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Issues in Educational Research, 2023, Vol 33(1), 284-306.
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"Burnout central": Australian early childhood educational leaders' experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic

Marg Rogers
University of New England, Australia

Wendy Boyd
Southern Cross University, Australia

Margaret Sims
Macquarie University, Australia

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a major disrupter in the Australian early childhood education (ECE) sector. ECE educators had to respond quickly to frequent surprises and risky challenges. Their stressful, exhausting experiences as they constantly managed change are explored in this paper. The study used an interpretive social constructionist approach to interview six ECE leaders in order to construct a shared understanding of their beliefs and experiences during this time. The results indicate an increased risk of mental and physical health problems, and some impaired service quality. Although the results are indicative of historical treatment, the consequences of government neglect have resulted in a staffing crisis and closed services. Lessons need to be learned in how we treat educators and services if we want future generations of children educated and cared for by resilient educators who are not at risk of feeling they are in "burnout central".
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Authors: Dr Marg Rogers is a Senior Lecturer in the Early Childhood Education team within the School of Education at the University of New England, Australia. Marg researches military families and professionalism in early childhood education and care. She is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Manna Institute which is supported by the Australian Government Department of Education through the Regional Research Collaboration Program.
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8407-7256
Email: marg.rogers@une.edu.au

Associate Professor Wendy Boyd, Southern Cross University, Australia, makes a significant contribution to early childhood education, internationally, and nationally, especially in the area of the early childhood workforce. Her research approach is grounded in achieving quality education delivered by effective teachers. She has a deep understanding of quality early childhood education having been a director of a large early childhood centre which was consistently assessed as providing high quality early childhood education and care.
Email: wendy.boyd@scu.edu.au

Professor Margaret Sims is a professor in Early Childhood Education and Care and has worked in the areas of family support and disabilities for many years. She researches in the areas of professionalism and the impacts of neoliberal policies in early childhood and higher education, families, disabilities, social justice and families from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds. She is an Honorary Professor at Macquarie University.
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4686-4245
Email: margaret.sims@mq.edu.au

Please cite as: Rogers, M., Boyd, W. & Sims, M. (2023). "Burnout central": Australian early childhood educational leaders' experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic. Issues in Educational Research, 33(1), 284-306. http://www.iier.org.au/iier33/rogers.pdf

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Created 23 March 2023. Last correction: 23 March 2023. Website: Roger Atkinson [rjatkinson@bigpond.com]