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

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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 personal qualities, skills and abilities (Education Scotland, 2022) that may characterise an effective leader:

  • empowering staff
  • having a shared vision
  • developing and maintaining relationships at all levels
  • being creative and innovative
  • effective communication and consultation
  • positive role modelling
  • engaging in self-evaluation

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.

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Healthy eating
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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 as outlined by Education Scotland (2022) above.

  • 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?


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.