Oxfordshire fosters early years leaders

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A new programme in Oxfordshire is empowering early years practitioners to lead best practice across the county.

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The launch of the Leaders of Early Learning programme

At the launch of the Leaders of Early Learning programme last week, 98 practitioners gathered to celebrate their work supporting other local settings.

Oxfordshire has many centres of best practice and the Early Years Board created the programme in January this year, aiming to see leaders in schools and settings working together, as well as supporting leaders with their personal development.   

The county has around 350 settings, 250 schools and 700 childminders, as well as six standalone nursery schools and two early years teaching schools.

Chris Malone, early years manager at Oxfordshire County Council, and the chair of Oxfordshire’s Early Years Board, said, ‘Leaders of Early Learning brings together local, national and international experts, like an early years think-tank.

‘It’s a combination of teachers in nursery and primary schools, EYPs, practitioners from the PVI sector including nursery managers, childminders and people working in children’s centres.

‘The idea is to empower current outstanding leaders to share their wonderful achievements. It’s essentially a peer support model.’

‘We’ve brought together other programmes that were working separately. There was all this great work going on in separate bubbles so this is an opportunity to bring the experiences together and also expand them into many local communities of practice.’

The programme aims to:

  • make a long-term difference through investing in relationship-building
  • recognise that difference approaches are needed in different contexts
  • remember that the most effective approach is not ‘top down’
  • understand that journeys of improvement depend upon us all learning from each other
  • encourage leaders to value, above all, high quality adult-child interactions
  • ensure that learning for adults, and for children, is interesting and enjoyable
  • use technology whenever possible to join up ‘communities of practice’ across the county

Ms Malone added, ‘The overwhelming message from leaders at the launch event was that their time is very precious. For example, if we ask practitioners and teachers to go to other nurseries, we must find a way to ensure that their own setting does not lose out in their absence. This is something we will learn from, for example leaders may host visits rather than go visiting in the future.’

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