In this article, we propose to critique the way in which a hegemonic understanding of quality in early childhood settings is imposed upon practitioners, families and children through legislated quality assurance processes. The reality of neoliberalism is played out in the establishment and maintenance of the Australian early childhood quality assurance processes as they operate up to 2015, and the definition of approved qualifications for those working in early childhood. In both cases a tightly defined, top-down approach is used to assure quality. This has the effect of limiting flexibility and de-professionalising the work of early childhood professionals. It is our contention that in this neoliberal climate, early childhood practitioners have failed to construct their arguments in ways that could be better understood by outsiders to the profession; instead they are focusing on how best to be compliant. Challenging these hegemonic positions may even be perceived as being ‘anti-quality’ and not in the best interests of the early childhood sector. We analyse the current context in Australia (which reflects international trends) and explore possible strategies to re-empower the early childhood profession.
- early childhood leadership