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Struggling to lead? Using vision and values as your guide

date April 5, 2024Maureen Hunt

In this blog post, Maureen Hunt shares some early years CPD reflections for nursery managers, directors and leaders feeling the pressures of the industry right now.

The struggle is real

Do you ever feel like you are struggling to keep up with changes or that conflicting expectations and pressures leave you wondering what the best course of action is? Constant change and ‘moving goal posts’ can cause anxiety and conflict in settings as staff sometimes struggle to keep the focus on quality and meeting children’s needs when they are just trying to get by with very stretched resources.

nursery manager struggling business leadership

The Early Years world is constantly changing; new legislation and guidance, changes to funding streams, and pressures around sustainability – these can all add to the feeling of being pulled in all directions, leading to a feeling of overwhelm. There seems to be no end of new ideas being shared, conflicting advice given, and predicted changes in funding streams are likely to put a higher than ever before demand on places. 

So, what is the answer to creating a calm and purposeful setting that can successfully navigate all the challenges and stay focused on what is really important?

How to create a successful, purposeful early years setting

I believe that establishing a shared set of values and a strong vision of the kind of setting you want to be will give you the tools you need to make good decisions and keep the ship on course. 

Now more than ever it is important to have a clear idea of the kind of provision you want to be and creating a culture with everyone working together towards a common goal, with an agreed set of principles and values will help you achieve success. 

For that to happen everyone needs to pull together, be clear about their role and feel valued for their contribution. They need to know what they are working for and understand that this is the driving force for decision-making and ultimately creates the setting they have chosen to be part of.

There is power in a strong vision and shared values. 

examples of values for your early years setting

You can then choose five that most resonate with your business, for example:

  • Excellence – Provide the best start of life for children in your care
  • Inspiration – Inspire the children in your care
  • Curiosity – Spark curiosity in children
  • Respect – for all children and their backgrounds, parents and staff – regardless of their circumstances
  • Sustainability – across your resources and processes, looking after the planet and its communities

With vision and values as your guide, even when the sea is rough you can stay focused, achieve your goals and keep your vision alive.

Maureen Hunt photo
About the author

Maureen Hunt is an independent education consultant specialising in early years. She taught for over 25 years in nursery and infant schools and spent 15 years in leadership roles. Maureen was the Early Years Lead for Achievement for All where she was responsible for the design and the delivery of their award-winning Early Years programme “Achieving Early”. Maureen holds a BEd, a Master’s degree in Education Management, the National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination and the National Professional Qualification for Headship. Her book ‘Helping Every child to thrive in the Early Years’ focuses on what settings can do to overcome the disadvantages some children face in their education.


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