14 SES 04 B, Family Education, Parenting and School-Family-Community Partnerships (Part 2)
Paper Session: continued from 14 SES 03 B and to be continued in 14 SES 06 B, 14 SES 07 B
Governments worldwide, have implemented mandated regulatory and accountability frameworks for the provision of early childhood education and care (ECEC) (Urban, 2008) and the impact of the like are significant for all major stakeholders, including children and their families, educators and service providers. This paper is focused on parents. Indeed, it is well documented that parental engagement significantly impacts early learning and the establishment of strong links between services, schools and families are universally understood as essential to realising optimal learning outcomes for all in the early years. Yet, while there is widespread recognition of the need to engage parents and families, there exists a paucity of research in relation to authentic engagement of parent’s voices in education.
Global trends see support for flexible and integrated service delivery and market-driven models of service provision and indeed the whole reframing of the public provision of services is receiving much attention (DEEWR, 2009, 2010; OECD, 2001; Moje & Luke, 2010; Urban, 2008). However, for parents in regional, rural and remote contexts, or in locations where access to services is often extremely limited, their choices are tightly framed and in many instances completely constrained. These parents may not be able to choose their ‘ideal’ or perceived ‘most effective’ yet understanding the variation in ways that parents choose ECE services, as well as what they understand an ECE service should be is essential. It is posited that regardless of demographics and service provision constraints, such understandings of choice and experiences can usefully inform ECE service policy initiatives within local, national and international arenas.
It is argued that “how we understand children and make public provision for them involves political and ethical choices” (Moss & Petrie, 2002, p.2) and thus the study from which this paper is drawn was intent on ensuring that parent perspectives were legitimated and ‘given a voice’ that could inform future policy and reform in ECEC. In challenging existing discourse of individual choice, a more collective discourse becomes apparent – one of taking part (Marginson, 1995; Risvi, 1995). Within such a discourse the view of individual parent as the consumer is instead reconstructed as a view of parents as participants in policy and service development. This understanding therefore emphasises a vision of community capacity building, where collective decision-making and participatory citizenship are valued (Marginson, 1995). While these two discourses of ‘parent as consumer of services’ and ‘parent as participant in services’ may appear to be contradictory in nature, they do exist concurrently in the Australian context, as well as more globally (Marginson, 1997). With these diverse images of parents as both consumers and participants, what it highlights is the complexity of parent involvement in their children’s educative process and a need to reach better understandings to improve the current status quo.
As previously mentioned a study investigating parent conceptions and understandings of ECEC services and particularly examined parental views in relation to the concept of choice was conducted. This focus is legitimated by the present climate of global changing policy initiatives, alongside other associated issues such as legislation and accreditation, funding and infrastructure as well as education and training reform agendas. The central concern of the study was not to investigate only the phenomenon of early childhood services of the parent choice of those ECEC services but, rather, it was the relationship between the two. That is, how parents’ understandings of ECEC services influenced their service choice. The central research questions were: what are parent conceptions of ECEC services? And how do parents choose ECEC services? In-depth semi-structured interviews with parents accessing ECEC services provided the data for the study.
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). 2009. Towards a national quality framework for early childhood education and care: Report of the Expert Advisory Panel on Quality Early Childhood Education and Care, January 2009.Commonwealth of Australia. http://www.deewr.gov.au/EarlyChildhood/OfficeOfEarly Childhood/agenda/Documents/EAP_report.pdf Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). 2010. National quality standard for early childhood education and care and school age care: Draft assessment and rating instrument. Commonwealth of Australia. http://www.deewr.gov.au/Earlychildhood/Policy_Agenda/Pages/NationalQualityFrameworkAssessment.aspx Gerber, R. (1994). A sense of quality-qualitative research approaches for geographical education. In H. Jager (Ed.), Liber Amicorum Prof Niemz. (pp. 24-33). Frankfurt: Goethe University Press. Glaser, B. (1998). Doing grounded theory: Issues and Discussions. Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press. Marginson, S. (1995). The economy and school policy: External environmental scan. Brisbane: Department of Education. Marton, F. (2000). The structure of awareness. In J. Bowden & E. Walsh (Eds.), Phenomenography (pp. 102-116). Melbourne: RMIT University Press. Marton, F., & Booth, S. (1997). Learning and Awareness. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Moje, E., & Luke, A. (2010). Literacy and identity: Examining the metaphors in history and contemporary research. Reading Research Quarterly, 44(4), pp. 415-437, dx.doi.org/10.1598/RRQ.44.4.7 Moss, P.& Petrie, P. (2002). From children’s services to children’s spaces: Public provision, children and childhood. London: Routledge Falmer. Organisation for Edonomic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2001). Starting strong: Early childhood education and care policy. Canberra: OECD. Risvi, F. (1995). Discourse of participation. In B. Limerick & H. Neilson (Eds.), School and community relations: Participation, policy and practice (pp. 50-64). Marrickville, NSW: Harcourt, Brace. Sandberg, J. (1997). Are phenomenographic results reliable?. Higher Education Research & Development, 16(2), 203-212, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0729436970160207 Sandberg, J. (2005). How do we justify knowledge produced within interpretive approaches? Organizational Research Methods, 8(1), 41-68, DOI: 10.1177/1094428104272000 Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Urban, M., (2008). Dealing with uncertainty: challenges and possibilities for the early childhood profession. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal 16(2) 135-152, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13502930802141584
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