Abstracts ILRF 2012 Porto

A Theoretical Model of Strategic Leadership in Early Childhood Education and Care

Marja-Liisa Akselin

Strategy is needed to reduce uncertainty, ensure positive outcomes, quality services and sustainability in ECEC. Strategic leadership creates a clear vision that provides the glue for ECEC community cohesion, resulting in ‘one voice’ for ECEC and public recognition. The Early Childhood Education Strategic Leadership Theoretical Model takes a contextual model approach in which strategic leadership operates within the context of the ECEC profession. The model provides a good framework for guiding ECEC Directors in developing strategic leadership.

The strategic leader takes into consideration the current issues in the profession, the requirements outlined by the municipalities as well the organisation’s goals. The strategic leader in the ECEC organisation crafts a collective vision with the personel in the organisation and communicates it to the policy makers, stake holders and partners. This clear vision provides clear direction for pedagogical leadership that enables early childhood practitioners to gain recognition through communicating effectively their views on their own pedagogy, its underlying ideological assumptions, and interpreting and analyzing the reasons for the selected pedagogical practices. It is through communicating such clarity of purpose that we gain public recognition for educating and caring for the young children in the community.

Graduate Leadership in Early Childhood Education and Quality Education of the Child in Kenya

Esther K. Ambetsa, Graduate Student, Department of Early Childhood Studies, Kenyatta University, Kenya.

Early childhood development (ECD) has been recognized worldwide as a strategy for eradicating poverty in vulnerable communities of the developing countries. This recognition means that well skilled trained personnel in ECE are critical in ensuring the quality of care and holistic development of the children aged 0-8 years. However, the future of ECE in Kenya is uncertain as young graduates with ECE degrees who have the potential and skills of policy making and offering leadership in ECE appear to lack employment opportunities accorded by the Teachers Service Commission. This unemployment problem is equally being noticed in the private and cooperate enterprise providing early childhood care and development services to children in Kenya. Besides the recent government budget allocation for the year 2012/2013 does not capture the ECE graduates. The objective of this study is to develop a framework that will enable the government recognize ECE as a profession and consequently enhance the quality of care and holistic development of the child. The findings will recommend to government on effective leadership and policy making in ECD through skilled ECE graduate personnel.


Elina Fonsén

Due to the governmental and organizational changes in Finnish child care there is a raising need for pedagogical leadership in Early Childhood Education (ECE). Leadership research in the Finnish child care context confirms that teachers expect pedagogical leadership. Research also proves that child care center directors report a shortage of time for pedagogical leadership, and it is difficult for them to define the content of it.

The aim of the study is to clarify the concept of pedagogical leadership, and to investigate how the Finnish ECE directors want to develop the process of pedagogical leadership. In this study the leadership is examined according to the contextual leadership model (Hujala 2004; Nivala 1999; 2001). The contextual leadership model adheres to the core task of early childhood education and care. According to the theory leadership is perceived as a shared responsibility of assessing and developing the quality of ECEC.

The present research is connected with the University of Tampere’s development project of pedagogical leadership which was carried out in seven Finnish municipalities. Because of this methodological approach of the study have characteristics of action research. The narrative characteristic of research rises from the data and the analyzing method. Data was collected in several ways. It consists of questionnaires, interviews, and development tasks and diaries of the child care center directors. The narrative analysis elicits the stories of pedagogical leadership. Thus the main story of pedagogical leadership represents a shared understanding of the question with cultural orientation in a Finnish context. The data was analysed with the content analysis and structural narrative method. Preliminary results indicate that the requirements for the success of pedagogical leadership consists dimensions which are value, context, organizational culture, professionalism of director and competence of substance.

The findings indicate a need to clarify and prioritize the tasks of director’s profession. The appreciation of the director’s pedagogical expertise needs to be increased. More skills for human resource management are needed in order to engage the staff with the center’s values and basic task. Directors call for more time resources and possibilities for pedagogical discussions. The discussion structures should also be strengthened.

Key Words: Pedagogical leadership. leaders profession in ECE

How does the teacher training in early childhood education in Norway meet the challenges for leadership development?

Assistant Professor Per Tore Granrusten
Norwegian Early Childhood Education and Care institution (ECECs) have during the last decade been experiencing a lot of pressure for change, closely linked to two political aims for the sector.
Firstly, to obtain full national coverage for all children who wants placement in an ECEC institution. From being a selected offer for the few, it has become a right for everyone. The increasing establishment of ECECs has changed their organizational structure, and provided larger and more complex units. Increased complexity in fact increases challenges on leadership and management skills with consequences for early childhood education. In a white paper, the government points to the fact that leadership is not a subject in the teacher training of ECEC-teachers (St. meld. nr. 41, (2008-2009).

Secondly, the aim has been to make ECECs a part of the educational system in Norway, the ECECs constituting the first part of the educational course, and as a foundation for life-long learning.
These changes challenge established ways and orientations in the field of ECEC leadership, not least concerning pedagogical leadership and development, as well as human resource management and management of external relations, also in the teacher training.

How does the teacher training in early childhood education meet these challenges for leadership development? This paper examines whether the teacher training in early childhood education is able to respond to the leadership challenges that preschool teachers are expected to meet in their profession.

Researching Leadership in Early Childhood Education

Leena Halttunen

What defines leadership in a day care setting?
Quite often leadership is investigated only from the point of view of the leader and not all the elements which affect leadership are considered. Nevertheless, it is not just the leader who defines and creates leadership. In this article the aim is to discuss different elements which define leadership and to show how these elements should be taken seriously. These other elements which define leadership include for example employees’ individual needs for leadership, the role of the teams and groups, physical organizational structure and how leadership in arranged and carried out at the municipal level. The article will especially focus on employees’ role and doing that, it is close to concepts like organizational citizenship and distributed leadership. The context of the paper is Finland.

Key words: leadership, expectations, task environment

Training for leadership => Sharing the ideas together based on these!

Associate prof. Kari Hoås Moen, Queen Maud University College of Early Childhood Education.

Evaluation of a new Education for Directors of Early childhood centres in Norway
The aim of this research is to get knowledge about how students at the “National Leadership Education for Directors of ECEC institutions – The Education for Directors in Mid-Norway” have been evaluating some aspects of the first module of the education. This education started in the autaumn of 2011 and is an innovation in a Norwgian context. The theoretical and conceptual framework for the research is leadership functions and problem-based and experiential learning. The methodology is a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches through internal and external evaluation.The students (n = 46) evaluated each session continuously by use of an electronical questionnaire. Through the external evaluation the studentes were invited to write down answers in the form of open formulated questions in a questionnaire. Ethical considerations were taken care of by treating the data in an anonymous way. Some main findings were that knowledge from the Education has had an impact on the students´ efforts to lead the work in the centres. Those who responded mentioned different practical and reflective consequences. Many used theory from own paper-writing during their practice with pedagogical/staff leadership functions. Further on, they used their papers when reflecting on own practice and own experience. The first group of students will finish this education in the autumn of 2012. Implications for further practice should be that this education concept must continue and be refined based on further experiences.

New Early Childhood Leadership in Taiwan: Challenges and Potentials

Dr Yuling Hsue, Associate professor (National HsinChu University of Education ), Taiwan

This paper explores major training courses and methods of current research into young children’s school leaders in Taiwan. The leaders of early childhood education and care centers for 2-6 year olds need to acquire the bachelor ‘s degree of early childhood education plus 5 years ecec working experiences, and the third requirement, to get the 10- credit- hour certificate of national training programs by Taiwan new ECEC law passed in 2011 .The paper discusses the draft contents of the national training program for ECEC leaders with its challenges and potentials.

Dialogue between research and practice in ECE leadership

Eeva HUJALA, University of Tampere (Finland)

Article will be built on three perspectives that are intertwined with each other: meta-analysis of leadership research in educational field in Finland, leadership practice in ECE context, and evaluation of leadership practice in ECE, framed within leadership research. The first part of the presentation concentrates on ontological and epistemological analysis of leadership research on education as well as on the assessment of research results, and its theoretical and empirical contribution in understanding the phenomenon of ECE leadership. Leadership practice and leaders’ work are studied as part of a communal leadership structure in ECE. Leadership practices are examined on the basis of ECE leaders’ views of their own work as leaders; what kind of tasks are included in their work and how leaders assess their roles, responsibilities and key issues in their work that result in success as leaders. Leadership is also examined from the point of view of human resources management by studying how leaders are supported in their work by their supervisors. Results concerning ECE leadership reality will be analyzed within the frame of Finnish leadership research, with a view to explaining how leadership research can benefit leaders’ work in ECE contexts.

A Culture of Teamwork, A Culture of Learning. – An Examination of Shared Leadership within the Context of Caribbean Early Childhood Environments

Dr Carol Logie
The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad.

This research study explored the concept of shared leadership within the context of Caribbean early childhood environments. Three notions of commitment and teacher management were the selected variables identified as linked to effective leadership. Eighty-seven (87) teachers in Early Childhood Care and Education Centres in Trinidad and Tobago participated in the study and shared their perceptions of leadership, management and commitment to their profession. A questionnaire adapted with permission from Leithwood, Aitken and Jantzi (2006) and Mayers (2008) were used to gather data. Additionally, permission was granted for the use of the attitudinal commitment inventory within this Caribbean study, based on the Three-Component Model (TCM) of commitment by Mayers and Allen (2004). These three commitment variables: Affective, Normative and Continuous Commitment were utilised.

The study found teachers who stated they had an administrative role believed they were effective leaders. Similarly, a strong correlation was found between teachers who were committed to the job and their leadership role. Moreover, shared leadership, although new to the early childhood landscape in this region, was found to be an effective strategy towards high quality job performance in early childhood environments.

Keywords: Job Commitment, Teachers’ Management Roles and Shared Leadership

Analysis of Leadership Phenomenon in Azerbaijani Early Childhood Education and Care

Co-authors: Ulviya Mikailova & Yuliya Karimova, Center for Innovations in Education. Azerbaijan.

This paper aims at analysing the impact of different issues and processes on development of leadership skills of heads of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) settings in the Republic of Azerbaijan that were being involved in piloting child-centered methodology since 1998 when after gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Azerbaijan was introduced to new educational practices and methodologies by various international donor organizations. Step by Step (SbS) Program for Children and Parents was piloted in 53 kindergartens in Azerbaijan by the Open Society Institution (OSI) and became first attempt to develop child-centered educational practices at the level of national preschool education which was traditionaly the field that provided education and care for children from 3 to 6. During the period from 1998 to 2002 OSI provided funding and technical assistance to National Foundation in Azerbaijan to increase the number of pilot preschool settings by delivering professional development trainings for preschool specialists, including kindergarten staff, methodologists, heads of kindergartens and paretns. After 2002 donor funding was over and some pilot kindergartens returned to the traditional approaches. Present study aimed at comparing two kindergarten cases – one that continued working with new methodology and another one that discontinued working when the project was over. This coparison will enable to examine the nature of leadership in those kindergartens which became models for child-centered early childhood education building on pilot SbS experience. Another important aim was to get understanding of the ways to sustain leadership development in the National ECEC. Data was gathered through two case studies conducted in Baku in the period from March to June 2012. Anonymity of study participants is preserved. The findings were analyzed and discussed within the framework of transformational leadership model which offers a method of increasing principals’ orientation toward change, innovation, and individual and organizational development.

Keywords: early childhood, leadership, transformational leadership model, innovations in ECEC.

Researching Leadership in Early Childhood through Cross-national Collaboration: Pressures, Pitfalls and Possibilities

Dr Jillian Rodd, Educational Consultant, England

This paper examines some key features of current research into leadership in early childhood, with particular focus on factors that impact on cross-national collaborations. It identifies a number of potential pitfalls in and pressures of cross-national research collaborations, with particular reference to the International Leadership Research Forum and proposes possible pathways for guiding and scaffolding rigorous inter-country research partnerships within the global early childhood community.

Key Words: leadership, cross-national, research


Ulla Soukainen, MEd, Inspector of Early childhood education, City of Turku, Finland,
ulla.soukainen@utu.fi, tel. +358 40 7018379

The focus of this research is in distributed organization of early childhood education, or in other words long-distance management meaning that there are managers who have many day-care-centers or several types of day-care to lead.

My interest is to compare subordinates in the physically same unit with superior to those who work in units without superior’s constant presence.

I made a questionnaire including a question: “What kind of pedagogical support do you need from your superior?” I discovered categories such as cooperation and interaction, pedagogical guidance, developing and resources. I also had 16 Likert scale questions that measured pedagogical support. (Answering percent 87, N = 223.) I made the sum of the variable of those 16 questions (Cronbach’s Alpha .917) and surprisingly subordinates working without superior’s constant presence felt that they get more support than those working in the physically same unit with superior. (Mann-Whitney, Z = -2.311; p = 0,021.)

With this research I try to find “tools” to help superiors in their everyday-tasks. How to organize the day to manage to do everything? How to prioritize the tasks? I examined (Soukainen & Keskinen 2010) in which way the superiors think they can influence their work. It seemed that they couldn’t realize that they even could to do that. They were accusing the lack of time and they said they would need secretaries to do their work. It helps if one can use computers effectively and utilize the teams to manage one’s daycare center. A trained and professional personnel helps the superior – but there is also another point of view. The superior should take care of her or his personnel. A motivated and engaged personnel is the main resource that no employer can give up without any consequences (Manka 2007, 47-50).

Key-words: distributed organization, early childhood education, pedagogical support