Early Years Professionalism and Professionalization Policies in England
- LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2017
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0192
- LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2017
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0192
The quality of provision in early childhood education and care (ECEC) is directly linked to the discussion of professionalism in the workforce and is a topic for debate not only in England but also internationally. It is explored particularly in the Westernized nations of the world and is commented upon by international organizations such as Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The debate often revolves around what makes an early years professional, what professionalism means for ECEC, and who is constructing the professional practitioner. Each country has its own early years culture, history, and policy perspectives that have influenced the arguments, developments, and current shape of the workforce, and therefore are worthy of looking at in individual contexts as well as exploring the wider debate. English government policy since the late 20th century has regularly situated the workforce as one in need of professionalizing, an approach that fails to recognize the rich resources of experience and practice that exist in many areas of ECEC. This discourse is also reflective of the problems of low status and wages endemic across the sector that work against identifying ECEC as a professional career path. England’s approach to professionalization in this period has forefronted a “technicist” construction of a professional that has equated the acquisition of a certain set of skills, often linked to a qualification, to a demonstration of professionalism. It can be thought of as a way of “performing” professional practice that can be judged by meeting an external set of standards. Each step in the process of change of statutory requirements and new directions of travel has happened rapidly with little opportunity to be embedded and be evaluated before a new change has been promoted. The early years workforce have therefore had to become extremely resilient in the process, which to date, has not effectively resolved the issues of who, or what, determines the wider understanding of early years professionalism. Throughout these changes, the underlying technicist debate has been contested and challenged, in relation to levels of qualification and also the skills, knowledge, and dispositions those qualifications can effectively assess. The academic community has challenged the policy rhetoric arguing for different ways of thinking about professional identity and suggesting that the workforce itself needs to be much more effectively involved in the process.
Policy discourses reflect the underlying drivers that have influenced the move toward professionalization of the sector—these are not straightforward or linear but influenced by a number of competing factors. Moss 2014 considers the period from 1997 to 2013, and Faulkner and Coates 2014 cover 1990 to 2013. Osgood 2012 focuses on early years workforce reform within the broadest context of early childhood education and care (ECEC) policy developments in England. Both the Nutbrown Review into workforce qualifications (see Nutbrown 2012) and the response by Truss (Truss 2013, More Great Childcare) continue to articulate the policy discourses following a change of government. Wild, et al. 2015 provides a helpful discourse analysis of these last two policy documents. Cooke and Lawton 2008 and Parker 2013 explore the policy directions and highlight one of the main policy aspirations of closing the gap for children with a disadvantaged background through high-quality childcare and early intervention. Cooke and Lawton 2008 and the Daycare Trust 2008 specifically look at the challenges for the workforce of these policy initiatives, highlighting the issues of low pay and status.
Cooke, G., and K. Lawton. 2008. For love or money: Pay, progression and professionalization in the early years workforce. London: Institute for Public Policy Research.
A valuable review that explores issues in developing the early years workforce within the context of the marketization of ECEC. It concluded there were three main problems to moving the sector forward: low pay, the ongoing low base level of qualifications for many practitioners, and finally that government policy on professionalization was impeding attempts to improve quality of workforce. It made five recommendations around levels of qualifications, enhancing career progression, and an institutional framework of agreeing wages.
Daycare Trust. 2008. Raising the bar: What next for the early childhood education and care workforce? London: Daycare Trust.
This briefing paper was funded by the unions and commissioned by the Daycare Trust, a national UK childcare charity. It was written in the context of the government’s investment into ECEC following the National Childcare Strategy. It provides a picture of the workforce at the time of writing that indicates some of the ongoing dilemmas in relation to pay, conditions, and the requirements of qualifications without real incentives.
Faulkner, D., and E. Coates. 2014. Early childcare policy and practice in England: Twenty years of change. International Journal of Early Years Education 21.2–3: 244–263.
This article explores policy changes in a chronological account starting from 1990 and includes the influence of key research projects on changing focus to the organization of ECEC, starting with the problem of social inequality and government policy to meet the challenges. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Moss, P. 2014. Early childhood policy in England 1997–2013: Anatomy of a missed opportunity. International Journal of Early Years education 22.4: 346–358.
This article provides a review of policy during the key period when ECEC first became a policy priority. It looks at three areas of governance and finance, the organization and management of services, and the workforce. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Nutbrown, C. 2012. Foundations for quality: Review of the early education and childcare qualifications. Darlington, UK: Department for Education.
This report looked at the qualifications in the ECEC sector and made a number of key recommendations to develop career pathways and establish pedagogical leadership in the sector. It gives a useful insight into the different qualifications at the time of the study.
Osgood, J. 2012. Narratives from the nursery: Negotiating professional identities in early childhood. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
This book provides an accessible and contextual overview of some of the issues of professionalization by drawing together some of the key debates around the ECEC workforce in England. It utilizes a research study to explore policy context and to challenge the way in which constructions of professional identity are being articulated.
Parker, I. 2013. Early developments: Bridging the gap between evidence and policy in early years education. London: Institute for public policy research.
This report investigates the issues around the development of quality in early years and was written shortly after the announcement of the awards of Early Years Educator and Early Years Teacher qualifications. It highlights some of the problems for quality improvement, such as the cost involved—for both the government and parents—but also the different viewpoints on what makes a quality provision for the different age ranges.
Truss, E. 2013. More great childcare: Raising quality and giving parents more choice. London: Department for Education.
This policy document was billed as a response to the Nutbrown Review. It set out to tackle issues in the ECEC sector such as staff/child ratios, pay and flexibility of provision for parents as well as improving the regulatory regime. The key recommendations are around younger children in school with a graduate-led ratio of 1:13. It also recommended and a new Level 3 qualification: Early Years Educator.
Wild, M., C. Silberfield, and B. Nightingale. 2015. More? Great? Childcare? A discourse analysis of two recent social policy documents relating to the care and education of young children in England. International Journal of Early Years Education 23.3: 230–244.
This article applies critical discourse analysis to two policy documents related to quality provision in ECEC to explore how the same use of words can have different meanings. One section focuses specifically on the role of qualifications in improving quality. It provides scholarly insights for academics rather than an introduction to the topic. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- Academic Achievement
- Academic Audit for Universities
- Academic Freedom and Tenure in the United States
- Action Research in Education
- Adjuncts in Higher Education in the United States
- Administrator Preparation
- Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Courses
- African American Racial Identity and Learning
- Alternative Certification Programs for Educators
- Alternative Schools
- American Indian Education
- Art Education
- Assessing School Leader Effectiveness
- Assessment, Behavioral
- Assessment, Educational
- Assessment in Early Childhood Education
- Athletics, College
- Augmented Reality in Education
- Beginning-Teacher Induction
- Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
- Blended Learning
- Case Study in Education Research
- Changing Professional and Academic Identities
- Character Education
- Children’s and Young Adult Literature
- Children's Beliefs about Intelligence
- Children's Rights in Early Childhood Education
- Civic and Social Engagement of Higher Education
- Classroom Management
- College Admissions in the United States
- Community Relations
- Comparative Education
- Computer-Based Testing
- Counseling in Schools
- Critical Race Theory
- Crossborder and Transnational Higher Education
- Culturally Responsive Leadership
- Culturally Responsive Pedagogies
- Culturally Responsive Teacher Education in the United Stat...
- Curriculum Design
- Data Collection in Educational Research
- Data-driven Decision Making in the United States
- Deaf Education
- Desegregation and Integration
- Development, Moral
- Digital Age Teacher, The
- Distance Learning
- Distributed Leadership
- Doctoral Education and Training
- Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Denmark
- Early Childhood Education and Development in Mexico
- Early Childhood Education in Australia
- Early Childhood Education in China
- Early Childhood Education in Europe
- Early Childhood Education in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Early Childhood Education in Sweden
- Early Childhood Education Pedagogy
- Early Childhood Education Policy
- Early Childhood Education, The Arts in
- Early Childhood Mathematics
- Early Childhood Teacher Education
- Early Childhood Teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand
- Early Years Professionalism and Professionalization Polici...
- Economics of Education
- Education For Children with Autism
- Education Leadership, Empirical Perspectives in
- Education Reform and School Change
- Educational Statistics for Longitudinal Research
- Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
- Epistemic Beliefs
- Equity, Ethnicity, Diversity, and Excellence in Education
- Ethics and Education
- Ethics of Teaching
- Ethnic Studies
- Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention
- Family and Community Partnerships in Education
- Family Day Care
- Federal Government Programs and Issues
- Finance, Education
- Financial Aid
- Formative Assessment
- Gender and Achievement
- Gifted Education
- Global Mindedness and Global Citizenship Education
- Global University Rankings
- Governance, Education
- Grounded Theory
- Growth of Effective Mental Health Services in Schools in t...
- Higher Education and Globalization
- Higher Education and the Developing World
- Higher Education Governance
- Higher Education in China
- Higher Education in the United States, Historical Evolutio...
- Higher Education, International Issues in
- Higher Education Management
- Higher Education Policy
- Higher Education Research
- Higher Education Student Assessment
- High-stakes Testing
- History of Education in the United States
- Inclusive Education
- Indigenous Education in a Global Context
- Inservice Teacher Education
- Integrating Art across the Curriculum
- Intensive Interventions for Children and Adolescents with ...
- Intersectionality and Education
- Knowledge Development in Early Childhood
- Leadership Development, Coaching and Feedback for
- Leadership Training
- Learning Difficulties
- Learning, Lifelong
- Learning, Multimedia
- Learning Strategies
- Legal Matters and Education Law
- LGBT Youth in Schools
- Linguistic Diversity
- Linguistically Inclusive Pedagogy
- Literacy Development and Language Acquisition
- Literacy, Multiple Documents
- Literature Reviews
- Mathematics Instruction and Interventions for Students wit...
- Mathematics Teacher Education
- Measurement in Education in the United States
- Meta-Analysis and Research Synthesis in Education
- Methodologies for Conducting Education Research
- Mindfulness, Learning, and Education
- Mixed Methods Research
- Multivariate Research Methodology
- Museums, Education, and Curriculum
- Music Education
- Narrative Research in Education
- Numeracy Education
- Online Education
- Pedagogy of Teacher Education, A
- Performance Objectives and Measurement
- Performance-based Research Assessment in Higher Education
- Performance-based Research Funding
- Phenomenology in Educational Research
- Philosophy of Education
- Physical Education
- Politics of Education
- Portable Technology for Special Education
- Pre-Service Teacher Education
- Problem Solving
- Professional Development
- Professional Learning Communities
- Program Evaluation
- Programs and Services for Students with Emotional or Behav...
- Psychology Learning and Teaching
- Psychometric Issues in the Assessment of English Language ...
- Qualitative Data Analysis Techniques
- Qualitative Research Design
- Quantitative Research Designs in Educational Research
- Race and Affirmative Action in Higher Education
- Reading Education
- Refugee and New Immigrant Learners
- Religion in Elementary and Secondary Education in the Unit...
- Researcher Development and Skills Training within the Cont...
- Response to Intervention
- Restorative Practices
- School Accreditation
- School Choice
- School Culture
- School Improvement through Inclusive Education
- School Reform
- Schools, Private and Independent
- School-Wide Positive Behavior Support
- Science Education
- Secondary to Postsecondary Transition Issues
- Self-Regulated Learning
- Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices
- Severe Disabilities
- Single Salary Schedule
- Single-sex Education
- Single-Subject Research Design
- Social Context of Education
- Social Justice
- Social Network Analysis
- Social Pedagogy
- Social Science and Education Research
- Social Studies Education
- Sociology of Education
- Standards-Based Education
- Statistical Assumptions
- Student Access, Equity, and Diversity in Higher Education
- Student Assignment Policy
- Student Engagement in Tertiary Education
- Student Participation
- Student Voice in Teacher Development
- Teacher Evaluation and Teacher Effectiveness
- Teacher Preparation
- Teacher Training and Development
- Teacher Unions and Associations
- Teaching Critical Thinking
- Technologies, Teaching, and Learning in Higher Education
- Technology Education in Early Childhood
- Technology, Educational
- Technology-based Assessment
- The Bologna Process
- The Regulation of Standards in Higher Education
- Theories of Educational Leadership
- Tracking and Detracking
- Transitions in Early Childhood Education
- University Faculty Roles and Responsibilities in the Unite...
- Using Ethnography in Educational Research
- Value of Higher Education for Students and Other Stakehold...
- Vocational and Technical Education
- Wellness and Well-Being in Education
- Women's and Gender Studies