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Competing discourses in early childhood education and care

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) has developed to meet different aims to encourage children’s holistic development; embed attitudes consistent with lifelong learning; facilitate preparation for and efficient transition into school; enable children to fulfil their rights to education; and support parents to find and engage in employment. It is shaped by the different discourses associated with these different aims which are sometimes competing, sometimes mutually compatible. 

Between May 2019 and February 2020, the research team of the BERA Research Commission 2019–2020 set up a series of one-day seminars in the four nations of the UK to explore discourses in play in the discussion of topical ECEC issues. Key questions were developed in consultation with local stakeholders to focus discussions and presentations, and analysis of the data generated during the events has now been published in the final report of the research commission.

Each event benefited from the work of an early career researcher (ECR) who contributed to the organisation of the events, analysis of the data, writing the report and sharing their research. This special issue of the BERA Blog brings together five blog posts written by these ECRs to foreground their research in ECEC, with the aim of catalysing efforts towards resolving tensions and moving forward with hope, resistance and creativity.


Profile picture of Jan Georgeson
Jan Georgeson, Dr

Associate Professor at Plymouth University

Dr Jan Georgeson is Associate Professor of Education at University of Plymouth with a professional background as teacher of young children with special educational needs. She has also worked and volunteered as a Portage worker supporting parents...

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Guy Roberts-Holmes, Dr

Associate Professor at IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society

Guy Roberts-Holmes was awarded the 2016 BERA Public Engagement and Impact Award for his work in challenging the goals set out for Baseline Assessment for assessing and tracking the progress of 4-5 year olds within the primary system, which led to...

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Verity Campbell-Barr, Dr

Associate Professor in Early Childhood Studies at Plymouth University

Verity Campbell-Barr is an Associate Professor in Early Childhood Studies and Associate Director for Research at Plymouth Institute of Education, University of Plymouth. Verity has over 15 years of experience researching early childhood education...

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Nathan Archer, Dr

Director - International Montessori Institute at Leeds Beckett University

Dr. Nathan Archer is Director of the International Montessori Institute at Leeds Beckett University. He has a professional background as a Montessori Primary teacher and has worked in early childhood education for over twenty years in practice,...

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Siew Fung Lee, Dr

Postdoc Researcher at U C L Insitute of Education

Siew Fung Lee’s research interests include the social and economic impact of policy on ‘disadvantaged’ children and families, ethnography, policy genealogy and critical methodology in education. She is a Research Fellow with the Healthier...

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Katherine Gulliver, Dr

Lecturer and Researcher at Plymouth University

Katherine Gulliver is a Lecturer and Researcher at University of Plymouth. Her work focuses on Early Years, inclusion and special educational needs and/or disabilities. Her PhD explored innovative methodological approaches towards researching...

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Martina Street, Dr

Senior Research Associate at Manchester Metropolitan University

A former early years locality lead for Manchester City Council, Martina Street has recently been seconded to Manchester Metropolitan University to take up the role of senior research associate. Building on her previous work of co-ordinating...

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Glenda Walsh, Professor

Head of Early Years Education at Stranmillis University College

Dr Glenda Walsh is an international expert in the field of play and playful pedagogies. Major research projects include the longitudinal evaluation of the Early Years Enriched Curriculum Project that informed the Northern Ireland Primary...

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Jane Waters-Davies

Associate Professor at University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Jane Waters is an associate professor in the Athrofa: Institute of Education at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. She worked as a classroom teacher before joining higher education to lecture in Early Childhood Studies and Initial...

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