My Froebelian Leadership Story

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Project summary:

Action research and reflection on leadership from a Froebelian perspective in an early earning and childcare community



Within my setting there are currently four Froebel-trained practitioners, two of which (including myself) have completed the Froebelian practitioner inquiry course and my head of centre who has completed the Froebelian leadership course. The Froebelian trained staff recognised that our practice and ethos is and should be heavily influenced by Froebelian practice. We recognise and understand the importance of adopting a Froebelian approach and wanted to cultivate a shared vision amongst the whole staff team in regards to the Froebelian approach. It was my aim to upskill and support staff through a variety of different leadership styles in the hope that by May 2024 at least 80% of the staff team would have an increased knowledge on Froebelian principled practice and this would be evident through observational practice, self-evaluation and the documentation process around children’s learning. This is also priority 2 within our current improvement plan under pedagogy. 

I reflected on our current Froebelian journey and identified that only 14% of the team were Froebelian trained, I understood that it was a large commitment completing the Froebel in childhood practice course and that we had a large staff team consisting of 27 staff members with varied skill sets and interests. This compelled me to look inward within our setting to identify different strategies as to how I could upskill and support staff on our Froebelian journey without them completing the Froebel in childhood practice course. 

It was paramount that I reflected on my own leadership journey within Bonnypark and also the Froebelian journey that the other four staff members had been on. What was the impact of our projects? How did I share my knowledge with the wider team?What was next for our Froebelian journey? 


 In order for me to support and upskill staff on Froebelian principled practice I first had to gain insight and gather data around where their current knowledge levels lay. At the in service day in August 2024 there were 85% of staff in attendance so I used this opportunity to do some focused work around Froebelian practice and how this looked within our environment. It was important for me as a leader to upskill staff but also to recognise staff’s already brilliant practice and highlight the incredible work that had been done already around Froebelian practice and environments. I felt that it was important to highlight what we as a staff team already knew than focusing on what we did not as Bruce (2021) explains, “What children can do (rather than what they cannot do) is the starting point in a child’s education” (Bruce 2021:142) 

Through discussions with staff prior to the in service day it became a common theme that staff were unsure about how to embed Froebelian principles within the environment confidently such as giving children autonomy across all areas and how freedom with guidance looked in practice. This was extremely relevant as Froebel empathised the importance of considering the environment as a key factor to children’s development. 

 To showcase how this was already in place within our ELC and how this could be improved I selected a variety of different pictures from our establishment over the years and asked staff to highlight what they thought was most and least Froebelian within the different areas and environments. This task empowered staff as it highlighted that they had more awareness of how the Froebelian approach looked in practice than they once thought and that they were in fact already adopting a Froebelian approach across multiple curricular areas they were just unaware of it. 

I then gave staff a questionnaire that I had created regarding their current knowledge of Froebelian practice, this then provided me with baseline data on staff’s current knowledge and highlighted areas they felt they needed support with so that I could devise an action plan.  

I would then use the data from these questionnaires to strategically plan how to effectively support staff. To ensure i had a clear aim and focus for my project I created a Model for improvement and a STAN aim (see appendix 1) this was used and developed over time as a working document and provided clear intentions of my aim and how this was going to be achieved. 

I then created and led a Froebel focus group which consisted of the four members that were Froebel trained. Once I had gathered the data from the questionnaires I then met with the focus group and we devised an action plan on how we would increase staff’s knowledge. I believe the leadership style I adopted throughout these focus group meetings was democratic as I valued the input from the focus group and respected the opinions they has to contribute, we were on this journey together and i wanted to involve them in the decision making processes. We emphasised through our focus group meetings that this would be an ongoing project and that there may never be an end goal as such, that it was about the process of learning together as a team and a focus was had on building positive relationships. 

It was important for myself to find out how the staff team felt they learned best and through discussions i came to realise that the staff felt having a guide of how Froebelian principles and occupations were embedded at Bonnypark would be helpful. Within the focus group I delegated each staff member two principles to focus on and asked that they write a short meaningful extract about their selected principles and provide evidence of how this is already embedded within Bonnypark and ways that we can enhance the principles through practice. 

Upon the completion of the “Froebel guide at Bonnypark” I then set a deadline for staff to have read this by so that i could individually meet with them to reflect upon it. I initially met with the full year staff as a group to facilitate discussions and reflections upon the guide and answer any queries they had regarding it. However upon reflection I then decided to meet individually with the staff who were term time so that I could have protected time with each staff member to discuss individually how they found they were adopting the Froebelian approach. 

After talking to staff within the 2s room, it became apparent that staff were confident in Froebelian practice and were able to make the Froebelian links to continuous provision and areas within our room. This this then led to reflections on our continuous provision, as a team we had discussions around how Froebelian principles were lived in each area without an adult being present. To then make this visible to staff I added the Froebelian principles into a core feature of our continuous provision posters (see appendix 2) so that staff could see how the Froebelian principles were lived in every area and reflect on these regularly. 

 Moving forward and final reflections 

From the completion of this course the feedback I have gained from staff through discussions has all been very positive. Staff have been able to build on their Froebelian knowledge and use the information from the pamphlets, discussions and Froebel focused tasks to reflect on their practice and deepen their knowledge and understanding of Froebel. This has been evident through the use of environment audits, observational practice and an increase in staff’s knowledge through questionnaire data. I have grown in confidence as a leader and pride myself in the democratic approach I had throughout this process. I understand that the Froebelain journey is not yet over and in fact has only really just begun for us as a centre as I continue to embark on my Froebelian journey and empower staff to do this alongside me. Froebelian principles continue to be embedded and lived within our centre through spaces, interactions and experiences but also within our relationships with one another staff team in particular unity and connectedness.  

I feel as through as a leader through the completion of the Froebel in childhood practice course, leading the practitioner inquiry course and completing this Froebelian leadership course that I have developed a variety of different skills as a leader, particularly my confidence and ability to delegate. The leadership course in particular has challenged my leadership role in new ways as I have had to distribute my leadership skills and be flexible within my approach. 

As our Froebelian journey continues I plan to use Froebel’s self-evaluation toolkit as part of our self-evaluation meetings to continue to keep Froebelian principles forefront of our practice and pedagogy. After positive feedback from the continuous provision posters I also plan to make four Froebelian focused posters with the focus group so that staff have a visual representation and reminder of how the principles are lived at Bonnypark across multiple areas.  


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