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Early years team work and leadership
Early years team work and leadership

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2.2 Values and beliefs in the context of teamwork

Being able to raise issues and put forward your ideas to others is an important skill for all practitioners (CWDC, 2010). In the next activity you will be encouraged to articulate your values and beliefs in the context of teamwork.

Activity 6 Values and beliefs underpinning teamwork (I)

Timing: Allow about 30 minutes

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.

Think about and make notes on the following.

  • What do you understand by the word ‘team’?
  • Do you experience any difficulties when working as part of a team?
  • Do you have a ‘common purpose’, an articulated ‘vision’, a written ‘mission statement’ or aims and objectives in your setting? What are they? Are they written down? How did they come about? Were you involved? What do they mean to you?
  • What understandings, values, attitudes and beliefs relating to how children learn and develop, written or unwritten, do you share with those you work with?

It is widely accepted that the idea of ‘a common goal’ is core to understanding the notion of a team. But what is a ‘common goal’ and what does it look like in your practice? Rodd suggests that a team can be generally defined as:

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.

(Rodd, 2006, p. 149)

Rodd goes on to suggest that the following concepts are associated with teams:

  • The pursuit of a common philosophy, ideals and values
  • Commitment to working through issues
  • Shared responsibility
  • Open and honest communication
  • Access to a support system

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.

Activity 7 Values and beliefs underpinning teamwork (II)

Timing: Allow about 1 hour

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.

Think about your own views, values and beliefs in relation to working with other people using the idea of ‘ethos’. 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 (1999, p. 81) and then complete the tasks that follow, making notes.

Core values underpinning teamwork

  • Respect for persons – recognising the dignity and uniqueness of every human being, and behaving in ways that convey that respect.
  • The promotion of wellbeing – working for the welfare of all and seeking to further human flourishing.
  • Truth – having a commitment to teach and embrace truthfulness; being open in dialogue, to what others have to say; and confronting falsehood wherever it is found.
  • Democracy – believing that all human beings should enjoy the chance of self-government, or autonomy; and seeking within practice to offer opportunities for people to enjoy and exercise democratic rights.
  • Fairness and equality – working towards relationships that are characterised by fairness; confronting discrimination in the pursuit of promoting equality; and evaluating actions with regard to the way people are treated, the opportunities that are open to them and the rewards they receive.
(Adapted from Jeffs and Smith 1999, p. 81)
  • Write a short ‘self analysis’ to illustrate which of the core values you believe in or disagree with and explain why.
  • Provide one example from your practice that reflects the influence of each of these core values.
  • Talk to a colleague and note down which of your core values are shared.
  • Consider whether there are any other core values to add to the list in relation to working with others.


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, 2008).