Roehampton University, UK Developing close thoughtful attention to children and families in early years pedagogy

This proposal is a research project investigating the potential for Work Discussion to increase the confidence and capacity of nursery staff to work more responsively with children, parents and colleagues

Day to day work with young children brings great pleasures and satisfactions but is also demanding and stressful. Further, working effectively within nursery staff teams, with parents and carers, and with multi-disciplinary professionals outside the nursery, requires confidence and a capacity to describe children and any concerns arising in some detail. This confidence and capacity is often not well developed in nursery staff working with the youngest children (under threes).

Claire Tickell in her review of the EYFS recognised the demands and challenges inherent in early years work and recommended that all practitioners had regular ‘supervision’. By supervision she meant more than just managerial oversight, and emphasised the importance of opportunities for practitioners to critically review their day to day work relationships.

The Government accepted Tickell’s recommendation and supervision is now a requirement in the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (Department for Education [DfE] 2014). However, supervision has not been implemented widely because of lack of clarity about how to do it or confidence to deal with concerns that may arise.

 Work Discussion (WD) is a model of supervision (professional reflection) in which a practitioner brings to a regular group discussion a brief written account, from their perspective, of an issue or concern in their day to day work with children / families. The aim is that the group can think about the issue including the emotions it evokes, in order to assist each practitioner to more effectively manage complex working relationships with children and families. 

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