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Oxhey Nursery School - Leadership Case Study

The Why...

Roots Federation is always working in the pursuit of educational excellence in early years. This case study explores the transformative journey of Oxhey Nursery School, a maintained nursery school in Watford, as it navigated through significant challenges. Confronted with the inability to recruit a substantive leader and unable to set a balanced budget, Oxhey Nursery School faced a period of uncertainty that threatened its operational stability and educational standards.

​This case study delves into how the Federation leaders not only steadied the ship but also set Oxhey Nursery School on a course towards rejuvenation and excellence. Through a blend of expert mentorship, innovative practices, and a shared vision for educational excellence in early years, this collaboration marks a significant chapter in both the federation's and Oxhey Nursery School's narratives.

​In the following sections, we will explore the challenges faced, the strategies implemented by the federation, and the impactful outcomes of this partnership, thus underscoring the federation's role as a beacon of educational excellence in early years.


The How…

The Headteachers of Roots Federation were asked to offer temporary assistance to Oxhey Nursery School following the exit of its main headteacher. Initially, this assistance took the form of mentoring, given that there was existing internal leadership managing the school's day-to-day operations. However, after this leadership departed, it became essential to establish strategic leadership for the school's advancement and financial stability. This process eventually led to the formation of Roots Federation, ensuring that the identified challenges and solutions could be sustained long-term through a structured approach.


The Challenges...

Financial Viability: Oxhey Nursery School was struggling to remain financially viable, with a budget that was unbalanced and unsustainable.

Staff Structure: The existing staff structure was misaligned with the business needs, hindering efficient operations.

Operational Inefficiency: The nursery operated ineffectively, lacking a clear vision and direction.

Resource Limitations: There was an acute shortage of resources, exemplified by outdated technology, which impeded educational delivery.

Staff Expertise: Absence of a structured training program meant the team was unable to implement up-to-date pedagogical practices.


Outdated Business Systems: The school's business systems were obsolete, negatively affecting both internal and external communication.

Our Solutions 

organisational restructuring and staffing agility

Agile Staffing Structure: Implemented an agile staffing structure better aligned with business needs, enhancing operational efficiency.

Restructuring for Efficiency: Focused on creating efficiencies through organisational restructuring, optimising both human and material resources.

Collaborative Leadership: Adopted a soft collaboration approach, where the federation's leadership fostered good working practices and a strong sense of unity.

training and development initiatives

Bespoke Training Programs: The federation provided tailor-made training to meet specific educational and administrative needs.

Expertise from Local Nurseries:

Utilized the expertise and experience of local nurseries for practical, on-the-ground training and development.

Administrative Skill Enhancement:

Offered specialized training in administrative functions to streamline operations.

system integration and resource enhancement

Shared Systems and Processes: Introduced shared systems across schools, like the 'Octopus' initiative, to standardize processes and procedures.


Marketing and Brand Revitalisation:

Focused on enhancing marketing strategies, brand presence, and website design for broader engagement.

Resource Allocation for Learning Environments:

Allocated resources effectively to upgrade the learning environment, incorporating modern educational tools and techniques.

"Other than safeguarding, leaders have made development of the curriculum their main focus since they took up their roles. They quickly identified the key things that needed to change and took prompt action to start to address them. Leaders have put a greater emphasis on encouraging children to become independent. This is working well. Children show great interest in their learning. They help themselves to the resources they need and continue with their activities for long periods of time. Previously, the school’s curriculum was based on a series of topics and activities that were revisited each year. The emphasis was on what staff wanted children to do rather than what they wanted them to learn. This has changed, although the changes are not yet fully developed. The curriculum is now based on the skills that staff want children to learn. Activities are then planned to help children to develop those skills. These changes are new and further development is needed. Leaders refer to the environment as ‘the third adult’ in the delivery of the curriculum. The school had built up an enormous number of resources over many years. Leaders found that this made the school appear cluttered. It was also difficult to ‘see the wood for the trees’ when choosing the right resources to support the curriculum.

Leaders carried out a thorough audit and stripped out old and superfluous resources.

The environment has been significantly improved and is now a strength of the school."

Ofsted report 2023

The Benefits 

These benefits highlight the transformative impact of the federation's involvement, emphasising improvements in staff development, financial health, and educational quality.

 Enhanced Professional Development for Staff:

Staff had access to high-level professional development programs, leading to significant skill enhancement.

Positive Staff Feedback: A staff survey revealed a 100% satisfaction rate, indicating unanimous agreement on the value of the training provided.

Reinvestment in Learning Spaces:

Profits were reinvested into the learning environment, demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement.

Ofsted Recognition: Within six weeks, Ofsted recognized these efforts, particularly noting the creation of two new gardens and a £60K refurbishment of the outdoor learning environment.

Financial Stability and Growth:

The nursery achieved a strong financial standing, underpinning its sustainability and growth.

High Demand for Services: The nursery reached full capacity and established a waiting list, indicating high demand and community trust.


Research-Based Thought Leadership:

The nursery adopted research-based strategies, positioning itself as a leader in early years education.


Comprehensive Learning Environment:

The focus on elevating the setting ensured a comprehensive, 360-degree learning environment, catering to all aspects of child development.


The Results...


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