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Thoughts on my Journey so far....

The overall aim of the Best Practice Tour was to explore and begin to understand the many ways in which education in the early years is put into practice. From the tip of Cornwall to the Inner Hebrides, I’ve schmoozed, spoken to, and worked with other educators each from their own unique setting, their ideas of best practice influenced by distinctive personal and professional experiences. From this journey, I’ve taken away several ideas on education that I had previously not given much thought to.

Firstly, this experience reinforced the idea that approaches to education in the early years aren’t prescriptive, with a one size fits all method that all settings can put into practice. Each settings approach to practice have been formed through their understanding of the legislation, Early Years Statutory Framework (EYFS, DfE, 2021) for England and the Realising the Ambition: Being Me (RtA, Education Scotland, 2020) for Scotland, through the lens of their pedagogy and ethos. Beyond that each setting’s pedagogy and ethos has been shaped by the location, the educator’s values and the unique children how have attended in the past. All these variables ensure that there is no one approach to education that will benefit all children without leaving those most vulnerable without the support they need.

Secondly, this journey around the UK has highlighted the importance of government legislation and support for the sector. Beech Tree Childcare has a very good, productive relationship with our local authority. While yes, we don’t see eye to eye on every approach or topic, at the end of the day, our relationship will continue. Our support from the council, and visa versa, ensures that our business operates smoothly on a day-to-day basis. From my journey, I spent time in a setting that didn’t have this kind of relationship with their local authority. This relationship was rife with interference, disagreement, and unproductive behaviour. While I cannot speak to the cause of this relationship or the specifics of what I encountered, it speaks volumes of the importance of ensuring your partnership with the local authority remains professional and productive.

Lastly, the importance of a professional workforce. The role of the early year’s workforce is complex and multifaceted. This multifaceted role requires an individual to be a career, communicator, child protection officer and educator. Research from the Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) study provided strong evidence that quality practice combined with a highly qualified graduate-led workforce made the most impact on raising the standards and outcomes for children under five (Sylva, et al., 2004). As part of this journey, I’ve seen educators struggle for the professional recognition they and the sector deserve. Dyer (2018) proposes that early year’s educators lack a coherent and collective voice due to historical issues of power and autonomy within the workforce. This has contributed to an absence of agency in determining the identity of early years professionalism.

Therefore, because of this experience I will begin working towards building a community of professionals. These links across the country, already being formed through this experience, will allow for sharing of professional ideals. Educators will be able to share best practice, their pedagogy, the trends in Ofsted inspections and create a community of professional educators that will support and build upon what others have done. Not only that, but it will provide the sector with a unified voice when we need to present out woes at the doors of government.

This was the last planned and confirmed experience… so far.

However, I am always open to offers and would be more then willing if someone got in touch with me using my email.

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