University of Leicester
2015VAGGERSJPHD.pdf (4.36 MB)

How can children’s centre leaders best enable integrated working to flourish?

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posted on 2015-06-30, 11:15 authored by Julie Vaggers
Early, effective and integrated public service responses to the needs of children and families continue to be a cornerstone of National Policy. Children’s centres are local resources offering a range of services across health, education and social care in order to improve the life chances of children and their families. Leadership is known to be the key to successful collaboration, bringing together people who have not worked together before. This research aimed to explore the challenges of leading an integrated children’s centre. The research used a qualitative methodology to identify new understandings about leadership approaches. It identified the barriers that prevented effective collaboration and developed a model to analyse and shift the current state of integration. It explored the meaning of integrated services and how leaders could establish a climate for collaboration. Five strategic managers were interviewed. The main findings were that the concept of integrated services was unfamiliar and open to interpretation. Centres offered professionals an opportunity to be part of a learning community where they could share knowledge and build relationships. Ten centre leaders took part in eight action learning sets. The main findings were that centres enabled staff to share knowledge and develop a shared purpose. Services needed to be well planned over a locality. Leaders needed to have a clear understanding about their own and others behaviours and learning needs. The final synthesis of these outcomes was that four leadership processes were developed which could help leaders to enable integrated working to flourish. These were: thinking systemically, building and rebuilding relationships, nourishing self actualisation and utilising alternative approaches to solving complex problems. The outcomes from this research mean that it will be possible for leaders to test out and explore new ways of leading a children’s centre.



Anderson, Elizabeth; West, Judith

Date of award


Author affiliation

Department of Medical and Social Care Education

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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