Meet the new CEO of ACECQA: Gabrielle Sinclair

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  Published on Tuesday, 04 April 2017

Meet the new CEO of ACECQA: Gabrielle Sinclair

Library Home  >  Profiles & Interviews
  Published on Tuesday, 04 April 2017

This week meet the new Chief Executive Officer of ACECQA, Gabrielle Sinclair, and learn about her goals for ACECQA and the early childhood sector more broadly.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and previous experience in the early childhood sector?

Before my appointment to ACECQA, I was the inaugural Deputy Director-General of Early Childhood and Community Engagement in the Queensland Department of Education and Training. In this this role I was responsible for funding approved kindergarten programs, integrated early years services and initiatives supporting children and families, together with regulating services and working in partnership with families, communities, services, educator associations and peak bodies to address barriers to children's participation in quality education and care programs. I started my career as a Year One teacher in Queensland, which was the ideal foundation in many ways.

What does your position as CEO of ACECQA entail?

I am responsible to the ACECQA Board for the day-to-day management of the national authority, supporting and promoting the National Quality Framework (NQF) in collaboration with state, territory and the Australian governments. The six guiding principles of the NQF are a perfect way to describe the reasons why I am committed to the successful performance of ACECQA.

What are the primary objectives/goals of ACECQA moving forward? Do you intend to maintain a steady course?

ACECQA was established to guide the implementation and administration of the NQF. After five years of operation, I am proud to continue this important work for children, their families, educators and the sector by building on the great legacy of my predecessor Karen Curtis.

In moving forward, an important question is: Has the NQF been effective in meeting its goals? We have a dual role in providing contemporary research on the impact of the NQF and effective practice in education and care, as well as working with governments on an evaluation framework that will measure impact and outcomes.

What are ACECQA's biggest challenges now?

An important goal is access to high quality education and care services for every child. We believe continuous quality improvement by services will be supported by families if they have the information to make decisions as confident customers and consumers. Starting Blocks is our free, family focused resource to support parents and carers as their child’s first teacher and we are collaborating with peak bodies and services to raise awareness of Starting Blocks. Right now we are also working with state, territory and Australian governments to support the sector, services and educators to understand, and prepare for, the changes to the NQF from 1 October 2017.

What do you anticipate those challenges will be in the future?

Research has shown the early years are the most significant for children's development and future success and prosperity. Quality education and care is achieved through educators' qualifications, experience and dedication. Our challenge now and into the future is to support services to attract and recruit the best educators and to retain their workforce as highly regarded and experienced professionals.

What in your opinion are the biggest challenges facing the Australian early childhood education and care sector now?

In such a large and diverse sector, challenges and opportunities are seen from very different points of view and service contexts. Listening to and working with regulatory authorities, peak bodies, service providers, educators, research institutions and families allows us all to identify opportunities for improvement. Working together to address emerging challenges is crucial. For all stakeholders in the sector, the biggest challenge is continuous quality improvement.

How can ACECQA help early childhood professionals do their jobs?

We support early childhood professionals and outside school hours care educators and staff in multiple ways because we know they are important for a child's optimum development. After parents and families, early childhood educators have a significant impact on children's language skills as well as their social, emotional and cognitive development. We produce resources such as the NQF Resource Kit, the We Hear You blog, monthly newsletters, the National Education Leader webpage, video resources and social media channels for topical information, practice examples and links to additional reading that enhance quality practice and knowledge of the NQF.

We break down the isolation felt by many educators by delivering free Quality Practice Workshops around Australia on topical issues to meet the needs and interests of service providers and educators. Our recent workshops have been focused on educational leadership, environmental sustainability and staffing arrangements for quality outcomes.

We also have an enquiries team who is available to answer any questions and to provide timely, expert support. The team answers a range of enquiries on the National Quality Framework, the National Regulations, qualification requirements and more.

Why has child care become such a hot topic in Australia over the last few years?

Contemporary research and data about brain development, school tests and the personal, social and economic impact of affordable, quality education and care for children have raised awareness of the importance of the early years in Australia. The other benefit of education and care is supporting parents' employment and increased productivity, which has also been a widely debated topic over the last few years.

How is Australia's early childhood education and care sector changing? How can we future proof the sector?

Since the Council of Australian Governments agreed to the NQF in 2008-2009, we have seen significant changes in the size, diversity and quality of the education and care sector (as at 31 December 2016, Australia had more than 15,400 education and care services). The NQF and the National Quality Standard are exemplary long-term strategies. They are based on clear evidence that the early years of children's lives are critical for their present and future health, development and wellbeing, and are designed to ensure continuous quality improvement. Raising awareness of their importance, using data such as the Australian Early Development Census to understand children's vulnerabilities and strengthening the relationships between families, services and schools will support children’s successful experiences from home to education and care, and on to school.

How can early childhood professionals adapt to these changes?

Early childhood professionals demonstrate, on a daily basis, their ability to respond to children’s interests and their dedication to children’s development and learning. In fact, children's education and care services began adopting the Early Years Learning Framework and Framework for School Age Care well before it was a requirement under the NQF. Early childhood professionals are also leading educational best practice through their ongoing quality improvement planning processes, their focus on the child as a unique learner through strong relationships with each child and family, and their commitment to reflective practice and professional development.

Is there anything else you can add which would be helpful for our audience, of mostly early childhood education and care professionals and industry experts, to know?

I would like your audience to know ACECQA shares their commitment to children’s educational and developmental outcomes, and values their role in providing safe and inspiring learning environments. Our aim is to support education and care professionals through their continuous quality improvement journey. We hope by sharing useful resources and information, such as our quarterly NQF Snapshots and Occasional Papers, we can ensure the goals of the NQF are realised.

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Thursday, 15 October 2020


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