Milestones Educator Participates in Leadership Training 

Milestones Early Learning South Townsville Assistant Centre Manager Joanne Sawtell is one of 10 Affinity Education Group employees who participated in the 2023 ELACCA ‘From the Ground Up’ leadership project hosted by QUT. 

Designed to build applied leadership skills among early childhood educators and to strengthen and extend the leadership skills of emerging and experienced leaders, From the Ground Up is now in its third year, and continues to support the ECEC Sector.  


“Strong leadership is key in driving positive workplaces and continuous improvement in our sector, and Affinity has been proud to support our people to participate in both internal and external leadership programs during 2023,” said Dr Lesley Jones, Head of Education and Pedagogy at Affinity. 

During the 6-month From the Ground Up leadership course, participants work in pairs to build their skills and knowledge, coming together each week online in whole-of-group workshops or smaller mentoring and coaching sessions. 

Each team chose a research question to focus on during the project, using this as the basis to extend their own understanding of and capabilities as a leader.  

Joanne’s action research project was based on the question ‘How can we support strong educator-child relationships that enhance quality and enable our Lifelong Learning Curriculum?’

This question arose after Affinity launched our Lifelong Learning Curriculum in March 2023,” explained Joanne. 

“Working with my Affinity team member Deborah Aitchison a Lead Educator from Brisbane, we identified opportunities to investigate and improve the way educators use their time, and our LLC Art Zones in a meaningful way, benefiting relationships with children. 

“For example, we focused on ways to encourage educators to really engage with children while they create art, and not just focusing on ‘art output’ for parents to see.” 

“My participation in the program has shown me ways I can improve my leadership, and share with others, while holding myself to high standards,” said Joanne. 

Joanne is one of 18 Senior Educational Leaders currently employed by Affinity to take their knowledge and share it with educators across our local centres, improving educational outcomes for children in the Townsville region.