Early Years Leadership Programme

This brand new programme is aimed at Early Years Leaders wishing to develop their leadership skills and behaviours within their setting. It has been written and delivered by early years specialists and practitioners from across the East Midlands region. It uses the latest research and thinking to explore the roles and responsibilities of an Early Years leader, pedagogy, the journey of child development and building a curriculum to meet their needs. It incorporates research evidence, audit tools and further reading.

Outcomes of the programme

By the end of the programme, participants will:

Have deepened and embedded their understanding and practical application of Early Years pedagogy

Have a greater understanding of themselves as leaders

Have a greater understanding of the personal and emotional knowledge required to be a good leader

Be equipped with the skills required to lead and manage change

Have refined or refreshed their vision for EYFS in their school and have planned steps for improvement

Programme model:


The programme is delivered over an academic year through four rounds. Using a blended approach, each round will take place over approximately one term and include 1 face to face day, a gap task, a 1-2 hour virtual expert input and a virtual tour of different settings.

Round One will concentrate on the concept of the child and concept of the leader in the context of where you want to go and what you want to create, considering thinkers such as Gopnik, Goswami and Vygotsky.

Round Two will focus on the child in action and the leader in action exploring the notions of helping people come with you and building the future, threading in a range of teaching approaches including those from Scotland and New Zealand.

Round Three will concentrate on impact of the leader and the impact of the adult, through the lens of taking action and getting results. Exploring ideas amongst others proposed by Steiner and Murdock

Round Four will be an opportunity for the participant to celebrate and present the impact of the programme on their leadership in Early Years, for their colleagues to consider and critique. Using the learning gained from the on-going action research to inspire their practice and that of others. There is no end point assessment required.


All aspects of the programme will be rooted in the reality of the EYFS practitioner in schools today, drawing from a variety of key documents: Birth to 5 Matters; Sutton Trust; EEF; Development Matters; and Bold Beginnings, using the language of leadership developed by Steve Radcliffe through his Future – Engage – Deliver (or FED) approach.

Course leaders


This programme has been designed, written, and delivered by outstanding early years practitioners

Nikki Matthew

‘I am Head Teacher of Farndon Fields Primary School, a two form entry primary school in Market Harborough. I have worked in education for over 18 years and have a real passion for the Early Years. Most of my class-based experience is predominantly Early Years, however I have also taught across Year 1, Year 2 and Year 6.’

Lisa Jordan

I am Deputy headteacher of a Nottingham City school. Previously, I was Foundation Stage Leader and EYFS Lead Practitioner for the Flying High Partnership. I worked with schools to develop Trust standards whilst ensuring high-quality provision was provided within our settings. I had oversight of the vision and delivery of EYFS curriculum across the Trust schools, keeping them abreast of the latest national messages and sharing the excellent practice I saw across schools.

Kelly Palmer

I am Assistant Head teacher and Foundation Lead at Djanogly Sherwood Academy, Nottingham. I have also held the post of Specialist Leader of Education in early years for Djanogly Trust. Most of my teaching career has been spent in Early Years. I have a real passion for learning through play and helped to create both an indoor and outdoor Early Years environment in a new school.

Natalie Wilcock

I am Headteacher of a primary school in Derby having previously led a large EYFS unit. As a practitioner and leader, I enjoy working with other schools, trusts and local authorities which has provided an opportunity to network and share expertise and resources. A keen passion of mine has been inspiring others to think of innovative ways of providing outstanding EYFS provision. I have worked as a Specialist Leader of Education working alongside leadership teams to raise standards in EYFS and KS1, building fundamental blocks in several schools.

Graeme Robins

As a former Headteacher and Executive Headteacher of primary schools, I have considerable experience of leadership, school to school support and coaching and mentoring to enable staff to fulfil their potential. I am Director of Programmes for Inspiring Leaders and have oversight of content design and delivery at all levels, ensuring it is responsive to needs and fit for purpose.  I oversee all content management and QA for all Inspiring Leaders’ programmes and will be a co-facilitator on this programme.

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