Leading children’s centres: A study of seven leaders in context

WAINWRIGHT, Jonathan M. (2014). Leading children’s centres: A study of seven leaders in context. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Abstract

The development of Sure Start Children’s Centres was at the spearhead of New Labour’s efforts to support vulnerable children and families in order to eradicate child poverty. Children’s Centres were expected to provide integrated services for children and families in order to ensure that every child mattered. These Centres required a new kind of leadership which was different from that found in individual professions such as education or health but has been relatively unexplored. Through studying the life stories of seven Children’s Centre leaders from a specific local authority, some insights are given on the leadership context in which they operate; the approach they take to leadership; and how their personal and professional biographies have prepared them for this work and enabled their success. The study concludes that the context is unique because of the widespread uncertainty about the purpose of the Centres, the adversarial relationships with the Local Authority and the dilemmas of working with a wide range of stakeholders. This has led to the presentation of a competitive, almost heroic, stance. Deep seated beliefs in social justice coupled with a rebellious nature have been essential in providing a foundation for the authentic leadership these leaders present. Their experiences of early work in non-traditional environments with other agencies have prepared them for and excited them about the Children’s Centre leadership role. The Sure Start environment provided them with the opportunity for autonomy and being able to design provision which matched their concerns for social justice and allowed them to make a real difference in the community. The thesis challenges the ‘new paradigms’ of distributed leadership spreading from educational literature to the early years. It suggests that these Children’s Centre leaders see themselves as mavericks who achieve results for their communities through autonomy and freedom.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Jill Hazard
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2017 13:46
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2017 15:39
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/17144

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