Book Review: Social leadership in early childhood education and care: An introduction by J O’Sullivan and M Sakr

Mikuska, E. (2022) Book Review: Social leadership in early childhood education and care: An introduction by J O’Sullivan and M Sakr. Sage, Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood.

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The mission to develop models of leadership that suit early childhood education and care (ECEC) and engage greater practitioner participation is a concern in England and beyond (Palaiologou and Male, 2019). Government policies and reports are trying to include the importance of leadership in workforce development and quality standards (Nicholson et al., 2020) but they tend to lack clarity about forms of leadership or the relationship between pedagogic and organisational leadership. Since traditional notions of leadership are at odds with the pedagogy and ECEC ethos, Social Leadership in Early Childhood Education and Care is a response to the increasing international concern to develop a new appreciation of leadership that is better suited to developing a greater understanding of the contemporary role of ECEC leaders. O’Sullivan and Sakr’s book offers a new model of leadership that centres social purpose and addresses how to create a culture of collaborative innovation and sustainability. They start their book with introducing and defining social leadership, social leaders and the social purpose within the ECEC context. They offer a social leadership model that is made up of six elements: how to implement a social pedagogy; how to create a culture of collaborative innovation; how to invest in others’ leadership; how to facilitate powerful conversation; how to sew seeds of sustainability; and how to lead with a social purpose.
Most of the literature does not include explicit discussion of social justice in theorising leadership, or the express purposes of leadership. This suggests the importance of critically examining the epistemological assumptions represented in leadership discourse, and of more intentional links between leadership and goals that address social injustices for children, families and the ECEC workforce. In this book, O’Sullivan and Sakr argue that with the increasing issues around child poverty, which can alter the trajectory of a child’s life, and the powerful acknowledgement of the benefits of ECEC, there is an increasing need to adopt a social purpose in leadership. The authors suggest that by adopting this model, the constraints that poverty places on people can be reduced. They note that the role of the social leader is to create a culture of continuous improvement with a focus on refining and improving pedagogy. So, what is the difference between a social leader and other leadership styles Nicholson et al. (2020) discussed in their review? Undoubtedly, O’Sullivan and Sakr offer a new idea of the social leader as co-creating meaning with children, families and other professionals, and by being co-creative, new ways of understanding and co-constructing localised knowledge will help to co-shape cultural organisation. The development of ‘collaborativeness’ (Fairchild et al., 2022) as an approach not only in research but also in leadership can be seen as a way forward, disrupting the norms and giving space to cultural attitudes and traditions, including attitudes to modern childhood, children’s upbringing, and the relationship between the individual and society. The strength of collaborativeness allows social leaders to promote innovative processes, where they are inspired through external relationships cutting across traditional boundaries. The authors put forward the argument that social leadership can also show how society supports its disadvantaged or marginalised members.

Publication Type: Other
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1139 Early childhood education
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Education, Social and Life Sciences > Childhood
Depositing User: Eva Mikuska
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2023 11:10
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2023 11:10

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