03 SES 05, Education and Childhood: From Current Certainties to New Visions
This paper will examine the ways in which contemporary provision in early years and primary education is driven by powerful ideas and ideals about children (Jones, 2007). It will investigate how recent scholarship in the field of Childhood Studies can contribute to a critical examination of services and provision. Drawing on a range of accounts of policy and practice it will examine how notions of childhood fuel and are created by contemporary assumptions, preoccupations and arguments about areas such as standards, testing, curricula, pedagogy and performance connected to neoliberal market discourses (Wright 2012). The paper will include a broad introduction to debates and tensions concerning the nature of childhood and will consider how these are reflected within educational policies and practices. This will be followed by an analysis of the discourses of childhood within recent policies introduced by the UK coalition government. The main examples will be drawn from UK education, but comparative perspectives with other societies/countries will be used to highlight alternative ways of seeing childhood and developing and implementing policy.
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