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Past event Part of series: Research Commission: Competing Discourses of Early Childhood Education and Care

School Readiness: Why and for whom?

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BERA Research Commission event

The early years is being re-configured around the performance measures and goals of ‘school readiness’. For some, this has meant that ‘school readiness’ powerfully steers the early years in the direction of formalised primary schooling for young children. Concern has been raised about a narrowing of standardised prescribed early learning goals ‘readying’ young children for primary school’s test based accountability culture. Whilst some commentators note that school readiness is centrally concerned with early intervention and the raising of standards for all young children to reduce the attainment gap.

This one day seminar will include a mixture of invited presentations and structured discussions on school readiness. The seminar will give participants an opportunity to both hear some of the latest critical research on ‘school readiness’ and the chance to voice their understandings about ‘school readiness’. In focus group discussions you can respond to the following questions – What do you understand by school readiness? What are the benefits and drawbacks of school readiness? What alternatives might there be?

 We wish to hear a wide diversity of responses, understandings and alternatives to school readiness from early years teachers, practitioners, EYFS co-ordinators, headteachers, managers, LA officials, and early career researchers.

This seminar builds on the BERA-TACTYC review 2003-2017 which called for more critical policy research into the effects of ‘neoliberalism’ and New Public Management (NPM) upon ECEC. We will use the data generated from this seminar to form part of the BERA Research Commission’s 2020 Early Childhood Report.


10.00 Registration and refreshments
10.15 Setting context of critical Research Commission and School Readiness
10.30 Structured Focus group discussions (using Nominal Group Technique) answering questions: What does SR mean to you? What are the benefits and drawbacks of school readiness? What alternatives might there be?

Problematising the ‘School Ready Curriculum’ in the EYFS
Prof Elizabeth Wood


12.00 Lunch & vox pop

How readiness is constructed via the Good Level of Development
Dr Louise Kay


13.15 What are the Implications of School Readiness? Feedback on Nominal Group Technique (NGT) scores, then 5 minutes in groups to consider. 
14.20 Overview
Prof Ruth Lupton and Prof Deborah James
14.28 Completion of evaluation forms
14.30 Close of event


The BERA Early Career Researcher Network offers a limited amount of bursaries to the value of £75 towards travel for BERA Student Members only.

To apply for one of these bursaries, please email with a 250 word statement on why you want to attend this event and why you need the financial assistance. Bursaries are offered on a first come, first served basis. Travel expenses will be reimbursed after the event in accordance with our travel policies. You must not have previously received bursary funding from BERA.

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