The organisational climate of preschools and associated characteristics: A study of a group of preschools in England
This study investigated the organisational climate of 26 preschools in England using a multi stage mixed methods design. Data collection included an initial questionnaire administered to all preschools, followed by a second questionnaire and interview process focusing upon preschools at the opposite ends of the climate continuum (high climate n= 6, low climate n = 5).
Using data from the Early Childhood Work Environment Survey, ECWES, (Bloom, 2010), preschool and staff variables showed no statistically significant association with the overall assessment of organisational climate. However, the data did reveal a significant statistical difference between staff from the high and low climate groups across each of the separate ECWES ten climate dimensions. In addition, there was a significant statistical difference between the perception of support staff and teachers in the low climate group across several climate dimensions.
Questionnaire and interview data revealed low pay as a variable, which was perceived negatively by many staff. However, the processes which differentiated to the greatest extent between the high and low climate groups, on a day to day basis, were social and operational in nature. The high climate preschools had transparent and effective organisational processes in place, which created a strong social system, where subsystems within the school were connected. In this positive environment staff felt supported, and there was an atmosphere where all staff worked harmoniously together with a collective drive to address problems and adapt to change. Preschools with smaller staff numbers, and where there was a discrete educational focus upon early years, appeared best suited to achieving these ends.
Future implications of this study appear twofold. The first suggests a need for greater communication across preschool subsystems for high levels of climate to be established. The second is a broader strategy and involves policy makers addressing the low levels of remuneration, and the heavy workload, which the constant drive for change has created for many staff. While the effective management and operational systems within high climate preschools were found to mitigate against such external challenges, where these systems were not in place organisational climate was negatively impacted upon.
- School of Education and Social Policy