Highly Effective Leadership in Children's Centres

Caroline Sharp, Pippa Lord, Nalia George, Clare Southcott, Shona Macleod, Graham Handscomb, Jenny Jeffes

28 June 2012

Research Summary

The National College commissioned the NFER to investigate highly effective leadership in Sure Start Children’s Centres. The research included a literature review and case studies of 25 Children’s Centres.

The research identified eight core behaviours of highly effective Children's Centre leaders, including: engaging responsively with families; embracing integrated working; and motivating and empowering staff. The research also investigated 'system leadership' - leading across the foundation years to develop a self-improving system. This requires leaders to act strategically to improve outcomes for children and families outside of their own centre's reach area. Key system leadership behaviours include: focusing on achieving best outcomes for children and families across the foundation years; and tackling underperformance across the system.

Key Findings

  • leading in a time of intense change
  • maintaining high-quality services and staff morale in the face of uncertainty and funding cuts
  • dealing with increasing number of vulnerable families, combined with fewer sources of support
  • tackling barriers to effective data-sharing between partner agencies.

Sponsor Details

National College for School Leadership