Is anyone prepared to read my OU essay to see if I am on the right track?

(49 Posts)
KatyMac Sat 14-Mar-09 14:49:03

It's fairly boring and based on Business with emphasis on childcare.


southeastastra Sat 14-Mar-09 20:37:17

i'll read it, though would have no ideas if you'd be on the right track wink

yousaidit Sat 14-Mar-09 20:54:46

i'd love to help, but i have no experience or knowledge of your essay, and i wouldn't be able to concentrate without being seethingly envious of you doing ou: i gave up fora year when we moved, then iu had dc's, i was 2 yr into a degree and it would ost obver £80 a month to pick back up, which we just can't afford!! shock

dh's wage means we're just over threshold for help too! bah, grr, etc etc

but good luck, katymac!

KatyMac Sat 14-Mar-09 21:07:04


I have started all the separate bits so their are 4 sections

Shall I post them here or shall I email them

KatyMac Sat 14-Mar-09 21:07:36

BTW did you know you can pay with Tesco vouchers

yousaidit Sat 14-Mar-09 21:11:13

really? thanks for that, i got an ironing board with my last ones. shows the general direction my life's going in... grin

Swank Sat 14-Mar-09 21:18:55

I'm a second year Early Childhood Studies degree student Katy and I also have a business qualification too. I read all my friends essays before they hand them in (very good at language and academic structure) so I'd be happy to help if I can.

KatyMac Sat 14-Mar-09 21:21:01

Shall I post it here or email it?

BTW it isn't finished - I am on a deadline & I thought 4 part answers better than one perfect answer - hope I am right

southeastastra Sat 14-Mar-09 21:32:58

post it here

Swank Sat 14-Mar-09 21:34:36

Post it here if you can - probably get a lot more support/comments. I just finished a 3500 essay on Friday so I'm feeling jubilant whilst pretending that I don't have another million words still to write before I graduate. wink

KatyMac Sat 14-Mar-09 21:36:40

Q1 Using the concepts, theories and models from Part 3 Topic 1 ‘Strategy and the organisation’ as a framework for your thinking, write a description of your organisation in its environment, and the issues that are important to it at the present time.

Specify your work role and indicate how it relates to the purpose of the organisation as exemplified in its stated ‘mission’ or ‘vision’.

Say what area of management knowledge you think it would be most appropriate for you to study, given your work role and where the organisation is at present.

Give your reasons for your choice. If this is not the area that you chose in Task 2 of TMA 01, give reasons also for your change of mind.

Use around 2000 words (plus diagrams) to complete this task.
40 marks

A WC is a small childcare setting in a little village in east Norfolk. Its mission statement is “to provide high quality childcare within a home environment – WC, for all your childcare needs”.

F*, the village we are based in has about 360 houses and is between 2 large commuter routes connecting: N, GY, A, S, NW and W. We have 5 employees currently and provide childcare for 15 children between 8 months and 7 years. We operate a grant funded before and after school club for the local school alongside contract and ad-hoc early years childcare.

We work to a Quality Assured Kitemark Scheme which requires inspection visits at 10 weeks intervals to ensure up to date training and implementation of ‘Best Practice’ which has benefited the setting as we are able to put into practise current thinking and trends as soon as they emerge. Due to this I have always been awarded the highest grading a childminder can achieve during both my inspections; the first at 7 months from start of trading and then at 3 years.

In September 2008 a new framework was implemented the ‘Early Years Foundation Stage’ which comprises of Welfare and Education requirements; these change the conditions under which childminding occurs and have been seen in the media and by, childminders and parents alike, as onerous and relying on un-necessary paperwork. Despite this I have been recently awarded ‘Outstanding’ at inspection which means I am unlikely to be inspected again for between 3 to 5 years.

We have just been through a period of low children; this has a few possible causes:

• Low birth rate
• A Children’s Centre opening 3 miles away
• Possible backlash from a disgruntled parent (an unsubstantiated complaint which was dealt with)
• Possible backlash from a leaving employee

For about 9 months the numbers of children starting dropped dramatically and this combined with families leaving due to moving to school/nursery, moving house, being made redundant (credit crunch), left us with a need for very low staffing. This resulted in 4 members of staff being laid off/made redundant which has resulted in de-motivation and a little insecurity.

In the past few months (since December) we have started to recruit new children and we are approaching being viable again. This has led to the staff being pressured as we as yet unable to recruit new employees due to the unstable nature of childminding.

The issues that I feel are most pressing at the current point in time are:

• Recruitment of new children
• Recruitment of new staff
• Maintenance of our current high standards

The concerns that these issue raise are:

• Effective Marketing
This is constrained by the inelasticity in the price of childcare as most parents are limited by the amount they can earn. No matter how good the provision is there is an upper limit above which no childcare would be bought and we are at that limit. People’s perception of Walnut Corner is that it is a high quality provider which may put them off enquiring about a space.

• De-motivation of existing staff
This can be described using Tuckman & Jenson 1997 with the section ‘forming’ as new employees are recruited leading to ‘storming’ when they become turbulent and chaotic, moving through ‘norming’ as things develop into a more standard way of working to finally ‘performing’ which is when the best ‘work’ is produced.

As the proprietor of Childcare@WalnutCorner I direct the day to day running of the business acting very much as a manager providing;
• Planning
• Organising
• Co-ordinating
• Controlling
• Monitoring
• Intervening
• Rewarding
• Clarifying
• Watching
• Evaluating

I am somewhat a micromanager which is to the detriment of both my business and my staff who are well trained and experienced and who do not benefit from a Transactional Leader (Bass 1990 shown in The Manager’s Good Study Guide p278 Table 13.1 “Characteristics of transactional and transformational leaders”).

I am emphasising the development of my transformational skills so that I can become;
• Charismatic
• Inspirational

• Intellectual Stimulation &
• Individualised Consideration

These attributes are much more complex to both obtain and monitor, as the ephemeral.

I also direct the business’ direction and marketing strategy and plan it’s future, alongside managing the financial side including forecasting.

Because of this I intend to concentrate on the ‘Leadership Management and Motivation’, another area which is of great importance and which is integral to this is ‘Managing People’. The skills involved in Managing people are closely connected to motivation. The third area which interests me is ‘Strategy and Organisation’

Just need an extra 1300 for this bit
Q2.1 to follow

southeastastra Sat 14-Mar-09 21:38:24

did you not get involved with the new children's centre? did they ever approach you for advice?

KatyMac Sat 14-Mar-09 21:39:00

Q2.1Take the two appropriate pieces of writing that you selected as part of Activity 4.6 in the Study guide. These could have come from the collections in the Course Reader and the Course Resources, or you may have found them yourself from other sources. [Please note that ‘Assertion and argument’ by Hanfling, which you read in Activity 4.3, is not an appropriate piece of writing for this Task.]

If you are working with material you have found yourself, please enclose copies with your assignment.

For each piece of writing:
. Give a precise reference for it.

. Then write a brief summary of what it is about, and the key points you take from it.

. Next, say how this piece of writing relates to the management topics that you studied in Part 3 of the course.

Give examples of where the concepts, theories and models you studied in Part 3 have been used or extended in the piece of writing you have chosen. Identify any ideas that are new to you.

30 marks
Task 2 and Task 3 together should be no more than 3000 words in total.

A2.1 My first ‘appropriate’ piece of writing and precise reference

I have chosen for my first piece of writing: M Whalley, S Allen, D Wilson (2008) Leading Practice in Early Years Settings (Achieving EYPS) Learning Matters Ltd; Chapter 1 pp1-9

This can be viewed at: pages 1-9


This chapter talks about defining leadership versus management within an Early Years Setting. Consisting of insightful discussion about differences between ‘leadership’ and ‘management’. Encouraging self-reflection and analysis of your role alongside providing case studies; leading to self-assessment and for you to develop your leadership of practice into a “holistic, inclusive and empowering process” (Rodd, J. (2006) Leadership in Early Childhood 3rd edition Maidenhead: Open University Press).

Key Points

The issues that were particularly relevant to me were that leadership and management are significantly different, with management being predominantly about task orientated duties and leadership requiring a less specific (but wider ranging) ‘influence’ function.

How does this piece of writing relates to the management topics that you studied in Part 3 of the course?

In the ‘Leading Practice’ document there are parallels for me, with discussions in Part 3 of the course about the differences between transactional and transformational leadership . Although the Leading Practice work was differentiating between leadership of practice; how effectively the physical job is done, and management; how settings are organised, there are defiantly similarities, leadership needing to provide
“enhancement, improvement and development”.
An example of this is can be shown by table 13. “Characteristics of transactional and transformational leaders”
Transactional leader Transformational leader
Contingent reward – contracts exchange of rewards for efforts, promises rewards for good performance, recognises accomplishments. Charisma – provides vision and sense of mission, instils pride, gains respect and trust.
Management by exception (active) –watches and searches for deviations from rules and standards, takes corrective action. Inspiration – communicates high expectations, uses symbols to focus efforts, expresses important purposes in simple ways.
Management by exception (passive) –intervenes only if standards are not met. Intellectual stimulation – promotes intelligence, rationality and careful problem solving.
Laissez-faire – abdicates responsibility, avoids making decisions.
Individualised consideration –gives personal attention, treats each employee individually, coaches and advises.

These can be compared here: ”Table 1.1 Managers and Leaders”

Managers Leaders
Plan and make decisions Give direction
Organise and clarify work Offer inspiration
Coordinate the organisation Build teamwork
Control and monitor the organisation’s effectiveness Set an example
Gain respect and acceptance

Although the actual specifics are different there is a general trend towards ‘tasks’ for managers and what could be termed ‘feelings’ or ‘attributes’ for leaders

Managers Leaders
Plan Charisma
Reward Vision
Watch Pride
Intervene Trust
Organise Pride
Clarify Respect
Co-ordinate Inspiration
Con trol Rationality
Monitor Consideration

In Fayol’s process account of management as represented below:

we can see that all of the 4 management tasks mentioned in the Leading Practice passage are mentioned here with the ‘leadership’ being described as another management task. I prefer to think that managers should be leaders but that it is perfectly possible and indeed likely that within a childcare setting the ‘leader’ is not a manager. The article goes on to say that the definition of ‘manager’ and ‘leader’ often cause some confusion within this sector as the leader of practice may be called: Leader, Supervisor, Manager or Teacher; I have also known the term Lead Practitioner or Room Supervisor being used.

The list that Mary Whalley proposes:”

• Developing the individual’s capacity to be self-directing.
• Helping individuals to gain more control over their lives.
• Raising self-esteem.
• Promoting learning as a life-long learning experience.
• Equality of opportunity.
• Pushing boundaries.
• ‘Constructive discontent’ – not having to put up with things because it’s ‘just the way they are’.
• Encouraging people to feel they have the power and confidence to change things.
• Self-fulfilment.”

as being attributes and actions that a leader can aspire to. These have a close connection with the staircase of employee involvement and empowerment .


Figure 13.6 The staircase of employee involvement and empowerment

I feel that “Encouraging people to feel they have the power and confidence to change things and Self-fulfilment” have direct parallels to empowerment and are close to being synonymous.

A2.2My second ‘appropriate’ piece of writing and precise reference

My second choice is:
Daycare Trust (2008) Raising the bar: What next for the early childhood education and care workforce Daycare Trust.

This can be viewed at:


This section is entitled “The present ECEC workforce – issues to be addressed” and addresses the Governments Strategy with regard to the training and development of workers in the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC). It discusses the Government Initiatives and the Policy Context and the demographics, pay and conditions, recruitment and retention, qualifications and status of ECEC; providing both actual figures in each are alongside insightful analysis. It discusses both the hard facts and the perceptions in detail and proffers suggestions for improving the future of ECEC workers. The conclusion is that without significant Government intervention ECEC workers will continue to be predominantly badly qualified and low paid which leads to high staff turnover and a lack of respect for childcare in general.

Key Points

I found the conclusions about distraction due to poor domestic situations (low pay) and the lack of respect offered to childcare workers alongside the traditional view that childcare is an option for less academic (predominantly) girls whether they actually aspired to working with children were very relevant to my experiences and quite poignant. I felt that the solutions put forward were fairly limited and that there should be more practical actions which could be taken. A lot of time was taken to discuss the traditional view: that childcare is less valuable than education and how in recent legislation action is being taken to reduce this disparity.

How does this piece of writing relates to the management topics that you studied in Part 3 of the course.

In the second piece: “Raising the bar: What next for the early childhood education and care workforce.” The first issue that I found relevant were about motivation as displayed in Hertzberg’s two-factor theory – see table on the following page


It is clear that despite pay being poor there are still large numbers of people working in the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector, this appears to be for a variety of reasons including:

• Availability of jobs
• Hours fitting in with childcare commitments/school hours
• Ability to start with few (if any qualifications)
• A emotional need to work with small children
• The knowledge that what you do will mould and develop the future of a small child/baby
• Ability to train on the job

Which are correlated to Hertzberg’s Satisfaction factors

Hertzberg - satisfaction Daycare Trust
The work itself
A emotional need to work with small children

Advancement and growth
Ability to train on the job

The knowledge that what you do will mould and develop the future of a small child/baby


The factors which are missing are recognition and achievement, which are obviously a part of working in ECEC, although the Daycare Trust clearly shows that childcare work is not held in high esteem by many employers or in society as a whole.

As a majority of ECEC workers are in the private, voluntary or independent (PVI) sector, where childcare is managed with a very tight profit margin and over 80% of expenses are staffing costs it is unlikely that, without significant policy changes pay will increase. Therefore it would be important that other benefits are put in place, examples of these are good working conditions, company policies which employees can take ownership of. Some more unusual ideas are working as co-operatives (so the employees own the organisation) or charities set up to improve the pay and conditions of childcare workers. Unfortunately generally in the PVI sector, pay is low along with working conditions being poor and staff turnover is generally high, due to low motivation and high dissatisfaction rather than low satisfaction.

Exchange Relationships, it seems quite obvious that although there is a relationship between pay and whether an individual works in the (ECEC) sector this is not the most important or even significant factor in the choice of career. The intangible benefits mentioned before, achievement and recognition, are the things that would improve the exchange relationship so that employees would stay.

Some examples of the exchange relationships that exist are:



Training and Development

Skills & competencies


Good working conditions
(Holiday, sick leave, mat leave etc)

Responsibility & loyalty


Responsibility & accountability

Consideration & recognition

Motivation & loyalty

KatyMac Sat 14-Mar-09 21:39:37

No - in fact they are very defensive/negative sad

KatyMac Sat 14-Mar-09 21:40:42

Q3Begin Task 3 by explaining why you thought that each of the pieces of writing you described in Task 2 would be appropriate to assist your workplace understanding and development.

Then go on to examine your organisation and/or your own workplace practice in the light of the content of your two Task 2 pieces:
. to what extent do the concepts, models and theories in your chosen pieces of writing apply to your workplace?
. to what extent can you use them to explain what happens (or predict what will happen) in your organisation?

Draw some conclusions about your workplace and/or practice in the light of the concepts, models and theories you have taken from your pieces of writing.

Draw some conclusions about the usefulness of the pieces of writing you chose to increase your knowledge and understanding of your workplace, or to become more competent in practice.
30 Marks
Task 2 and Task 3 together should be no more than 3000 words in total.

A3The pieces of writing that I have chosen:
• Chapter 1 from “Leading Practice in Early Years Settings (Achieving EYPS)”
• “Raising the bar: What next for the early childhood education and care workforce”

The reason I chose Chapter 1 from “Leading Practice in Early Years Settings” is that the conflict between leadership and management within Early Years settings is complex and expanding. As with the NHS there is starting to be a differential between managing the day-to-day running of a setting (or healthcare site) and the leadership of practice which is of vital necessity for such hands on professions, which is causing considerable difficulties for the people(s) in charge.

Hopefully by understanding the difference and analysing my strength and weaknesses I will be able to better improve the way in which my setting is both managed and led. Without insightful leadership the high standard of ‘Best Practice’ we currently display will not be continued which would have direct effects upon our quality of care and therefore the amount of business we can maintain or recruit. Without

strong management skills the smooth running of the setting would not be possible which would lead to a disorganised and inefficient provision of childcare with issues regarding the safety and care of the children.

The second piece is about the factors which affect Early Years Childcare Workers (EYCW) and their job satisfaction. EYCW are unlikely to work ‘just’ for the money and their relationships with their manager/leader, their colleagues and the children and parents they deal with have a very great influence upon their decision to work at a setting. These interpersonal relationships alongside various hygiene factors (referred to as dissatisfaction by Hertzberg 1959 ) mean that motivating staff is a complex and continual task.

The difficulties in motivating staff combined with the complexities surrounding inspiring them to display ‘Best Practice’ instigated the search for the sort of article that dealt with Managment/Leadership problem and an analysis of the factors affecting the recruitment and retention of quality staff.

I need another 1200 here sad

southeastastra Sat 14-Mar-09 21:43:25

i find them very closed too, seems odd, not in the intended spirit of them.

KatyMac Sat 14-Mar-09 21:44:57

The local manager (PT 2 days) is my DD's class teacher (PT 3 days) & apparently I neglect DD & should give up my C/Ming & get a proper job so I can spend more time with her

southeastastra Sat 14-Mar-09 21:46:13

really? there's something about them i don't trust

KatyMac Sat 14-Mar-09 21:54:38

I think tbh they know that once the funding runs out they have a limited lifespan

Swank Sat 14-Mar-09 22:05:25

I've just written a lit review on Children's Centres. Eye opening stuff when you examine the nitty gritty.

Katy, do you need to critically analyse the points you make? For example, where you critique the EYFS, should you balance that opinion? Also, for every management theory, there are eleventy million theories that expand or even refute the original concept. What level qualification is this aimed at?

You really don't have a lot more to write, it just seems that way. Really its a few extra paragraphs on each section and you obviously know your stuff.

KatyMac Sat 14-Mar-09 22:08:42

Possibly - it's for level 1 - 30 points

I guess you are right

Do you think the gov is about to eliminate childminders - if we all have to have an NVQ by long after will we need degrees

As NVQ's take 12-18 months childminding will no longer be the choice of the SAHM because by the time the training is finished the child will be nearly ready for nursery

KatyMac Sat 14-Mar-09 22:12:25

Actually not sure I can think of anything positive......could you lend me something nice about EYFS?

want me to browse the PGCE / teacher ideas on EYFS or is it from a CMing POV?

Swank Sat 14-Mar-09 22:31:19

I'll have a look for you tomorrow Katy.

My course is all from the child's perspective so in that way, the formalisation of equal use of indoor and outdoor environment in the EYFS (enabling environments) is a really good thing. Also, it mirrors a lot of the areas covered by HeadStart in the USA and Te Whariki in New Zealand which have proven better results for children's holistic development.

Anyway, I think you have written loads! I'll look in again tomorrow and try and find you some refs. Are you meant to ref the first section too?

KatyMac Sat 14-Mar-09 22:32:21

I put this "In September 2008 a new framework was implemented the ‘Early Years Foundation Stage’ which comprises of Welfare and Education requirements; these change the conditions under which childminding occurs and have been seen in the media and by, childminders and parents alike, as onerous and relying on un-necessary paperwork. Despite this I have been recently awarded ‘Outstanding’ at inspection which means I am unlikely to be inspected again for between 3 to 5 years."

& Swank thinks it is one sided (which it is) can you think of anything vaguely positive that I could use to balance it

PS did you see I got Outstanding on Monday blush

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