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

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Early years team work and leadership

3 Revisiting leadership

You were introduced to leadership as being the concern of everyone, irrespective of the role they hold in their setting. This means that it is inevitable that your practice will show evidence of leadership in some form or another. How has change(s) to your practice offered opportunities to demonstrate leadership? Think about what the particular qualities, skills and abilities of a leader actually are.

Listed below is a summarised version of a selection of Reed’s (2009) personal qualities, skills and abilities that may characterise an effective leader.

Qualities of leadership in early years practitioners include, according to Reed (2009):

  • possessing clear knowledge of strengths and weaknesses of self and colleagues
  • ensuring effective transfer of information about children and families
  • engaging in effective partnership working
  • taking initiative and being innovative; encouraging colleagues to do the same
  • leading by example
  • finding ways to reflect on practice, and encouraging colleagues to do the same.

Activity 9 Healthy eating

By now you will be familiar with the idea that all aspects of your practice can offer the opportunity to demonstrate leadership. as you watch the video sequence ‘Healthy eating’ below, reflect on how the practitioners in the clip demonstrate leadership skills when supporting the children to cut up the fruit, encouraging them to do things for themselves or extending understanding when talking with the children. These same skills – to support, encourage and extend understanding – apply when leading practice and supporting other practitioners.

Download this video clip.Video player: Healthy eating
Skip transcript: Healthy eating

Transcript: Healthy eating

STAFF
That's it. Good girl. Well done.
CHILD
That looks like potato.
STAFF
That is potato. You're right. Don't you want to try a bit more for me?
CHILD
[INAUDIBLE] Potato.
STAFF
If I could sit by you. Wonderful, thank you.
CHILD
[INAUDIBLE].
STAFF
I am sitting in between. You're next to Cerys. You are. Aren't you?
CHILD
[INAUDIBLE].
CAROLINE JONES
Really, for personal, social, and independence, I think the lunchtime, in particular, is good. And the staff can see the opportunities there to continue as they would in the daily routine, in terms of supporting the children's learning through the meal time.
STAFF
Well done. [INAUDIBLE].
STAFF
Shall I get you some kitchen roll?
STAFF
Is it cool enough now? Give it another blow.
STAFF
There you go, look. Good girl. Well done. Very good. There you go. Out of the way, love.
CHILD
I ate all my mashed potato.
STAFF
Good. What have you got?
CHILD
Pasta.
STAFF
What's in it?
CHILD
Yummy in my tummy.
CHILD
Tomato sauce. I like pasta.
STAFF
I know you like pasta. That's one of your favourites, isn't it?
CHILD
[INAUDIBLE].
CAROLINE JONES
The staff sit with the children when they're eating.
STAFF
This is dirty now, isn't it? It's on the floor. You eat the ones on your plate.
CAROLINE JONES
But also, they're away sometimes, and leave the children to eat on their own, and have their own discussion without the adult being there. It's fine having the staff that have the skills to be able to make that decision, as to when it's appropriate to go, and when it's appropriate to stay.
CHILD
These are biscuits. I mean cheese biscuits.
STAFF
Take one and cut it up yourself. Put it on your plate.
CATHERINE WARNER
The purpose of snack time is to teach the children healthy eating, how to prepare a snack, about sharing, and taking turns. Cutting things up, spreading butter or cheese, gives the children the confidence that they can do things for themselves. They can prepare their own snack, and then share it with their friends.
Also, everything has to be healthy. Sometimes, it's somebody's birthday and that's a treat. So we have the foods like cake, just every once in a while.
STAFF
Take one, then.
CATHERINE WARNER
The practitioner's role in snack time is just to be there to support the child, teaching them how to self-register. Of course, if they're using knives, that they're not sharp knives. So sometimes a practitioner has to be there to do the final cutting up. But it's mainly there just to support the child and encourage them to do it for themselves. And some children don't want to do it. And we just wouldn't force anybody, we would just encourage.
CAROLINE JONES
Eating together is part of the curriculum. And when we move into the Flexible Free Nursery Entitlement, we've suggested that becomes part of the day, in terms of the curriculum. It should be planned as an opportunity for children to experience and to learn and develop, but enjoy.
And thinking of it across the Every Child Matters outcomes, you've got the obvious things, like keeping children healthy. And then you've got things like exploring their senses with the taste. You've got opportunities, not to force them in really, but for counting, and things like that.
End transcript: Healthy eating
Healthy eating
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
Figure 1 ‘… the purpose of snack time is to teach the children healthy eating, how to prepare a snack, about sharing and taking turns … cutting things up, spreading butter or cheese, … it gives the children the confidence that they can do things for themselves. They can prepare their own snack and then share it with their friends, but everything has to be healthy … sometimes it’s somebody’s birthday and that’s a treat, so we treat it as a treat and that’s when you have … foods like cake, just every once in a while’ (Catherine, practitioner, Pathways, Warwick)

In the following activity you will need to consider any opportunities you have had to develop leadership and to identify characteristics of leadership.

Activity 10 Identifying leadership skills and qualities

Timing: Allow about 1 hour

The objective of this activity is for you to be able to recognise characteristics of leadership in evidence of practice.

Look at the qualities of a leader given in the statements from Reed (2009).

  • Which of these qualities, skills or abilities can you see in the items of evidence you have selected for this activity?
  • In what ways are they evident?
  • What other leadership qualities can you recognise in your evidence?
  • How could you develop your practice to show greater evidence of leadership?

Comment

Among the leadership qualities you have identified, you may have noted the ability to support, encourage and extend your own and others’ practice and to show an understanding of the theory informing practice. These qualities may be evident in your role or in how you set out an activity, for example.

Effective leadership is also a key element in implementing changes to practice. Having considered what leadership ‘looks like’ in practice, you should now be able to indicate how change(s) to practice offer opportunities to demonstrate leadership.

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