Tensions and Challenges in Professional Practice with Under-Threes: A New Zealand Reflection on Early Childhood Professionalism as a Systemic Phenomenon

  • Carmen DalliEmail author
Part of the Policy and Pedagogy with Under-three Year Olds: Cross-disciplinary Insights and Innovations book series (Policy pedagogy under-three year olds)


Internationally there has been an upsurge in the professionalisation of the early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce and in debates about the meaning of professionalism when applied to practitioners in early childhood settings. This chapter elaborates on the notion of early childhood professionalism as a systemic and ecological phenomenon rather than as a characteristic that resides in individuals and their actions. In the context of changing policy priorities about the professionalisation of the New Zealand ECEC workforce, the chapter draws on evidence from two recent projects to present the argument that teachers’ professional practice within the immediate environment of their early childhood setting, however creative and resourceful, remains limited in what it can achieve without a supportive policy infrastructure. The chapter presents the argument that structural policy arrangements at a systemic level are essential to ensure professionalism of practice.


Early Childhood Professional Practice Kindergarten Teacher Early Childhood Setting Early Childhood Professionalism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The two projects referred to in this chapter were funded by the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI) fund administrated by the NZ Council for Educational Research. The first project (with Juditha Duncan) was funded during 2004–2005. The second project was funded during 2009–2010 and involved Janita Craw, Keryn Doyle, Iris Duhn and Jean Rockel as co-researchers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Early Childhood StudiesVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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