Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Should we be behaviour leaders rather than managers?

Claire Burgess, Early Years Consultancy Manager
@belles28

I am frequently asked by parents and practitioners how can they ‘solve’ children’s behaviour. My answer to this is there is no ‘quick fix’ or solution as it is an essential learning process which needs support and guidance from adults. Effective long term results stem from consistency, whilst understanding the world from the child’s perspective. Understanding what behaviour is expected in any given circumstance is very complex and something we as adults are often still learning when faced with a new situation. This has led me to think about how many similarities there are between managing children’s behaviour and that of management within the workplace. There are so many skills that we need to draw upon when supporting children and their development that are also used at work – negotiation, reasoning, compromise, creativity, patience, assertiveness and the list goes on.

As children grow and develop they face new experiences, challenges and emotions that will affect their behaviour, making this an essential ongoing learning process which needs continuous support and guidance from adults. Whilst there are some methods, such as the ‘naughty step’ or ‘time out’, which may provide short term results, research from American Psychological Society (2015) suggests that the most effective long term approach to behaviour management is to reason with children rather than just using these discipline methods. It is this reasoning that allows children to learn about what behaviours are appropriate and why, rather than just what behaviours are not desired in one particular circumstance, ultimately allowing them to apply these ‘rules’ to any situation. 

Using the workplace comparison, I wonder, would we use the ‘naughty step’ or ‘time out’ with our employees as a management strategy? I would hope the answer would be no as I cannot see this being an effective, or popular, approach with adults – so why do we use it with children? If you were to use this method with adults you would be likely to see resistance and a great deal of negativity from all parties (not to mention a possible grievance case!). In the short term there might be a change in behaviour, as it would be quite a shock, but long term are those employees going to be hard working, respectful and understanding of your decisions as a manager? Very unlikely.

We all look for an environment where we feel respected, whether this is at home or within the workplace. So what does respect look like when supporting children? Should children be expected to automatically respect us just because we are adults, adhering to behaviours we ask of them rather than them understanding why? If this is the case then this is not respect, this is power. Respect is defined by Oxford Dictionaries (2016) as “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements”. Respect is something that is earned and gained over time, not something that happens overnight because of seniority. Power on the other hand is defined as “the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others”, (Oxford Dictionaries, 2016) and can be forced upon others. All too often I have observed the adult vs. child power battle. The child wanting to assert themselves but the adult, not wanting to be ‘outdone’ or beaten by the child and often feeling frustrated by the challenging behaviour, asserting their ‘power’ simply because they are the adult. This often results in the use of phrases like “because I said so” and does not show respect to, or encourage respect from, the child but rather demands obedience in that circumstance.  Consider this in the workplace, if you have a manager who asserts power, who is determined to be the one who ‘wins’ the situation without any consideration for the employee’s viewpoint, this can be frustrating and demoralising for the employee. If this happens week after week then this does not make for a collaborative or mutually respectful environment just, potentially, an obedient employee.

Whalley (2011) discusses the importance of modelling fair approaches to children and treating children, parents and staff with equal concern. As we all know, children are looking for role models and will reflect the behaviours that are demonstrated to them. If children are exposed to adults who do not listen and who control situations with power, not respect and reasoning, surely we are going to see this in the children’s approach and retaliation to disagreements, and thus the power battle begins.

Another example, where a management technique has been adapted for children, is the transactional management style, in which those working for the manager will do something for an end reward. Sound familiar? When used with children, namely reward / sticker charts, it is often effective in the short term – a child displays the behaviour that the adult wants and they get rewarded. Win, win it seems, we all enjoy a reward, however in the long term have the children learnt anything other than ‘if I do this I will get a treat / sticker’? I am not saying to never use a reward chart with children, and I have certainly used my fair share of them over my years of nannying, but it has to be supported with much longer term techniques that teach children why they should be displaying some behaviours and not others. When considering this when managing adults, do we need constant rewards such as a pay rises, bonuses and time off to make us work harder? Yes they are a lovely incentive and are gratefully received, however they won’t necessarily change the way we work in the long term. On the flip side, what does it look like when we create a working environment which supports and nurtures the individual? How do we as adults feel when we are given choice and autonomy? Feeling valued in our roles can lead to much higher levels of job satisfaction and commitment. Having our opinions listened to and simple acts of appreciation from our managers and leaders, such as a thank you at the end of the day or recognition of something well done, can be enough to give us a boost. We feel confident to try things (perhaps not getting them right first time), empowered and valued. This environment is also likely to promote more creative thinking and problem solving. This is the same when we are supporting children. Children seek praise and acknowledgement for their achievements with a “well done”, a high five or the anticipation of telling mummy or daddy when they collect them at the end of the day, who in turn provide verbal praise, can be reward enough.

When looking at management and leadership models I think the statement ’managers have subordinates and leaders have followers’ (Changing Minds, 2016) is one that we can relate to supporting children and their behaviour. Subordinates are described as those who work for the manager and mainly ’do as they are told’ (Changing Minds, 2016). Is this what we want to foster in our children? Obedience but not understanding? Telling people, adults or children, what to do all the time does not inspire them to listen or follow; yet by appealing to, reasoning with and respecting them, we can lead them to ‘follow’ and ‘behave’ in a manner that we require.

As with all aspects of working with children, or in fact adults, effective behaviour management comes down to the need for effective communication. Children need to feel that they are being listened to, not just heard, and that they receive appropriate responses from the adults around them. When we feel that we are listened to, given choice, autonomy and a voice, we can feel empowered and valued within that situation. Poor communication can act as a barrier to effective working when it is not helpful or not used appropriately. Daly, Byers and Taylor (2009:188) state that ’effective communication promotes achievement and success’ which is not only something that we should aim for in our working environments but surely something that we strive for in our work with children?

We must also remember,’Communication is not just about the words you use, but also the manner of your speaking, body language, and above all, the effectiveness with which you listen’ (DfES, 2005:6). We can all be guilty, particularly when in a hurry, of not listening and trying to understand why a child is feeling and behaving a certain way. This brings us back to the need for reasoning, showing respect and giving time to our children so they are able to explore how they manage and cope with the many situations they encounter in their most formative years.

I believe that when supporting children and their behaviour we need to find our inner leader, the adult role model who will be engaging, responsive and respectful to the individual child’s needs and situation at that time. Reasoning and explanation need to be part of a child’s everyday world – the more that we explain the whys and why nots the less confusion and frustration is likely to occur. Yes this might take longer and not provide immediate effects, but over time this will lead to a child who is able to reason and hopefully provide explanations as to their own needs, wants and wishes.

Put yourself in the child’s shoes, imagine going into work every day not having had your job role explained to you, not really knowing what you need to do or the expectations of your employers and then being told that you are doing it wrong. You are likely to be resistant, stressed and unable to understand what specifically you did wrong, how to improve next time or even less likely to give it a go. Children are no different, they are living in a fast paced world which they don’t always understand.

In The Good Childhood Report (The Children’s Society, 2015:14), children state that they want “relationships that are good quality – that are loving, supportive, respectful, and strike a balance between safety and freedom”. Children are looking for the support of the adults around them to teach them the skills of being able to grow and develop skills so that they are able to become part of our society. They need the space and freedom to make mistakes (it is how we all learn regardless of our age or experience) and to have the adults around them empathise with them in the particular situation so the response is appropriate. Who wouldn’t want this within their workplace too? A place where you are able to make mistakes but with the support of colleagues and managers are able to develop your skills, knowledge and understanding. Where there isn’t blame or repercussions where you are ‘sent to another part of the office to think about what you have done’ with no explanation as to what you have done wrong.

So when thinking about how to ‘manage’ children’s behaviour, remember, it’s not just about ‘quick fix’ solutions. It is about teaching skills which will last a lifetime. Even if it takes a couple of months, or even years, for children to learn these skills and behaviours, surely it is worth the long term investment. Just think of yourself as a behaviour ‘leader’ rather than a ‘manager’ – teaching children the art of reasoning and compromise, developing the skills of the next generation of business, or even world, leaders.


This article was first published in Early Years Educator. Click here to subscribe.


References:

American Psychological Society (2015) Punishing a Child Is Effective If Done Correctly. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/08/punishing-child.aspx. [Accessed 22 April 2016].

Changing Minds (2016) Leadership vs. Management. [ONLINE] Available at: http://changingminds.org/disciplines/leadership/articles/manager_leader.htm. [Accessed 22 April 2016].

Daly, M., Byers, E., and Taylor, W. (2009) Early Years Management in Practice 2nd Edition Harlow: Heinemann.

Department for Education and Skills (2005) Common Core of Skills for the Children’s Workforce. Nottingham: DfES Publications.

The Children’s Society (2015) The Good Childhood Report 2015 Summary London: The Children’s Society.

Oxford Dictionaries (2016) [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/respect. [Accessed 22 April 2016].

Whalley, M.E. (2011) Leading Practice in Early Years Settings London: Learning Matters Ltd.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Experiences of a first year student: Applying to Norland College

Author: Abi Kohen, Set 40

I always knew that I wanted to work with children but I wasn’t completely sure which area I would choose, as I’d done a variety of work experience and enjoyed all of it. 

Trying on my uniform for the first time
I initially found out about Norland in 2014 through the ITV documentary ‘Britain’s Poshest Nannies’. When the documentary started my Mum rushed me into the sitting room and told me I had to watch this programme about Norland Nannies. From beginning to end I watched the programme in complete awe and was fascinated by the uniqueness of Norland. As soon as the documentary finished my mind was made up: I turned to Mum and said “I have to go to Norland”. From that moment on I was determined to get my place and to be the best early years practitioner I could be. 

After secondary school, I studied the International Baccalaureate at Truro College as I wanted to study a range of subjects so I didn’t limit my options if my Norland application was unsuccessful, as I was aware demand would be high. My second year of College came around and I began writing my personal statement ready to send to Norland. It was really challenging to sum up just how much I wanted a place there in only 47 lines! 

In November 2015 I sent off my personal statement and anxiously waited for a reply. Two weeks later I received an email informing me that I was invited to attend an interview. I felt very nervous, but began to prepare a portfolio ready for the group interview. The night before the interview I paced up and down my hotel room trying to remember everything I was going to say, practiced my bun for the morning, polished my shoes and was generally just doing anything I could to distract me from my nerves.

Moving into accommodation with my
new Norland housemates
As I stepped through the Norland College gates the next morning my nerves eased a little; everybody was so welcoming, making sure we were all settled and feeling ready for our interviews. Whilst waiting for my interview to start I sat in the common room and chatted with some of the other applicants; everyone appeared to be as nervous as each other! People had come with a variety of items for their group interview – from a collection of children’s shoes to a homemade pram. I knew that everyone in the room was out to impress and I knew that I really had to give the interview everything I could!

During the interviews the lecturers made me feel very calm and at ease. I found the best way to answer the questions was to pause for a moment before I responded, just three seconds of thinking time made my answers a lot more logical and coherent. Also, having previous experience in childcare made it easier to answer some of the questions as I could link the answers to experience I had.

After the interview I felt relieved knowing I had done my best, but also apprehensive about whether I had done enough to earn myself a place. Now the wait began. I endlessly checked my emails to see if I had received one from UCAS and was always disappointed if it was junk mail or news from another University. About three weeks later I was at my college in Truro and I noticed I had an email from UCAS saying one of my offers had changed. All sorts of thoughts ran through my head! I was so nervous I couldn’t even open the email myself so I got my friend to do it for me. When she opened it there was a pause that felt like forever, and then she said “I think you’ve got in!” That moment was one I will never forget. My form tutor (who I was also with) was so happy for me and I couldn’t stop myself from literally jumping out of my chair for joy!

Ready for my first day
When I had received my offer, I was given the opportunity to join a group chat with other Norland applicants who had offers. This group really helped us form a sense of community before we started on our first day.  It enabled us to get to know each other and we could discuss things we were nervous or unsure about. We also arranged small gatherings around the country so that we could meet each other in person. The group chat and meet-ups made me feel more reassured about starting Norland as I knew that other people felt the same way I did, and I knew there would be some familiar, friendly faces on the first day.

As soon as I had received my grades and my place had been confirmed, preparation began! My uniform was ordered, books were bought and my sewing kit was put together. When trying on my uniform for the first time I felt so proud of what I had achieved and how I’d finally reached the goal I had been aiming for. 

Overall, the build-up and application to Norland was an exciting experience and prepared me for starting at Norland. From that initial discovery watching the documentary, to the Open Day, to receiving my offer, I knew that I wanted to be at Norland and I’m thrilled to have had this unique experience offered to me!

Abi Kohen began at Norland in September 2016. Applications for entry are open via UCAS until 15 January 2017. Visit our website for information on how you can apply to Norland College.

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Friday, 2 September 2016

A postcard from China

Hannah visited the
Great Wall of China
Author: Hannah Wills, Set 39

This summer I had a fantastic time in China as part of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain (NYCGB). 

We flew out to China on 1st August and in total performed four concerts; Tianjin Grand Theatre, Beijing Concert Hall, Shanghai Concert Hall and finally AC Hall at Hong Kong Baptist University. 

We have also travelled to the Forbidden City, The Great Wall of China and Temple of Heaven. Throughout the trip we sang traditional Chinese song, and pieces from a variety of different British composers such as Benjamin Britten. 

Hannah met with Chinese twin girls
I have met some lovely locals including some wonderful Chinese twin girls. I am looking forward to telling my friends at Norland all about this amazing opportunity!

Hannah is in Set 39 and returns to Norland in September to begin her second year of studying. 

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Norland College receives first ever National Student Survey results

We’re pleased to announce the results of Norland College’s first ever National Student Survey (NSS). 

The NSS, which has been running since 2005, is a UK-wide survey of students in the final year of an undergraduate course, though this is the first time Norland College has participated. The survey gives students the opportunity to provide public feedback about the institution and their course. 95% of our final year students took part in the survey.

95% of our eligible students
participated
The results are extremely positive, as expected, and we welcome the news that Norland has achieved an above sector average score of 90% for overall satisfaction. What shines through really clearly is the recognition of strong career opportunities for Norland graduates – with 100% of participants agreeing with the following statement, of which 94% ‘definitely agreed’: “As a result of my course, I believe that I have improved my career prospects.”

The employability of Norlanders is enhanced not only through work placements, which prepare our students for employment, but also through the practical skills gained throughout their time at Norland. The prestigious Norland Diploma runs alongside the degree course and gives our students the opportunity to put theory into practice and gain real-world experience with children. Alongside Norland’s heritage and tradition, the Norland Diploma is part of what distinguishes Norlanders from other Early Years graduates – and makes them highly sought after. That’s why Norland graduates command an average starting salary of £26,000 with huge potential and demand for their services consistently greater than the number of nannies available to place.

Dr Janet Rose became
Norland Principal on 18 June 2016
Dr Janet Rose, Norland Principal, commented: “We strive to offer best-in-class Early Years education to our students and to strengthen their career prospects upon graduating with regular Continuous Professional Development (CPD) courses and the best possible representation through our very own dedicated Norland Agency. Norland College is renowned for its heritage and tradition, and we’re using those solid foundations from which to build a positive, prosperous future for our students.”

For more information about studying at Norland College, visit www.norland.co.uk/college

Friday, 5 August 2016

Professionalism in the Early Years - What Does it Mean to Practitioners?

Author: Amalia Austin, Newly Qualified Nanny (NQN), Set 37

Amalia is now a
Newly Qualified Nanny
I was thrilled in February 2013 to be offered a place at Norland and start to fulfil my goal of becoming an outstanding Early Years practitioner (EYP) and Norland Nanny. However, teachers and family members asked me, ‘if you want to work with children, why don’t you do something worthwhile and train as a primary teacher?’ It was this which inspired me in my final year to explore why working in the Early Years seemingly achieves lower regard than other vocational roles, such as teaching and nursing. Here I explore how I undertook my research and some of the key findings and subsequent recommendations I put forward to improve professionalism in the Early Years sector, with specific focus on the role of a Nanny.

The aims of the research project were to investigate and analyse the factors which EYPs believe contribute to their overall professionalism, as well as examine the effect professionalism has on their practice. 

Research Methods

I decided the best data collection method for this project was a questionnaire with a mix of qualitative and quantitative questions to allow for in depth analysis. I asked for responses from practitioners in a day nursery in Bath, from students and lecturers at Norland College and from a wider network of EYPs via a social media site. All of the participants were asked the following questions:

Please briefly define professionalism, as you understand it
How long have you worked as an EYP?
Why did you decide to become an EYP?
What are the most satisfying aspects of your job?
What are the least satisfying aspects of your job?
To what extent do you feel professionalism is important for an EYP? Why?
To what extent do you feel professionalism influences your practice as an EYP?
In what ways do you feel professionalism influences your practice as an EYP?
What factors do you feel are a barrier to your professionalism as an EYP?

The response was overwhelming; the questionnaire was completed 60 times in just 36 hours and I had my data! 

What I found out 

The responses showed that EYPs recognise the significance of their role within the sector in ‘achieving’ and ‘improving’ outcomes for children. However, it also showed that this recognition is not perceived by EYPs from the government and other professionals, and this ‘lack of recognition’ is a barrier to professionalism and can be demotivating to practitioners within the Early Years sector. 

Amalia supporting the
'Lace Up For Bones' initiative
in her Norland College uniform
Conversely, respondents noted ‘applying theory to practice’ as a satisfying element of the role and the ‘bad practice’ of others as a barrier to professionalism. This highlights the significance of how effective training is linked to job satisfaction and quality of practice, as supported by Martin et al (2010), who outline the link between training and increased professionalism. This is also supported by Jorde-Bloom (1988) who notes the relationship between professionalism, job satisfaction and effort. EYPs are willing to expand on the role, suggesting that the greater the professionalism, the greater the resultant perception of professionalism, quality of practice and achievement of positive outcomes for the children. 

The research identified ‘bad practice’ and ‘lack of regulation’ as barriers to professionalism. This suggests that either current qualifications do not sufficiently prepare EYPs to deliver effective and professional practice, or that training is not sufficiently exacting to deliver the standard of practice necessary to acquire professional status. 

One of the things that stood out to me in the responses was that to most EYPs professionalism was not about the need for reward, but more about the service provision, regulation and standards, personal characteristics and recognition of the workforce as a profession. In short most EYPs are seeking greater recognition and accountability for their profession and themselves as professionals. Whilst they value the work they do, they feel undervalued by society, something I can relate to from the reactions I initially received from friends and family when choosing Norland. 

How do we raise professionalism in Early Years? 

Based on my research I think raising professionalism in Early Years requires a predominantly top-down approach to make real changes. Other than modelling the characteristics of professionalism as defined by EYPs, more needs to be done to recognise the profession as exactly that. Therefore, the recommendations I put forward below are directed not just towards my fellow Newly Qualified Nannies (NQNs) or other EYPs, but towards policy makers for the workforce:
  1. More rigorous and clear qualifications system for EYPs, in alignment with the findings of the Nutbrown Review.
  2. Regulation / registration of Nannies - The research supports a recommendation to regulate aspects of practice.  Consideration of this, alongside the EYFS (2014) concept of the Unique Child and the findings of the REPEY report (Siraj-Blatchford et al., 2002) which suggests that standardising practice would be counter-intuitive to delivering effective practice, it is recommended that EYPs could be regulated through the use of a registration number upon qualifying, as suggested by the Regulation Matters Campaign and in the manner of EYPs with Early Years Professional Status (Teaching Agency, 2012). This could then be used to enforce and monitor a sector-wide code of ethics and a requirement to access a requisite number of hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) each year.
  3. The research suggests that action be taken to alleviate poor conditions, through streamlining the amount of paperwork expected of EYPs and that the financial barriers should be alleviated through increased funding to the sector, as well as increased rates of pay for EYPs. 

I believe that, whilst I am among many Early Years practitioners who consider themselves to be a professional, until this is recognised by the government and other professionals, EYPs will struggle to achieve the status so many in the sector believe and feel the career deserves. 

Friday, 15 July 2016

Norland appalled by Andrea Leadsom male nanny comments

"Norland is absolutely appalled by the comments made by Andrea Leadsom about employing male Nannies.

Norland supports and encourages initiatives to increase the numbers of men in the childcare sector and welcomes male applicants.  We recognise the benefits to children of having both male and female role models. Men can bring a wealth of different experiences and attributes to the role and with the changing family dynamics we see in society today, male nannies can provide a consistent male role model within the family home. As a society, we strive for equality; someone in public office making such a statement erodes the efforts of many to achieve this. A career working with children is rewarding and challenging and men should not be discouraged from making such a choice; families should choose a Nanny who is the best fit for their family, regardless of gender.

Norland supports raising standards in home childcare by supporting campaigns such as Regulation Matters, which calls for all Nannies to be qualified and DBS checked. This sort of action, together with the kind of high quality training and support that Norland provides, is how we safeguard children within the home, not through prejudiced, discriminatory and outdated statements such as these."

Mandy Donaldson, Vice Principal, Norland College

Thursday, 9 June 2016

From Heritage day to New York

Alice and her charges!
Alice Yates
Norland Nanny
Set 33

I recently had the privilege of flying home from my job in New York to see my sister, Becca (Set 37), display her work at Heritage Day (which used to be called Display Day) it is incredible the sense of pride that I felt towards Becca and all of set 37 - I know exactly what they've been through. My Display Day was in May of 2011, I seem to remember a lot of hard work and stress leading up to the morning and perhaps didn't appreciate the final product. When you see the light at the end of the tunnel with your creative, practical and academic work from the years you spent at college, you almost forget how hard it actually was. The feeling of finishing college and the eagerness of starting a new and exciting first role within a family is euphoric. That is why I am so glad to have been a part of this year’s Heritage Day and I tip my hat to Clare Dent (Norland graduate and now Norland lecturer) who drummed in the importance of reflection. It may have taken 5 years for me to reflect on my display but it has finally happened; what an achievement to complete training at Norland College. I am so proud of both my sister and myself. I also feel a sense of happiness and relief for my parents too who have been there for every step; the tears that were shed, my frustration over creative skills and the painstaking moment of 'can you proof read my essay?'.

Alice (right), Becca (in uniform)
Currently Becca is looking through pages and pages of NQN jobs (Newly Qualified Nanny, or Probationary Post as us old Norlanders know it) this is something I remember very clearly. The excitement of job possibilities is endless and I'm so interested to see where Becca will choose. 2 years ago, after qualifying in 2013 with my Norland Diploma, I was in a similar position, I wanted a new challenge, to see the world and do something a little bit different. I made the hard decision of handing in my notice in and started the search for a new job. At the time, I couldn’t find a job that was the right fit for me so I did what anybody would do when searching for adventure and started temp nannying. It was a fantastic adventure; .in the space of 4 months I sailed around Italy on a super yacht, had a completely new experience of working for a Jewish family and 6 weeks in a family
searching for a Probationer (now NQN). And then ‘The New York job’ that I had been looking for
came up through Norland Agency! From then it all happened very quickly, one minute I was in my sleepy village the next minute I was on a plane heading to my trial week in Manhattan. I immediately fell for the job; starting when the twins were 18months old and the older child had just turned 3...I did say I wanted a challenge. I didn't want to leave the trial, but unfortunately US visas are a little tricky so I was home for 4 weeks, spent countless hours filling out visa forms and saying goodbyes. Before I knew it, I was at Heathrow airport saying a very teary goodbye to my parents and off I went - a new adventure.
Norland Nannies in New York!
I love my job, my life and everything about New York City. The leap of faith was worth it. I'm not saying it's not hard work and incredibly demanding, but so worthwhile. Since being here, more and more Norlanders have also arrived and it's great to have a Norland network again. This means Nanny coffee mornings are a weekly occurrence, I always have a travel buddy on a long weekend and of course the unmissable reassuring ding of the group chat when someone wants to meet up or a chat.

If the US government could figure out a visa for Norland Nannies and recognise that our childcare training is of the upmost importance, I would love to call this home for much longer instead two years specified by my visa. As it is, I'll enjoy my last 5 months, I will take all the memories I have and the love for my New York family will never fade.