Froebelian Leadership – Nikki Smith

Project author:

Project summary:

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

Inclusive practice



My leadership project was to oversee practitioners evaluating if their observations
showcase the whole child reflecting the high-quality experiences both indoors and
outdoors within the setting. During my Froebelian learning I have shared the principles of
Froebel and now given the staff the opportunity to review their observation practice as a
team. The project was to enable the practitioners to peer assess and work together to
evaluate if they felt our current approach to observations met the Froebelian principles
and values. We recognise as a staff team what we want for our children having Froebel at
the heart of our ethos as we move forward.

2. Context 
 Is there clear evidence of Froebelian principles within your observations of children?

Staff could take the lead on this project as observations are a focus in their job role as key
workers. Leaders are not all at the top and I believe all staff should be given the
opportunity to have a leadership role. Staff are encouraged to develop areas of interest
and following any training lead programmes with the children which recently have been
play on pedals and talking, listening and questioning. I would never ask anyone to do a
job I wouldn’t do myself as I feel a leader knows the way and is able to show the way
while enabling others to have opportunities to improve their skills and knowledge.
As a team we feel a lot of our opportunities for the children and our approach to learning
is connected to Froebel and we are widening our provision to include more of Froebel’s
occupations including sewing and going on a training journey for woodwork.

3.  Process 
The nursery manager is the only team member who has completed any training and as
the team continues to change annually it has been a challenge for everyone to learn
about Froebel and the reason behind our practice today. So, this project was carried out
with collective leadership however this was an opportunity for the two nursery nurse
practitioners to review their own work ensuring there is a connection to Froebel. The
practitioners are good at knowing their children, making changes to the learning
environment and providing continuous opportunities however they found their
observation lacked detail to specifically show what they children were doing and saying as
they play. The practitioners work well together and felt at ease discussing and evaluating
their practice together as they feel they both have strengths and weaknesses. Staff were
honest with themselves during the discussions they had together and with management,
found they were not putting enough into their detail and put more emphasis on trying to
link with the Curriculum for Excellence and Dumfries and Galloway achievement of a
level. Practitioners also feel they need to have a manageable amount of writing as
parents are expected to read these so it’s finding the balance with the crucially important
information and sufficient for parents to engage with.

Giving practitioners the opportunity to lead a change has been effective as it allows them
to take a step back and thinking about what they are doing and why they need to make

The manager reviews the learning journals and gives feedback to the practitioner at the
end of each term looking to see the connections to children’s individual next steps,
achievement of a level and if the child’s voice is evident. Moving forward peer assessment
of learning journals will be incorporated into our monitoring calendar as a termly task.
This will ensure the monitoring is completed as a whole team approach and everyone
involved is learning from each other. The staff team will change again in August so one of
the nursery nurses who were involved in this leadership project will carry forward their
leadership role in sharing their knowledge and how we plan to write up the children’s
observations showing the connection to Froebel.
The timing of the project was a challenge to find the time with the staff to fully discuss
and embed a significant change due to recent holidays and the staff team having other
commitments including their own university assignments. I feel we have discussed the
proposed change in depth and will be able to fully embed in August when we start our
new academic year with the new team, which is yet to be recruited.
Another challenge I often find when challenging staff to take on leadership roles is the
unknown for them, confidence and knowledge of the staff to lead a change. Staff are
always happy to lead a change if they information is fed down from the manager showing
the goals and reasoning for the thinking. I feel staff get more involved in changes when
they are being taken forward as a team.

4. Project outcomes 
From this inquiry I feel the staff have been able to build on their Froebelian knowledge
and use the information to look deeper into their practice. Staff found it beneficial to
work together to discuss what they do and the links to Froebel. This enabled them to
identify what can be done to make their observation very relevant to each child as it will
describe exactly what they do and not a summary from the key worker. Carrying out small
leadership projects have been effective with the staff team and could be a technique we
use in the future as we continually assess our practice and distribute leadership roles.
Staff are keen to make changes when they can see the reasoning behind the ideas, the
benefits this will bring and there is a clear goal as a whole team approach.
Our vision and values were agreed with the parents and this show what is most important
to our families, including unique individuals, together in partnership, children’s choices
and voices and high-quality play and learning. We feel our practice and next steps on our
Froebel journey enable us to continue to embed these into our setting.
Our rationale shows links to Froebelian practice within our play, and we want to continue
to embed these into the setting and deepen our practice to include more of the Froebel’s
work and thinking.
Taking forward the Froebel self-evaluation will be a systemic change that will ensure
every learner benefits equitably from our opportunities and adult support as we will be
able to identify the areas we still need to work on in the setting. With new member of
staff joining the team later in the year it will be important to find out what their Froebel
knowledge is and how to best support them to join us on our improvement and necessary
Initially we will collate some examples of observations together to ensure all staff
understand the information we plan to include and how this information will be shared by
key workers with our parents on our online learning platform.

5. Final reflections
The course has been very informative and supportive on my Froebelian journey which has
been a great learning experience for my personal knowledge and my practice. A strength
from this is giving you the confidence to show what you are doing/ working towards is
valued practice by others and a lot of others are on this journey with you. Connecting
with other Froebelians has been amazing and lots of inspiring idea have been shared.
To support my leadership in the future I need to distribute more leadership roles within
my staff team. However, I need to ensure my team are confident in their own role and
willing to take on a leadership role to develop themselves as a practitioner and the setting
to ensure it a high-quality environment for all children and we are capturing their learning
as it unfolds.
As it was a short leadership project which I was involved with alongside the staff I didn’t
receive any specific feedback for myself as we were doing it together and I was the sole
leader in the beginning before allowing the staff to carry it out.
Next steps for myself are to continue to develop my Froebelian knowledge by attending
webinars and doing my own research. Plan for the setting is to use Froebel’s self-evaluation toolkit within my improvement plan for 2023/2024 to keep the principles at
the heart of what we do moving forward. This will be carried out alongside the changes
we plan to make to continue with the findings from this project which is to develop our

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