Walking the talk: Leadership in New Zealand early childhood settings


  • Raewyn Higginson


There are few publications on leadership within centres in New Zealand early childhood settings. Thornton, Wansbrough, Clarkin-Phillips, Aitken and Tamati (2009) noted, “The limited literature on notions of leadership in ECE reveals a lack of agreement about what leadership means or looks like” (p. 8). The authors also noted that the variety of centres (e.g., privately owned, community based, teacher led, parent led, etc.) added to the confusion of what leadership looked like in the early childhood settings. This has led to the existence of different leadership styles which may have contributed to this lack of consensus. 

This article attempts to address this confusion by reporting on two aspects of recent research on leadership conducted in a variety of early childhood settings:

  1. The importance of the leader having a vision.
  2. The leader’s espoused theories and theories in use.

These are discussed in relation to data collected during the case studies. The participants of the study were those who had overall responsibility of their centres and have been called the designated leader (DL) for the purposes of this article. The discussion that follows clarifies the two named aspects from the findings, plus some suggestions for further research.