Leading and Managing in the Early Years
Publication Year: 2011
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‘…a major contribution to the limited literature and research on leadership in childhood education.’ – Professor Tony Bush, Editor of Educational Management, Administration and Leadership.
‘This important book focuses clearly on evidence, describing the realities of leading and managing settings in times of rapid policy changes. Carol Aubrey manages to combine theory, research and practice in a book that will be invaluable to a new generation of early years professionals.’ – Angela Anning, Emeritus Professor of Early Childhood Education, University of Leeds, UK
‘..skilfully draws on sound empirical research to present a grounded theory model for leadership in early years education. …of interest to researchers, students and ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Introduction: Theorizing Leadership in Early Childhood
- Changing World, Changing Theories
- Our Leadership Investigation
- Chapter 1: The Early Childhood Leaders' Agenda
- 1.1 Introduction
- 1.2 Context
- 1.3 What Do We Know Already?
- 1.4 What Leadership Research Applies?
- 1.5 What Do We Need to Know?
- Chapter 2: Leadership in English Early Childhood Education and Care
- 2.1 Introduction
- 2.2 Our Objectives
- 2.3 What We Asked Our Early Childhood Professionals About Leadership
- 2.4 What We Found Out
- 2.5 What We Made of the Findings
- Chapter 3: Practitioners' Understandings of Early Childhood Leadership
- 3.1 Introduction
- 3.2 Characteristics of the Leaders and Staff That We Talked to
- 3.3 Definitions and Perceptions of Leadership
- 3.4 Roles, Responsibilities and Functions of Leaders
- 3.5 Decision-Making
- 3.6 Internal and External Influences on Leadership
- 3.7 Training
- 3.8 Leadership in a Changing World
- Chapter 4: Early Childhood Leaders' Work
- 4.1 Introduction
- 4.2 A Typical Day
- 4.3 Roles, Responsibilities and Functions
- 4.4 Decision-Making
- 4.5 Influences on Leadership
- 4.6 Training
- 4.7 Collective Views on the Video Highlights
- Chapter 5: ‘I Don't Like the Idea of Making a Profit … Exploiting Those on Low Wages …’
- 5.1 Introduction
- 5.2 Early Childhood Education and Care Policy
- 5.3 Early Childhood Professional and Workplace Issues
- 5.4 Making a Profit: The Role of the Private Sector
- 5.5 Preschool Care and Education plc?
- Chapter 6: Journeys into Leadership
- 6.1 Introduction
- 6.2 A Journey?
- 6.3 Career Paths of Early Childhood Leaders
- 6.4 Support Through the Career Cycle
- Chapter 7: Mentoring as a Leadership Strategy
- 7.1 Introduction
- 7.2 Learning from Experience
- 7.3 The Nature of Mentoring
- 7.4 Establishing Appropriate Ground Rules
- 7.5 What Does Learning from Day-to-Day Experience Really Mean?
- 7.6 A Framework for Staff Development
- 7.7 Mentoring for the Leader
- 7.8 Future Possibilities
- Chapter 8: The Challenge of Leading Multi-Agency Teams
- 8.1 Introduction
- 8.2 Challenges to Collaboration
- 8.3 Questions to Ask
- 8.4 What Do We Know About Effective Multi-Agency Working?
- 8.5 Models of Multi-Agency Working
- 8.6 Organization of Professional Groups
- 8.7 Views on Multi-Agency Working from Four Integrated Centres
- 8.8 What We Found Out
- 8.9 A Closer Look At the Challenges of Multi-Agency Working
- 8.10 Case Studies
- 8.11 Leadership by the Many
- Chapter 9: Leading in a Time of Change
- 9.1 Introduction
- 9.2 A Need for Interprofessional Education
- 9.3 Staff Resistance to Change
- 9.4 A Model for Improving the Early Childhood Integrated Centre
- 9.5 Understanding Change
- Chapter 10: Reflective Practice and Action Learning
- 10.1 Introduction
- 10.2 Reflective Process of Progressive Problem-Solving
- 10.3 Planning an Action Research Cycle with Integrated Centre Leaders
- 10.4 Doing Action Research in the Early Childhood Field
- 10.5 Conclusions
- Chapter 11: Reflections
- 11.1 Revisiting Our Initial Objectives
- 11.2 Conclusions
Education at SAGE[Page ii]
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© Carol Aubrey, 2011
First edition published 2007
Reprinted in 2008, 2009 and 2010
Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form, or by any means, only with the prior permission in writing of the publishers, or in the case of reprographic reproduction, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the publishers.
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About the Author
Special thanks go to the early years leaders who made this book possible: Latif Ahmed, Debbie Castle, Jill Coates, Baljit Gill, Helen Hurst, Elena Johnston, Sian Lawrence, Hilary Lorimer, Dawn Seth and Sue Webster. Also thanks go to Anne Nelson, former Chief Executive British Association for Early Childhood Education (Early Education), whose wisdom was invaluable at the time the project was originally conceived, as it proceeded and when it reached its close.
Thanks also go to our leaders who allowed us to use their photographs within this book, specifically: Debbie Castle, Jill Coates, Baljit Gill, Helen Hurst, Sian Lawrence, Hilary Lorimer and Sue Webster. Special thanks go to Karen Pearson, Teresa Kerr and Mala Razak who agreed to share some themes from their Master's practitioner research projects.
Most of the leadership research that underpinned this book took place throughout the year of 2005. The University of Warwick research team consisted of Professor Carol Aubrey as principal investigator, Professor Alma Harris, Professor Daniel Muijs (University of Manchester) and Mrs Mary Briggs as co-investigators, and Dr Sarah Dahl, Mrs Lucy Clarke and Dr Sulochini Pather as researchers. Dr Ray Godfrey, Canterbury Christ Church University, was responsible for analysing the survey data (Chapter 2). Research on multi-agency working was carried out by Carol Aubrey, Sarah Dahl and Lucy Clarke over the period 2003 to 2006. Sarah Dahl and Lucy Clarke were responsible for analysing survey and interview data (Chapter 7). The book draws upon two specific sources: a British Educational Research Association (BERA) symposium paper (Aubrey et al., 2006) and a research report (Dahl and Aubrey, 2005).
The investigation that forms the backdrop to this book emerged from a preliminary leadership seminar hosted by the University of Warwick with local early childhood leaders. It began at a time when early childhood and leadership had never been higher on the English national agenda. The range of leaders we worked with were responding to this agenda in a variety of settings in their local contexts. Their settings were all unique but firmly embedded in the development of children's centres, integrated services and extended schools.
The leaders in the study took the opportunity to reflect upon their leadership practice. They reviewed the challenges of an external change agenda that was running at a faster pace than internal organizational change. The activity of videoing ‘A day in the life’ had simple beginnings but proved to have a powerful impact on the leaders. Their own self-evaluation and the dialogue with interviewers and peer professionals provided them with opportunities to reflect on their successes and to identify areas for development. It was very apparent that the opportunity to reflect on and self-evaluate in a supportive climate is not available to many leaders. Where successful mentoring was provided within the organization or externally, leaders were in a more powerful position to move forward and respond to the demanding challenges of their roles.
Through the continuing support of the University of Warwick we are able to share the outcomes of the study with a wider group. We offer it as a means of support and challenge to our current early childhood leaders and to those who aspire to succeed them. As one who no longer works on a day-to-day basis with children, I would like to express my admiration for our early childhood leaders who have overseen and implemented the revolution. Our youngest children deserve the best leaders to prepare them for the challenges they will face as they move forward into adulthood.
Introduction to the Second Edition[Page xii]
It may seem strange to be revisiting definitions of leadership, management and administration when a book focused on leading and managing reaches its second edition. Nevertheless, as Handy (1999) pointed out, organizations are micro-societies and those who lead them have to understand the needs and motivations of people who work in them. At the same time, those who lead do so with the tacit agreement of those who follow, and this raises issues of power, influence and the working of groups.
Ten years ago Handy (1999: 96) was suggesting that leadership as a topic had a ‘rather dated air about it’ as he revisited trait theories (that relate to characteristics of the leader), style theories (that normally operate on the authoritarian–democratic dimension) and contingency theories (that take account of other variables in the leadership situation, in particular the task, work group and position of the leader within that group) that, in the final analysis, he regarded as failing to explain sufficiently the difference between effective and ineffective leadership. He proposed an extension of the contingency theory called ‘best fit approach’ that took account of the style preference of leader and followers, and the demands of the task that might range from tight or structured to flexible and supportive that ‘fitted’ the environment or organizational setting. This clearly locates leadership within a set of dynamic and reciprocal relationships and requires a core set of practices or activities. Hence, as noted by Rodd (1996: 126) a typology of an early childhood leader will include qualities, skills, roles and responsibilities. Ebbeck and Waniganayake (2000) proposed that each of these areas could be applied to administration, management and leadership.
Nivala (2002), however, has suggested that there is no overall agreement as to how notions of early childhood leadership, management and administration should be defined. Different theories have advanced, different values espoused, different practices have emerged and discourses have been generated in order to articulate these. Indeed, roles and responsibilities of early years professionals have been redefined and explored afresh by many different writers, and since the first edition of this book was published there has been a crop of new explorations of early childhood leadership, for example, Jones and Pound [Page xiii](2008); Moyles (2006); Siraj-Blatchford and Manni (2006) and a third edition of Rodd (2006).
What stands out as most salient to changes in early childhood leadership in the twenty-first century, however, are the effects of globalization. On the one hand, there is an increasing diversity of young children and their families through migration, change and breakdown in traditional family structures, adverse effects of poverty and disadvantage, who comprise the client groups. On the other hand, there are continual changes to organized work that is becoming less stable and less fixed, with virtual collaborative teams and knowledge communities linked electronically to the means of production and global markets. Inevitably in these conditions traditional views of leadership and management give way to a distributive leadership model (Waniganayake, 2000) in which children's centres may be virtual, with professional knowledge at the centre that is shared and made explicit, and leadership located at the confluence of multiple spheres of activity.
- Children's centres provide multi-agency services that are intended to be flexible and meet the needs of young children and their families. The core offer includes integrated early learning, care, family support, health services, and outreach services to employment advice. Children's centres offer interesting models of multi-agency and partnership working. At the heart of this is high-quality learning and full daycare for children from birth.
- Daycare for birth to 1-year-olds is provided for approximately 20 per cent of children, predominantly in licensed private day nurseries and with childminders. Most 1- to 3-year-olds are also in childcare provision in private day nurseries. State-funded nursery schools and reception classes are required to have children in the care of a qualified teacher. In childcare settings, staff qualifications vary, with 50 per cent in day nurseries having Level 3 qualification or above, 20 per cent with higher education qualification and 20 per cent with no qualification. Sixteen per cent of childminders are qualified to Level 3 or above (OECD, 2006), although a Childcare and Early Years Providers survey (DCSF, 2008b) revealed that this had risen to 36 per cent. Too few childcare staff have appropriate training however and high staff turnover can be a threat to children's consistent care.
- Early excellence centres were set up in 1997 to develop models of good practice in integrating services for young children and families. They offer high-quality practice in ‘one-stop-shop’ integrated education and daycare for young children and services for parents, carers, families and the wider community both directly and in co-operation with other providers.
- Extended schools set out a core offer of services that all schools were expected to provide for children to access by 2010. This includes a variety of support such as homework clubs, high-quality childcare on the school site from 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. all the year round, parenting programmes and access to a wide range of specialist support services such as speech therapy or intensive behaviour support, as well as adult learning and recreational facilities for the wider community.
- Foundation stage units are intended for nursery and reception-aged children (5-year-olds in the first year of formal schooling) where practitioners work on [Page xv]what has been a distinctive ‘early years foundation stage’ phase (for birth to 5-year-olds) to an agreed pedagogical approach. Nursery- and reception-aged groups combine to form an integrated teaching and learning provision across the foundation stage age range.
- Integrated centre is a generic term that refers to local facilities delivering integrated early education and childcare for children under 5 years along with parent and family support services, health services, links to job opportunities and a base for childminders. It refers to settings such as early excellence centres, family centres, and voluntary and private provision, all of which now form the basis for Sure Start children's centre developments.
- Neighbourhood nurseries were introduced in 2001 to narrow the gap in childcare provision between the most and least disadvantaged areas of the country. The aim was to create new high-quality, accessible and affordable, full daycare places for children under 5 in the poorest areas of England that previously had little or no daycare.
- Nurseries may be of various kinds. Some nurseries are run by voluntary or community groups. Others are run by employers or local authorities. They provide full daycare, education and play for children up to 5 years and may be open from 8.00 a.m. until 6.00 p.m. There are also nursery and reception classes attached to or within primary schools (see foundation stage units above). Nurseries aim to provide the best possible start to children's education by providing a broad and balanced early years foundation stage curriculum that lays the foundation for reaching their potential when they reach statutory school age.
- Sure Start local programmes were first announced in 1998. Their location was in areas of deprivation but they were not confined to poor families. They expanded on an annual basis from 2000, and in 2004 it was announced that in [Page xvi]order to ‘mainstream’ the programme to all children, there would be 2,500 by 2008 and, a little later, 3,500 by 2010. The programmes brought together in a ‘joined up’ way, core programmes of child and maternal health, early education and play, and family support for under 4s. There was an emphasis on outreach to access ‘hard-to-reach’ families and autonomy for local projects to add extra services. They were locally administered by partnerships between the statutory agencies (local authorities and primary care trusts) and the voluntary and private sectors.
- Note that all 3- and 4-year-olds are entitled to 15 hours of free early education for 38 weeks of the year from 2010. This applies until they reach compulsory school age (the term following their fifth birthday).
Our quest for a grounded theory model of early childhood leadership began and ended with a group of experienced early childhood leaders who were working in a field where no such model had hitherto existed. The challenge was to attempt to specify it in terms of the conditions that gave rise to it, the context in which it was embedded, the actions and interactions by which it was handled, managed or carried out, and the consequences of these strategies, in other words, explicating the ‘story line’ or clear analytical story (Strauss and Corbin, 1990). Our investigation took place in the English context, in conditions of great national change to services for young children. We felt, however, that it served as an exemplar for early childhood leadership in a wider world of intense political, economic, social and technological change and complexity that was globally unsettling, if not destabilizing traditional family configurations, work and school life, and inevitably provision made for early childhood care and education. Moreover, such global trends and influences were increasing uncertainty and challenging traditional forms of leadership by favouring new kinds of decentralized alliances between leaders and followers and encouraging collaboration and teamwork, responsive to fast-changing circumstances and very compatible with our leaders' preferred ways of working.
First, it was essential that the way we conceived, planned, implemented and analysed practice was in full collaboration with a group of experienced early childhood leaders working in a diverse range of early years settings, from children's centres, through private and voluntary provision to foundation stage units in primary schools. Thus we attempted to capture early childhood leadership at a time of profound national and international change through surveying the views of the leaders themselves and those whom they led, through conversations with leaders and their staff, through video and diary records of the ‘day in the life’ of each leader. It was ‘cutting edge’ in the sense that it linked early childhood leadership practice to a wider context of leadership theory in changing times and examined the [Page 175]distinctive challenges of multiple types of leadership, providing multiple perspectives on the multiple contexts within which they worked.
By these means we documented the processes of early childhood leadership in a variety of settings and the way it was promoted in the context of different internal and external opportunities and constraints. We examined journeys into leadership from novice, through competent leader to ‘master’ leader and identified a need for the creation of group and individual mentoring systems in order to generate new professional understandings, learning and development that was being created by the new circumstances they experienced.
What emerged was that there was no single style of leadership that seemed to suit all types of early childhood provision in the foundation stage (for children of 3 to 5 years). To start with, we revealed that although the workforce was predominantly female and leaders were typically aged between 30 and 49 years of age, these practitioners had different qualifications and professional heritages and worked in very different kinds of settings. In terms of their overall roles and responsibilities, providing a quality service was regarded as being of the highest importance, while entrepreneurial skills were thought of as being of less importance. Offering a quality service was associated with continuing professional development but, while the least well-qualified childcare workers appeared to have opportunities for ‘on-the-job’ training, most training received by early childhood professionals was in the form of short courses and in-service training, little of which focused on leadership. More early childhood leadership training opportunities are required. Progress has been made but there is still some way to go.
Those early childhood professionals with postgraduate qualifications, such as teachers, tended to favour leadership qualities such as warmth, rationality, knowledgeability, assertiveness, goal orientation, offering coaching, mentoring and guiding (leaders as guides) and those with qualifications from related professions such as children's library services, social work, health or community development tended to favour systematic planning, risk-taking, influence, proactivity, vision and empowerment (leaders as strategists). Those early years practitioners with vocational qualifications (NVQs) tended towards favouring vision, warmth, professional confidence, systematic planning, proactivity and empowerment in leaders (leaders as motivators). However, postgraduates also favoured leadership by influence, authority, economic competitiveness, business awareness and risk-taking (leaders as entrepreneurial and business oriented).
Those with postgraduate qualifications may thus value the role of coaching, mentoring and guiding or ‘moving staff on’, while those with vocational qualifications may prefer an empowering and motivating role. This contrasts with those with other types of professional qualifications, who emphasized the leader's strategic role in a fast-changing context. Up until this point our participants had not emphasized business and entrepreneurial skills but those with postgraduate qualifications here acknowledged the value of such competence.
Questioned about who made the decisions in their institutions, all practitioners rated all groups (including governors/trustees, senior and middle management, all staff, parents and community and children themselves) as being involved in decision-making at least some of the time, though ‘children’ was reported as having slightly less input. This suggested shared decision-making. [Page 176]However, differences emerged again. There was some evidence that professionals from children's centres, integrating care, welfare, health and education were more likely to say that parents made decisions all of the time and were less likely to say that they never made decisions. Given the emphasis in the early integrated centre programmes on children's services being locally-driven and responsive to the needs of families, this finding was not surprising. Those practitioners from day nurseries and ‘other’ professional settings were more likely to say decisions were never delegated to appropriate individuals. Since these respondents included different professional groups from health, social care and welfare that had different value bases, ethical codes, regulatory bodies, traditional roles and boundaries, this finding was unremarkable. Nevertheless, given the current international emphasis on accessing and understanding children's perspectives on their own lives, a stronger emphasis on children's role in decision-making might have been anticipated.
What was particularly interesting overall, was the evidence that people with different professional heritages, following different routes into the early childhood sector, hold different views about early childhood leadership and different attitudes towards aspects of their role. The mixed response towards organizational decision-making that emerged may reflect value differences, but there was at least some support for the view that commitment to parental participation and involvement, as well as to children's right to participation, varied across the types of settings and that this might reflect the very different aims, purposes and origins of different early childhood services, as well as the differing needs of the client groups they served.
We were beginning to uncover what early childhood leadership meant to this group of leaders and practitioners and to examine the roles, responsibilities and characteristics of leaders. Further in-depth conversations with leaders and their staff were needed to illuminate areas already exposed; so, for example, although availability, affordability and sustainability were acknowledged to be linked, unease was expressed about profit-making in a sector where childcare workers were still very poorly paid.
Further discussion about decision-making indicated that early childhood settings were observed to be hierarchically organized, yet collaborative in culture. This changing culture in organizations reflected wider national and international changes that were presenting new challenges to leadership and leading to the creation of new leadership forms. These changes were associated with changed expectations as well as new requirements in the workplace. As organizational boundaries, both inside and outside the organization became less rigid and clearly defined, conventional organizational structures seemed to be breaking down and roles were becoming less certain. In a very real sense, staff were articulating what they saw as important for leadership in terms of direction and commitment for the management of change. Indeed, in a changed world, in which traditional roles and boundaries are dissolving, it may be a real strength that early childhood leaders are predominantly women who tend to favour collaboration, power sharing, caring and relationships, in a context where leadership, authority from work roles, organization and change are being redefined.
The scale and range of children and communities, professionals and agencies [Page 177]involved and hence the degree of specialization, delegation and distribution of responsibility required within early childhood settings, was seen to vary. When we followed leaders into their workplaces in order to capture a day in their lives, among foundation stage leaders in primary schools, teaching was still the most dominant activity. That placed them in a position of having a greater impact on children's learning, care and welfare than those leaders with only indirect contact with children. Administrative and organizational activities took up a substantial amount of the working day, particularly so in the case of private and voluntary sector leaders who lacked administrative support. This left them with relatively less time for engagement in future-oriented, strategic planning tasks. Where leaders did not have administrative support they were inevitably engaged in a broader range of administrative tasks and more traditional management roles.
At the same time, it is likely that new models of effective multi-agency practice will emerge from the early childhood sector, given the current experience of collaboration and networking that is being accrued across professional groups in the early childhood sector in response to policy and service development at national and local levels. Moreover, the range and complexity of tasks required of leaders has increased the need for greater expertise in finance, large-scale building projects, as well as human resource management in a sector that traditionally has lacked these skills. Levels of funding, however, constituted a significant challenge to leaders and are set to increase as early childhood provision competes with a range of other services for families, children and youth.
There was an observed need for early childhood leaders to develop and ‘bring staff on’, that is ‘distribute’ leadership through the setting to meet the challenge of recruiting and training a workforce fit for future early childhood services. Indeed, these services depend upon there being the appropriately trained and experienced workforce that leaders found was not always available. In general, while leaders themselves still tended to be line-managed in traditionally organized local authority hierarchies, the work they carried out was pulling them in new directions. Thus different models of leadership were demanded in order to take account of the partnerships with other agencies and operation within leadership teams that created flatter organizational structures and collaborative cultures.
In conclusion, the role of early childhood leaders has become ever more challenging due to a raft of new interrelated policies associated with collaboration between professionals within the national context and a broader international agenda associated with workforce reform and improvement of quality in care of health, social welfare and education. In this climate, there is an urgent need to have a better understanding of the relationship between different models of multi-agency working and positive outcomes for children. It is unlikely however that any one model or a single leadership approach can be appropriate for such a diverse sector; in other words, flexible leadership is key.
Appendix 1 Gathering Initial Views on Early Childhood Leadership[Page 178]
In order to identify what early childhood practitioners already think and believe about leadership you may wish to invite them to consider these five key questions:
- What does leadership mean in your setting?
- What factors contribute to the effectiveness of this role?
- What factors hinder the effective fulfilment of this role?
- What are your staff training needs?
- How can we build knowledge, skills and capacity in the field?
What does this tell you about how early childhood leadership is experienced by leaders and staff and what are their ongoing interprofessional development needs (at the individual, team and organizational level)?
Appendix 2 Surveying Leadership[Page 179]
You may find the following questions useful in exploring what early childhood leadership means to staff within your setting. It may of course be more helpful to focus on specific questions in order to consider staff's view on ranking and rating particular items.Early Childhood Leadership Survey
We are conducting research that is exploring early childhood leadership in a range of settings. We are interested in what is meant by leadership from a range of perspectives and on the range of roles and responsibilities that leaders actually have in a particular setting. The questionnaire will take about 20 minutes to complete.[Page 180]Where appropriate, please tick the box ▪ that best matches your response
Appendix 3A The Early Childhood Leader's Understanding of Leadership[Page 187]
You may wish to talk in more depth to early childhood leaders in different contexts about their experience and understanding of leadership. For follow-up leads that emerged from the survey.
We are interested in exploring your perspectives, on what you think leadership in your setting (and in general) means to you, your approaches to leadership, and so on. In our discussion with you today, we will be asking questions which cover 9 broad areas relating to:
- First, (and very quickly) some background information
- How you define and what your perceptions of leadership are
- Your roles, responsibilities and functions
- Internal and external influences
- Training and professional development
- The culture of the organization, and
- Any words of advice or comments you might have.
This conversation will last 30 minutes to an hour and will depend on the extent of your answers and our ensuing conversation. We would like you to be as honest and as open as you feel comfortable being, and reassure you that we will make every effort to keep these as confidential as possible.Background
[Page 188]Definition and Perceptions of Leadership
- What is the title of your current post (confirm above)?
- Describe what your typical day looks like.
- How long have you been in this post?
- What was your previous post (very briefly) – role, responsibilities, place of work/setting.
Roles, Responsibilities and Functions
- What does leadership mean to you in this setting? Where did you get this idea of leadership from?
- What would you say is the difference between leadership and management?
- Do you see leadership in an early childhood setting as being any different from other settings/sectors? If so, what do you believe are the differences? (Probe: How do you know this?)
- What characteristics do you think a good role model in terms of an EY leader should have?
- Essential professional
- Personal characteristics
- What aspects of your roles, responsibilities and functions as an EY leader do you regard as most important? (Check this covers all three dimensions of leadership: pedagogical, organizational and distributive.)
- Understanding the local community?
- How important is raising children's achievement?
- What does performance-led management mean in your setting?
- Do you think that business/entrepreneurial skills are important? Why?
- What helps to facilitate your leadership role?
- Internal (e.g. operational management, annual training plan, line management, part of teacher team, supervision, are they encouraged to network beyond organization?).
- External (e.g. Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership [EYDCP], clinical supervision, how does the owner support if managed by someone else, regional management?).
- How have these helped?
- What are the barriers to fulfilling your role as a leader?
- Internal (e.g. time, staff shortages, plus coverage – in more depth – to thinking about: own skill set, level of confidence).
- External (e.g. organizational culture – does it encourage leadership?).
- How have these hindered?
- How did you overcome possible obstacles/challenges without forms of support?
- How are decisions made in the organization? (processes)
- To what extent are decisions communicated?
- What is your role and what is the extent of your involvement in decisionmaking at various levels in the organization?
- What support would have helped when you first started as a leader?
- Did you have a role model/mentor?
- Did you have a choice in deciding who this should be?
[Page 190]Culture of Organization
- What forms of professional development in terms of leadership have you had/experienced, if any?
- Which, if any, would you say have been most useful?
- Which, if any, would you say have been less useful?
- How are decisions made about the priorities for professional development?
- First, by yourself. Could you please give a couple of examples.
- Second, by others in the setting. Again a couple of examples.
- As a leader, what you do think your responsibility for your own leadership is? (personal drive, response to learn more)
- How would you describe the culture of this organization (i.e. is it collegial [not hierarchical]/collaborative? Does this relate to decision-making? Do you work as a team, i.e. are all staff members equally valued and respected, are all voices heard, do you share a common vision for development?).
- How would you describe your setting's/unit's/institution's relationship with other organizations such as the local authority, other schools, other similar EY organizations, interested parties and individuals and your role within this (networking, general indication of outward lookingness, formal and informal)?
- What advice would you give to other EY leaders?
- Any other comments?
Appendix 3B The Early Childhood Practitioner's Understanding of Leadership[Page 191]
You may wish to explore more about what other staff in the setting think about early childhood leadership.
The focus of this group conversation is on understanding leadership in a range of early years settings. We are interested in exploring perspectives of a range of staff in the early years – on what you think leadership in early years means, how you perceive the approaches of leaders in this phase. The questions we will be focusing on are around:
- your previous knowledge and experience of leadership (if any)
- how you perceive leadership, i.e. what you understand by it
- possible inside/outside influences
- your own personal and professional assessment of the roles, responsibilities and functions of EY leaders
- your thoughts on decision-making, and
- the culture of the organization.
A focus group, unlike an interview, is an informal discussion, and will be directed by questions around the areas just mentioned. The purpose of having more than one participant in the group is to invite stimulating discussion and debate and constructive dialogue. Feel free to support each other as well as disagree, but do answer as honestly and as openly as you feel comfortable doing.Brief Background/Introductions
In a sentence or two, as a way of introduction, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
Previous Knowledge and Experience of Leadership
- Name, who you are, i.e. what your current post/post title is and your role in this setting (fill table above)? [Page 192]
- How long have you been in this post?
- Where did you work previously and for how long, and what was your role there?
Definition and Perceptions of Leadership
- What forms of leadership professional development have you had/experienced?
- Which would you say have been wonderful/beneficial? OR which, if any, would you say have been most useful?
- Which would you say have been bad/unhelpful? OR which, if any, would you say have been less useful?
Inside/Outside Influences (Support and Barriers)
- What does leadership mean to you? Where did you get this idea of leadership from?
- What would you say is the difference between leadership and management?
- Do you see leadership in an early childhood setting as being any different from other settings/sectors?
- If so, what do you believe are the differences?
- How do you know this?
- Has your perception of leadership in Early Years changed at all since you first started working at this setting? Elaborate.
- If so, what have been some of the influences?
Think about a leader (not necessarily your own) in an early years setting the same as or similar to yours …
Roles, Responsibilities and Functions
- What do you think helps to facilitate/support a leader's role within a setting like yours?
- From the inside? Briefly elaborate.
- From the outside? Briefly elaborate.
- What do you think hinders your leader's role in a setting like yours? What may some of the barriers/challenges be?
- From the inside? Briefly elaborate.
- From the outside? Briefly elaborate.
- In your opinion, how do you think these barriers could be overcome or addressed?
- Do you see staff in an EY team, like yourself, having any influence on the role of the leader? Explain.
- Do you see staff in an EY team, like yourself, taking any responsibility for the leadership in this setting?
Again, think about a leader (not necessarily your own) in an early years setting the same as or similar to yours …
- What aspects of an EY leader's approach to leadership do you regard as most important? Elaborate.
Other aspects (very briefly, how important and why for each one) Prompts:
- understanding the local community?
- raising children's achievement?
- business/entrepreneurial skills?
- emphasis on performance among children?
- emphasis on staff performance?
- What aspects of leadership do you regard as negative, i.e. those that perhaps hinder work within an early years setting?
Culture of Organization
- How are decisions made in the organization? (processes)
- How are decisions about future development in your institution made?
- To what extent are decisions communicated?
- How are decisions made about the priorities for your own professional development? [Page 194]
- First, by yourself. Could you please give a couple of examples.
- Second, by others in the setting. Again a couple of examples.
- What is the role of your leader and the extent of his/her involvement in decision-making at various levels in the organization?
- What is your role and the extent of your involvement in decision-making at various levels in the organization?
- How would you describe the culture of this organization (i.e. is it collegial/not hierarchical/collaborative?) – do you work as a team, are all staff members equally valued and respected, are all voices heard, do you share a common vision for development?
- How would you describe your setting's/unit's/institution's relationship with other organizations such as the local authority, other schools, other similar EY organizations, interested parties and individuals and your role within this (networking, general indication of outward looking, formal and informal)?
- Is there anything you might like to add to enable us to better understand leaders and leadership in EY?
Appendix 4 The Leader's Diary for ‘A Day-in-the Life …’[Page 195]
Ask an early childhood leader to keep a diary for a day and then to reflect on ‘critical moments’ or incidents. Critical incidents (Flanagan, 1954) relate to incidents that have special significance and involve behaviour that was especially helpful in accomplishing an assigned mission, in this case, leadership. Collecting critical incidents is a way of helping to identify requirements for successful leadership.
Instructions: we ask you to keep a running record of the day against a time line and, later, to consider particular critical moments, incidents or activities that strike you. If, on reflection, you are aware of using particular leadership knowledge or skills at particular points, we should be very grateful if you can identify these, too.
What happened? (date, day, time, location, ongoing activities and those involved) Leadership knowledge and skills that you are aware of using (Think about experience and professional training) Any other comments?
Re-examine the critical incidents in the light of leadership strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities and threats in the context.
Appendix 5 An Audit of the Effects of Market Forces in the Childcare Market (Sumsion, 2006: 115–16)[Page 196]Market Operation and Effects
Goals and Obligations
- What do corporate childcare providers offer that cannot be provided by the not-for-profit sector and small for-profit owner-operators? What are they unable to offer? Does this matter?
- How do corporate services benefit from economies of scale? What are the limitations of economies of scale and how can these limitations be minimized?
- What are the effects of an emphasis on efficiency and the promotion of a highly-visible brand?
- Are there ‘new clusters of goals, obligations and dispositions’ (Cribb and Ball, 2005: 125) associated with corporatized childcare? If so, are they compatible with or in opposition to the goals, obligations and dispositions traditionally associated with not-for-profit childcare?
- What tensions do corporate providers experience between goals and obligations? How do these tensions play out and how are they reconciled?
- Do corporate services contribute to the development of the social fabric of the communities they serve? If so, how are their contributions similar to/different from those of not-for-profit services?
[Page 197]Staffing Practices and Professionalism
- What conceptions of quality underpin corporate childcare provision?
- What convincing evidence is there that corporate services offer high-quality care?
- What ‘new inflections’ (Singh et al., 2005: 4) of quality provision might corporatized childcare make possible?
- Can potentially negative effects of corporatization be addressed adequately through the childcare accreditation process?
- How do staffing profiles and practices of corporate childcare providers differ from those of other providers? What is the impact on employees, children and families?
- What constructs of professionalism are enabled, constrained and silenced by corporatization?
- Are there ‘contrasting cultural and ethical dispositions’ (Osgood, 2004: 9) between corporate and not-for-profit providers?
- How well do corporate childcare providers do ‘if judged against (i) the full set of norms/values they espouse, or (ii) sets of norms/values very widely held by those around them?’ (Cribb and Ball, 2005: 124).
- What, if any, practices do corporate providers aim to conceal or refrain from publicizing ‘because they know them to be incompatible with the standards they would subscribe to in public?’ (Cribb and Ball, 2005: 124).
Appendix 6 Journeys into Leadership[Page 198]
Mary Catherine Bateson (1990) noticed a continuous thread and links between different situations and events in life. She also recognized interruptions that forced a change in direction. She asked the question: How does one survive this kind of interruption? One way to respond was to call into play existing skills and adaptive patterns that could be transferred to the new situation, that is, to stress continuity. Another way to respond was to feel that life had ended and that there was a need to start from zero, or stress discontinuity. The choice people made about how to interpret continuities and discontinuities in their lives she found had implications for the way they approached the future.
She identified three meanings for ‘composing a life’. First, an artist would take a set of disparate elements to make a visual composition of form and colour in order to create balance. Second, a musical composer would create something through various transitions over time. The first approach characterizes simultaneous and multiple demands from multiple directions that at any one time are handled and incorporated, and the second characterizes the changes, discontinuities and transitions that take place over a lifetime. The third meaning refers to the stories that people make about their lives for themselves and for others in order to interpret experience as it occurs. She advocated playing with and composing multiple versions of a life. It is easy to edit out the discontinuities, to reshape our histories without the zigzags. Adjusting to change, however, has much to do with discovering threads of continuity. It is difficult to adjust to change and transfer learning unless you can recognize some analogy between your old situation and your new one. Those who stay the course, she concluded, are those who are able to ride the changes and to adapt.
Answer the following questions as honestly as you can and consider the implications of your answers for the continuing education and development of early childhood leaders.
Paula Jorde Bloom (1997: 32) described early childhood directors' careers and professional development in terms of ‘navigating the rapids’. She described the beginnings of leadership in terms of survival.
- Beginning leaders
What age were you when you first achieved a leadership position?
How did you react to and feel about your first leadership position?
How did you deal with the amount of paperwork, the multiple demands that
you faced from staff, parents and children, the multiple interactions, activities
Did you feel in control or out of control, calm or anxious?
How adequate did you feel?
[Page 199]Did you feel that staff liked and appreciated you?
Did anyone say that you were doing a good job?
What did you think about the quality of the service that your organization was providing?
Where did you get support, guidance or specialized training?
Do the answers to these questions tell you anything about professional
development needs of beginning leaders?
Bloom suggested that somewhere between one and four years early childhood leaders gained competence.
- Competence leaders
How long was it before you felt you shifted from muddling to juggling in order to build a repertoire of competence?
How would you say that you achieved a better balance between your professional and private lives, between people and paperwork, individuals and the whole organization?
Are you now confident that you know what you have to do, how to do it and how to manage the demands of the job?
Can you prioritize and attend to big issues?
Are you flexible and tolerant?
Are you comfortable about not always being noticed, liked, and not always being right?
Is your vision-building realistic or idealistic?
Overall, do you feel confident that you are able to meet internal and external expectations?
How could leaders be helped to develop competence?
According to Bloom, some early childhood leaders reach a higher level of reflection and competence to become ‘master’ leaders.
- Master leaders
Is the focus of your leadership on organizational change and improvement and your own long-term goals?
Are you confident that you can handle any change?
Are you a role model, mentor and advocate for the field of early childhood?
Can you stand back and think how well you are doing, while you are doing it?
Do you have a deep level of self-understanding and awareness of your own strengths and weaknesses?
Are you confident in your style/s of leadership?
Can you achieve emotional neutrality and objectivity in conflict situations?
Do you feel that you can still find new ways to solve old problems?
How well do you delegate?
Are you satisfied with outcomes achieved by your organization for children,
[Page 200]parents and community?
Do you feel a responsibility to change the public perception of the (low) status of work with early years children and families?
Do you embrace your role in creating contexts that encourage and support less experienced staff?
Do individuals, teams and the whole organization have distinct development and improvement needs? How can these needs be balanced?
When you have answered these questions you may be interested to consider the extent to which you think that Bloom's stages of early childhood leadership are compatible with the ‘conscious competence’ learning model. Here the learner or trainee always begins at stage 1 or ‘unconscious incompetence’ and ends at stage 4 or ‘unconscious competence’, having passed through stage 2 or ‘conscious incompetence’ and stage 3 or ‘conscious competence’. It is often assumed that trainees will be at stage 2 and training is focused towards achieving stage 3, when often trainees are actually still at stage 1. This suggests the need for an ability to recognize and develop consciousness of competence in others. (The origins of the conscious competence model are not altogether clear and have been attributed to various authors, including Gregory Bateson (1973), father of Mary Catherine Bateson.)
Appendix 7 Guidelines for Setting Up a Mentoring Scheme[Page 201]
In setting up a mentoring scheme, guidelines may be helpful to ensure:
- voluntary participation (mentors and mentees must want to take part in this process);
- clear purpose (mentors and mentees must understand their respective roles and responsibilities);
- mentor training must be provided in order for mentors to develop effective skills in the context of an effective mentoring relationship;
- choice of mentor (mentees should be allowed within reason to state their preference from an identified group of mentors);
- practical matters, such as availability of the mentor are important, as the expectation is that there will be regular mentoring meetings (this means that any one mentor should not take on too many mentees);
- ground rules will need to be established that ensure confidentiality, that specify the purpose of mentoring, that enable either party to withdraw from the relationship without being required to offer a detailed explanation, that build-in a review process that considers learning that has taken place or progress that has been made and may involve refocusing or considering future direction;
- overall monitoring of the effectiveness of the mentoring process; and
- continual quality improvement.
A simple and inexpensive alternative to a formal mentoring scheme is peer mentoring, where two people meet regularly and agree to share time mentoring and being mentored. This will involve sharing the planning, monitoring and reviewing of any action plans put in place. What are the key tasks of the mentor during this process?Stage 1: Confirming the Action Plan
[Page 202]Stage 2: Encouraging Self-Management
- The responsibility for the action plan lies with the mentee (a mentor may provide guidance, access to information and serve as a ‘sounding board’ but is not responsible for the mentee's performance).
- The mentor's role is to identify and anticipate the mentee's likely needs in reaching their chosen goal.
- The mentor will use open questioning in order to encourage self-awareness and honest self-evaluation.
- The mentor can check goals meet SMART criteria (that they are specific, measurable, achieveable, relevant and timescaled).
Stage 3: Support During the Implementation Phase
- The mentor may need to ask probing questions that stimulate the mentee to organize administrative aspects of implementing the action plan.
- The mentee can also indicate the range of available support options.
- The mentor should remain objective and impartial but not tell the mentee how to proceed.
Stage 4: Evaluating the Success of the Action Plan
- The mentor needs to agree an appropriate schedule of meetings.
- The mentor will need to achieve a balance of support and information with suggestions, when requested.
- The mentor should be willing to consider alternative strategies and offer help in evaluating appropriate ways forward.
- The mentee should be allowed to make errors and experience setbacks that may constitute valuable learning experiences.
- The goal of the mentor is to increase self-confidence in the mentee, a positive attitude and the motivation to complete the action plan.
And as a Final Check, Do You:
- Formal evaluations at the end of the process should be encouraged.
- The mentor has a role to play in assisting in evaluating the performance.
- The mentor can stimulate the process of reflection on facilitators and barriers to progress and learning as well as benefits to the mentee and the organization.
- The mentor will be responsible for celebrating success, benefits gained and in agreeing to maintain contact for the future when the relationship comes to an end.
- really understand the role?
- really want to do it?
- really feel able to draw on your own and other resources to support the mentee?
- really have time?
- really feel confident enough to help create a realistic action plan?
- really feel comfortable acting as ‘sounding board’ but letting the mentee figure out the solutions?
- really think you can give constructive feedback, build confidence and capacity in the mentee?
- really know when to end the relationship after reviewing achievements and finish on an upbeat note?
Appendix 8 Values Underpinning Multi-Agency Working[Page 203]
How do we achieve a common value base given that different values may be held by different professional groups and that these will influence their attitudes and behaviour in the course of collaborative work? Consider the multiple sources of conflicting attitudes.
- What are informal knowledge and beliefs of professionals, client groups and the public that underpin the existing professional practice of the different agencies working together?
- What traditions, customs and mores are practitioners from different agencies socialized into, in the course of their professional training?
- How (if at all) do you think that these contribute to professionals' own sense of professional identity and self-worth?
- How have these values been reinforced and rewarded by the profession concerned and internalized by new entrants to the profession (through professional standards, peer pressure or public expectations)?
- Do differences in the academic disciplines and traditions within which different professionals have trained influence their attitudes (or ours towards them) and their work?
- Do professions grounded in the natural sciences (such as medicine or health-related fields) enjoy a higher prestige than professions or agencies located within the social science field (such as social work or community development)?
- To what extent do perceived differences in status, salary levels, conditions of work and career progression contribute to the attitudes of professionals (and our attitudes towards them)?
- Does a predominance of women in the profession (such as early childhood) or men have any bearing on public attitudes towards the role?
- To what extent do differences in initial professional education and training contribute to perceived status and prestige in the workplace?
- Does the relative power and autonomy of the professional association concerned make a difference?
- Are there differences in values, customs and culture between types of organization (offering education, health, social care and welfare or all of these)?
- Are differences in ethical codes of practice a source of difference in attitude (or perceived attitude)?
- To what extent does conduct related to information-sharing and confidentiality create professional differences (real or perceived)?
- Does respect for a client's privacy and dignity play a role?
- How far do these differences contribute to professional stereotypes and prejudices that may be held?
- Do we now need a new set of multi-agency or interprofessional values that may contribute to the effectiveness of such work? [Page 204]
- Finally, in this context how can different professions and agencies learn to substitute value differences for value plurality that is underpinned by collaboration, inclusion and equality?
Appendix 9 Building Effective Learning Communities[Page 205]
Just as the mentor–mentee working together will prepare, take action and review, Taylor (1979) of the Coverdale Organization argues for a similar approach for teams and organizations. The strength of the approach lies in the structure it provides for carrying out a group task, measuring of success and reviewing learning.Preparation Will Include Aims and PlanningAims
- What is the purpose of the task?
- What is the desired end product?
- How will we recognize success?
- Gathering information.
- Deciding what has to be done.
- Making detailed plans.
- Carrying out the plans.
- Modifying as necessary.
- What did we achieve (did we achieve what we set out to do and how could it be improved)?
- How did we achieve it (what went well that we can use next time and what were the difficulties and how can we avoid them next time)?
Appendix 10 Questions to Ask When Preparing for the Action Research Cycle[Page 206]Phase 1: Observation and Analysis of Existing Practice
Phase 2: Planning for Change
- What is your research focus?
- What are your research questions?
Phase 3: Creating Change
- What is the existing literature in the field?
- What are the ethical considerations?
- What is the time frame?
- How will trustworthiness be ensured?
Phase 4: Communicating the Findings
- What baseline data will be collected and how will it be analysed?
- What change will be implemented to improve professional or social practice?
- How will it be monitored and judged for effectiveness?
- What further data will be collected and how will this be analysed?
- What further change will be implemented to improve practice … and so on?
- What formal research report will be written?
- What form of report will sponsors (or potential users) want?
- How will accessibility be ensured?
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