ECA Leadership Capability Framework


This Framework is about our early childhood education and care (ECEC) profession. It has been developed by the ECEC profession for the profession. It is designed to support you and your team to take responsibility for professional growth, and is part of the pathway toward building personal and professional capacity and professional identity.

How is the ECA Leadership Capability Framework organised?

The Framework is made up of:

  • six leadership capabilities
  • 21 key aspects of effective leadership.

ECA Leadership Capability Framework diagram


Effective leadership is vital to the success of education and care settings. Research and practice confirm that there is a slim chance of creating and sustaining a high-quality learning environment without skilled and committed leaders to help shape teaching and learning. That is especially true in the most challenging settings (The Wallace Foundation, 2009). Research also shows that leadership is second only to teaching among school related factors as an influence on learning, and that the quality and practice of leadership is linked in a consistent and demonstrable way to improved student achievement and educational equity (Leithwood, Jantzi & Steinbach 2006; Mitgang, 2012; Reeves, 2008).

The Framework establishes a vision for leadership that can be applied to leadership at all levels and in all contexts within early year settings.

The ECEC sector is undergoing intense change that require educators to build on their professional knowledge base and engage in ongoing learning and development. Change as the constant requires re-conceptualisation of practices and leadership development at all levels.

The Framework reflects what we know about leadership capabilities in ECEC settings and the nature of leadership more generally. It has been written at a point in time when leadership in ECEC settings has been identified as important through reforms and documents such as the Early Years Learning Framework (DEEWR, 2009) , the National Quality Standard (NQS), the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care (NQF), The Guide to the NQS (ACECQA, 2011), where leadership is identified as a core Standard (Quality Area 7) for achieving quality and ongoing improvement, and the AITSL National Professional Standards for Teachers.

In developing the Framework, ECA has achieved part of its long held vision of leadership development as a priority for ECEC settings, and has built something that stands independently of government policy. At the same time, using the Framework in the way we hope will underwrite the achievement of government reforms and support the building of a robust ECEC sector.


The ECA Leadership Capability Framework will define a set of capabilities—values, attributes, skills, knowledge and dispositions, and practices that support effective leadership in early childhood settings. These practices include: identifying and articulating a vision; ensuring shared understandings, meanings and goals; effective communication; encouraging reflection; monitoring and assessing practice; commitment to ongoing professional development; distributive leadership; building a learning community and team culture; encouraging and facilitating genuine family and community partnerships; and striking the balance between leading and managing (Siraj-Blatchford & Manni, 2007).

The Framework is not intended as a pre-packaged prescriptive checklist. It is designed to be flexible and customised, allowing you to start where you want and to control where time and effort is spent. This means that you are able to apply it to your context and generate through conversation, reflection and inquiry, theories, ideas and potential practices that best meet your needs and the needs of your education and care setting.

The Framework is not a stand-alone professional resource tool. It is accompanied by a How to Guide and is written with the intention that it be linked to leadership development programs and opportunities, accreditation processes and further qualifications in early childhood leadership.


Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA). (2011). Guide to the National Quality Standard. Retrieved from:

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2009). Belonging, Being & Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia.

Leithwood, K., Jantzi, D., & Steinbach, R. (1999). Changing leadership for changing times. Buckingham: Open University.

Mitgang, L. (June, 2012). The making of the principal: Five lessons in leadership training. Perspective. New York, NY: The Wallace Foundation.

Reeves, D. (2008). Leadership and Learning. ACEL Monograph Series, 43, 3–21.

Siraj-Blatchford, I., & Manni, L. (2007). Effective leadership in the early years sector: The ELEYS study,
Institute of Education. London, UK: University of London.

The Wallace Foundation. (2009). Perspective: Assessing the effectiveness of school leaders: New directions and new processes. New York, NY: The Wallace Foundation.