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Highly effective leadership in children’s centres

The National College commissioned this project to research the nature of highly effective leadership in children’s centres and the development of system leadership. The study included a rapid review of research and policy, case studies of 25 centre leaders identified as ‘highly effective’2 and practitioner workshops to validate the findings. The project took place between summer 2011 and spring 2012.

The network of children’s centres has grown rapidly over the past decade. The Sure Start local programme was announced in 1999 and by 2010 more than 3,600 centres were operating throughout England. The coalition government’s decision to remove the ring-fence on funding for Sure Start in 2011 has led to a period of intensive change, including local authorities seeking to rationalise their expenditure on children’s centres and to increasingly outsource responsibility for running centres to other providers.