, Wansbrough, Clarkin-Philips, Aitken, & Tamati, 2009). This article reflects on what has changed in the 10 years since the publication of a discussion document by the Teachers Council which signalled a number of issues facing the sector with regard to leadership. Research and guiding documents are drawn on in order to identify the current challenges and opportunities, and recommendations are made for strengthening future leadership practice in the sector.


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Author Biography

Kate Thornton, Victoria University of Wellington

Dr Kate Thornton is an associate professor in the School of Education at Victoria University of Wellington. Her research is focused on educational leadership and leadership development, mentoring and coaching, and professional learning communities. Kate was a member of the Education Review Office Academic Expert’s Group in 2018 advising the Education Review Office on revising the indicators used to review the quality of New Zealand ECE services and of New Zealand Education Council’s Academic Reference Group advising on the draft leadership strategy in 2017.