Lesley Jones

Date of Submission



The growing body of empirical evidence has highlighted the significance of the first five years of a child’s life in establishing their future life trajectories (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2006). Governments around the world have implemented policies in response to this evidence. The aspirations behind these policies are to improve the quality of early learning programs and child outcomes in this critical learning period (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2006). Australia joined this movement with the implementation of the National Quality Framework (NQF) and the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) in 2012 (Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, 2009). Inherent in the EYLF are the expectations that educators will have the requisite capacity to deliver against these aspired child outcomes. Within this context, effective pedagogy and capacity to deliver these objectives remains a focus. This qualitative study has sought to understand the perspectives of 18 participants about their capacity to support the development of social competence in young children and about the influences affecting their daily practice in this area. Participants for this multi-case study were drawn from Family Day Care, Long Day Care, and Sessional Preschool settings in Queensland and New South Wales, in Australia. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and focus group sessions. The study was guided by a constructivist theoretical framework, and informed by symbolic interactionism (Blumer, 1969). Data were thematically analysed to distil the key findings drawn from the lived experiences and personal perspectives of participants as educators of young children. This exploratory study of the personal perspectives of the 18 participants proposes that a gap exists in current thinking about social competence and the perspectives of actual practicing educators. It endeavours to present a holistic and integrated view of the influences, professional practices, and transactional relationships between educator and child as a contribution to the understanding social competence and the necessary supporting pedagogy.

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


386 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Education and Arts

Included in

Education Commons