Review staff induction programme to ensure it aligns with our Froebel Flagship Journey.  

Project author:

Project summary:

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

Keywords

 Introduction 

Falkirk Council created an opportunity for an establishment to become a Froebelian Flagship Centre.  This first-time opportunity arose at the same time we were preparing to relocate to a new building.  We are currently in our second year and on track to successfully achieve this. Our passionate team have committed to furthering their Froebel Pedagogy through Frobel in Childhood Practice, Froebelian Practitioner Enquiry and Froebel Leadership Courses. This has resulted in 83% of our team being qualified in Froebel Practice and principles. This has had an immense impact on the pedagogy of staff and the experiences available to our children and families.  Through our journey all staff have been involved in reflecting and improving our environments, experiences, and documentation to align with Froebelian principles.  I will share a small part of our progress and how I lead a small team to reflect and improve on one aspect of this journey of improvement, our staff induction programme.  We will look at the sustainability of a robust induction programme for all staff. 

Context 

To become the first Froebel flagship establishment in Falkirk, we must ensure Froebel is embedded throughout the Centre.  We started with our vision, values, and aims.  I reflected on the positive changes that have already taken place throughout our Centre and identified the next area for improvement. What would the impact be to have a staff handbook which was rich in information linking to Froebelian practices and how we embed this into our daily practice. I reflected on our current induction programme within the Centre.  My focus group was made up of a selection of staff, including some new staff who had limited knowledge regarding Froebelian practice.  As a group we compared our current staff induction brochure, the authority brochure, and the national guidance by Scottish Government for new staff in early years.  As a group it was evident that everyone was passionate to incorporate Froebelian principles and make them relatable to all aspects of our practice. We want to create a resource that will be valuable to all staff regardless of their knowledge of Froebelian practice.  

My aim for this group was to give staff the autonomy to make changes to our induction programme and increase staff’s knowledge in relation to Froebelian Principles and how we embed these in our day-to-day practice.   For a lot of people change is hard and that is why I feel it is vital it is done together.  Children and families will be consulted to allow them to voice their views on what they would like staff to be knowledgeable in, when caring for their children.  

Process 

I organised protected time out with the playroom to provide a balance of listening and participation.  We all recognised that the current induction programme was not current or showcased the journey we have embarked on over the last 18 months.  We recognised that it needed updating to align with our Froebelian approaches where our Centre’s vision, values and aims are threaded throughout.  It became apparent that Froebel principles were not evident throughout the document.  There was no information about Froebel or our vision, values and aims in the brochure. 

Many staff felt it was information overload and a lot of information to absorb at the beginning of their journey with us as a practitioner.  They thought it would be beneficial to read a brief description of who Friedrich Froebel was and what Froebelian principles look like in our establishment.  I feel this is an excellent way to introduce Froebel to new staff providing them with an understanding of Froebel’s approach to learning.  A key message I took from ‘FRIEDRICH FROEBEL – A Critical Introduction to key themes and debates’ by Tina Bruce, on emphasizing the Froebelian principles was “What does Froebelian education look like and feel like in practice?”.  By making Froebelian principles more evident in our induction brochure, it will give new staff an understanding into what a Falkirk Froebelian nursery looks like.  

Using the feedback from staff and children I began to update the induction brochure.  I added colour making it more attractive.  Reducing the amount of information under the pretence that less is more makes it less onerous for new staff. I added a brief description about Friedrich Froebel and a QR code to downloadable Froebel Trust pamphlets to allow them to further educate themselves on core provision such as woodwork, sewing, clay etc.  Our vision values & aims, and Curriculum Rationale were added as on reflection we realised we had omitted to add them in previous. Incorporating our Froebelian principles in practice highlights our approach to learning in a personalised way for our community, alongside some lovely photographs of the children throughout their play.   

I then gathered feedback from all participants on the first part of the draft induction brochure.  Many complemented how much more eye catching it was, using colour and photographs. A new member of staff voiced that it helped provide her with a better understanding of Froebelian practice.  She liked having the opportunity to use the QR codes to access the Froebel Trust pamphlets in her own time and her own pace.  As well as having the opportunity to revisit when she felt her knowledge needed refreshed.   The children told me the new book was “beautiful” and “That’s a QR Code we have them for family songs in our nursery.” Overall, feedback from the new induction brochure has been very positive. 

Project Outcome  

This exciting journey of improvement continues to take us in several different directions. It has not only changed all staff’s pedagogy but has made us more reflective, ambitious, and courageous in the way we do it.  We feel we now have a more robust induction programme which now incorporates Froebelian practice and principles. Through this new programme staff will be better informed in the expectations of what a knowledgeable, nurturing educator looks like. We will have a consistency of knowledge throughout our setting. Staff’s induction programme is paced out over a six-month period allowing for consolidation of knowledge which will impact on practice. The experiences our children and families receive will be enhanced if all staff are working from the same ethos. We have significantly seen the impact the change of pedagogy has already had on our interactions, experiences, and spaces. 

On reflection I feel that practitioners being part of reviewing the information brochure has given us as managers a better insight into what information and knowledge new staff benefit from. Staff’s enthusiasm to participate in this area of development and reflection has also supported their pedagogical understanding of our journey.   

“To learn a thing in life and through doing is much more developing, cultivating and strengthening than to learn it merely through the verbal communication of ideas.” (Froebel 1885:2) 

 Final Reflections  

This project and the Froebelian Futures Practitioner Inquiry has focused me to reflect on documentation within my establishment.  It has made me as a leader reflect that at times change is good and needed and as we know nothing stands still in early years for long.  It has made me reflect that as a leader it is important to listen and respect other people’s conversations and feelings.  Coaching staff to try different things to achieve goals.  I used transformational leadership style being optimistic to inspire and motivate others to participate in this project. Supporting staff to be actively involved in the reviewing of our induction brochure has enabled them to have a deeper understanding of Froebelian principles and how it is embedded in our day-to-day practice.  Participation in the Froebelian leadership course has extended the opportunity to reflect on both my personal leadership skills and how these impact on leading my establishment through a Froebelian lens.  I am excited to progress my learning through this experience.  I feel it has given me confirmation to have faith in myself and that I do not fit into one stereotypical leadership style, but if I lead with my heart, I will achieve many things.  

Comments from other network members

What did you appreciate about this research? What forward-looking questions did it raise for you?

  1. Susan Gallagher
    Susan Gallagher
    24 Mar 2024 at 7:19 pm

    This is very valuable to read as a nursery manager as it gives reassurance to continue the journey and see how changing documentation so that it reflects the Froebelian principles could be approached successfully. I will use the information you have shared in the project to help me change my nursery parent and induction handbook across 2024-25. Thank you.


    Report comment

Add a comment