Leeds Beckett University
TheRoleOfTheGraduatePedagogicalLeaderWithChildrenFromBirthToThirtyMonths-WHALLEY_Redacted.pdf (8.19 MB)

The role of the graduate pedagogical leader with children from birth to thirty months

Download (8.19 MB)
posted on 2022-11-23, 13:55 authored by Mary Whalley

The development of a graduate-leader role in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce has been a significant policy issue in England since 1997. Early Years Professional Status (EYPS) was introduced as a full graduate role from 2006 (CWDC, 2006) and replaced by Early Years Teacher (EYT) Status from 2013 (NCTL, 2013a). This study is situated during a time period when Early Years Professional (EYP) was the graduate leader role. EYPs were to be leaders of pedagogical practice with children from birth to five within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). This was a distinctive role from leadership/management of an ECEC setting. A study by Mathers et al. (2011), evaluating EYPS, considered the graduate leader role with the different age groups within the EYFS and found there to be less evidence of EYPs working with children under 30 months. Many babies and toddlers are now in some form of non-parental care settings for at least part of the week and ECEC provision for them has been noticeably politically neglected (Powell and Goouch, 2012). Children from B-30m are at a critical stage of development, with enormous capacity for exploration and learning about their worlds but also in need of appropriate care (Degotardi and Pearson, 2014). 

This study was a response to Mathers et al.’s call for further research on graduate leadership with children from B-30m. Through collective case study and adopting a multi-method approach, the experiences and perspectives of six EYPs, who led pedagogical practice with children under the age of 30 months, were recorded and documented to give voice to their understanding of the EYP role. Drawing on principles of constructivist grounded theory, using an iterative approach the data was analysed, coded and categorised to identify specific aspects of the EYPs’ pedagogical leadership. Two inter-related dimensions of leadership emerged: relationships (with the children, parents, within the team and with other professionals); and trustworthiness (through pedagogical knowledge, strategic leadership skills, reflective practice and in their values and pedagogical beliefs). The study also found the thread of professional care running through these two dimensions and concluded that a model of mindfully caring leadership offered a conceptual framework for pedagogical leadership with children B-30m. This model is also considered to have contemporary relevance to the newer ECEC graduate role of EYT. Further research on how EYTs work with children B-30m is one of the recommendations of this study.


Qualification name

  • Professional Doctorate


O'Keeffe, Lisa ; Chesworth, Elizabeth

Awarding Institution

Leeds Beckett University

Completion Date


Qualification level

  • Doctoral


  • eng


Leeds Beckett University

Usage metrics

    LBU Theses and Dissertations


    No categories selected



    Ref. manager