Celebrating one year of Little Scholars' Group Pedagogical Leader
When you think of childcare, you might not necessarily think of early education, but that’s precisely what Little Scholars is doing; providing high calibre early education for the critical first five years of a child’s life, and at the same time, changing society’s perception of what childcare, or early education, is.
Little Scholars has always considered itself as a leader in the sector, but we elevated the quality of education with the addition of Susan Cooper, our group pedagogical leader one year ago.
Pedagogy is a form of teaching strategies in the practice of educating. It’s the techniques, strategies and approach taken by educators to let learning and development to take place. Pedagogy refers to the interactive process between the educator, the learner and the learning environment and provides reason to the design of learning spaces, materials, and resources on offer. Pedagogical leadership supports educators in relating their pedagogy to content knowledge and educational theories.
My aim is to support educators in entering the child’s world, enabling them to reflect on their practices and build capacity to support the child’s development.
– Susan Cooper, group pedagogical leader for Little Scholars
One year of pedagogical leadership
In the year since Susan joined us, she’s gone above and beyond to support our educators. Through her pedagogical leadership, Little Scholars has raised the benchmark of its overall quality of teaching, and recognises that providing children with strong foundations for ongoing learning and development is underpinned by a strong pedagogical practice. She inspires educators to employ new approaches to their teaching against up-to-date research, has helped translate the Little Scholars values and principles into practice and has without a doubt increased the quality of experiences and interactions across our campuses.
But the role was daunting at first, according to Susan.
“Having come with approximately 16 years’ experience in having been in varied roles across the sector within early childhood, my love of sharing knowledge and inspiring others drew me to apply to this role,” Susan says. “My experience in playwork allows me to see the true value in children’s play, the need to create spaces and support the learning and approach to working with children to support and facilitate play in its true essence. What really resonated with The Scholars Group and my own personal values and beliefs, was placing children as the core and central to all that we do.
“I see myself as an advocate for children’s rights, being the voice for many and striving to excel toward quality outcomes.”
Mentorship and guidance
The group pedagogical role is focused on mentoring and guiding teams in their practices and challenging new ways of working, to support innovative curriculum ideas, while supporting children’s learning across all Little Scholars campuses.
“I found the team to be so supportive and receptive to change, which has allowed me to share my vision, passion, and skillset,” Susan says.
With Susan’s support, our Deception Bay campus was rated exceeding against the National Quality Standards (NQS) in late 2022. A thrilling result, but not without a lot of preparation. Susan guided Nat, the campus manager, and her team, in the Assessment and Rating Process.
“It was critical that the team worked collaboratively toward a shared goal. This involved building strong relations with the team to build trust and mutual respect. This partnership saw me engage with all stakeholders, while we worked toward targeted goals and worked through evidence-based data to the exceeding themes,” Susan says.
Strong knowledge of theory and pedagogy underpinned the quality outcomes, according to Susan. Another great achievement Susan says, was the team being ranked 3rd out of 3,126 early learning centres across the state.
“My role is to take an active role in the development of pedagogy in the early childhood context. I primarily work alongside teams, across our 13 campuses to provide the opportunity to share pedagogical practice, leading knowledge to research and child development,” Susan says. “Not only does pedagogy inform direct work of teaching, but also the more indirect work of leadership. This develops a community of practice, where professional educators can share ideas and knowledge and engage in peer learning.”
“Little Scholars has always been a leader in our field, due to our commitment and passion to the early years. With the addition of our Group Pedagogical Leader, the effectiveness of our educational program and practice has been elevated to a level we didn’t think was possible,” says Jae Fraser, founder of Little Scholars.
“In Susan’s role she is supporting and mentoring the team to influence children’s learning by fostering family engagement, ensuring fidelity to the Little Scholars curricular philosophy, using data to evaluate the effectiveness of our learning program, and exceeding standards established to optimise learning effective environments,” says Jae. “We couldn’t be happier with the results of this new role just after one year, and we are so excited to see the future.”
Susan’s goals for her role are simple: to continue to strive toward excellence, raising the benchmark in early childhood and placing children at the forefront of everything Little Scholars does.
“I take great pride in the relationships I’ve developed, the partnerships I have established, creating a safe space for the children and educators I work with,” Susan says reflecting on the past year. “Our impact is significant, and I’m thrilled to witness the progress in both the children and educators. I feel grateful to be part of such meaningful work, knowing that we’re making a real difference in the lives of these children.”