Subject - Leadership in the early years
#EYTalking is a Twitter group which meets on Tuesday nights from 8 - 9 pm. Discussion topics vary and members of the group dip in and out week by week. Anyone with an interest in early years is welcome to join in and offer their thoughts, information and experience.
The topic this week was leadership. In a group setting such as a nursery, there is a clear chain of leadership – a manger, a deputy manager, a member of staff in charge of safeguarding (often the manager), someone who takes responsibility for behaviour etc. Staff should have received a job description and induction training and are clear about their roles and responsibilities before they start working for the company.
Leadership in the early years is an often misunderstood subject for childminders. There is a question in the Ofsted Self Evaluation Form (SEF) which asks us to talk about the leadership and management of our provisions and childminders often ask me what it means. I remind them that they are a running small business and that one of their roles is to lead and manage their business. Childminders are solely responsible for the day-to-day leadership and management of their business, accounts, food hygiene and safety, caring for and educating the children and much, much more.
Of course, in a group provision the manager is responsible for leadership and management and might share some of the tasks with deputies and other staff, asking for input and feedback before implementing new plans or calling meetings to discuss ideas for making changes to documentation.
Effective leadership skills are essential if your business is to thrive in the months and years to come. Leaders need a lot of skills - they need experience, strength of character and determination to succeed. They also need to be able to listen to their staff / parents / children and to know when to stop and consult with others.
David Renfree suggests group providers read - ‘Listening as a Way of Life’ – 2010 NCB leaflet on leadership - http://www.ncb.org.uk/media/74060/leadership_for_listening.pdf
EYTalking - Values must be set firmly... which reminds me of this quote: 'If you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything.'
Documents which promote effective leadership include -
David Renfree - Highly Effective Leadership in Children's Centres – 2012 NFER research report -
Ofsted - a passion to be outstanding -
David Renfree - article from Teaching Expertise -
‘Developing effective leadership’ from Education Scotland -
Laura Henry - Defining Leadership & Management - http://laurachildcare.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/spot-the-leader/
David Renfree - ‘How do they Manage? An Investigation of Early Childhood Leadership’ – 2006 ESRC research - http://bit.ly/14uUeah
Early Learning Cntr - "In teaching you will learn, and in learning you will teach." (Phil Collins) - humbles you in your leadership role.
Members of the group agree that leaders must be recruited carefully and well trained -
Sue Allingham - something that concerns me is the very young, inexperienced people in leadership roles in settings.
EYTalking - Good point. It is all about recruiting right and continuous development for managers and leaders.
EYTalking - I suppose the key point is around the emotional intelligence and the maturity of the leader, rather than their age?
Early Learning Cntr - Agree, age does not always indicate the level of experience.
Laura Henry - Career Orientation - http://laurachildcare.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/butter-or-margarine-career-orientation/ . As Laura’s article clearly demonstrates, some people have the right disposition for their roles and this should be nurtured and encouraged.
What kind of leader are you?
Are you a strong, effective leader of your provision or do you constantly look to others for approval and support? Do you know what kind of leader you are? It’s like learning styles - we all have different ones... we all have different leadership strengths as well -
Laura Henry - Organisational behaviour –
Lincs Montessori - Our Leadership team did Myers Briggs tests - 5 out of 8 were ENFJs! Don't know whether that’s a good thing - http://www.personalitypage.com/ENFJ.html
Christine Malone - Myers Briggs is a useful tool for practitioners to understand what makes each other tick.
Jacqui Burke - you need to be aware of potential blind spots and be prepared to "group think" if your team is dominated by one particular MBTI type and look for opportunities to recognise and value the strengths that those with different types bring to the party.
Christine Malone - I think it's important that EY leaders have the confidence to say what works well for their children, not just do what others say... EYTalking agrees - Indeed, starting points are your individual setting values / ethos.
EYTalking - Does any other setting use a psychology based tool with staff during the recruitment process and as an ongoing tool?
Christine Malone - I think something like insights (colours for personalities) is easier for settings https://www.insights.com/
Jacqui Burke - I use jigsaw@work with a lot of the settings I work with - cheap, fun, tactile, memorable - http://www.jigsawatwork.com/.
EYTalking - Excellent one page profile concept via @HelenHSAUK and @SueAtkins http://www.helensandersonassociates.co.uk/reading-room/how/person-centred-thinking/one-page-profiles.aspx
Childminders and leadership
How does a childminder lead their childminding practice? Nursery and other group managers lead staff... how does a childminder lead?
Beth Thomas - leadership is almost easier as a childminder as you have the final say whereas in nursery it’s not so easy. Training would be highly beneficial.
Simona McKenzie - Childminders lead their own practice but also have professional links with other childminders
Laura G - Childminders need to be self-motivating, self-reflective, commit to continuous professional development (CPD) and have good peer support
Early Learning Cntr - Agreed having peer support is essential as well. Sharing ideas and resources as well as motivation
Emma Harris - peer to peer support definitely helps me.
Laura G - it can take time to build the confidence - I was a bit of a push over at first! Peer support was crucial then.
Early Learning Cntr - I think since childminding is an independent role leadership in this area is parent involvement and support / resources
Childminders agree that LA support is also important for promoting leadership skills and they do not want this eroded by Government cutbacks -
Laura G - Yes LA support is so important for improvement. I am lucky to have excellent LA support & Network in our area. It will be so sad if this was to go.
BUT, as Simona McKenzie reminds us LA support needs to be standardised to reach ALL childminders, not just childminders who belong to a Network -
Locally to Knutsford Childminding, we are finding that LA training is ‘targeted’ for network childminders... LA support is only there for network childminders etc. We know this is partly because of lack of money and staffing cutbacks - but it is such a pity to lose a valuable resource. Christine Malone says that the Government have been slightly more positive about local authorities recently -
https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/elizabeth-truss-speaks-to-the-national-day-nurseries-association - we live in hope!
Beth Thomas agrees but challenges by saying that it’s not just LA support but ensuring settings accept / seek support rather than thinking they're good enough.
It is clearly important that a good leader should actively seek professional development opportunities.
Early Learning Cntr - Love the concept of LIFELONG LEARNING!!
Jacqui Burke - If LAs discontinue support, I encourage settings to band together to make buying in leadership training more cost effective. I still provide business, leadership and management training for some LAs but increasingly contract directly with groups of settings.
Laura Henry - yes, I have said this for a while. I am delivering a cost effective session about supervision for owners / managers in Surrey.
As Emma Harris and many others agree, there will always be more to learn.
Simona McKenzie - that is exactly what independent childminders may have to do to access training in future
Jacqui Burke - Absolutely. Together you have the power to negotiate a good price from which you all benefit.
EYTalking - if you deliver training and/ or consultancy within early years. Remember to connect via #NEYTCO http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/article/1160096/early-years-consultant-launches-national-trainers-association
Char - how do you motivate staff if they are unwilling to be motivated in the first place?
EYTalking - Very good question! See the staff as unique and remember that everyone has talents.
Jacqui Burke - Create opportunities for people to succeed. Catch them doing it well. Show them you appreciate what they are doing and make them feel good. Self esteem is critical to motivation. It is the same for adults as for children. Emotional needs don't disappear because we grow up.
Sarah Fillingham - remember that it’s not always about qualifications - support leading on projects /tasks / events etc to build new skills expertise and confidence.
Finding out more about effective leadership -
Laura G - it doesn't matter how experienced you are, there is always more to learn in this role :-)
So, here are some more links if you are inspired to find out more -
EYTalking - ‘Effective Leadership and Management in the Early Years’ by Janet Moyles
Laura Henry - Good news: @tracyseed and I will be developing a unique CPD package for the sector, all linked to leadership. Tracy Seed - I am registering participants now for leadership programme starting in November http://leadershipandmanagement-earlyyearsandbeyond-rss.eventbrite.co.uk
EYTalking - ‘Leadership Skills in the Early Years: Making a Difference‘ by @JuneOSullivan CEO @leyfonline
EYTalking - ‘Leadership and Management in the Early Years’ by Jane Cook @PreSchoolBooks
EYTalking - ‘Leadership and Early Years Professionalism: Linking Theory and Practice’ by Jennie and Lance Lindon
EYTalking - Thank you all for connecting and sharing tonight! Thank you to our new participants. Look forward to chatting with you all next week!