14 SES 02 A, Policies and Actions to Promote School-Family-Community Links II
In an international context where policy and investment have increasingly become focused on early childhood provision, the rationale for early childhood provision lacks consensus (Kaga, Bennett and Moss, 2010). Within this diverse landscape, parents are positioned variably, for example, parents are seen as less powerful than early childhood practitioners in their children’s lives (Cannella, 2002), more powerful than early childhood practitioners in their children’s lives (Government of Kazakhstan, 2012), yet also viewed as empowered consumers (Hursh, 2005); they are seen as busy employees (Kaga et al., 2010), yet also regarded as potential supporters of their children’s premature schoolification (House et al., 2012). Against this varied backdrop, inconsistencies are apparent in the nature of relationships between parents and early childhood providers, both within countries and between countries (Watson, 2012).
This cross-cultural study is an extension of an earlier project that was originally devised by two early childhood researchers from England and Kazakhstan who met through a Kazakh scholarship programme in an English university. In the course of academic discussion, the two researchers perceived disjuncture in their two countries concerning practitioner-parent partnerships in early childhood provision. Equally, they noted anecdotally a dissonance in each of their countries’ policy, literature and research regarding practitioner-parent partnerships in early childhood provision.
Consequently, the researchers reviewed relevant literature from both countries to provide scientific evidence confirming this proposition in terms of the quality of literature that was available. Nevertheless, their review revealed a range of themes that were prominent in the literature across both England and Kazakhstan. A second phase of the study was planned: the capture of authentic narratives from a range of Kazakh and English early childhood academics concerning parent-practitioner partnership in their home countries. However, before this stage could be enacted, a team of Hungarian early childhood academics learned of the project. A tripartite comparison between England, Kazakhstan and Hungary of an early childhood issue is rare and it was agreed that much could be gained by developing the project to include Hungarian perspectives.
Subsequently, the Hungarian team has reviewed relevant Hungarian literature and has discovered much synergy with the themes that emerged from the English and Kaszakh review. Thus a comparative review of the literature concerning practitioner-parent partnerships in early childhood provision in England, Kazakhstan and Hungary is nearing completion at the time of writing. While contemporary English research concerning parent-practitioner partnership is prolific (Evangelou et al., 2005; Nutbrown et al., 2005; Whalley and the Pen Green Team, 2007; Goodall and Vorhaus, 2011) and a corpus of Hungarian research and literature focuses on parent-practitioner cooperation in Hungary (Kovács Györgyne et al., 2002; Török, 2004; Kovács and Korintus, 2012), Kazakh ECEC is currently influenced by a rather limited range of predominantly Russian research (Vinogradova, 1989; Danilina, 2000; Khalipova and Telepiyeva, 2004).
The second stage of the study draws on five key themes presenting in the review of the literature to elicit new discourses concerning parent-practitioner partnership in early childhood through a series of focus groups conducted with academics working in the field in Kazakhstan, Hungary and England.
The study’s research question is: ‘What do academics and the literature reveal about the similarities and differences concerning practitioner-parent partnerships in early childhood provision in Kazakhstan, Hungary and England?’ and there are two objectives for the study:
1) To review literature, policy and research focused on practitioner-parent partnership in early childhood provision in Kazakhstan, Hungary and England.
2) To capture similarities and differences in early childhood academics’ perspectives of issues arising from a review of literature, policy and research focused on practitioner-parent partnership in early childhood provision in Kazakhstan, Hungary and England.
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