Leadership Skills in the Early Years: Making a Difference

What does leadership look like in early childhood settings? (free article)

Leadership is an influence process enacted by individuals and teams as one connects with one another, to make the changes that reflect shared vision and purpose. Leadership is both an individual and collective ethical responsibility. Leadership is about purpose, and for ECEC settings that purpose is embodied in pedagogical leadership. While strong pedagogical leadership underpins the way a setting operates, it is also acknowledged that effective leaders do many other things, such as organising and managing resources and time, hiring and managing staff, and making genuine connections with children and staff, families, communities and other organisations.

Hedges Eds , Theorising early childhood practice: Seven strong claims about successful school leadership. National College for School Leadership. The making of the principal: Five lessons in leadership training. The Wallace Foundation, June. Effective leadership in the early years sector: Institute of Education, University of London.

Being and becoming leaders. Rattler, , Summer, What does leadership look like in early childhood settings? These capabilities encourage a leader to reflect personally and with others how they: The completion of extensive research and national consultations has led to a number of understandings about leadership in ECEC settings that include: Leadership is about identity—it starts from within. Leadership is about influence both directly and indirectly and responsibility, and is therefore potentially open to everyone.

You may also have thought about what went into planning and leading such an evening for parents and carers.

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What evidence might there be of working with other professionals, for example? In Activity 3 you identified potential instances of leadership from your observations of Caroline and her colleagues. The example below lists a couple of instances of leadership that might be identified, together with possible sources of primary and secondary evidence.

You could probably identify both primary and secondary evidence against each instance of leadership, although you may have identified only primary, or only secondary evidence. You may have realised, however, that unless you think about the need to gather evidence of your practice, some primary evidence could easily be overlooked or destroyed before you are ready to use it. Thinking ahead and gathering potential evidence in a folder is one way to ensure that it is not lost. Equally, you may need to think ahead to ensure that evidence of your practice is recorded.

You should aim for primary evidence sources wherever possible, but sometimes this can be difficult. You may have identified a number of instances where it is not easy to provide evidence that has come directly from practice — for example, where Caroline is talking to the parents as they are walking round the setting. Asking a parent, or colleague, to write a statement that outlines what you did is acceptable secondary evidence in this case. Clearly you need to be careful to ensure confidentiality when dealing with all evidence sources.

Although early years settings operate in a variety of contexts, one thing they have in common is that a number of adults are involved. Early childhood services involve people, relationships and feelings and interactions between adults, whether formal or informal, and have a crucial impact on the quality of the provision. Whether you work with other adults in your setting or outside it, how you relate and work with other practitioners is influenced by your attitudes towards other people and vice versa. Many practitioners have successfully forged positive working relationships with colleagues via the Internet.

Indeed, the use of the Internet takes developing working relationships with others into a new dimension. There are a large number of websites that enable you to contact others, share information and keep up to date with childcare issues. As you considered earlier, how you engage with parents depends, to a large degree, on your underpinning views and beliefs. Similarly, how you engage with colleagues and other professionals is influenced by your underpinning views and beliefs.

In this next activity, you will be asked to think about how you develop working relationships with others in your core and extended team. The objective of this activity is for you to reflect on relationships with colleagues and other professionals. Think about the other adults you interact with in your role as an early years practitioner. Draw a chart or diagrammatic representation showing:. Berni is the first practitioner you hear in the sequence; you will not need to listen to the others for the purposes of this activity.

While few would contest the value of teamwork, it is important to explore how perceptions of teamwork are reflected in the actual experience of belonging to a team and to be honest; some teams do find it difficult to work together. In this activity you identified the members of your core and wider teams and you thought about your working relationships. The nature of those relationships will largely depend on the extent to which you work cooperatively together. Cooperation, in turn, will depend on the shared understandings in the team, and it will be influenced by the extent to which colleagues communicate assertively with each other.

This is illustrated in the quotation below from Rodd While some people still enter the field with the assumption that the focus of the job is on autonomous work with children, the reality of these settings is that the increasingly multi-faceted work of the early childhood practitioner requires effective interaction with other adults as members of a multi-disciplinary team.

Most early childhood leaders and staff appreciate that teamwork is important for the working conditions of their settings, and understand that what constitutes a team can vary. Regardless of its definition, the essence of a team is that all participants work together effectively to achieve a common goal.

Your practice is dependent on your own views as an individual.

Early years team work and leadership

It may be that these views change as you become more experienced or as a result of your professional development. A key aspect of teamwork is the extent to which all those involved in the team have shared views, values and beliefs. If you and the other members of your team are able to articulate your views, values and beliefs then you are more likely to develop shared understandings and to be an effective team.

Being able to raise issues and put forward your ideas to others is an important skill for all practitioners CWDC, In the next activity you will be encouraged to articulate your values and beliefs in the context of teamwork. The objective of this activity is for you to review and evaluate your own practice in relation to working with colleagues in a core team in order to make your underpinning values and beliefs explicit.

Rodd suggests that a team can be generally defined as:.

What does leadership look like in early childhood settings?

June O'Sullivan explores the concept of leadership, particularly with regards to leading Early Years centres. In line with government initiatives. June O'Sullivan explores the concept of leadership, particularly with regards to leading Early Years centres. In line with government initiatives, there is growing pressure within the early years sector to create staff who can lead different types of childcare and family settings.

A group of people cooperating with each other to work towards achieving an agreed set of aims, objectives or goals while simultaneously considering the personal needs and interests of individuals. It is commonly understood that teamwork involves individual interests being subordinated in favour of the group interests. This means that in order to create team spirit the needs of the team take priority over the needs of individuals in the team.

It has been suggested that teamwork is underpinned by a number of core values. In the next activity you are asked to consider a set of core values underpinning teamwork. The objective of this activity is for you to examine your own practice in relation to working with a core team in order to make your views, values and beliefs explicit. The positive ethos may be intangible in that you can sense it when you walk into a home or group setting but you cannot see it. This is because it is the ethos of your provision that reflects the shared philosophy of the team. All practitioners need to develop a set of core values to help them engage honestly with the everyday experiences of those they work with or come into contact with.

Read the list below of core values identified by Jeffs and Smith , p. Many core values can be observed, or be seen to be lacking, in the way individual team members are empowered to communicate with each other, for example in a team meeting. Teamwork and effective team leadership leads to high quality engagement between team members. This results in increased trust and positive relationships as well as the setting of shared goals Jones and Pound, The framework in the next activity provides a useful tool for examining practice in relation to working with colleagues in your core team and professionals in the wider multi-agency context and allows you to make comparisons between settings.

The objective of this activity is for you to use a variety of tools to help you examine your practice. Each team member is actively involved and actively listening: Control is maintained by individual team members within areas or across the team — manage conflict.

Leadership Skills in the Early Years: Making a Difference - June O'Sullivan - Google Книги

Isabel, aged 3 years, is described as having autistic tendencies. Susan from the local County Support Services visits Isabel in her day nursery setting every month. Isabel is making steady progress and achieving her targets. Jackie discusses the new targets with her colleagues and asks for their views, so they can all work together to help Isabel achieve her potential.

When Susan leaves she reminds Jackie that she is available by telephone if any additional advice is needed. Corey, aged 4 years, has significant speech and language delay and some hearing impairment. The speech therapist, Lin, visits him every Monday afternoon. On the first visit she spoke to Lisa, the setting manager, and showed her information about various levels of hearing loss.

Lisa placed the paperwork in her file. On subsequent visits she worked with Corey for 30 minutes each week, on a one-to-one basis in the quiet room and then leaves without discussion with staff. Lisa files the report. In the first case study, there is a sense of effective teamwork. The practice fits into the positive descriptors in the framework. For example, the relationship between Susan, Jackie and the core team is one involving collaboration and empowerment. In the second case study, the communication fits in with the idea of passive participation, requiring the minimum of effort.

Lin makes no effort to share her expertise or views with the staff in the setting. Likewise, Lisa does not communicate the strategies for supporting Corey to her colleagues. These studies illustrate the importance of communication between practitioners in order to enhance the quality of support the children receive. Having core values and beliefs and translating them into practice is not always as straightforward as it sounds.

Working as a successful core team can be difficult to achieve. The variable nature of settings and the range of people involved means that there is no single route to successful teamwork. Certain constraints may prevent the practice reflecting the values and views of the practitioners. You may be part of a team whose members have different experiences, and there may have been little time to develop shared understandings. Team members may only share the fact that they work with young children.

You may be so busy with the day-to-day business of caring for the children in your setting, that there is no time set aside to make contacts with other professionals or to have informal discussions. Just as we noted when thinking about working with parents, time is a key factor, and there are many competing demands for your time. However, developing a team culture within a comfortable climate of asking questions, checking understandings, reflection and evaluation is of paramount importance in improving professional practice.

They propose that the process of working in a collaborative sense demands leadership within rather than of teams. If a core team is working effectively towards shared goals the team will more readily relate and interact with professionals in the wider or external team. Despite variations, all UK governments agree that children will benefit from closer working between practitioners and agencies. We now move on to explore the implications of multi-agency working at the level of individual practitioners and settings.

You were introduced to leadership as being the concern of everyone, irrespective of the role they hold in their setting. This means that it is inevitable that your practice will show evidence of leadership in some form or another. How has change s to your practice offered opportunities to demonstrate leadership? Think about what the particular qualities, skills and abilities of a leader actually are.

By now you will be familiar with the idea that all aspects of your practice can offer the opportunity to demonstrate leadership. These same skills — to support, encourage and extend understanding — apply when leading practice and supporting other practitioners. In the following activity you will need to consider any opportunities you have had to develop leadership and to identify characteristics of leadership.

The objective of this activity is for you to be able to recognise characteristics of leadership in evidence of practice. These qualities may be evident in your role or in how you set out an activity, for example. Effective leadership is also a key element in implementing changes to practice. In this free course, Early years team work and leadership , you have explored aspects of leadership and teamwork within an early years context.

You have read about leadership and teamwork qualities and engaged with activities which provide a range of perspectives from early years professionals in a range of settings. You have been given the opportunity to reflect on your own leadership skills and how you might use these skills in your workplace whether you hold a leadership position or not. It is hoped that this course will support your personal and professional development in leadership and teamwork.

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Early years team work and leadership. Early years team work and leadership Introduction In this free course, Early years team work and leadership , you will explore your understanding of leadership and how it operates in your early years setting. Learning outcomes After studying this course, you should be able to: Activity 1 Factors influencing leadership Allow about 1 hour.

Read through the following questions and record your responses. Are there any factors that contribute towards effective leadership in your setting? What factors may hinder effective leadership in your setting? Sarah, a nursery assistant in a private day nursery, wrote: Activity 2 Leadership skills in practice Allow about 1 hour. Download this audio clip. I started out many years ago as a childminder when I lived in Canada, and when I came in, over to England, nine years ago, I started volunteering in a playgroup, and it got me more interested in children and decided to do my NVQ 3.

The foundation degree has been hard work. But it has helped me progress in my professional development as well as my personal development. My professional role has helped me with the foundation degree as well. My husband is British; I met him over in Canada, he was living in Canada, and we got married and had our children over there, and he just wanted to come home to his parents and I came along with him. At first, it was a struggle. But I think once I threw myself into the school and the children, because I do love children, I settled in really well. I did the NVQ 3 a few years back and decided that I wanted to educate myself more.

So I sort of float around to the different nurseries. So I started doing an openings course, really enjoyed the openings course, and then went in to do the E, by which time I was back working job share at a nursery, in Madras. I work under the name of Clockwork Childcare. In my early twenties, I was fortunate to work on the stock markets in Canary Wharf, which was fantastic for a few years, and then moved back to the Midlands and started a family, and then we had the transition from professional to professional childcare worker, which was interesting, an interesting journey.

I had a lot of support from our local council, our local children service at the time who provide many free courses, short courses, sort of six week courses to go on to prepare you for what it entails and to make the whole process legal. So that was really helpful. It was quite a smooth transition. We did various courses from health and safety, first aid, food hygiene, safeguarding children. I mean the list is really endless. You can go on sort of training and retraining yourself throughout your career as a child carer I think.

But I feel that everything I do in a childminding setting at the moment is helping me in working towards that end goal. As a childminder you are responsible solely for everything; you are your own teacher, your own cook, your own caretaker, you are everything. My name is Kirsty Light. And when she first came, we developed a relationship over the years where I would learn to speak Portuguese, not very well but I know how to speak a few words of Portuguese she would bring her culture within the centre and she would bring in food and recipes.

And every time we have a festival and things like that, we, we provide lots of materials and activities for the children to be very diverse. We have dolls, we have puzzles, we have visits out, we go to festivals. We like to try and make the children more patient and tolerant of each other, be respectful of each other.

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When I left school, I went to work in a nursery as a nursery assistant, and I became a single parent so all the time my daughter was growing up, I worked for Social Services. I was providing respite care for foster carers, looking after their children at the weekends to give them a break. Had varying needs of the children I was looking after, one little girl had meningitis which left her severely brain damaged, cerebral palsy, and many other health-related problems, and I looked after those to give the foster carers a break, really.

And when my daughter grew up and was a bit more independent at school, I decided that I would go back into child care and then I started here. Being here has given me a good link with the school. We have many good opportunities to train here. When many of us are in the process of studying for a degree in early years and I would like to take that further and actually have a teaching degree and actually move into primary schools at the end.

Show transcript Hide transcript. Interactive feature not available in single page view see it in standard view. McCall and Lawlor, , cited in Jones and Pound, , p. Activity 3 Identifying instances of leadership Allow about 1 hour. Download this video clip. At Pathways, we talk to the parents at the door every day. We speak to them at lunchtime when they come to pick them up. Sometimes, we even phone them just to say, we're a little bit unsure about this, we're a little bit unsure about that, or he hasn't been himself today. Could you help us and discuss any problems or any concerns that he or she may have?

It was good to have the informal time to be able to chat with parents without the restrictions of having the children, as they would normally do on the drop off and collection time, and they really valued that to get to know the staff in that sort of environment, rather than in the day to day nursery environment. We're going to take a pew or a seat. That's the luxury one. The first person who arrives should be on that chair. Yeah, but you have to pretend you've got a small you-know-what to sit on the chair.

Good evening and welcome, everybody. It's lovely to see so many people here.

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Educating team members to participate. Seven strong claims about successful school leadership. Consider Table 2 below and then consider the two case studies underneath. Well I should ask my staff this, really. I think Play-Doh is a great time for them to let their imagination go, and again we can be there to extend it or support what they're playing with and what they're doing.

We try to share information with parents in a variety of ways, really, because we rely on you and your information and your knowledge that you give us, but we like to share information with you. There are two frameworks that we think about. One is called the Every Child Matters Outcomes. Now, that's really important because that's a big government agenda for every child, as the title indicates, not just children in early years, but in primary, secondary, and right up to 19, actually, in further education.

The second thing that I'm going to just tell you a little bit about is the Early Years Foundation Stage. We've left some copies out for you to have a look at, and that is actually what you might have called, when you were at school, a curriculum, and this is it. It consists of various things. There are some cards with principles and themes.

One of the themes is positive relationships. Obviously, that's something we've always done, but it's nice to see that it reflects what we have done and it's good for us for training our staff. Then there's some practice guidance here, which gives us some ideas of the things that we might do with the children, how we might observe them, and activities we might do for them. And then there's some legal requirements. It's a lot more complicated than it might first appear, what we do in the nursery.

OK, so going back to the Every Child Matters Outcomes, I'll tell you what they are and a bit of the ways in which we try to promote them in the setting so that you, obviously, I'm sure anyway, can support us at home with these things. So the first one is about staying safe, or helping children to keep safe as well.

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We do that in a number of ways. We keep the doors locked, we keep the gates locked, we have a visitors book, we do risk assessments, we check our equipment, we encourage the children to get their safety jackets out if they're going down to the field or out for a walk. They need to support what the children are experiencing in the nursery and extend it when the children are in their home and vice versa.

It also avoids parents having any misunderstandings or unnecessary concerns about what their expectations are from the nursery. If the expectations are set out clearly to the parents, either on verbal day to day contact, or in an evening, or in the brochures, then there's less likely to be any friction. And then the final one, which is The partnership's a lot stronger if they understand why we do things the way we do, and maybe not always in the way that they might have expected.

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But what we do try to plan for is the six areas of learning and development. This is the bit where you have to listen now. You'll see them around the room, and they're on the posters. There's one here and one on the parents' notice board, which I'm sure you've seen many times, and there are six areas of learning development, and these are the ones that I want you to look out for on the video.

We're not saying that children learn in separate boxes. They all link together somehow, but it's a very useful way to think about children's development and to spot where a child might need some extra support or where a child might be ahead of their age-- they might be at a stage ahead-- so we can meet each individual child's needs. So what are the six areas? Well I should ask my staff this, really. Any volunteers to tell us any of the areas?

It's our circle time. It's about feelings, it's about sharing. If we had a lot of parents, I might have used and a bit of technology and actually had a PowerPoint.


One parent commented, interestingly, that it would have been good to involve the other staff more in giving the presentation, and so that's something that we would definitely consider so people could actually talk about their own individual roles and responsibilities and have a little input into the presentation itself. And then creative, which I think is really important, to express themselves so they can use their senses, they can use play dough, they can explore colour with painting, in the sand again, the water.

Some of these resources cross the areas, but particularly about creating things for themselves, not an adult saying, stick this on here, stick that on there, paint this, paint that, but actually allowing children, giving them the resources so they can do the collage or whatever it is they want to do and explore their taste and their feel and their touch and everything. So here, it's really important for us that we give a real emphasis to creative, and we do try to do that. Although the six areas are equally weighted, we try to emphasise personal, social, language, and creative, particularly for the two- to three-year-olds, and then maybe emphasise the problem solving, reasoning, [INAUDIBLE], and the other areas.

Now, we're going to look at a video, a few clips. I said to the girls, try and cover the six areas, and try and covers the Every Child Matters Outcomes. Just watch it and see if you can try to identify what's going on.