Michael Gasper BERA Mentor Sig e-seminar 3rd to 10th August 2009
My research over the last year has looked at the practical issues for leaders of children’s
centres. The summary below is based on the abstract of a paper to be delivered at the
European Early Childhood Research Association (EECERA) conference in Strasbourg later
this month.
Diversity of challenge for leaders of children’s centres in England
The Government in the UK has developed an agenda for change in Early Childhood
Education and Care which will require increased partnership working between professional,
private and voluntary agencies, children, parents, families and local communities. In England
these will be based on children\'s centres and extended schools. This paper seeks to identify
key issues which need to be addressed in order for successful, sustainable partnership
working to develop, and to reflect on the implications for practice.
The research is qualitative, based on questionnaire responses from the children’s centre
leaders surveyed. It sets out to use the practical knowledge of children's centre leaders to
provide an initial identification to inform leaders and others in the field of the key aspects
which have been found to be successful or difficult in practice, with a reflective analysis
suggesting implications for the future, which can be further developed or challenged. The
reflective analysis takes into account recent publications exploring aspects of partnership
working and multi-agency teams, including inter alia: Anning and Ball (2008), Anning et al
(2006), Aubrey (2007), Barr et al (2005), Freeth et al (2005), Hargreaves and Fink (2006),
and Weinstein et al (2003).
Among the emerging themes are:
the potential for professional culture clash; the value and importance of individual
relationships; contradictions between school agendas and children’s centre agendas,
particularly when on the same site; the wide range of service partners with whom leaders
have to work; the value and importance of parents as equal partners.
Implications for policy and/or practice include:
a need for specific training for leaders; an argument for mentor support or at least adequate
supervision; improved understanding at all levels of the key issues for partnership success; a
need to acknowledge and address the fundamental differences between children\'s centres
and schools (this links internationally in terms of the debate around pre-school and school
My questions are:
1. How can mentoring help to address any or all of these issues?
2. The value and importance of mentoring for heads of children’s centres and schools is
recognised is already included in each of the relevant national training programmes
National Professional Qualification for Integrated Centre Leadership (NPQICL) and
National Professional Qualification for Headteacher (NPQH): how can mentoring be
extended to become part of the continuing professional development (CPD) of