Meet Dr Deborah Harcourt

Dr Deborah Harcourt holds a number of visiting and adjunct professorial positions in Early Childhood and is the Executive Director of APECC. She has worked in the field of early childhood education for the past 30 years in Australia, Singapore, China, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, UAE, UK and Sri Lanka.


Deborah began her career as a preschool teacher, working with 3-5 year old children and then moved to the University sector where she has taught at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels in teacher education, health sciences and within a school of medicine. She was based in Singapore for 8 years as a teacher educator, education consultant and researcher. She focuses on practice and research that highlights young children’s rights as active citizens and is currently working with educators and researchers in Sweden, Italy, Australia, Austria and Israel who are interested in researching with children on a range of topics.


She has published and presented her work widely and was the 2004-2015 Chair of the special interest group, “Children’s perspectives in research” for the European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA). Deborah is also a member of the European Educational Research Association (EERA) and their special interest group, "Children's Rights". Along with colleague Dr Jonathon Sargeant, Deborah is the only Australian to have undertaken the international course in Children's Rights offered by the UN at the Universities of Ghent and Antwerp in Belgium.


Deborah worked closely with the 2012-2013 South Australian Thinker in Residence program that hosted Professor Carla Rinaldi from Reggio Children. She has visited Reggio Emilia many times on study tours and completed the Winter School on Documentation in 2015. Deborah urges early childhood professionals, in Australia particularly, to engage with the recommendations from Prof Rinaldi's 2013 report Re-imaging Childhood.


Deborah is particularly fluent in speaking about children's rights; constructing the way we view children in early childhood settings; the centrality of relationships in early childhood; the importance of deep listening and its role of educational documentation and; the importance of context for young children's learning and well-being.


Dr Harcourt is currently exploring the notion of Evaluation Communities and their ability to strengthen educators' understandings of the Early Years Learning Framework's learning outcomes. She is also interested in assisting educators examine Quality Areas 1 and 5 from the National Quality Standard by creating "spaces" for honouring thinking with children. In addition, Deborah has begun to work with early childhood settings on establishing a culture of professional inquiry.


Her international experience enables Deborah to quickly adapt to diverse contexts, experiences and a range of educator and organisational capabilities. Well known for her engaging manner and humorous stories from the field of early childhood, her depth of knowledge about early childhood pedagogy, practice and research is evidenced through her publications and public presentations.


Deborah is based in New Farm, Brisbane, Australia.


You can contact Deborah at