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.

Early Years Professionalism: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities

Early years professionalism: Issues, challenges and opportunities
DorothyMcMillan and GlendaWalsh


In this chapter, we explore the notion of professionalism within the context of early years provision in Northern Ireland. The policy and practice background is sketched alongside an outline of the history of early years services in the province. It is clear that within Northern Ireland (NI) there is a strong aspiration towards integrated services but, as yet, the reality is that of a ‘split system’ of provision and training. The early years workforce today is diverse and fragmented in terms of qualifications, training, status and financial reward. Perhaps one of the few uniting factors is its gender: the workforce is almost exclusively female. We consider theoretical and philosophical perspectives ...

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