Special Issue "Leadership of/in Early Years—Primary Education Sector: An International Perspective"

A special issue of Education Sciences (ISSN 2227-7102). This special issue belongs to the section "Early Childhood Education".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2021) | Viewed by 7863

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Krishan Kumar Sood
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Nottingham Institute of Education, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham NG11 8NS, UK
Interests: leadership and management; early years education; equality and diversity; English as an additional language; gender education

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The main focus of this special edition of the Education Science Journal is to share knowledge, understanding and practice about how different organisations globally develop the concept of leadership of/in the early years/early childhood—primary education sector. This gives authors the space to critically reflect on the important role that leadership plays in improving and sustaining quality in early years/childhood development. The leadership and management of the individual organization’s policy and context, as well as the challenges experienced by leaders, practitioners and teachers, are explored in depth in this special edition. Therefore, the purpose of the Special Issue is to create a forum for debate related to issues of policy, practice and theory, in order to help people to understand how different practices in different contexts may vary. Developing such an understanding enables a richness of insight that ultimately can be harnessed to serve the best interests of learners.

This special edition will usefully supplement existing literature in several ways. First, there is a collective wisdom of authors reflecting best practice in leadership of/in early years—primary education, located in their context: locally, nationally and internationally in ways rarely seen in the extant literature. Second, the articles in this journal reflect the lived experiences of practitioners at all levels of education, from headteachers/principals, CEOs of Early Childhood Centers, academics, policy makers, to classroom teachers leading early years—primary education practice. Hence, capturing and illuminating their authentic voices under one global roof is unique. Third, the methodological stance represented in each article is different, and rightly so, as the practice of the leadership of/in early years—primary education sector is so varied, apprehending and reflecting different styles of leadership. This is welcomed, as it further adds nuanced experiences and approaches informing research-evidenced articles. The collection of papers demands a reconceptualization of the leadership’s role, requiring a whole systems approach, looking inwardly and more outwardly focused and concerned with promoting alliances and trusting relationships with partners to promote mutual benefits, rather than solely being focused on the internal organization. This has significant implications for the development of policy, theory and practice of leadership of/in the early years—primary sector; elements of which are effectively transformed by this process.

Dr. Krishan Kumar Sood
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Education Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • leadership
  • management
  • accountability
  • child health and wellbeing
  • policy
  • transition
  • subject specialism
  • collaboration

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Article
A Case Study of the Benefits of the Science Learning Partnerships in Early Years and Primary Education in England
by , and
Educ. Sci. 2022, 12(2), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12020107 - 03 Feb 2022
Viewed by 628
Abstract
This paper charts the recent history of the STEM Learning UK contracts with local Science Learning Partnerships (SLPs) and identifies what leadership has been made available to support the Early Years and Primary school sector. A case study approach is taken using ‘Super [...] Read more.
This paper charts the recent history of the STEM Learning UK contracts with local Science Learning Partnerships (SLPs) and identifies what leadership has been made available to support the Early Years and Primary school sector. A case study approach is taken using ‘Super SLP’ hubs in England. Curriculum Hubs exist in core subject areas such as maths, English, science and computing. They have recently been expanded to include Behaviour Hubs. This forms the current DfE strategy of Teaching School Hubs (TSHs), i.e., to offer system support and a full career-length support for all stages of teacher-career and leadership development. This paper charts the changes to the Early Years (EY) and Primary teacher support networks, in science particularly, and examines what they provide and how this can be improved, and discusses, through session evaluation and feedback, what teachers have appreciated the most. Full article
Article
Leadership in Implementing Inclusive Education Policy in Early Childhood Education and Care Playrooms in South Africa
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(12), 815; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11120815 - 16 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1160
Abstract
Leadership plays a central role in improving and sustaining quality in Early Childhood Development (ECD) settings in the South African context. This article explored the leadership of the Inclusive Education Policy (IEP) and the challenges experienced by ECD centre managers and teachers. Children [...] Read more.
Leadership plays a central role in improving and sustaining quality in Early Childhood Development (ECD) settings in the South African context. This article explored the leadership of the Inclusive Education Policy (IEP) and the challenges experienced by ECD centre managers and teachers. Children with disabilities are most vulnerable, marginalised, and denied access to early education, especially in rural communities. Grounded in Bronfenbrenner’s ecosystems theory, the study adopted a qualitative approach. The participants included three centre managers and three teachers from Early Childhood Development centres in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The findings revealed that most participants had minimal knowledge and understanding of the policy and its implementation. There was also a lack of leadership from the policymakers to ensure that the IEP was monitored, supported, and implemented. Our recommendations are that all ECD practitioners receive appropriate training and development on the policy, ongoing support and guidance in implementing the policy, and proper resources for their centres and playrooms (financial, physical, and human resources). Full article
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Article
School Middle Leaders and Change Management: Do They Need to Be More on the “Balcony” than the Dance Floor?
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(11), 753; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11110753 - 20 Nov 2021
Viewed by 976
Abstract
The term “middle leader” in the context of English education has evolved into an overarching title to describe a leadership position for practitioners who have school wide responsibilities in addition to their classroom duties. Such responsibilities can consist of pastoral leadership; curriculum leadership; [...] Read more.
The term “middle leader” in the context of English education has evolved into an overarching title to describe a leadership position for practitioners who have school wide responsibilities in addition to their classroom duties. Such responsibilities can consist of pastoral leadership; curriculum leadership; leadership of additional student support; leadership of a team or phase and leadership of a specific school improvement priority. Educational middle leadership is founded on the notion of bringing together the duty of contributing to a strategic leadership remit whilst remaining firmly within the role of a classroom practitioner. It is argued that this ‘space’ for middle leadership is due to the increasingly hierarchical organisational structures of schools; consequently, being viewed as the ‘middle layer’. However, it is often unclear how much real authority or autonomy middle leaders have either to act strategically or make leadership decisions for their school. Despite many studies having previously explored the impact of senior leadership in improving school systems through deploying varied leadership styles, there is an absence in literature underpinning what constitutes effective strategic middle leadership. This study explored and interrogated the strategic ability of middle leadership, to contribute to this discourse. It critically reflected on the effectiveness of middle leadership, in a small-scale context, when making sustainable curriculum changes to a primary school’s maths curriculum. The research methodology adopted was an autoethnographic approach. It used a documentary method, that consisted of a reflective journal, kept by the first researcher, who was also a maths curriculum middle leader within an English primary school. The reflective journal was used as an authenticated document for elucidation and analysis. The main findings suggested that collective leadership was appropriate for this research context. The study further evidenced the reality of how personal, yet important understanding leadership cultures are, in all levels of leadership. The conclusion pointed to the direction of middle leaders being more successful if they were strategic, and therefore must both find and develop systems that assist them to be located on the “balcony” rather than only the dance floor. Full article
Article
Views from the Inside: Roles of Deputy Directors in Early Childhood Education in Finland
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(11), 751; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11110751 - 19 Nov 2021
Viewed by 930
Abstract
This study explored the perceptions of deputy directors about their leadership in Early Childhood Education (ECE) centres in Finland. Our aim was to look beyond task distribution and understand how deputy directors enacted leadership with their colleagues. Six deputy directors employed in one [...] Read more.
This study explored the perceptions of deputy directors about their leadership in Early Childhood Education (ECE) centres in Finland. Our aim was to look beyond task distribution and understand how deputy directors enacted leadership with their colleagues. Six deputy directors employed in one municipality in Finland participated in this study. Interviewed individually, the participants discussed how they themselves perceived being in a leadership position and what their leadership looked like in practice. The emphasis they placed on the various relationships highlight the importance of paying attention to the relational dynamics amongst staff within a centre, taking into account both formal and informal authority. Given the increasing global interest in understanding leadership enactment within ECE centres, and its connection with quality service provision, knowledge of the positional leadership roles of deputy directors is of importance to the ECE sector. This is one of the first studies dedicated to exploring the work of ECE deputy directors. Full article
Article
Using School-Level Data to Investigate the Impact of a One-to-One Mathematics Teaching Resource in English Primary Schools
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(11), 740; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11110740 - 16 Nov 2021
Viewed by 701
Abstract
This research investigates the potential for a one-to-one coaching tool used by adults other than teachers to be able to deliver greater mathematics progress for primary school children without adding significantly to school costs. Plus 1 and Power of 2 (+1 and Po2) [...] Read more.
This research investigates the potential for a one-to-one coaching tool used by adults other than teachers to be able to deliver greater mathematics progress for primary school children without adding significantly to school costs. Plus 1 and Power of 2 (+1 and Po2) are workbooks designed to be used by adults other than teachers working on a one-to-one basis with children to develop numeracy skills. This quantitative study seeks to examine the impact of +1 and Po2 by considering performance data aggregated at the school level. The attainment of children at 1071 English schools which use the +1 and Po2 products was compared with that of peers in other schools using a quasi-experimental research design based on England’s national performance measures. Statistical analysis suggests that schools using +1 and Po2 show higher levels of mathematics attainment than those who may have used other resources. Furthermore, there is an important finding that assessment attendance is higher, and disapplication from the curriculum lower, in schools using +1 and Po2. This indicates that use of this one-to-one intervention improves access to national tests for children and represents an opportunity for school leaders to maximise the cost effectiveness of existing non-teaching staff or volunteers. Full article
Article
Outstanding Primary Leadership in Times of Turbulence
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(11), 714; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11110714 - 06 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 711
Abstract
Leadership and management in schools have sought to produce high quality education for all pupils. To inform and support school leaders’ educationalists have developed theories and undertaken research studies identifying the relationships, contexts and characteristics that enable effective leadership. However, recent times of [...] Read more.
Leadership and management in schools have sought to produce high quality education for all pupils. To inform and support school leaders’ educationalists have developed theories and undertaken research studies identifying the relationships, contexts and characteristics that enable effective leadership. However, recent times of turbulence in primary schools have had an inevitable impact upon the key drivers for successful leadership and management. This study builds upon our previous research into outstanding leadership in primary education to examine the impact that such change has had upon the leadership of serving head teachers. It utilises an adapted Q-sort methodology to identify the views of serving head teachers to gain insights into the impact that such change has had upon their leadership. Overall, the analysis identified a need for aspirational characteristics of leadership, underpinned by personal values to guide schools in such times, as they strive to produce high quality education. Full article
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Article
A Bourdieusian Analysis of Good Practice Partnerships: Implications for Private, Voluntary and Independent Early Childcare Leaders
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(11), 707; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11110707 - 04 Nov 2021
Viewed by 513
Abstract
This article applies the theoretical lens of Bourdieu to explore leadership and the distribution of power between teachers and early childhood practitioners in the private voluntary and independent (PVI) sector in a good practice partnership. It questions the effectiveness of such partnerships in [...] Read more.
This article applies the theoretical lens of Bourdieu to explore leadership and the distribution of power between teachers and early childhood practitioners in the private voluntary and independent (PVI) sector in a good practice partnership. It questions the effectiveness of such partnerships in bringing about sustained improvements to practice in this sector. Data were collected in three focus groups with practitioners from 10 settings that were recruited by a consortium of schools to the partnership to take part in a 10-week intervention. The findings showed that the power imbalance between teachers and early childhood practitioners cancelled out collaborative pedagogical models of leadership intended to underpin the good practice partnership. Furthermore, this power imbalance contributed to the lack of sustainability of the intervention. In conclusion, leadership practices need to be more closely aligned between early childhood practitioners and teachers by drawing on ideas of moral leadership elicited from a symbolic frame. The article has relevance for leaders operating in collaborative contexts where existing power imbalances are evident. Full article

Review

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Review
The Pursuit of Happiness: Leadership Challenges of Recognising and Supporting Child Health and Wellbeing in the Early Years
Educ. Sci. 2022, 12(2), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12020113 - 08 Feb 2022
Viewed by 1244
Abstract
This study examined the leadership approach to child health and wellbeing within the early-years sector; it drew upon the evidence from thirty-two practitioners and ten nursery managers. Practitioners evidenced the challenges in recognising the signs and symptoms of low wellbeing and in monitoring [...] Read more.
This study examined the leadership approach to child health and wellbeing within the early-years sector; it drew upon the evidence from thirty-two practitioners and ten nursery managers. Practitioners evidenced the challenges in recognising the signs and symptoms of low wellbeing and in monitoring progress. A constructivist paradigm enabled qualitative data to be collected from an interactive questionnaire and three focus groups of nursery managers. Analysis was supported by two wellbeing models: the PERMA model (Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment) and the SHANARRI wheel (Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible, Included). The findings accentuated the lack of confidence of practitioners in identifying the precursors of health and wellbeing, and their ability to monitor the progress to support children. In conclusion, a clear definition of health and wellbeing should be adopted by managers; their leadership is vital to support the training of practitioners sharing their knowledge and experience to less-qualified staff. The main issues to transpire highlighted that clear mandatory guidance should be available for early-years practitioners, and the creation of a bespoke early-years model to measure child health and wellbeing. Full article
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