Courage, commitment and collaboration : notions of leadership in the New Zealand ECE 'Centres of Innovation'
Historically there has been a lack of recognition for, and research into, leadership in the New Zealand early childhood education sector. The Centres of Innovation (COI) programme provides a unique opportunity for research into effective leadership in quality services that can contribute to our knowledge and understanding of leadership in the sector as a whole. This study, exploring how leadership is defined and enacted in the COI, found that although not all educators were comfortable with being identified as leaders, individuals and the centres as a whole were demonstrating leadership in ways that fitted their service contexts. Leadership across the COI was characterised by courage, commitment and collaboration. The innovative approaches of the COI appear to be due in no small part to the collaborative centre cultures in which innovation is encouraged, educators feel valued and supported, and there is regular reflection and a commitment to continuous improvement . Those in leadership positions in the COI have promoted these collaborative cultures and through their example teacher leadership has been encouraged. The COI not only provide case studies of educative leadership (Meade, 2003a) but also case studies of learning communities. These learning communities include researchers and members of the wider community as well as the educators. Leadership as defined and enacted in the COI is a shared endeavour and this model of working collaboratively in a learning community towards a shared vision is one that the rest of the sector can learn from.