PublicationsSystematic reviewsA Systematic Review on Strategies for Leadership Development in the Early Childhood Sector – Applicability to the Singapore Context
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A Systematic Review on Strategies for Leadership Development in the Early Childhood Sector – Applicability to the Singapore Context

What do we want to know?

The objective of this systematic review is to examine existing international research on Early Childhood Leadership (ECLS) and identify useful strategies for leadership development to inform policy and practice in the Singapore context.

Who wants to know and why?

Research evidence points to the significant impact of Early Childhood Leaders (ECL) on building quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), and emphasizes the need to develop effective leaders. This systematic review aims to identify key strategies which have been applied across different contexts to inform policy-making for Early Childhood Leadership development.

What did we find?

The period of the search was between May – June 2017, with primary studies identified from international contexts.  Stage 1 of this review identified two non-systematic reviews of key primary studies on ECLS, and both reviews highlighted a paucity of research on leadership development strategies. Stage 2 provided a systematic map of 33 primary studies conducted between 2007-2017 to update the latest review included in Stage 1 by Dunlop (2008). The map showed that most studies on ECL focused on self-reported perceptions of leadership roles by Early Childhood Leaders. The findings from the in-depth review in Stage 3 focused on six included primary studies which evaluated leadership development programmes and identified four key strategies for leadership development: developing reflective learning, building peer support and learning networks, coaching and mentoring and providing theory-based tools for Early Childhood Leaders.

What are the implications?

The review identified strategies which are applicable for sustainable leadership development that can equip leaders to continue learning while they are at work through reflective learning and building peer-support networks through various platforms. The findings suggest that investing resources in long-term coaching and mentoring and theory-based training can be considered to build confidence and improve leadership practices.

How did we get these results?

A systematic review approach was adopted to use ‘explicit, accountable and rigorous research methods’ (Gough, Oliver and Thomas, 2017, p. 2) to identify relevant findings to inform policy and practice. The review was conducted in three stages, with the objective of increasing the breadth and depth of the findings within the limited resources available for this dissertation. Stage 1 involved a systematic search through different search channels to identify existing systematic reviews or literature reviews on ECLS, and synthesize key findings from the reviews to address the review questions. Stage 2 focused on updating the latest review by Dunlop (2008) identified in Stage 1, by identifying and describing primary studies relevant to ECLS published between 2007 – 2017. The last stage was an in-depth review of primary studies evaluating leadership development strategies, identifying specific strategies with positive outcomes across different studies. The findings were integrated with the contextual model of leadership by Nivala (2002) to develop a contextual model of leadership development which was used to discuss the applicability of the strategies to the Singapore context. 

This report should be cited as:

Liew, J (2017). A systematic review on strategies for leadership development in the early childhood sector – applicability to the Singapore context. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.

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