We are pleased to announce that Associate Professor Kelly Freebody has been appointed Head of School, Sydney School of Education and Social Work (SSESW). Having worked at the University for over 16 years, Associate Professor Freebody will bring her extensive experience in education and research to this senior leadership position. She will commence her new role in January 2024.
“I have a deep and abiding commitment to the School of Education and Social Work and its future,” she says. “Over the last 16 years, I have had the opportunity to see first-hand the thoughtful dedication that members of the School put into the education of the next generation of teachers and social workers.”
I'm excited by the opportunity to work with colleagues to consider what teacher and social work education could be. I look forward to building teaching and research initiatives to meet those aspirations.
Originally a secondary Drama and English teacher, Associate Professor Freebody has always integrated social justice, creativity and critical pedagogy in her work – whether it’s in the classroom or as a researcher.
As an academic, she aims to bring new perspectives to researchers and practitioners in theatre, drama education, and school and community education. This multidisciplinary approach to education is something she will continue to promote as Head of School.
“We strive to have a clear and strong relationship between research, scholarship, teaching and learning," she says. "We also seek to build partnerships with our students, professional institutions, international research colleagues, and the broader community.”
Throughout her time at the University, Associate Professor Freebody has been central to the development and leadership of education programs in the School. She has undertaken a range of leadership roles including Program Director of the Secondary Education program, Education Director for the School, and Associate Dean (Undergraduate Programs) for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. In these roles, Associate Professor Freebody has led and contributed to strategic initiatives and developed strong positive relationships with colleagues across the University.
As Head of School, I feel it will be a privilege to work with scholars and students, doing work that contributes to the building of a more equitable society through the disciplines of education and social work.
With a deep dedication to fostering excellence through education, Associate Professor Freebody has a clear vision for the school – to foster a positive environment for colleagues and students, while continuing to drive social justice through research and action.
“I hope to promote attention to both the collective work we do and to the needs of individual members of the school,” she says. "I strive to ensure SSESW is a working environment where people can pursue their personal and professional goals.”
Associate Professor Freebody is also aware that the School is uniquely positioned to influence change for the better, through research and teaching.
“Current issues related to teacher shortage crises, low morale in an overworked profession, a heightened and changeable regulatory environment, and the introduction of new curriculum documents make the education field seem volatile and vulnerable,” she says. “While there is risk and challenge in this environment, there are also significant opportunities for change. Our School, guided by our social purpose, can be at the forefront of innovative solutions to these challenges.”
My leadership will be focused on building an intellectual and operational environment in which colleagues and students can thrive and experience success.