Struggle, resilience and making change: An in-depth analysis of the experiences of two UK nursery school head teachers from minoritized communities  (FREE, ONLINE, MONDAY 27TH MARCH, 2023 UK TIME 12-1PM)



Little or no dialogue takes place when we consider social justice-oriented leadership progression (Johnson and Campbell-Stephens, 2012) and while studying the discrepancies of why educators from minoritized communities face far more barriers to leadership than their white counterparts, Bush et al. (2006) reports difficulties of the early years leaders’ (EY) journey to headship along with reports of overt and covert racism, particularly when working in predominantly white settings. There is an urgent need for us to understand the lived experiences of EY leaders on their journey to leadership and more importantly, give those emerging identities a voice in the context of our participants’ narratives. We present the findings from our research as an in-depth analysis of the experiences of two UK nursery school head teachers from minoritized communities. The two interviews analysed in this research are a part of a sample totaling 14 semi-structured interviews with maintained nursery school head teachers across England as a part of our earlier quantitative research funded by British Educational Research Association (BERA) (Sakr et al., 2022). We zoom in on the lived experiences of EY leaders via Critical Race Theory’s tenet of ‘story-countertelling’ and further explore multiplicity of emerging encounters framed by intersectional feminism adding multiple layers of those narratives. The research demonstrates the never-ending struggles and affective fallouts with whiteness manifested in the day to day experiences; developing resilience despite the experience of systematic racism in the form of unfair additional scrutiny; and the EY leaders’ commitment to making change to improving cultural diversity and representation as a matter of urgency for children and families served by the EY sector. The findings presented in our research prompt us to look at the complexity of human nature, our diverse experiences and individual narratives, all which have personal and collective meanings. We are aware that dialogue of counter-storytelling and intersectional feminism in relation to the lived experiences of EY leaders may not warrant the dismantle of racism, difficult endeavours, prejudice and discrimination. We hope to instigate the importance of its significance that remains unaddressed.

Bio: Magdalena Dujczynski is a research assistant at Middlesex University and EYITT supervision tutor at IOE, UCL. Her research interests include multilingualism and culturally relevant leadership in the early years sector.

Bio: Celina Pinto is a seminar leader in Middlesex University. Her research interests include race in education, social justice, equality and diversity in the Early Years sector. 

Bio: Dr Mona Sakr is Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood at Middlesex University. Her research explores early years policy and practice, particularly in relation to leadership development across the sector.

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