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

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2.4 Developing a team culture

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. As a result, you may only have ‘snatched time’ to develop relationships with your colleagues. 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. In their chapter ‘Working in teams in early years settings’, Read and Rees (2010) suggest the skills of teamwork should be viewed in a leadership context rather than a case of just muddling through on a day-to-day basis. 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. The drive towards partnership working has gradually been replaced by the more flexible notion of ‘integrated’ working and services encompassed in the term ‘multi-agency working’. 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.