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.

Contested Constructions of Professionalism within the Nursery

Contested constructions of professionalism within the nursery


In this chapter, which draws on a recent study (Osgood, 2011, forthcoming) with a sample of nursery staff from the private, voluntary and statutory sectors, I argue for ‘professionalism from within’ (Stronach et al., 2003). Discourse analytic methods have been employed to demonstrate that nursery staff reluctantly accept the dominance of government discourses. However, when questioned about the qualities and skills that equate to ‘being professional’ or ‘doing professionalism’, considerable dissonance is identified. Rationalism, accountability, measurability and other traits encompassed in neo-liberal discourses were notably absent (or qualified) from practitioners' self-definitions of professionalism in their work. Whilst performing hegemonic forms of professionalism involved adhering to external demands to demonstrate measurable outcomes or ...

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