Work-Based Research in the Early Years


Sue Callan & Michael Reed

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    List of Abbreviations

    AERAAmerican Educational Research Association
    BERABritish Educational Research Association
    CCSKCommon Core of Skills and Knowledge
    CPDcontinuing professional development
    CWDCChildren's Workforce Development Council
    DCSFDepartment for Children, Schools and Families
    DfEEDepartment for Education and Employment
    DfESDepartment for Education and Skills
    ECAPEarly Childhood and Parenting Collaborative
    ECRPEarly Childhood Research and Practice
    EYFSEarly Years Foundation Stage
    EYPEarly Years Professional
    FDAFoundation Degree Award
    ICTinformation and communications technology
    SAEDsocial and emotional development
    SEFself-evaluation form
    SERAScottish Educational Research Association

    About the Editors and Contributors


    Sue Callan is an Associate Lecturer with the Open University, teaching on both the Primary Teaching and Learning and Early Years Foundation Degrees. She is an experienced author and is currently involved with a small-scale research project within the Open University. Sue has been involved with Foundation Degrees in Early Years since 2003 and has worked in further and higher education since 1990, specialising in community-based pre-school practice and working with mature students in both personal tutoring and mentoring roles. She is a contributor to Mentoring in the Early Years and co-editor of Managing Early Years Settings, both published by Sage.

    Michael Reed works for part of his time as a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Early Childhood, within the Institute of Education at the University of Worcester. He teaches on undergraduate and postgraduate courses and shares a coordinating role for a large Foundation Degree programme in early years, taught in partner colleges and in children's centres within the community. He was also part of the writing and development team for the Early Years Foundation Degree at the Open University. He co-edited Reflective Practice in the Early Years and most recently Implementing Quality Improvement and Change in the Early Years, both published by Sage.


    Jane Bone researches and lectures in the area of Early Childhood Education and after many years in New Zealand she is now at Monash University, Australia. Her expertise is in holistic approaches to pedagogy and learning and she has particular research interests in the area of spirituality, values, beliefs and ethics. Involvement in these sensitive areas of research contributes to wider understandings about the significance of early childhood education in terms of diversity, indigenous knowledge, well-being and social justice. Her work is internationally recognised and she is currently a Visiting Scholar at University College Oslo, Norway.

    Victoria Cooper is a member of the academic module team for Childhood, Development and Learning at the Open University. She teaches across a range of undergraduate and postgraduate early years educational research, health and social care programmes. She is postgraduate module chair of Children and Young People's Worlds: Developing Frameworks for Integrated Practice and Understanding Children's Development and Learning. Her background is as an early years teacher, research psychologist and a lecturer in further and higher education. Her research interests include children's identity, mental health and the education of young people.

    Joy Cullen was formerly Professor of Early Years Education at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand. She has worked in early childhood teacher education since 1982, in Australia and New Zealand, providing academic leadership for programmes from certificate to doctoral level. Her research in early years education encompasses national survey research to research support for teacher research in New Zealand's early childhood Centre of Innovation programme. She chaired the Ethics Committee, College of Education, Massey University. She is joint editor of Early Childhood Education: Society and Culture. Joy now lives in Australia where she continues to publish in early years education.

    Tracy Davies has worked with children for 18 years, starting out as a helper at a toddler group, then leading the group before becoming a childminder. Similarly, she began helping in school as a parent reader and soon became involved as a classroom assistant before working as a nursery nurse in day care – all the while continuing in vocational professional development. Tracy returned to a small primary school as an Special Educational Needs teaching assistant and has since completed a BA (Hons) in Integrated Early Childhood Studies. She continues to work in school where she has responsibility for implementing ICT in Key Stages 1 and 2.

    Carole Ellis is a family support worker based in a children's centre in South Herefordshire. In her role as part of a multi-professional team supporting community development and family engagement with local services, Carole uses a play-based approach to supporting children and their families. She is an experienced practitioner with a background as a nursery nurse and senior teaching assistant, supporting children through play for more than 20 years. Carole has contributed to developing local practice in working with fathers groups, based on her Foundation Degree research project.

    Sue Foster ‘fell’ into childcare nearly 30 years ago while working in the business sector and looking for a suitable nursery for her son. She began as a childminder in partnership with a colleague and soon set up her own very small private nursery in Worcestershire, which unusually has all age groups mixed together. She first qualified with an NNEB but, through progressive continuing professional development, has recently achieved an Honours degree in Early Childhood and holds Early Years Practitioner Status. Her nursery now provides care and learning for 50 children.

    HeIen Hedges is a Senior Lecturer in early years curriculum at the Faculty of Education, University of Auckland, New Zealand. Her research programme investigates children's and teachers' knowledge, interests and ongoing learning and enquiry, and ways these coalesce to co-construct interests-based curriculum in early years settings. She co-edited Theorising Early Childhood Practice: Emerging Dialogues in which she co-authored a chapter on practitioner research. She has also published on ethical research with child participants and designing research to connect research, practice and professional learning for teachers.

    Alison Jackson is an early years practitioner with over 20 years' experience working with children under eight in a range of settings. She has been a nursery supervisor and is an accredited childminder with Early Years Professional status. Her experience has included acting as chair of a pre-school management committee and chair of her county Child-minding Association. She is a member of her local Early Years and Extended Services Forum and an early years representative to the county Schools Forum. Alison is completing a BA (Hons) in Integrated Early Childhood Studies and has recently gained Early Years Professional Status. She has contributed to publications on reflective practice for Sage.

    Liz Olliver is a Deputy Manager of a 100-place children's nursery school in South Herefordshire. She has 15 years' experience practising in the field of early years in a variety of roles including nanny, au pair in America, teaching assistant in a primary school and several positions in under-eight provisions across the country. She has recently gained her Early Years Professional Status and is currently completing her BA (Hons) in Integrated Childhood Studies at the University of Worcester.

    Linda Picken has worked with babies, young children and their families in various contexts for over 20 years. Linda is currently working as an Infant Toddler Room Supervisor – part of a children's centre in Herefordshire. Both the nursery and the centre work with the values and vision encapsulated within the Reggio Emilia approach. Linda holds a BA (Hons) Degree in Early Childhood Studies and has gained Early Years Professional Status (EYPS) from the University of Worcester.

    Jude Simms is an Early Years Professional in England, responsible for a split-site community-run setting. In addition to a Fine Arts degree, she has a BA (Hons) in Early Childhood and is currently studying for a Master's degree at the University of Worcester. Jude is a Community Governor in a First School and works alongside a Health Visitor in a local group for new parents and their babies

    Sharon Smith is a Lecturer at South Worcestershire College and for the University of Worcester. She has been involved in the development and delivery of Foundation Degrees (FdA's) and has a passion for Lifelong Learning. Within her expertise she has been instrumental in using online tools to deliver FdAs and has been involved in a range of JISC projects. Sharon is committed to the ongoing development of FdAs and is an external Examiner for two courses at this level at Roehampton University. Her Master's dissertation reflected on the delivery of higher education in further education institutions. As a Foundation Governor in a local school she believes that community cohesion is important for the development of children's education as well as their social and spiritual development.

    Carla Solvason is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Early Childhood within the Institute of Education at the University of Worcester. Part of her role involves working closely with the eight partner colleges that deliver the university's Foundation Degree in Early Years. She teaches on the BA, FdA, PGCE and Masters programmes and is a research degree supervisor. Prior to lecturing Carla worked as a researcher, a consultant for schools looking to create communication-rich environments and a primary school teacher. Carla has published work relating to school culture and educational equality and social justice.

    Linda Tyler is a Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for the Integrated Early Childhood Studies degree within the Institute of Education at the University of Worcester. Previously, she has worked as a teacher and coordinator for ICT, Literacy and Science in a Becta award-winning school. She has designed and delivered ICT training for a local authority and developed several ICTogether groups to enhance ICT skills working with parents and children. She is researching the effects of podcasting on children's communication skills in order to develop a Teacher Training package for students. She has published works online about the use of avatars as a medium for improving literacy – a feature of her PhD interest.


    The editors would like to acknowledge the work of all the contributors to this text and particularly the featured practitioners who have provided their experience of work-based research in order to illustrate our discussion. This must also include Sarah Rosser and Melanie Pilcher for help and feedback during the development of the manuscript and to Peter Butler for preparation of the final text. Thanks also to Amy Jarrold, Alex Molineux and Jude Bowen at Sage Publications for help, patience and enthusiasm throughout the project and for facilitating our shared work with colleagues in New Zealand. In every respect this book is a genuine collaborative effort – with all the fun and fear that such an approach entails.

    This book is written for all colleagues within the early years sector and for the children and families with whom they work.


    Sue Callan dedicates this book to Peter who makes everything possible and in memory of Mum and Dad – Louie and Andy Yule. All authors dedicate the text to: Michael, Jonathan, Issac, James, Arran, Sammy-Lee, Melina, Tess, Joshua, Jacob, Alex, Ellen, Euan, Emma, Dominic, Jess, Jaz, Sophie, Olivia, Jamie, Jack, Imogen, Rebecca, Chris. And parents and children everywhere.

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