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Past event

Socio-cultural theory in Early Childhood Education practice

Co-hosted with London Metropolitan University.

This was the first joint event between Socio-Cultural and CHAT and Early Childhood and Care SIG. This event brought together researchers at all career stages to share their work in Early Childhood Education (ECE) that takes a sociocultural approach or a Cultural Historical Activity Theory perspective. These theories recognise that children’s development is shaped by interactions, relationships, and the environment, and that children are active creators of knowledge, constructing and modifying their practices and understandings through their experiences and social interactions.

Early Childhood Education is facing multiple challenges in the current socio-political context including the funding crisis, the impact on recruitment and retainment of staff in the early years workforce, and austerity policies. Furthermore, the full impact that the COVID lockdown has had on children’s learning, development and readiness for school is already emerging and is likely to exacerbate existing inequalities at this critical stage. We invite academics, teachers and research students to consider how these current challenges in ECE can be addressed, and the possibilities of new framings towards a more holistic, agentic and democratic way of working with young children.

We aimed to facilitate a discursive and collaborative space where relevant stakeholders can come together to discuss current debates in early childhood education with a focus on socio-cultural theories and practices.

Featured keynote talks by Professor Iram Siraj and Dr Liz Chesworth.






Keynote Lecture: Conceptualising progression in a pedagogy of play and sustained shared thinking in early childhood education: A Vygotskian perspective

Professor Iram Siraj, University of Oxford & University of Maynooth, Ireland


Parallel Session 1


Diversity and Equity



A sociocultural approach to understanding third space creation in superdiverse ECEC contexts
Christina H Tatham, University of Sheffield 

Doing privatised sexuality education with children in Vietnam: territorialised knowledge and contested futures
Phuong Tu Nguyen, Edge Hill University

Exploring the Impact of Teacher-Parent Interaction on Children’s language and literacy and social skills  from a sociocultural perspective (poster)
Xiaochen Zhou, San Francisco State University

How can Bronfenbrenner’s theory be used to address educational disparities and promote social justice in the Teso community?
Nancy Buefller, London Metropolitan University


How does the mediation of shared cultural activity within early childhood education and care, influence children’s expressions and perceptions of learning?
Sasha Tregenza, University of Plymouth

A socio-cultural exploration of young children’s relationships with science: towards a practice theory of interest
Zoe Crompton, Manchester Metropolitan University 

Breaking the ‘fourth wall’ of working with young children in museums: collective knowledge production
Bin Guo, University College London




Parallel Session



Teachers and Practitioners


If play is ‘hijacked’ is it really play? Voice, agency and citizenship in early primary classrooms
Carol-Ann Ó Síoráin, Dublin City University

Nurturing spirituality in early childhood: a Froebelian approach in a Montessorian context
Aleksandra Garaloska, Modern Montessori International & Fengling Tang, University of Roehampton

Context matters: exploring the Chinese kindergarten practitioners’ pedagogical practices in the children’s play from socio-cultural perspectives
Jialing Li, University of Sheffield


How can data triangulation support the development of a flexible model of practice to reduce employee turnover and enhance retention? An exploration of the perceptions of leaders, early years educators, and policy actors in England
Cristina Motoca, University of Roehampton 

Co-creating a critical lens tool for learning environments with pre-service teachers
Natalie Shaw, NHL Stenden University 

Right from the start: an exploration of the lived experiences of Nursery and Reception teachers
Viki Veale, St. Marys University




Keynote Lecture: Children’s interests as curriculum making activity
Dr Liz Chesworth, University of Sheffield


Closing Comments


Event Close

Chairs and Keynote Speakers

Profile picture of Louise Kay
Louise Kay, Dr

Lecturer at University of Sheffield

Louise Kay is a lecturer in early childhood in the School of Education at the University of Sheffield. She is a qualified teacher and has worked across all three primary key stages, with the majority of her career spent teaching in the early...

Profile picture of Mabel Encinas
Mabel Encinas, Dr

Senior Lecturer in Education at London Metropolitan University

Mabel has a strong commitment and passion for equality, diversity, and social inclusion. She is a Senior Lecturer in Education at London Metropolitan University. Her research focuses on creative strategies for learning and teaching, including...

Profile picture of Fengling Tang
Fengling Tang, Dr

Senior Lecturer at University of Roehampton

I am a Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies, Centre for Learning, Teaching and Human Development, School of Education, Froebel College, University of Roehampton. I had worked in schools and further education in China and a nursery school in...

Profile picture of Lewis Fogarty
Lewis Fogarty, Mr

Lecturer at Brunel University

Lewis Fogarty is a director of a small group of nurseries in Berkshire and director of Teaching and Learning for the Department of Education at Brunel University, lecturing in leadership and management. His EdD research brings these areas...

Profile picture of Liz Chesworth
Liz Chesworth, Dr

Senior Lecturer in early childhood education at University of Sheffield

Liz Chesworth is a Senior Lecturer in early childhood education at the University of Sheffield. Liz’s research focuses upon contemporary play cultures and dynamic approaches to curriculum in early childhood. In recent years she has led two...

Iram Siraj, Professor

Professor at University of Oxford & University of Maynooth

Iram has an international reputation for longitudinal research and policy expertise, she has co-directed a number of influential studies, including the Effective Provision of Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE, DfE, 1997-2015)...