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Coaching and Mentoring in the Early Years

A programme of coaching and mentoring to develop the resilience of leaders and managers in Early Years settings, supporting them to manage change and create a culture of improvement in their setting.


Local Authorities, Settings & Early Years Practitioners

Aimed at

Early Years Foundation Stage


Early Years, Leadership, Workforce: Recruitment, Retention and Development

Why was the project needed?

In 2018 Private, Voluntary or Independent (PVI) leaders and managers, alongside analysis of Ofsted actions and recommendations in Ipswich, identified that they needed additional support to develop and manage their staff teams in a constructive way. They felt it crucial that in order for adults to support children’s resilience and self-regulation, they needed to be well supported and resilient themselves.

What happened and what was the impact?

A programme of coaching and mentoring, was offered to leaders and managers in private and voluntary run Early Years settings. The aim of the programme was to provide an opportunity for leaders to support each other and develop key skills such as managing change and creating a culture of improvement.

  • All managers were invited to attend 3 sessions with Penny Tynedale-Hardy, a mental health coach and trainer. Each session was 2 hours in a group of no larger than 6 delegates. These sessions allowed leaders the opportunity to network and to understand and address the development needs of their setting
  • Following the end of the 3 sessions each leader completed a ‘training plan’ for their setting to release an IOA training grant.
  • These sessions were rolled out throughout the summer term 2019 and training grant actions plans were submitted in the autumn term.


Ingredients For Success

Participants felt that a key success was the creation of networks to support leaders, giving them needed opportunities to share experience with other managers.

Having the time and support to identify issues and the training needs they represented, consider existing approaches to improvement and make time for planning that improvement was an important precursor to the application for a grant.

Settings appreciated the freedom to tailor training to the needs of their setting, rather than receiving a package of “one size fits all” training. There were some very bespoke needs identified – for example a small number of setting identified the need to address practitioner’s confidence with literacy and portfolio building to get the most out of Elklan training.

The project was followed by further investment in Mental Health First Aid training, and the development of a supportive peer network.

42 managers participated in the programme across Early Years settings in Ipswich.

How is the Project Sustainable

Subsequent projects in the IOA have focused on developing networks across Early Years settings, and particularly in 2021 and 2022 with the early Education Network that has grown out of the Strong School Start project, managers are able to share with each other what has been effective. In 2022 leaders and practitioners developed “Cascading Learning Plans” to ensure that learning is shared within settings and not lost when colleagues move on.

The past few years that our setting has been working with the IOA; our setting has been able to benefit from some excellent training opportunities which has enhanced and raised the confidence of our staff members. It has been a brilliant opportunity for us to focus on areas of our practice that needed to further development as well as enabled everyone to have the opportunity to participate. The IOA has enabled our practitioners to access additional CPD opportunities that have not been available before.

Area Most Impacted

Staff development


Early Years Outcomes

Workforce: Recruitment, Retention and Development

Next steps to do something similar yourself

Read the EEF Guidance Report on Effective Professional Development here

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