Early Childhood Education and Care: Policy and Practice


Edited by: Margaret M Clark & Tim Waller

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    List of Figures and Tables

    • 1.1 Map showing the location of the countries making up the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland xvi
    • TABLES
    • 1.1 The United Kingdom Population in 2004 2
    • 2.1 Types of Early Years care and education provision in England 31
    • 2.2 National Curriculum: Key Stages, ages and types of setting in England 34
    • 3.1 Ages and stages of schooling in Northern Ireland 67
    • 4.1 ECEC services in the childcare sector in the Republic of Ireland 93
    • 4.2 Grades and average ages of children in primary schools in the Republic of Ireland 96
    • 4.3 Curriculum areas and subjects in primary schools in the Republic of Ireland 96
    • 5.1 Number of local authority or partnership pre-school education centres by type of centre and local authority in Scotland in January 2006 118
    • 5.2 Structure of schooling in Scotland 123
    • 5.3 Curricular continuity and learning in Scotland, 3–14 124
    • 6.1 Types of provision and numbers of childcare settings in Wales in 2006 143
    • 6.2 Children under five and maintained provision in Wales in 2004 144
    • 6.3 The Foundation Phase timetable in Wales 151
    • 7.1 Early childhood education and care in the UK and the Republic of Ireland by country 174
    • 7.2 Childcare costs in England, Scotland and Wales, February 2006 177
    • 7.3 Early childhood education and care: curricula and assessment across the UK and the Republic of Ireland 178
    • 7.4 Workforce strategies across the UK and the Republic of Ireland 179


    We are grateful to the authors of Chapters 26 who have so enthusiastically co-operated in the writing of this book. Their chapters have been drafted and re-drafted with good grace to meet our guidelines. This has enabled us, while retaining some originality in the presentation, to give uniformity of layout for the benefit of our student readers.

    Thanks to Colette Murray, Early Years Co-ordinator, Pavey Point for preparing Owney's story and Karen Argent of Manchester Metropolitan University, who worked on a Trailblazer local SureStart Programme in Birmingham, for preparing Suraya's story.

    The ten case studies, though not based on specific children, are written to represent possible experiences that real children born in 2000 might have encountered during their first six years of life. We are grateful to B. Cohen, P. Moss, P. Petrie and J. Wallace, the authors of A New Deal for Children? Re-forming education and care in England, Scotland and Sweden (2004, Policy Press), whose book stimulated us to bring the chapters alive with case studies.

    Thanks to Early Years colleagues at Newman College of Higher Education, Birmingham, for commenting on draft chapters taking the perspective of potential student readers – in particular Julie Boardman, Helen Davies and Allison Tatton.

    It has been a pleasure to work with Helen Fairlie, our Commissioning Editor at Sage, who has been helpful and supportive throughout.

    Margaret MClark

    About the Authors

    Margaret M Clark has both a PhD and a DLitt, the latter for published work, and is a Fellow of both the British Psychological Society and the Scottish Council for Research in Education. Currently she is Visiting Professor at Newman College of Higher Education, Birmingham and Emeritus Professor of Education, University of Birmingham. She has an international reputation for research in early education and literacy, and has been awarded on OBE in the 2007 New Year's Honours for services to Early Years education. Her publications include Children Under Five: Educational research and evidence (1988, Gordon and Breach), Education in Scotland: Policy and practice from preschool to secondary, edited with Pamela Munn (1997, Routledge) and Understanding Research in Early Education: The relevance for the future of lessons from the past (2005, Routledge). She is also Book Reviews Editor for the Journal of Early Childhood Research.

    Tim Waller is Director of Taught Programmes in the Department of Childhood Studies at Swansea University. He was formerly Early Years Research Group Leader at the University of Northampton. Previously he taught in nursery, infant and primary schools in London and has also taught in the USA. His research interests include ICT and social justice, outdoor learning and equality. He has been investigating the use of computers by young children and he completed his doctoral thesis on scaffolding young children's learning and ICT. Over the past three years he has been co-ordinating a research project designed to investigate the promotion of children's well being and learning through outdoor play. Tim has recently edited a book entitled An Introduction to Early Childhood: A multi-disciplinary approach (2005, Sage).


    Eileen Carmichael is Development Officer, Early Years with Learning and Teaching Scotland where she is responsible for the development of Early Years Online, http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/earlyyears and for the Early Years’ Matters newsletter among other LTS Early Years initiatives. Eileen has taught in primary, further and higher education and was a nursery school headteacher for twenty five years. She has been seconded to a number of staff support posts, including as National Development Officer in Scotland at the time of the pre-school education initiative and the development of A Curriculum Framework for Children 3–5.

    Philomena Donnelly PhD taught for many years in primary schools before taking up her present position as Lecturer in Early Childhood Education in St Patrick's College, Dublin City University. She was one of the principal research directors for an EU-funded research project on Diversity in Early Years Education North and South: Implications for teacher education. She is presently researching the experience of recent immigrant families starting school in Ireland. She has published articles in a number of educational journals and chapters in books. Her PhD thesis is on an ancient proto-philosophy and young children's philosophical thinking.

    Juliet Hancock has a BA Honours degree and a postgraduate certificate in education, specialising in working with children from three to eight years of age. She has taught at nursery, primary, secondary and further education level and has worked in the statutory and voluntary sectors within Scotland, holding several posts at national level. Juliet until recently worked for Learning and Teaching Scotland as Early Years Development Officer for Emerging Trends, responsible as chief author for taking forward Scotland's recently published national guidance on children from birth to three years old, as well as an occasional paper (published in May 2005) on pedagogy. Juliet is President of the Scottish Childminding Association and external examiner for the BA in Early Childhood at Moray House, University of Edinburgh. In January 2006 Juliet took up a post with Stirling Council as Children's Services Early Childhood Link Officer.

    Gill McGillivray is Senior Lecturer in Early Years Studies at Newman College of Higher Education in Birmingham. She has a BSc (Hons) in Human Psychology and an MA in Early Childhood Studies from the University of Sheffield. Gill's previous posts have included teaching in Birmingham and working in further education within Early Years care and education and Psychology. Her current research interests are the assessment of children in Early Years care and education, workforce reform and professional identity within the Early Years workforce. She has led a small-scale research project at Newman College into the Early Years Foundation Degree, of which she was course co-ordinator.

    Sally Thomas has an MA in Early Years Education for which she undertook research on The Foundation Phase: perceptions, attitudes and expectations. She is currently Senior Lecturer in Early Years Education in the Faculty of Education and Training, Trinity College, Carmarthen. Sally has extensive experience as a nursery teacher in ILEA, as an advisory teacher with responsibility for multicultural education and Early Years education, and as a nursery teacher with responsibility for home school liaison. She is a member of the Early Years and Childcare Advisory Group, Children in Wales.

    Siân Wyn Siencyn is Head of the School of Early Years Education at Trinity College, Carmarthen which she established in 2000. She has a BA in English and an MA in Education and Language from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. She has worked in and with both the voluntary and statutory sectors in Wales. Her research interest has been, for over thirty years, Welsh as a second language in Early Years settings, the area of her doctoral studies. She is now heading a national project in this field for the Welsh Assembly. She has also been a member of the Minister of Education's Early Years advisory group in Wales.

    Glenda Walsh BEd (hons), PhD, ALCM, Member HEA, is a Principal Lecturer in Early Childhood Education at Stranmillis University College, Belfast where she teaches on a range of Early Years programmes. She is course director of the Post Graduate Certificate in Early Years and Psychology and co-ordinator of the MEd in Early Years Education. Her research interests fall particularly into the field of quality issues and the Early Years curriculum. She is currently involved in the longitudinal evaluation of the Early Years enriched curriculum project with the School of Psychology at Queen's University, Belfast, an evaluation that is guiding the course of the Foundation Stage of the revised Northern Ireland curriculum. She has also led a project on activating thinking skills through play in the early years. Her doctoral thesis concentrated on the play versus formal education debate in Northern Ireland and Denmark. The observation instrument she devised is now being used as the main assessment instrument in the Early Years enriched curriculum evaluation project.

    Guidelines for Practical Work Based on the Case Studies

    You may make photocopies of these guidelines and the case studies.

    Chapters 26, on England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, will give you an opportunity to compare and contrast policy and practice in early childhood education and care across the United Kingdom and in the Republic of Ireland. Each chapter is introduced and brought alive by the stories of two children born in 2000 and living in that country for the first six years of their lives. In the final section of each chapter a further child is introduced, born in 2006, whose early experience might be influenced by the developing policies described elsewhere in the chapter.

    The ten case studies are a valuable resource from which to consider the factors that influence the early experiences of young children in the twenty-first century. The case studies, though not based on specific children, are included to represent possible experiences that real children born in 2000 might have encountered during their first six years of life. We are grateful to B. Cohen, P. Moss, P. Petrie and J. Wallace, the authors of A New Deal for Children? Re-forming education and care in England, Scotland and Sweden (2004, Policy Press), whose book stimulated us to bring the chapters alive with case studies.

    The experiences encountered by these young children would be influenced by family circumstances, by services from which the family could benefit, depending on where they lived, and the curricular guidelines under which the pre-school and early primary school curriculum operated.

    Family background

    • Name and month of birth of target child
    • Number, sex and age of siblings relative to the target child
    • Details of parent(s) and their social and educational background
    • Mother's and father's employment during first six years and whether full– or part-time
    • Language(s) spoken in the home and in the community
    • Place(s) of residence (whether urban or rural)
    • Any grandparents or other extended family locally
    • Changes of residence during first six years
    • Any traumatic events during first six years Became one instead of two parent family Illness of close relative (or death).

    Experiences of the child during the first six years

    (note the age of the child when in each placement and duration of placement)

    • Cared for by one or other parent at home
    • With extended family, regularly or occasionally
    • With childminder(s) occasionally or regularly
    • In pre-school setting
      • With mother
      • Without mother
    • List settings
    • Other professionals involved with the family
      • In the home
      • Elsewhere
    • List the services from which the child/family benefited.

    Pre-school curricular experiences

    Note the type of curriculum, and at what age the child experienced it.

    Primary schooling

    Please note that all the case study children were born in 2000. However, their month of birth may have influenced the exact age at which they entered primary school.

    • The exact age at which the child entered primary school
    • If given, the size of school and class and age range in the class
    • Number of adults, for example teaching assistant in addition to teacher
    • Any information on the teacher's background and training
    • Curriculum experienced by the child up to six years of age
    • The curriculum likely to be experienced by the child up to eight years of age (you may need to consult the relevant chapter for that information)
    • In addition to attending primary school, what if any other care/provision did the child attend (for example, out of school care, a childminder, grandparents)?


    Finally, make a list of all the types of provision the child had attended by the age of six. Also note in how many instances, and at what ages, the child was attending more than one provision concurrently.

    Note that although some of the children did move from one part of the country to another, none of them moved to a different part of the United Kingdom, or to or from the Republic of Ireland in their first six years. These are further moves that might be experienced by young children and their families. As you will appreciate after studying the following chapters this will mean even more adjustments for the families. How different might the early experiences of these children have been had they moved to one of the other countries, or elsewhere in Europe, and how might that have influenced their early education and care?

    Figure 1.1 Map showing the location of the countries making up the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland

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