With the rapid change experienced by the Early Years Workforce over recent times, this book considers what constitutes professionalization in the sector, and what this means in practice. Bringing a critical perspective to the developing knowledge and understanding of early years practitioners at various stages of their professional development, it draws attention to key themes and issues.

Chapters are written by leading authorities and researchers in the field, and provide case studies from practice, and questions and discussion points to facilitate critical thinking.

Topics covered include:

leading and managing in the early years; reflective journeys; constructions of professional identities; men in the early years; multi-disciplinary working in the early years; professionalization in the nursery; child care practitioners and professionalization; early childhood leadership and policy.

With staggered levels of Further Reading, the editors and contributors provide a rich source of material that encourages reflection and promotes progression.

Towards Professionalism/s

Towards professionalism/s


In this chapter, I argue that the meaning of professionalism in early childhood education is highly contestable, and I propose that the struggle for meaning can be a constructive feature. The first part of this chapter contextualizes professionalism by positioning the discourse in traditional and neoliberal meanings, while the second part of the chapter outlines how critical engagement, combined with an openness towards multiple and flexible meanings, can produce professionalism/s that are specific to context and supportive of democratic practices. Such a discourse offers constructive pathways for early childhood professionalism/s which emphasize specificity and fluidity over standardization and benchmarking: one professionalism does not fit all.

The Changing Discourse of Professionalism

Over the past two decades, early childhood education has attracted the attention of policy-makers ...

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