Helen Logan

Proposed title

Constructions of quality within Australian Early Childhood Education and Care policy between 1972 and 2009


Quality is a pivotal issue in ECEC because it has implications for children's development and early childhood pedagogy, and benefits for society (Galinsky, 2006; Siraj-Blatchford, Sylva, Muttock, Gilden, & Bell, 2002; Sylva, et al., 2003). Yet it is a term that is widely used, taken for granted and often loosely defined (Clark, Trine Kjorholt, & Moss, 2005). Because it is used in such diverse ways for so many different purposes it risks losing all meaning. Numerous assumptions and an eclectic mix of philosophical beliefs and perspectives contribute to different  understandings of quality (Duignan, 2005). By considering multiple perspectives of quality, this study will make explicit constructions of quality in Australian long day care (LDC).

The most commonly used type of formal care for children in prior to school settings in Australia is LDC, with 43% of children requiring LDC in 2008 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008). As the dominant form of prior to school child care provision, LDC encourages workforce participation and fosters the development of children (Rush, 2006).

The period between 1972 and 2009 was identified for two key reasons. Firstly, my starting point of 1972 was chosen because of the introduction of the Child Care Act 1972 (Cth) which acknowledged the Commonwealth government's responsibility for child care provision in Australia (Brennan, 2009). Prior to 1972 few long day care centres existed (Brennan, 1998). While the Child Care Act 1972 (Cth) did not explicitly refer to quality, the Act implicitly promoted quality through funding linked to the employment of qualified staff and the provision of capital and recurrent grants to non-profit long day care centres. Secondly, 2009 was selected as an end point for the study as quality became a centrepiece of significant unified national reform with COAG reaching a National Partnership Agreement on the National Quality Agenda ECEC.

The study draws on Foucauldian perspectives of knowledge and power that are constituted through discourses. The study explores assumptions underpinning discourses that have shaped constructions of quality in ECEC policy and how these constructions of quality are historically constituted over time.


  • Logan, H., Sumsion, J & Press, F. (under review). Uncovering hidden dimensions of Australian early childhood policy history: Insights from interviews with policy 'elites'. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal.
  • Logan, H., Press, F., & Sumsion, J. (in press). The quality imperative: Tracing the rise of 'quality' in Australian early childhood education and care policy. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood.
  • Logan, H., & Sumsion, J. (2010). Early childhood teachers' understandings of and provision for quality. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 35(3), 42-50.
  • Zevenbergen, R., & Logan, H (2008). Computer use by preschool children: Rethinking practice as digital natives come to preschool. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 33(1), 37-44.
  • Logan, H. (2008). Digital natives come to preschool: Rethinking practice. Every Child, 14(4), 2.

Conference presentations:

  • Logan, H. (2011). Crossing boundaries over time: The rise of the concept of quality in Australian ECEC policy between 1972 and 2009. Symposium session 4 presentation, AARE conference, Hobart, TAS.
  • Logan, H. (2010). Historical perspectives on constructions of quality in Early Childhood Education & Care (ECEC). Symposium session 3 presentation at the annual AARE conference, Melbourne, VIC.
  • Logan, H. (2009). Using metaphor to explore early childhood teachers' understandings of, and provision for quality. Investigating Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care: Professional and practitioner perspectives. Symposium, presented at the European Early Childhood Education Research Association Conference, Strasbourg, France.
  • Logan, H. (2008). Investigating quality in early childhood education and care (Part 2): Developing a mosaic of research evidence. Symposium 64 presented at the annual AARE conference, Brisbane, QLD.
  • Logan, H., & Zevenbergen, R. (2008). Digital natives come to preschool: Rethinking practice. Early Childhood Australia (ECA) biennial conference, Canberra, ACT.
  • Logan, H., Connell, G & Ruming, J. (2007). Computer Literacy: Computer use and young children. Building Bridges conference, Wodonga, VIC.
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