Policy rhetorics and responsibilization in the formation of early childhood Educational Leaders in Australia

Joce Nuttall, Linda Henderson, Elizabeth Wood, Tom Are Trippestad

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper reports a rhetorical analysis of policy texts illustrating the emergence of the mandatory Educational Leader role in early childhood services in Australia. We argue that policy texts before 2012 constructed a ‘problem’ of workforce quality in early childhood education and offered a new leadership configuration as a policy solution. We identify and critically address how this social architecture was constructed and made persuasive through key rhetorical devices, particularly the combined pathos of the vulnerable child and a logos of quality improvement. Initial analysis indicated an apparent contradiction between the economic rationalism of earlier (policy advice) texts and an emphasis on professional dispositions in the later (policy implementation) texts, when describing the Educational Leader. We argue, however, that these policy implementation documents reinforce, rather than contradict, a neoliberal economistic logos, because they attempt to form Educational Leaders as autonomous moral agents of neoliberal responsibilization. We conclude by considering some potential implications of our analysis for the early childhood field.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)17-38
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of Education Policy
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


    • Early childhood education policy
    • educational leadership
    • policy implementation
    • responsibilization
    • rhetorical analysis

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