23 SES 12 A, Transitions in Education, Evaluation and Practices of Support
Economic development, pressure from large international comparative studies of educational outcomes like PISA, demographic changes and cultural interpretations of parental responsibilities have contributed to a new interest in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) systems and the push to extend provision for all children, including the very young, preceding compulsory schooling can be observed. ECEC systems develop following country specific pathways and are the outcome of negotiations regarding the balance of a set of purposes, education the youngest members of society, enabling (usually) mothers to engage in paid employment and integration of families in the mainstream culture and social structures of the country in question (OECD; 2006; Scheiwe and Willenkens 2009). The Early Years provision landscape can be linked to professional stances in health, education, social pedagogy or a mixture of these and, accordingly, the requirements for training and qualification of the workforce in ECEC systems vary (Cameron and Boddy 2006; Diller and Rauschenbach 2006; Oberhuemer et al. 2009; Hohmann 2010; Owen and Haynes 2010). In debates on which professional ideology suits best and exploration of new demands on services and training, the aspect of practitioners in nurseries as nexus between ECEC policies and clients, that is children and/or their parents, seems to receive less than the desirable attention.
This paper explores how practitioners in ECEC negotiate the implementation of new and changing policies in England and in Germany. In each of the countries the government demands a stronger emphasis on educational outcomes for children including the very young and stronger links between the ECEC services and schools are fostered (BmFSFJ 2012; Department for Education 2012). Curricula or guiding frameworks set out learning outcomes in each of the two countries and other policies structure ECEC in order to offer more place for children under the age of three. Together they may require a considerable shift of underlying ideals attached to the professionals in question and the sought after outcomes. Whether and how these changes are embraced by ECEC workers and how ECEC policies are made in the nursery is the focus of the paper.
Lipsky’s (1980) street-level bureaucracy theory, about those working with the public, an activity that requires discretion in the context of ambiguous goals and the dilemma arising from the paradox of treating citizens alike but being responsive to individual cases, is useful to explore these changes. Street-level bureaucrats are not merely implementing policies but make it. Practitioners in ECEC fit this description (Goldstein 2008). The framework allows asking questions like, how do ECEC practitioners manage and control their workload, how do they reconcile the ideology they held when they started out with the reality of their daily work and how does the definition of the deserving client inform practice (see also Maynard-Moody and Musheno 2003). How do they negotiate the question within the caring triangle of child, parent, practitioner (Hohmann 2007) who their client is and does this reflect current policy aims?
BmFSFJ. (2012) Gesetzliche Grundlagen für den Ausbau der Kinderbetreuung. http://www.bmfsfj.de/BMFSFJ/kinder-und-jugend,did=118992.html: accessed: 20.12.2012 Cameron, C. and Boddy, J. (2006) 'Knowledge and education for care workers: what do they need to know?', in J. Boddy, C. Cameron and P. Moss (eds) Care Work: Present and Future London and New York: Routledge. Department for Education. (2012) Deputy Prime Minister hails a revolution in free pre-school education. http://www.education.gov.uk/inthenews/inthenews/a00209664/deputy-prime-minister-hails-a-revolution-in-free-pre-school-education: accessed: 20.12.2012 Diller, A. and Rauschenbach, T. (eds). (2006) Reform oder Ende der Erzieherinnenausbildung? Beiträge zu einer kontroversen Fachdebatte München: DJI Verlag Deutsches Jugendinstitut. Goldstein, L. S. (2008) 'Kindergarten Teachers Making "Steet-Level" Education Policy in the Wake of No Child Left Behind', Early Education and Development, 19: 3: 448-478. Hohmann, U. (2007) 'Rights, expertise and negotiations in care and education', Early Years, 27: 1: 33-46. Hohmann, U. (2010) 'The benefits of comparison: recent developments in the German early years workforce', in R. Parker-Rees, C. Leeson, J. Willan and J. Savage (eds) Early Childhood Studies, (third edition) Exeter: Learning Matters. Lipsky, M. (1980) Street-Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the individual in public services, New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Maynard-Moody, S. and Musheno, M. (2003) Cops, Teachers, Counselors: Stories from the front lines of public services, Michigan: University of Michigan Press. Oberhuemer, P., Schreyer, I. and Neuman, M. (2009) Professionals in Early Childhood Education and Care Systems: European Profiles and Perspectives, Opladen & Farmington Hills: Barbara Budrich. OECD. (2006) Starting Strong II: Early childhood education and care, Paris: OECD. Owen, S. and Haynes, G. (2010) 'Training and Workforce Issue in the Early Years', in G. Pugh and B. Duffy (eds) Contemporary Issues in the Early Years, (5th edition) London: Sage. Scheiwe, K. and Willenkens, H. (eds). (2009) Child Care and Preschool Development in Europe: Institutional Perspectives Basingstoke: palgrave macmillan.
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