First professor in Early Childhood Education arrives

28 July 2010

Early-childhood education has taken a quantum step in a new era of professionalism: the creation of a professorship at the University of Sydney dedicated to learning in the preschool years.

Foundation Professor of Early Childhood Education with the Faculty of Education and Social Work Professor Alison Elliott says she is enthusiastic about her appointment, where her brief is "to lead a new, interdisciplinary initiative in early-childhood education".

Professor Elliott's immediate past appointment was head of the School of Education at Charles Darwin University. For the past three years she has also been chair of the Northern Territory Board of Studies. In Sydney, before moving to the Northern Territory, she was director of research into early-childhood education at the Australian Council for Educational Research."I've been involved early education for 25 years, including as an advisor on boards, committees and reference groups for governments and peak bodies," Professor Elliott said.

"I'm excited about the prospect of this new role because, inherent in the faculty's unique partnership of social work and education, is the opportunity to explore the wider societal implications of early-childhood-education policy, practice and provision."

Professor Elliott's appointment coincides with the centenary of the appointment of the University of Sydney's first professor in education, Alexander Mackie.

She said her appointment reflected the increasing professionalisation of the early-childhood sector as well as the Australian community's somewhat belated acceptance that formal early childhood care and education was a formative part of a child's life and learning.

"Early-childhood education is entering a new era of quality assurance and reform. Investing in quality experiences for preschool-aged children is an idea that will reap benefits for years to come."