Being an effective team leader or deputy/manager requires certain skills.

I recall how I established my day nursery business in 1991 with no leadership or management skills and no experience in the sector. On reflection it is not a course of action I would now highly recommend. I had to learn ‘on the job’.

In my late teens I had run a small Brownie group with a high level of responsibility around keeping children safe and engaged, but not quite the same as the additional requirements of running a business.

I obviously had to employ staff that had the qualifications and skills and expertise to manage and lead and I was fortunate enough to be able to employ well-qualified and experienced individuals who were able to develop their own team leaders ‘in house’.

I gained a lot of knowledge and experience myself from working alongside the management team and then went on to acquire a range of qualifications in the EY and related fields myself thereafter.

Over time different training options have emerged but now, more than ever, there is a need for flexibility and responsiveness in delivery of training to meet the current pressures.

The Issues:

Lack of qualified managerial staff – this has been voiced in the early years sector for many years now.
From my experience of establishing an Early Years business owners and managers support network, members have voiced their difficulties around recruiting new managers and deputies. There is an ongoing shortage of qualified individuals, with experience, available to take up these posts.

Many have looked to continually develop qualified staff internally, and I have supported this in a more practical and interactive way with a series of bite-sized Leadership and Management Development Workshops.

These small group sessions, open to aspiring managers, have provided benefits in different ways. See what attendees said following a previous course here (at the bottom of the page):

Internal promotion an option but often a lack of management experience is an issue – it is not just a qualification that enables a person to take on a more senior post. An individual needs to have a range of people skills as well as practical skills to be an effective manager. These are often acquired over time and with experience. Sometimes this can be overlooked when an excellent practitioner is appointed internally to a more senior role.

Within an EY role a practitioner might not have had the opportunity to lead a project or piece of work, manage other staff, develop conflict resolution skills, coach/mentor others or use effective time-management tools. They may not understand how personality traits impact on team dynamics or how to work with and communicate effectively with adults that have different learning preferences to themselves.

These skills and attributes need to be learnt and developed and supported by the managerial team.

The other question to ask: do existing seniors within the setting have enough time to commit to this important task when they have many other responsibilities?

Staff sickness and shortages across teams – this has been prevalent with the onset of Covid-19 in March 2020.

Many staff have had to isolate for a range of reasons and may have been furloughed for a period, resulting in high levels of staff absenteeism. This in turn has had an impact on staff training opportunities whether internally or externally and some staff may have lost a level of confidence being out of the work environment for a while. They may also be struggling with recovery and/or mental health issues and like so many across the country they may be struggling with loss.

The ongoing shortage of new entrants and suitably qualified and experienced staff at all levels across the sector continues and has been the case for some years.

Additional Pressures have arisen from implementing Covid-19 measures. This has taken a toll on managers:

  • The constantly changing government legislation has resulted in constant amendments to policies and practices with additional tasks and checks now required;
  • Navigating new ways of managing Ofsted and local authority requirements; needing to consult with Public Health England;
  • Increased and timely liaison with parents and staff – communicating in person, via email and phone as well as video calling, which has become a newly learnt and popular way of keeping in touch and keeping all informed;
  • Sharing of resources and activities to support parents keeping their children at home;
  • Finding new ways of marketing the EY setting; developing virtual tours of the setting and finding other ways for parents to get to know their child’s key worker;
  • Reassuring staff and supporting mental health needs as well as assessing the needs of returning children.

It has undoubtedly been an unprecedented time of change and adaptation for those working in the sector.

All has taken time and energy.

A solution:

Now feels like the right time to build on the success of the workshops offered previously.

Peer Support Sessions covering leadership and management development could be the solution. These will better meet the new ways of working.

In times when we need to socially distance ourselves and when that time needs to be used even more effectively than before. No time spent travelling to a training venue, no study time, and in the comfort of your own setting so that you are on hand if you are needed urgently.

You could grab a cuppa, find a quiet corner, or at least somewhere that you can tap in to a virtual ‘get together’ on the office PC, laptop, or a smartphone. Some dedicated time for you. ‘Meeting up’ (even if virtually!) with other team leaders or deputies/managers from different settings, that also want to further develop their skills and come together and share common issues.

A relaxed forum where you can learn new skills and seek solutions to problems with your peers and/or access more flexible and confidential one-to-one support.

Sessions will be bespoke, to meet the needs of the group covering common topics of interest associated with leadership and management skills.

Next steps:

Find out the details here and express an interest . Places are limited. Monthly sessions are due to start in April 2021.

If one-to-one support would be more useful as an option, see the link here.