Transforming Early Childhood in England

Towards a Democratic Education

Edited by Claire Cameron and Peter Moss

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ISBN: 9781787357174

Publication: August 03, 2020

Early childhood education and care has been a political priority in England since 1997, when government finally turned its attention to this long-neglected area. Public funding has increased, policy initiatives have proliferated and at each general election political parties aim to outbid each other in their offer to families. Transforming Early Childhood in England: Towards a Democratic Education argues that, despite this attention, the system of early childhood services remains flawed and dysfunctional. National discourse is dominated by the cost and availability of childcare at the expense of holistic education, while a hotchpotch of fragmented provision staffed by a devalued workforce struggles with a culture of targets and measurement. With such deep-rooted problems, early childhood education and care in England is beyond minor improvements. In the context of austerity measures affecting many young families, transformative change is urgent.

Transforming Early Childhood in England offers a critical analysis of the current system and proposes change based on young children’s universal right to education. The book calls for provision built on democratic principles, where all learning by all children is visible and recognised, educators are trusted and respected, and a calmer approach called ‘slow pedagogy’ replaces outcomes-driven targets. Combining criticism and hope, and drawing on inspiring research and examples from home and abroad, the book is essential reading for students, educators, practitioners, parents, academics and policymakers - anyone, in fact, who seeks to understand the policy problems for early childhood education and care in England, and see better prospects for the future.

Claire Cameron is Professor of Social Pedagogy at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education, London.

Peter Moss is Emeritus Professor of Early Childhood provision at Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education, London.

List of figures and tables

List of contributors

1. Introduction: the state we’re in

Claire Cameron and Peter Moss

 2. Families living in hard times

Abigail Knight, Rebecca O’Connell and Julia Brannen

 3. Child health and homelessness

Diana Margot Rosenthal and Monica Lakhanpaul

 4. Towards a unified and unifying ECEC system

Peter Moss

 5. Towards a ‘rich’ ECEC workforce

Claire Cameron 

6. Towards a public ECEC system

Eva Lloyd

7. Towards a child-centred curriculum

Georgina Trevor, Amanda Ince and Lynn Ang

 8. Towards valuing children’s learning

Kate Cowan and Rosie Flewitt

 9. Towards a listening ECEC system

Alison Clark

 10. Towards a democratic ECEC system

Diana Sousa

 11. Towards a pluralist and participatory accountability

Guy Roberts-Holmes

 12. Towards empowerment for food and eating in ECEC

Francesca Vaghi

 13. Towards an ECEC system in synergy with parenting leave

Margaret O’Brien and Peter Moss 

14. Conclusion: from the state we’re in to what we want for our children

Peter Moss and Claire Cameron



'Deep and well rounded perspectives are provided on the issues surrounding the need for change. ...There is a lot for both students and experienced practitioners to take from this detailed analysis of UK and international research. With the call for continuing review, experimentation and discussion, the authors open up the possibility that a more inclusive and democratic system of early childhood services can be created.'

  Early Years Educator

Format: Paperback

262 Pages

colour illustrations

Copyright: © 2020

ISBN: 9781787357174

Publication: August 03, 2020

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