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Approximately half a million babies (under two-years-old) experience some kind of formal childcare in England, but who looks after them and what do they do with them all day in baby rooms in nurseries?
Volume 17 No 1 May 2015
The Baby Room Project:
Findings and implications
by Dr Kathy Goouch and
Professor Sacha Powell
‘When we started our research in 2009
there was very little knowledge in the
public domain about how babies and young
children were cared for in daycare settings
Volume 17 No 1 May 2015 47
CHILDCARE IS a topical issue and has
been high on political agendas for some
time now. Perhaps this is predominantly
because of the importance of cultivating
the voting power of women, with promises of  exible
and a ordable childcare; or perhaps because of the
ongoing work/welfare debate in England – where
entry to paid employment is seen as an antidote to
intergenerational disadvantage; or perhaps because
childcare of ‘good quality’ is thought to o er the
foundations for lifelong learning and achievement
that may mitigate against some early risk factors
arising from multiple deprivations.
We have estimated previously that approximately
half a million babies (under two-years-old)
experience some kind of formal childcare in England,
which, if they spend an average of 20 hours a week
in daycare, generates revenue of about £2.5 billion
a year. So, where the majority of care is provided by
the private, for-pro t sector, the care of babies and
young children has also become very big business!
But who looks after babies and what do they do
with them all day in rooms designated for babies in
nurseries? What happens in baby rooms?
What happens in baby rooms?
For at least the last 10 years, we have been reading,
thinking and talking about what happens to babies
in daycare settings and to the people employed to
look after them. We have been fortunate to have
been funded (from  e Esmée Fairbairn Foundation)
to carry out a two-phase research and development
project called  e Baby Room and in this article we
would like to share some of our learning.
Although this project o cially ended in 2012, we
have since been working with a new group of people,
and nurseries, on a sister project about singing
with babies, Babysong ( e Ragdoll Foundation),
and early  ndings from this new work are both
con rming our previous conclusions and shedding
new light on practice in baby rooms.
As co-authors of the Review of Literature for Birth
to  ree Matters (2003) we had become aware that
baby room practice had been neglected as a site for
research and enquiry in England but we also learned
that this was the case in many other countries across
the world.
When we started our research about baby rooms
in 2009 there was very little knowledge in the public
domain about how babies and young children were
cared for in daycare settings but also little was known
about the people employed to care.  is has now
begun to change.
Baby room people
During two phases of our Baby Room Project, 43
settings were involved, 23 practitioners participated,
16 local authority advisers joined the project and
provision for 370 babies, between seven weeks and
18-months-old was examined.  e project aimed
to create guided opportunities for participants to
re ect on their own practice, principles, beliefs and
in uences.
rough discussion in the project’s professional
development sessions, we established that there were
at least seven signi cant areas of in uence on the
practice of participants and these are identi ed in
order of signi cance, from the centre outward:
‘Insiders’ refers to those working in baby rooms.
e Local Authority.
Media and popular texts (including, for example
Central government.
Although ‘families’ in this context refers to the
families of the babies in their care, only very
occasionally would participants talk about in uences
from their own families. Yet it was evident that some
practices were in uenced by long-held beliefs about
baby care.
While practice is frequently in uenced by personal
experience (subjectivities) this is rarely discussed
for example, ways of talking with babies and songs
that are sung to babies have often been handed down
through parents and grandparents. Practitioners
in the project talked about the pressures they felt
from various ‘stakeholders’, which were sometimes
con icting. For example, some talked about sleep
as a contentious issue because families frequently
requested particular sleep patterns or no sleep for
their babies during the day in the baby room, while
owner/managers often had policies about sleep
routines and Local Authorities sometimes o ered
di ering advice.
e important aspect emerging from discussions of
this kind of dilemma was that practitioners showed
themselves to be voiceless, being pulled in di erent
directions by others, although they expressed their
concern for the babies - whose wellbeing they felt
was often overlooked in decisions made by powerful
e participants in the project said they felt
themselves to be of low status, within nurseries
and in the public view of their job. It also became
evident during this, and subsequent projects, that the
Approximately half a million babies (under two-years-old) experience some kind of formal childcare
in England, but who looks after them and what do they do with all day in baby rooms in nurseries?
Dr Kathy Goouch
(top); Professor
Sacha Powell
Research Centre for
Children, Families and
Canterbury Christ Church
Volume 17 No 1 May 2015
Sleep was a contentious issue; families requested particular sleep patterns for their babies, while owner/managers often had their own policies
majority of people working in baby rooms are young
women, with fewer quali cations than those working
with older nursery children, and who have little or
no access to professional development speci cally
relating to the care of babies, with the exception
of mandatory training in health and safety, food
hygiene and safeguarding.
Opportunities for professional development,
for career progression, to meet colleagues in other
centres, for professional discussion, for specialist
training - all seemed to be missing for this group
of practitioners. But expectations of them are high,
including that:
ey perform functional tasks of changing,
cleaning, feeding and resting the babies in their
ey cherish ‘the most precious thing in the world
in the lives of parents.
ey intervene in babies’ and young children’s care
and educational interests.
Participants we have met during our projects worked
extraordinarily hard, with high levels of commitment
to their work, for long hours, sometimes with
di cult working conditions, frequently with
low pay, and with little support to develop their
professional knowledge and greater understanding of
their roles.
Baby room themes
ree themes Relationships, Environments and
Talk were chosen for closer examination in the
ere is usually clear agreement about the
importance of relationships. However, it became
clear in the project that there may be di erences
in how the quality of the relationships between
practitioners and babies was constructed and
understood and that this might be subjective.
An example of this was in the variable ways
that ‘loving’ care was exempli ed and permissible,
with some parents perceiving any demonstrable
‘loving’ care as a threat to their own relationship
and others preferring this approach. Equally, some
nursery policies required practitioners to develop a
‘professional’ approach to the care of babies, which
seemed to indicate the development of a more
distant relationship.
e Key Person approach was generally in
evidence, although this was interpreted and practised
di erently in di erent nurseries. Recording the
extensive list of people with whom each participant
was required to ‘relate’ clearly demonstrated the
size of the task expected.  is list included, as well
photo © Lynn Cook
Volume 17 No 1 May 2015 49
as the babies themselves: Parents; other carers;
childminders; siblings; grandparents and extended
family members; social workers; local authority
advisers; health professionals; Ofsted inspectors; and
colleagues and managers in the setting.
While we have described some of these relationships
as ‘ eeting’, others required a substantial physical,
emotional and intellectual investment.
In our projects, the term ‘environment’ has included
the physical space, material resources, people and
interactions. We found that babies and their carers
often spent long working days together and that the
‘emotional climate’ of the environment impacted on
them both (see Peter Elfer’s work for more discussion
of this, 2013; and Elfer and Dearnley, 2007).
In the wider world, care or ‘emotional labour
(Osgood, 2010) is often devalued. Reconceptualising
the care of babies as emotionally demanding work is
highly relevant to discussions of environments and
requires ‘well-managed and appropriate emotional
practice through daily professional interactions’
(Osgood, 2010).
We were surprised to learn through project
discussions that decisions about the layout of the
rooms and the use of resources were often made by
senior sta in the nursery without reference to baby
room practitioners. For example, where, when and
how babies sleep is a highly important contributing
factor to babies‘ physical, cognitive and emotional
development and a highly contentious topic for
debate, and yet this is rarely discussed and varies
dramatically from baby room to baby room.
However, the people who work in baby rooms felt
they had little control over the physical environment,
their rooms, or about the kinds of routines that
happened there. Of course, these rooms varied
enormously - some had baby rooms in basements,
others were in converted classrooms, or converted
factory spaces, and some were in purpose-built
settings all with advantages and disadvantages that
are rarely, if ever, debated.
e nature of the baby room environment, the
resources and objects available impacted on the
kinds of interactions that occur between adults and
babies. We became concerned that the low status of
childcare provision, and the even lower status of baby
rooms, was resulting in some practitioners ‘making
do’ with low-cost or even shabby environments. We
were reminded of the argument that this situation
is in contrast to commercial premises, banks and
businesses, which are designed with plenty of natural
light, soft furnishings and often have high quality art
displayed on the walls:
‘Banks, shops and restaurants pay huge sums to
interior designers to create a visual environment
which is attractive to customers during their brief
visits. Yet we are often content for children to
spend their most formative years surrounded by
ugliness and clutter.’ [Goldschmied and Jackson,
While ‘ugliness’ was not really apparent in our
projects, the contrast is clear here and re ects the
idea that somehow the baby room is rarely visible to
broader society and the aesthetics may apparently
matter less than in commercial premises. Also,
in some nurseries, it is important to record that
there were no comfortable dedicated spaces for
practitioners to enjoy breaks away from the babies,
which we know is a highly signi cant factor in the
wellbeing of people who look after them.
Our projects began with the premise that talking
with, talking to and talking around babies matters
very much, and that the way that adults use their
voice with babies is very important. We are now
less than sure that close verbal interactions and
the bene ts of intimacy with babies can always be
assumed to be a natural occurrence.
In the busy-ness of baby rooms, with all the calls
on practitioners’ time to engage in tasks of cleaning,
preparing food, changing babies, opportunities
for quiet, a ectionate, smiling and relaxed
‘conversations’ seem to be rare. Additionally, it seems
that practitioners are expected to be busy which
does not seem to include sitting calmly with babies
for any length of time.
Rich interactions do take place between
practitioners and babies, but these invariably
take second place to task-oriented, routine-based
work practices. Opportunities then to experience
the enormous rewards brought by babies to
‘conversations’ may be rare.
Where talk does occur in baby rooms, it seems
often to be ‘instructional’ talk, in both tasks ‘come
on, let’s wash your messy face’ and in play ‘what’s
this, its an elephant’ rather than ‘a ectionate’ talk,
led by and sustained by babies. Signing, touch and
non-verbal behaviours are apparently becoming more
New chapters in the baby
room story
One of the key elements in our  ndings from
e Baby Room Project is the lack of specialised
professional development and support available for
people who work in baby rooms.  is situation has
not changed, even though the term ‘baby’ is now
more likely to be written into national, local and
nursery policy documents, which often reference
‘babies and young children’.
High level opportunities for people who work in
baby rooms to come out of their settings and join
networks of baby room practice is important for
many reasons, including:
To raise the status and self-worth of those people
engaged in this highly responsible work.
To increase the specialised knowledge base and
Volume 17 No 1 May 2015
Participants have been keen to progress, to know more and to debate practice issues
theorising about ‘professional love’ (Page, 2011).
We have discussed our use of the term ‘intimacy’
when talking about the nature of their interactions
with babies - with some participants feeling
uncomfortable because of common usage of this
term, outside nurseries. ‘Attachment’ has also been
discussed, and sometimes the synonyms of ‘closeness
or ‘bonding’ have been preferred.
By interrogating language itself, the meanings
behind words are put to the test, challenged and
examined and close re ections made on the practice
encompassed by the language. Discussions have also
included what a ‘conversation’ with a baby might
be like, what you might say to a baby and how
you might use your voice.  e term ‘motherese
has rippled through these conversations, with
participants’ own  lms of their practice illustrating
what this actually looks like, and how it sounds.
Our new project, Babysong, has emerged from our
previous work to support practitioners in developing
‘intimacy’ with babies in their care; in order to  nd
ways to help them express warmth and a ection in
their practice; and to help participants  nd ways to
express this with babies through songs, including
ere is a wealth of research supporting the use
of songs and music for a range of developmental
reasons and indeed, early  ndings suggest a clear
impact on the wellbeing and engagement of adults
and babies through the use of the human voice in
close singing encounters.  rough all of our project
work with practitioners working in baby rooms, we
have been struck by the isolation that many say that
they feel and we have been deeply concerned at their
low professional self-esteem.
It has also become clear that many of the project
participants’ views of how they might be accountable
in their practice rest on the quality of the functional
activities in which they engage routines, cleaning
and tidying, changing and feeding. Support needs to
be given to help practitioners  nd ways of combining
tasks with talk and song so that routine elements of
their day can become ‘conversational’, responsive
opportunities with babies.
is is not an easy task, and those of us who have
been involved in the Baby Room projects have been
awe-struck by the enormity of the tasks involved in
the care of many babies and the physical, emotional
and intellectual investment that this requires.
We are hoping that continued participation in this
project will help with these issues by increasing
networking opportunities, raising the status of
close, a ectionate talk and signing encounters, and
helping with ideas for weaving the delights of songs
and lullabies into everyday routines. We know that
reciprocity, shared engagements, and dialogue with
babies through talk and song will bring its own
photo by Lucie Carlier
breadth of understanding required to work in this
To link baby room people to each other to form
local, regional, national and international networks.
To connect baby room people to the range of
policies raging around the sector and to the
politics circling their practice.
To o er supportive discursive spaces, within which
debates about aspects of practice can occur in safety.
In our projects, we have found that if participants
are provided with these specialist, high quality
opportunities, their level of engagement is high
and this carries back into practice with high levels
of impact on their work with babies. We have also
found that the participants in our projects have been
extremely keen to progress, to know more, to debate
practice issues and to engage in national consultations.
During our projects, participants have relished
opportunities to also discuss the language used to
de ne baby room practice and have been keen to
seek alternatives, for example, to the word ‘love’
in relation to their work with babies, and enjoying
the debates that Jools Page o ers with her careful
Volume 17 No 1 May 2015 51
e impact that relatively small-scale research and
development projects can have is important but not
wide ranging. Baby room provision in daycare has been
a rather hidden phase of early childhood education
and care for too long.  e people employed to work in
baby rooms have also been, and have felt, neglected.
A new strategic vision for improved outcomes for
babies requires a signi cant national investment –
rst, in more clearly de ning the aims of daycare for
babies, and then in ensuring that the practitioners
working in baby rooms are con dent and su ciently
knowledgeable to make decisions about care, to
speak authoritatively on behalf of babies and to
take e ective control in respect of the frequently
competing demands make on them by families,
colleagues and professional agencies.
It is our view that without this level of investment,
the quality of baby room practice is solely dependent
on the good will and good nature of baby room
people and their ability to draw on their own resources
independently to work with babies.  is ‘incidental’
notion of care for babies is not sustainable.
As long ago as 2006, Professor Peter Moss called
for a ‘re-envisioning of the early childhood worker’
(Moss, 2006) as he examined ideas about the
professionalism, identity and values of those working
in the sector. Moss looked across the world at ways
of understanding the care and education of young
children, and identi ed three ‘models’ or images
- ‘the worker as substitute mother’, ‘the worker as
technician’ and ‘the worker as researcher’. He invites
us to ask critical questions, and we repeat these in
this context: How is baby room work understood
and what values are considered important?
Since then, of course, Professor Cathy Nutbrown’s
robustly researched Independent Review of Early
Education and Childcare Quali cations: Foundations
for Quality (2012) has been published, with careful
recommendations about training, quali cations and
professional development. At the moment and without
recourse to any theory or philosophical basis on
which they can stand rm or from which to develop
a pedagogy of care, the in uences on practitioners
working in baby rooms are fairly super cial for
example, one participant commented, ‘you go by
Ofsted most of the time’.  is is perhaps partly why
some practitioners do things ‘because it’s always been
done like that’ or why practices can quickly change to
meet the demands of parents or Ofsted.
Baby room practitioners need to be accompanied in their learning, as we all do, and just as babies need the company of others to learn
photo © Lynn Cook
Volume 17 No 1 May 2015
e projects have given participants a window on
theory, and experience of the practice of theorising,
with the time, space and resources (for example, people
who will help them) to think and talk and think again.
Baby room work is physical and emotional, and will
perhaps only become intellectual when practitioners
start to ask themselves the ‘why are we doing this?’
questions and when the answer is more than ‘because
we’ve always done it like this; because my manager tells
me to; or because Ofsted says we have to’.
Baby room practitioners need to be accompanied
in their learning, as we all do, and just as babies
need the company of others to learn.  is is the
vision of an early childhood professional sent to us
by Visiting Professor Mary McMullen (2012), from
Indiana University: ‘ e deliberate early childhood
professional is one who always proceeds from a
strong philosophical frame, one that is built upon
her knowledge and beliefs, as well as her unique
capabilities and talents.  e beliefs that guide
professional decisions should be reasoned beliefs,
those that have come from years of deliberation
on the interconnectedness of theory, research and
practice, not clouded by our personal outside
issues, formed out of convenient habit or based on
unexamined assumptions.
A philosophical frame is not a solid, static
structure, but rather more organic and  exible,
allowing room for growth and change. As the
elements of the frame become frayed or faded,
threads may need to be reinforced, with the old
ideas and beliefs being revisited, re-examined; in all
ways, beliefs must be defensible and stand the test of
scrutiny as they are articulated to others.’
is idea of ‘deliberateness’, or perhaps the
intention to care, is important. It is impossible to
legislate for the possibility that babies should only
come across people in their life who set out to care
for them, but we surely can, or should be able to,
ensure that this is the case in the daycare institutions
designed for them.
It is di cult to know what ‘the intention to
care’, ‘a deliberate professional’, or ‘professionalism
from within’ (Osgood, 2010) looks like in practice
and indeed they may not comprise a single picture
but more likely a mosaic of images. However, any
personi cation of ‘deliberateness’ will involve a
commitment to nurturance, an understanding of
the need for ‘engrossment’ in babies and their lived
experiences, and will be combined with an urgency
to learn more.
rough research like  e Baby Room project,
hopefully, ideas and beliefs are being examined
and articulated, research is receiving attention and
theories are being constructed. Evidence of growth
and change will develop, over time. However, a
national/international debate is required about what
societies expect to happen about the care of babies
and who they think should care for them.
Elfer P, Goldschmied E, Selleck D (2013) Key Persons in the
nursery: Building relationships for quality provision (2nd ed).
David Fulton: Oxford
Elfer P, Dearnley K (2007) ‘Nurseries and emotional well-being:
evaluating an emotionally containing model of professional
development’; in Early Years 27 (3) pp 267-79
Goldschmied E, Jackson S (1994) People Under  ree: young
children in day care. Routledge: London
McMullen M (2012) Personal Communication with authors.
Moss P (2006) ‘Understandings and Discourses: Possibilities for
re-envisioning the early childhood worker’; in Contemporary
Issues in Early childhood 7 (1) pp 30-41
DOI: 10.2304/ciec.2006.7.1.30
Nutbrown C (2012) Independent Review of Early Education and
Childcare Quali cations: Foundations for Quality. DfE: London
Osgood J (2010) Reconstructing professionalism in ECEC: the
case for the ‘critically re ective emotional professional’; in Early
Years 30 (2) pp 119-13
Page J (2011) ‘Do mothers want professional carers to love their
babies?’; in Journal of Early Childhood Research 9 (3) pp 310-23
Key points
Approximately half a million babies (under two-years-old) experience some
kind of formal childcare in England, but who looks after babies and what do
they do with them all day in rooms designated for babies in nurseries?
During two phases of our Baby Room Project, 43 settings were involved, 23
practitioners participated, 16 local authority advisers joined and provision
for 370 babies, between seven weeks and 18-months-old was examined. The
project aimed to create guided opportunities for participants to reflect on
their own practice, principles, beliefs and influences
Babies should only come across people in daycare who set out to care for them
©Neil Henty
... There seem to be distinct benefits too for parents and carers in this kind of communication. The importance of this was recognised by Goouch and Powell in their summary of the Baby Room Project (Goouch & Powell, 2015). MacKinlay and Baker (2005) specifically looked at creating positive experiences for first-time mothers through lullaby singing. ...
... It enabled them to feel closer to their infants; 2. It developed their confidence with their babies; 3. It enabled them to make connections with others; 4. It provided them with an additional tool for communication post-birth. Carolan et al. (2012) It was the Baby Room Project findings of Goouch and Powell (2015) that gave rise to the idea of a Babysong Project. ...
Full-text available
The Babysong Project arose out of the Baby Room Project and its aims included supporting baby room practitioners to develop ‘communicative musicality’ (Malloch & Trevarthen 2009), extending research knowledge about baby room practices and helping practitioners to explore opportunities to question and adapt their own ways of working with babies in their care. Six years on, we reflect on the project and consider the significance and sustainability of what might have been achieved. We also probe whether there are further areas for development. We conclude that while there were many positive outcomes, we recognise the challenges of sustaining and nurturing the confidence of practitioners and the desirability of addressing the organisational aspects of the initiative to promote the embedding of practice. There is a real necessity for such projects, often involving radical challenges to previously held attitudes and practices, to be funded over longer periods of time. We also acknowledge the rich, untapped potential of using song to connect with families and carers.
... Much has now been written in this space. Pedagogy is variously enframed as relational (Degotardi et al., 2013), dialogic (White, 2016;, 'affect' (Quiñones et al., 2020), and care oriented (Bussey & Hill, 2017;Rockel, 2009;Shin, 2015), articulated through concepts of intersubjectivity, attunement (e.g., Goldshmied & Jackson, 1994;Dalli, 2002;Goouch & Powell, 2015;Marwick, 2017;Petrocchi et al., 2021), embodied or even silent dialogues (Brennan, 2016;, or through notions of respect (Christie, 2021), to name a few. Contested topics concerning intimacy and love (O'Connor et al., 2020;Page, 2011Page, , 2014Gradovski & White, 2018), professionalism (Peeters & Vandenbroeck, 2011 and others), attachment (see chapter 4) and limitations of developmentally appropriate practices (Farquhar & White, 2014; add to this growing repertoire of pedagogical tenets that educators must reconcile in their practice. ...
This chapter tells the story of how the International Study of Social Emotional Early Transitions (ISSEET), the project forming the basis of the book, came to be. It has two parts. The first sets the scene for the international collaboration and overall study, including its methodology, methods, and participants. It also documents the ethical parameters that constructed and, to some extent, constrained our capacity to share experiences across the six countries involved in this study. The second part introduces the specific focus on infants’ first transition from home to an early childhood education and care (ECEC) setting that orients the book and the chapters that follow. This second part also unpacks the essence of each chapter and locates it within the wider narrative of the entire book. Our intention in this first chapter is to guide readers through some of the most urgent questions about infant transitions facing each of the six ISSEET countries. These questions concern policy, practice, pedagogy, emotions, and culture. They also concern the indices of time and space, given that these appear to set the pace at which early transitions are currently constructed and enacted across the globe.KeywordsInfantTransitionResearch designMethod AnalysisEthics
The articulation of desirable, or even actual (lived), infant pedagogies enacted during first transitions to early childhood education and care (ECEC) is seldom expressed despite a growing discourse on infants-as-learners. It is therefore unsurprising that the educators who participated in our International Study of Social Emotional Early Transitions (ISSEET) rarely articulated infant pedagogies (see Chap. 4). Although these pedagogies are central to educational practice with infants, their rare mention in discourse is indicative of beliefs about infants-as-learners. What gets prioritized, and is therefore made intentional (or, conversely, incidental) by educators themselves, lies at the heart of the transition experience. In this chapter, we explore some of the actual pedagogical acts that took place in the ISSEET settings before and during infants’ first day of transition and their articulations by the educators themselves. The emphasis here is not only on what educators were doing to foster (as a starting place for relational learning) a “common ground” of experience between and among infants, their parents, and families but also on how they were upholding these priorities against competing—and sometimes conflicting—priorities. While these efforts helped integrate priorities within a broader relational community network and institutional functioning, they also called on educators to use pedagogical practices that attended to infants’ social and emotional experiences. To illustrate how the educators were enacting these practices and what they “looked like” in reality, we intersperse our commentary and discussion with interview excerpts, images, and vignettes drawn from our study. Together, they paint a pedagogical picture for the enactment of first transitions across each country that participated in the study.
The thesis focuses on the experiences of sixteen to nineteen year-old, full-time, Level 3 early years student-practitioners and considers how their understanding of the role of the practitioner changes from the start of their course to when they commence employment. The aim is to develop a coherent understanding of their developing knowledge, skills, attitudes and dispositions in preparation for employment. The study uses a mixed-methods approach to identify how their pre-service qualification contributes to the development of their practice. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected using an on-line survey, a focus group and semi-structured interviews. From the one-hundred and fifty-eight responses to the survey, seven student-practitioners participated in a focus group and three participants, who had taken up employment, were interviewed. Building on existing research, which has provided strong evidence to show the impact of highly qualified staff on children's outcomes, this study concluded that young, developing practitioners are motivated, knowledgeable and passionate about their contribution to children's learning and development. Of central importance to them were: the development of caring relationships and communication. Knowledge of child development theory was considered an essential knowledge base for ECEC practice; however, the newly qualified practitioners were unprepared for the level of responsibility of being in sole charge of children's care, learning and development. The study has contributed a new understanding of the process of transformation of the student practitioners in three dimensions: Principles, Professional, and Practice. However, the transformations are not consistent and do not represent each student-practitioner in the same way; The constant across all student-practitioners is the Level 3 qualification, which, the thesis argues, is a proxy for what the student-practitioners know, can do, and understand, as well as a catalyst for their continued individual development. 3
Full-text available
As early childhood services move up the policy agenda, so too does the early childhood workforce. Its members are recognised as the main resource for such services, and there is an increasing recognition that the work is complex and requires enhanced education. But despite this recognition, the situation in many countries — where the early childhood workforce remains split between a minority of teachers and a growing majority of childcare workers with lower qualifications and poorer work conditions — is highly problematic. The article considers what forms change might take, both structurally and in terms of how the worker and her work is understood, arguing for the need to connect restructuring with rethinking to re-envision the workforce. It also examines how understandings of the workforce are produced from different discourses and how different understandings relate to concepts of professionalism, proposing a politics of occupational identity and values that moves beyond the dualistic ‘non-professional/professional’ divide. It concludes by arguing that although strong forces are involved, there is scope for contestation and change.
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This paper is concerned to present professionalism in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) as a sociocultural construction. In particular the article is concerned with how professional identities are inflected by autobiography and the spaces and opportunities that exist for the construction of alternative professional identities. Drawing on a recent empirical study with nursery workers in London a critical appraisal of hegemonic discourses is presented and a consideration of ‘professionalism from within’ is offered. A specific focus is placed upon the notion of the ‘critically reflective emotional professional’ and how that might be taken up or resisted at different levels of the ECEC policy–practitioner landscape.
People Under Three translates child development theory and research into everyday practice. Focussing on the group day care of very young children, it is designed specifically for those who look after them day by day, as well as policy makers, administrators and the managers of child care services. All the practical ideas in the book have been developed and tested in nurseries and family centres. They include detailed guidance on educational play for babies and toddlers and how to care for children's emotional needs. The book also explores the difficult area of child protection and working with parents and children with a variety of problems. People Under Three is an established text for all those training to work with young children or managing day care facilities. This new edition has been completely updated to take account of the expansion and radical changes which have taken place in child care provision since the book was first published and includes new chapters on assessing the quality of care and short-term and intermittent care. © 1994, 2004 Sonia Jackson and Elinor Goldschmied. All rights reserved.
This article reports an aspect of a life historical study which investigated the part that ‘love’ played in mothers’ decision-making about returning to work and placing their babies in day care. The article begins with a brief discussion of the context, including 21st-century policies in England to encourage mothers to return to the workforce (DfES, 2004; HMT, 2009). This is followed by a critical overview of relevant literature exploring three key themes: an historical view of women in the workforce, Attachment Theory, and theorizing ‘love’ and ‘care’. The life-historical methodology is discussed and justified and seven key themes are briefly identified and explained. The article then focuses specifically on the theme of ‘love’ using life-history interview data and key literature to discuss mothers’ views on the importance of ‘love’, the saliency of ‘love’ in choosing childcare, and the notion of ‘professional love’.
Despite official endorsement of attachment principles in nursery work, these are often not translated into nursery practice. One possible reason for this is that staff training does not sufficiently address the personal implications and anxieties that children's attachments may entail for practitioners. Working from a psychoanalytic perspective on organisational functioning and group learning, this paper describes action research with a group of nursery heads who participated in a professional development programme designed specifically to explore emotional experience in professional work. The positive evaluations of the programme by heads and their staff are described including examples of experiential learning and of increased staff awareness about, and responsiveness to, the emotional experience of children. However, the research also concluded that sustained effectiveness of the model is likely to be dependent on an ongoing culture of attention to the emotional experience of nursery staff within nursery umbrella organisations.
Key Persons in the nursery: Building relationships for quality provision David FultonNurseries and emotional well-being: evaluating an emotionally containing model of professional development'; in Early Years
  • P Elfer
  • E Goldschmied
  • D Selleck
Elfer P, Goldschmied E, Selleck D (2013) Key Persons in the nursery: Building relationships for quality provision (2nd ed). David Fulton: Oxford Elfer P, Dearnley K (2007) 'Nurseries and emotional well-being: evaluating an emotionally containing model of professional development'; in Early Years 27 (3) pp 267-79
Independent Review of Early Education and Childcare Qualii cations: Foundations for Quality Reconstructing professionalism in ECEC: the case for the 'critically ree ective emotional professional'; in Early Years
  • C Nutbrown
Nutbrown C (2012) Independent Review of Early Education and Childcare Qualii cations: Foundations for Quality. DfE: London Osgood J (2010) Reconstructing professionalism in ECEC: the case for the 'critically ree ective emotional professional'; in Early Years 30 (2) pp 119-13
Independent Review of Early Education and Childcare Quali cations: Foundations for Quality. DfE: London Osgood J (2010) Reconstructing professionalism in ECEC: the case for the 'critically re ective emotional professional'; in Early Years
  • C Nutbrown
Nutbrown C (2012) Independent Review of Early Education and Childcare Quali cations: Foundations for Quality. DfE: London Osgood J (2010) Reconstructing professionalism in ECEC: the case for the 'critically re ective emotional professional'; in Early Years 30 (2) pp 119-13