‘A New Direction’: The Changing Face of English Early Childhood Education and Care Policy

Fairchild, N. (2014) ‘A New Direction’: The Changing Face of English Early Childhood Education and Care Policy. In: BERA Conference, 23-25 September 2014, Institute of Education, London.

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Background to the topic
This paper represents explorations at the beginning of my PhD which seeks to investigate whether democratic practice (Moss 2012) can flourish in the current Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) policy environment.
The promotion of ‘quality’ environments was driven by research advocating cross curricula learning through play, a qualified graduate workforce and sustained shared thinking between knowledgeable adults and children (Siraj-Blatchford et al 2002). The election of the Coalition Government in May 2010 saw a significant review of ECEC policy (Tickell 2011, Nutbrown 2012, DfE 2012) with a growing focus on formal learning, outcomes and children in schools from age 2. Much has been written about the impact of neoliberalism on education policy (Ball 1990, 1994, 2005, Ball and Bowe 1992 and Tomlinson 2005) and the market model of ECEC provides an opportunity to examine its impact in Early Years. This paper will consider English ECEC policy frameworks and their impact on practitioners.
Focus of the enquiry
This analysis investigates discursive formations in certain ECEC policies implemented or discussed by the Coalition Government which become ‘common sense’ notions of practice. It explores the development of teacher led ‘school ready’ discourses and reflects on the potential impacts on professional practice. Interpreting policy can provide a lens through which researchers and practitioners can reflect on practice. Policy analysis and unpacking discursive formations allows for exploration of relationships between professional values versus commercial values and collective interests versus competitive relations (Ball 2012).
Research methods and theoretical framework
A systematic literature review was conducted using key words and defined dates. The search included online policy documents, books and journals. The resultant documents sourced allowed for further refinement with six texts selected for analysis. The texts were analysed using Foucauldian discourse analysis employing Grahams (2011) method of description, recognition and classification. Foucault’s notions of regimes of truth, power relations and governmentality were applied during the analysis.
Research findings and/or contribution to knowledge
Previous research (Miller 2008, Simpson 2010) considered the activist tendencies and resistance to performativity (Osgood 2006) of ECEC practitioners. These findings detail how current policy frameworks represent a neoliberalism reframing of educational imperatives for young children. There is a move away from a social pedagogic model of holistic development to to an outcome related discourse of performativity. Future research will investigate whether the ECEC practitioners can negotiate an alternative professional stance which privileges the centrality of children and families.

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Items (Paper)
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1139 Early childhood education
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Education, Social and Life Sciences > Childhood
Event Title: BERA Conference
Event Location: Institute of Education, London
Event Dates: 23-25 September 2014
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Nicola Fairchild
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2014 15:34
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2019 14:24
URI: https://eprints.chi.ac.uk/id/eprint/1276

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