Building professional learning communities in early childhood education: Challenges and opportunities within the Aotearoa New Zealand context Event as iCalendar

09 November 2017

4:30 - 5:30pm

Venue: J1 Lecture Theatre

Location: 74 Epsom Avenue, Epsom Auckland.

Website: Register here

Sue Cherrington
Sue Cherrington

Approaches to teachers’ professional development and learning are increasingly recognising the importance of situated learning that draws upon teachers’ knowledge and the local contexts within which they teach. In the Aotearoa New Zealand context, this approach has been evident most recently in the Communities of Learners (COL)| Kāhui Ako initiative. Whilst first established for the schooling sector, early childhood education (ECE) services are now increasingly engaging in COLs | Kāhui Ako.

The development and sustainability of professional learning communities (PLCs) for teachers has been the focus of extensive research within schooling contexts internationally but is under-researched within EC contexts. School-based research has identified important characteristics that contribute to the effectiveness of a PLC including the development of relational trust, shared leadership and vision, the de-privatization of teaching practice, and an emphasis on improving teaching in order to strengthen children’s learning. Such characteristics are also foundational within the work of COLs | Kāhui Ako.

This presentation shares insights from two research projects undertaken with my colleague, Dr Kate Thornton, into the development of professional learning communities (PLCs) within early childhood contexts. Factors that supported, or conversely acted as barriers to, the development and on-going sustainability of PLCs within ECE contexts will be explored. These factors have policy and practice implications for the ECE sector, both at the local ECE service level and within the COLs | Kāhui Ako.


Dr Sue Cherrington is the Associate Dean (Academic) in the Faculty of Education at Victoria University of Wellington. Sue has an extensive background in early childhood education, as both a kindergarten teacher and, since 1992, in early childhood teacher education. Prior to her current role Sue held leadership roles for the early childhood teacher education programmes for 13 years. Sue teaches into the Bachelor of Education (Teaching) Early Childhood Education programme and the Master of Education. Sue’s over-arching research focus is on professional and pedagogical practices in ECE: her research includes EC teacher thinking and reflection, including using video to support collective thinking and reflection; teacher professional learning and development, particularly through professional learning communities and the evaluation of professional development programmes for EC practitioners; teachers' ethical and professional experiences and practices; and teachers' professional and pedagogical responses to working with diverse children and families.