There are numerous definitions of leadership. Gardner (2011) describes a leader as “an individual who significantly affects the thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors of a significant number of individuals”.
Leadership in early years settings has traditionally been associated with the individual skills and personal qualities of the leader. More recently leadership is being viewed as not only the isolated activity of a single person, but instead that a variety of people who all contribute to successful leadership. With working within early years settings becoming more demanding and the MP for Education and Childcare wanting to “build a stronger, more capable workforce, with more rigorous training and qualifications, led by a growing group of Early Years Teachers” (DoE, Jan 2013) it is increasingly important that practitioners and leaders acquire the necessary knowledge and skills.
The early Years foundation stage (EYFS) introduced in 2008, was the first time a framework existed, setting out the expectations for care and provision for early years. The revised EYFS (2012) continues to be work in progress with its recognition of the need for further change. With the introduction of EYFS came the increased importance of those leading the early years settings.
How the setting organises and operates this transition are largely influenced by the leaders or leadership team at the individual school. Leadership necessitates decision making and effective communication of these decisions to the entire early years team.
Communication from leaders in schools
Leadership involves setting out the direction of the setting and carrying out actions to move this vision forward, by inspiring others with a longer-term strategic vision for the future. Without such leadership, tends to lead to others having a narrow and restrictive focus. Leadership is a key factor of effective schools and has shown to have a significant impact on pupils’ learning . One of the conclusions of an extensive study conducted of contemporary leadership in English schools carried out by Univeristy of Nottingham was that there are statistically significant associations between heads’ educational values and their strategic actions and improvements in pupil outcomes (2009).
Good communication practices need to be built into the policies and procedure documents of a setting. In my setting a procedure was piloted to greet the parents in the morning, this was found to support the parents and fostered good relations between early years practitioners and parents, the parents felt they were being included and the hand over of the children made much calmer. On monitoring this procedure and feeding this back to the leadership team at our weekly meeting it has since become a policy of the school in the early years setting.
The regular meetings also help to build a team environment and establish the head teacher as a team player who values the opinions of the other staff members. A study by Odhiambo...