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Achieving Early Years Professional Status: EYPs evaluate the process and its impact on professional identity EECERA Conference – Prague - 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "Achieving Early Years Professional Status: EYPs evaluate the process and its impact on professional identity EECERA Conference – Prague - 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 Achieving Early Years Professional Status: EYPs evaluate the process and its impact on professional identity EECERA Conference – Prague - 2007

2 Gill Goodliff The Centre for Research in Education & Educational Technology The Open University Walton Hall Milton Keynes MK7 6AA

3 Introduction In this paper: I report on EYP candidates evaluation of participating in the OU Phase one pilot Validation process. I describe the wider policy context to the reform of the Childrens workforce in England and the development of the Early Years Professional role I outline my theoretical framework and methodology I describe the stages in the 3 month Validation Process, and Drawing on qualitative analysis of questionnaire and interview data, I use the written and spoken voices of the EYP candidates to discuss my emerging findings and themes related to their professional role and identity.

4 Background: The reform of the childrens workforce Every Child Matters (DfES, 2003) Children Act, 2004 Every Child Matters: Change for Children (DfES, 2004) Every Child Matters: Next Steps (DfES, 2004) The Ten Year Childcare Strategy: Choice for Parents the Best Start for Children (HMT, 2004) Childcare Act, 2006 Childrens Workforce Development Council (CWDC) – early years workforce consultation (CWDC, 2005)

5 Early Years Professional – a new role Graduate (Level 6) – key to raising quality of early years provision Change agents to improve practice (CWDC, 2006) Equivalent in level to qualified teacher status Should lead the delivery of the new Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum for 0-5s Aim to have EYPs in all childrens centres offering early years provision by 2010 and in all full daycare settings by 2015

6 Professionalism An ongoing debate (Oberheumer, 2005, Osgood, 2006, Cable, Goodliff and Miller, 2007) A new style of professionalism (Curtis and Hevey, 1996) EYPs – professional boundary crossers (Manning- Morton, 2006) Prevailing deficit view Occupational status determined by the perceived image of an occupation (Hoyle, 2001) it requires high levels of professional knowledge coupled with self-esteem and self-confidence (Moyles, 2001)

7 Professional identity Cultural construct Agency and esteem central to the concept of self and construction of ones identity – relational view (Bruner, 1996) Belonging to and participating in a community of practice helps form a persons identity (Wenger, 1998) How do new EYPs evaluate the EYP role and validation process? Where do they position themselves as professionals?

8 The Open University in partnership with National Day Nurseries Association National Provider in Pilot phase Allocated 100 places 107 potential candidates recruited (experienced practitioners with degree and Level 2 qualifications in English and Maths) 92 commenced the preparation 64 candidates continued after Needs Assessment

9 EYP Pilot Validation Process Candidate preparation (2 days or equivalent) on understanding EYP Standards and extent of EYP role before Needs Assessment (half day) – time limited skills based exercises formative feedback on readiness to proceed Candidate preparation (2 days or equivalent) for Assessment Stage: Written tasks; portfolio of evidence; negotiation of Setting Visit – Tour of setting; interviews;

10 The Study - Methodology Evaluation questionnaires sent in December 2006 to all 64 candidates who completed the final assessment stage 31 responses giving a 48% response rate 10 successful EYPs – random geographical selection - invited to participate in telephone interviews Interviews March/April 2007 Phenomenological approach to analysis of interview data

11 Job roleEarly years context Owner/PrincipalSmall private Montessori school Qualified teacherLarge private day nursery on HEI campus Senior PractitionerVoluntary pre-school playgroup Deputy Co-ordinatorLarge community day nursery Early years support workerEmployed by local authority – (children with complex needs – Birth to 5) Owner/ManagerLarge private day nursery Advisory teacherEmployed by local authority to advise and support staff in PVI early years settings Senior practitionerPrivate day nursery Table 1 Occupation and context of interviewed participants

12 Emerging themes Participation - agency and self-esteem Positioning and identity Passion and belonging

13 Participation and self-esteem

14 Although I understand EYPS is not a qualification just a status which as a nursery owner will not benefit my career, it will give my ego a boost to have something to reflect my years of experience in childcare. I feel extremely proud of having done it and achieved it cos it will help not just me but my setting.

15 I think being at the forefront of a new initiative is fantastic for professional development, for improving confidence in our own practice and being able to receive national recognition for the importance of the work we do.

16 Again I think it [Needs Assessment] was really good experience for me. I did find the whole day there excellent; I did find the interview we had to do..the questions that we were asked it was all very relevant to what you do on a daily basis.. it was like.. the talking about what you do that nobody ever wants to hear. Deputy Co- ordinator – Community Day Nursery

17 Positioning

18 I applied because it was going to give me a status which I didnt feel that people in my situation had before EYPS appeared – I didnt feel I had it and I felt that if I could say to my parents, to my colleagues, to other people in the profession that I had this status that was really important because it represented a certain amount of training and experience and or expertise. Principal of small private nursery school

19 I think it has given me more confidence in what Im doing. So, the people that I work with, it has helped them to recognise my skills in a way... They [staff] in a way have more confidence in me now because they can see that I have this nationally recognised status it gives them something to think, yeah thats my achievement and that shes that person.

20 Being able to have the opportunity to be accredited for my everyday work; Being able to reflect on my practice when looking for suitable evidence; Having my self-esteem boosted through gathering witness testimony

21 Passion and belonging

22 The pathway has enabled me to meet with other professionals working in different environments… It was great having the opportunity to meet and network with other professionals from a wide range of settings across the country

23 Because it was something that I suppose I wanted to see for a long, long time. Because Ive been in Early Years Education for sixteen years nearly now, I felt that this was an affirmation that EY workers can be seen as professionals in their own right. Early Years Support worker

24 It gives them [staff] a more definite idea of what it is that I do. Whereas before I would get asked if I was a teacher or Id be asked do I train people or what I do. But now it gives the people who work with me a clearer picture of what I do. Manager, large day nursery

25 Concluding thoughts Participating in the Validation Process had offered opportunities for agentive experiences that participants evaluated had impacted on their self-esteem Participants saw achieving EYP status offered potential for changing the image of their professional status They valued the opportunity to form and belong to a new community of practice BUT They voiced an uncertainty that the aims of the policy agenda behind Early Years Professional Status would be sustained.

26 The EYPS course is still under a great deal of suspicion in the industry. It is very difficult to see how the governments plans to have an EYP in every setting could ever be realized given the small number of graduates in the childcare workforce. Every candidate I spoke to during the briefing days felt that the scheme would be quietly dropped or the entry requirements would be reduced dramatically after the pilot scheme. We felt that we were probably wasting our time but were prepared to sacrifice our free time for a few months to possibly advance our careers.

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