Moving practice forward in integrated children's services: Considering transdisciplinarity

Year: 2012

Author: Macfarlane, Kym, Cartmel, Jennifer, Nolan, Andrea

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Integrated service delivery is burgeoning as part of a reform agenda for services for young children and their families. This brings implications for practice and calls for effective leadership to create the scaffolds on which new ways of working can be created. This presentation reports findings from a two-year nationally-funded project entitled Developing and Sustaining Pedagogical Leadership for Early Childhood Education and Care Professionals, which examined the necessary strategies and skills educators from early childhood education and care programs require in order to strengthen practice and pedagogical leadership in integrated settings. The findings suggest that transdisciplinary practices were considered a possibility to move practice forward in these settings, creating a 'space of inquiry' where genuine respect across the disciplines could be fostered, accompanied by a willingness to learn from others. The research points to four key elements essential to maintaining sustainable, high quality transdisciplinary practices in integrated early years contexts: the consideration of multiple perspectives; respectful relationships; critical thinking and reflection; and a strong professional identity. These key elements appear to not only contribute to sustainability but also enhance possibilities for early childhood education and care educators working in inter-professional contexts to lead, manage and administer the integration of early years services for young children and families.