Pre-School Leadership and the Influence this has upon Outcomes for Young Children

Envy, Rosemary Alice (2018). Pre-School Leadership and the Influence this has upon Outcomes for Young Children. EdD thesis The Open University.



This research focuses on pre-school leadership and the influence this has upon improving outcomes for disadvantaged children, situating it within a broader framework of social inequality specifically in regard to the educational achievements of disadvantaged children and their more advantaged peers. As the study is comparative in nature the findings are discussed in relation to settings that have been graded by Ofsted as ‘outstanding’ and ‘requires Improvement’.

The research takes into account that the social inequality associated with childhood poverty has a negative impact on outcomes for children, particularly in their earliest years. It is premised upon the known importance of good quality early years provision as an effective means to ameliorate the effects of childhood poverty on outcomes for young children and that effective leadership of early years settings is a defining factor of good quality provision.

A mixed methods approach was adopted to explore the influence that pre-school leadership has upon outcomes for disadvantaged children. Qualitative data collated from four semi-structured interviews, along with each setting’s most recent Ofsted report were analysed through a process of content analysis. School performance data were analysed to provide the contextual background of the participating settings. Descriptive statistics are used to situate the local authority’s performance in the context of other local authorities regionally and nationally and enable direct comparisons to be made between settings.

Key findings from this study indicate that, in settings deemed by Ofsted to be ‘outstanding’ less affluent children made good progress towards the early learning goals, this demonstrates effective leadership within those settings. Where a setting was deemed to ‘require improvement’ children did not make good progress, this indicates that leadership in that instance was less effective.

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