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03 Jun 2024

Nursery Managers Book Club: Social Leadership in Early Childhood Education and Care

Nursery Managers Book Club: Social Leadership in Early Childhood Education and Care

In this month's Nursery Managers Book Club, NMT features editor Charlotte Goddard learns about a new model of leadership in early childhood education.

In the run-up to a general election, when we are thinking about social issues and the need for a better, fairer world, Social Leadership in Early Childhood Education and Care throws up some important issues for consideration.

June O’Sullivan, chief executive of the London Early Years Foundation, and Mona Sakr, associate professor of early childhood at Middlesex University, draw on their vast experience as well as that of others including Jacqueline Lamb, chief executive of Indigo Childcare Group in Scotland, Brett Wigdortz, chief executive of Tiney in London, and Cassie Holland, manager of Archfield House Nursery and co-founder of Bristol Beach Schools. There is also input from early years experts from across the world, including Australia, Malaysia and Turkey.

The authors of this well-written and engaging book discuss the need to rethink leadership and leadership development in early years. While most leadership models in the sector draw from business leadership theories, or focus on pedagogical leadership, they set out the case for a leadership model that also delivers a social purpose – creating an approach that fosters a fairer society for children and families. This is an exciting challenge, widening the scope and remit for early years leaders from a focus on their specific setting to a focus on society as a whole.

One chapter explores sustainability, giving practical examples of ways that early years settings can contribute to the United Nations’ sustainability development goals. For example, banning glitter and stopping the use of clingfilm can help to stop plastic getting into the oceans, while introducing LED lighting can achieve 43 per cent less energy use.

I was particularly interested in the chapter about creating a culture of collaborative innovation, which looks at working in partnership with other organisations to bring about change. There is also a section focusing on leadership development and investing in the leadership of others. We often think of this as a way to improve staff wellbeing, recruitment and retention, but Sakr and O’Sullivan point out that this is also a way to build a confident voice speaking out for the early years sector across the country – surely a goal we can all aspire to.


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