Crafting Your Early Years Setting’s Unique Ethos

An ethos can be written in a few sentences or broken up into sections.  

An example of a simple early years setting ethos statement is: 

  • Our ethos is that children’s early years are the most important years of their lives. Therefore we strive to provide high quality childcare and education for all children appropriate to their individual needs. This is provided for in a positive, respectful, relaxed and homely environment, by supportive adults sensitive to the individual needs of the child and their family. 

Some extracts from other ethos statements include phrases such as, 

  • working closely in partnership with parents/carers 
  • the learning environment is a safe, rich and varied space 
  • health and wellbeing are at the core of all we do 
  • we have play at the very heart of our ethos 
  • a strong family ethos, a home from home feel 
  • making sustainable choices and taking care of our environment is fundamental 
  • we have a strong focus on being environmentally friendly, providing your child with a solid understanding of the world, encouraging them to have respect for our planet. 

Some settings may prefer to write their ethos in sections and write further detail under each heading. An example of headings is listed below; 

Our ethos: 

  • Active Childhoods 
  • Safety Culture 
  • Eating Healthy 
  • Loving The Planet 
  • Community 

How Does Having An Ethos Benefit Us?

1. It’s our USP – Unique Selling Point.  

We have a unique setting, no-one else is quite the same as us. Our ethos gives a picture of the setting as a whole. It fleshes out the bones of our beliefs so we stand out, proud and assured. 

Going back to Aristotle’s three modes, ethos, pathos and logos, these all apply to the art of persuasion. I would suggest that having a clear ethos can play a positive role in achieving desired occupancy levels as it’s a way we can draw parents and children into our setting.  

This may be the first thing prospective parents hear about or read when they are looking for a nursery for their child. Our ethos can pique their curiosity and lead them to make enquiries. These enquiries become show-a-rounds and then bookings. As leaders and managers of settings, we know that part of our role is ensuring good occupancy rates. I believe this starts with a parent’s first glimpse of our setting – our heart-felt, enticing ethos.

2. It’s a tool for managing change 

We may be introduced to a new aspect of pedagogy which we want to flow throughout our setting. We can adjust our ethos to reflect this. It shows we are open to learning, open to new thoughts and ideas, forward-looking. 

We may wish to change our learning environment, for example, from a house-based nursery into one that operates outdoors. Adapting our ethos is important to show parents and prospective parents just how different we are and what is important to us. 

It’s also crucial for staff members’ wellbeing. When change happens, such as a change of leader or owner, premises, or curriculum, we can remind ourselves that we are part of a greater whole and together, despite uncertainty, we are united. Revisiting our ethos during a staff meeting could strengthen our team as we rediscover who we are, why we are there and what makes us tick. There is safety and security in our ethos, even during times of change.

3. An ethos reminds us of our purpose 

It tells us why we do what we do. On those difficult days, when we don’t seem to have the energy to pour ourselves out, our ethos encourages us – we know that we make a difference. We make our mark on every child, but we also touch parents, grandparents, carers, siblings and our local community. Our ethos reminds us that our influence is vast and our purpose is profound.  

What does your ethos say about your setting? 

Take a look at Pam’s other articels on culture and values here: 

Embedding Culture In Your Early Years Ethos

The Power Of Values In The Workplace


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