My head and time have been consumed of late with the conclusion of my master’s thesis; by this point you forget why or what you’re writing!

But now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel I wanted to share one theme that ran clearly through my project: the importance of communicating your core vision and values.

Are you on the same page?

At the heart of the project is an exploration of the role that adults play in learning and whether their perceptions matched their practice.

One aspect that really struck me was whether or not a setting’s vision and values had been clearly communicated. It surprised me how differently practitioners saw or performed their role, even within the same classroom.

As an example, some practitioners in one setting said that they felt their role was to teach to a set outcome, whereas the setting’s ethos was to plan on interest and to allow free exploration.

Individuality is important, but if people are not on the same page, it suggests that ideals and philosophy are not embedded in practice. This could impact the realisation of your setting’s goals.

There is no right or wrong

Each setting is different. It will have its own vision and core values and will reflect the nature of its business and a unique culture.

A leader of a Children’s Centre may focus on whole families first and foremost, whereas a leader of a local authority nursery may focus on providing services to disadvantaged children. One nursery may see adults as educators and another may see adults as facilitators.

There is no right or wrong. What is important is that each person who works in your company from bank staff to manager knows what, how and why your vision and core values are in place. Clarity and transparency are essential.

Three tips to bring clarity to your setting

1. Be clear on your goals

If you are not clear on your goals, you cannot expect your staff to be.

Communicate these to your team verbally and have them written and in an easy-to-read format. A rubric or slogan which underpins all that you do is helpful. Then, when analysing your practice, you and your team can ask yourself if your practice is in line with your goal of ‘putting families first’ or ‘empowering and developing’ etc.

Keep goals visible and communicate them clearly to parents too.

2. Be clear from the beginning!

Your vision and values should be made clear right from the very first interview, through the induction and onwards.

In fact, communicating these at the recruitment stage can ensure that a potential team member is a good fit. There is nothing more frustrating than having someone who is not ‘on-board’ with what you do. I’m sure some of you have worked in places where your vision and the setting’s vision don’t align. It’s frustrating for both parties. (Remember that you are interviewing a candidate as much as they are interviewing you!)

Anna and David Wright of Paint Pots nursery recently talked to the Early Years Podcast about how their ‘Paint Pots Pyramid’ philosophy is a main point of emphasis during the induction process and how it is embedded in their day-to-day practice. It is well worth a listen, even if I do say so myself!

3. Talk to your team

Ask individual members of your team about their opinion on your vision and values. If you find that your philosophy differs, you may need to be creative in educating or modelling expected behaviours.

CREC’s ‘Background Biography Questionnaire’ is a useful resource to understand what your people think.

Information sheets as part of induction or as supervisions are another great way of collecting information to reflect upon (Download example from Rainbow Smiles). After some thought, you may find that you want to re-align your philosophy with your team’s after all!

Heather Stallard

Early Years Consultant at formerly ofAstec Solutions ltd
Heather is an experienced and passionate early years professional who works with and supports teams to improve practice. She has a Masters in “Early Years Professional Practice”.

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