Early childhood educator an ‘outstanding leader’

Margaret Sims

UNE early childhood education lecturer, Professor Margaret Sims, has won an award for outstanding leadership from the New England branch of the Australian Council for Education Leaders (ACEL).

She will be presented with the William Walker Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership at the ACEL New England Group’s annual awards ceremony on Friday evening.

A long-time campaigner for the importance of early childhood education in developing young brains and shaping the kind of adult children will develop into, Prof Sims said she was proud to receive the acknowledgement from her peers, especially her UNE colleagues who nominated her for the honour.

Prof Sims has made it her professional mission to share research insights with parents, and she does this via a fortnightly column in the Armidale Express titled “Family Matters”, which aims to help provide support to families who are raising young children.

“It’s written for mums and dads and is a great way to share ideas on how to help them bring up their kids,” Prof Sims said.

“It allows me to break out of my professional network and toss up ideas on parenting, and in a lot of cases it is validating the great work that parents are already doing.

“The columns are a way of making a real impact and I think it is important for a regional university – which is a key part of the local community – to be able to do that.”

As well as early childhood and families, Prof Sims research interests include social justice, indigenous issues, participation of children with disabilities and community work.

She has served (and continues to) on a range of early childhood committees and boards, was the editor of the Australasian Journal of Early Childhood for almost a decade, and supervisors research students and mentors colleagues at UNE.

“I have also done a lot of work in countries where parents have nothing – not even food, let alone education opportunities for their children,” Prof Sims said.

“But I love it here at UNE and in Armidale and I’m passionate about early childhood education, because we know what we teach children in early childhood affects them for the rest of their lives.

“For me it’s not about providing a group care situation but what we do for parents to give great learning opportunities to their children.”