Small grants for early years educators interested in carrying out a practice-led research project

To learn a thing in life and through doing is much more developing, cultivating and strengthening than to learn it merely through the verbal communication of ideas.

Friedrich Froebel

Applications have now closed for this year's Practice Led Research Grant awards.

Our new Froebel Trust Practice Led Research Grants give educators/ practitioners the opportunity to undertake a practice-led research project (which might involve an approach such as action research).

It's an opportunity for educators to further develop their current practice and work with a research mentor.

Small grants (up to a maximum of £5000) are available to early years settings (including schools) which work with children aged between birth and eight years, their families and local communities.

Successful applicants must show a commitment to a Froebelian approach to early childhood education and care. To be eligible to apply, the lead for the project must have completed a Froebel Trust endorsed course.

What could your research project investigate?

These grants are designed to encourage early years educators/ practitioners to explore any aspect of Froebelian practice.

You are encouraged to suggest a research project which reflects your community, your practice, your interests and experience.

If you are looking for inspiration to help you shape your project proposal, you might want to think about:

  • Play pedagogy into the primary years
  • Effects of the pandemic on babies and young children and communities
  • Relationships
  • Block play
  • Dance
  • Equity and Black Lives Matter (including children’s experiences and understandings)
  • Sustainability (e.g. children’s experiences and understandings of climate change)
  • Inequalities in society or communities

What is an action research project?

This useful definition of action research was written by Jean McNiff (extract from her booklet on Action Research for Professional Development):

"Action research is a term which refers to a practical way of looking at your own work to check that it is as you would like it to be. Because action research is done by you, the practitioner, it is often referred to as practitioner based research; and because it involves you thinking about and reflecting on your work, it can also be called a form of self-reflective practice.

The idea of self reflection is central. In traditional forms of research – empirical research – researchers do research on other people. In action research, researchers do research on themselves. Empirical researchers enquire into other people’s lives. Action researchers enquire into their own.

Action research is an enquiry conducted by the self into the self. You, a practitioner, think about your own life and work, and this involves you asking yourself why you do the things that you do, and why you are the way that you are. When you produce your research report, it shows how you have carried out a systematic investigation into your own behaviour, and the reasons for that behaviour."

How do I apply?

We are particularly keen to welcome applications from settings working with under-represented communities and with those families worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Priority will be given to applicants who have not received a grant from the Froebel Trust in previous years.

Full details of the application process, eligibility criteria, key dates, an explanation of the role of the research mentor and the grant selection process are all available in the Guidance for Applicants.

Please have a look at frequently asked questions about the grant scheme before submitting an online expression of interest form.

If you have any queries about the grants or the application process please contact Valeria Scacchi, Programme Officer or Oksana Lissovets, Finance Manager e:

Key dates (updated Sept 2021)

4 November 2021 (4pm): Deadline for receipt of initial online expression of interest forms.

End of November 2021: Applicants will be told if they have been shortlisted or not. Only shortlisted applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal for their project.

12 January 2022: Deadline for receipt of final project proposals from shortlisted applicants.

Week beginning 31 January 2022: Successful grant applicants will be notified.

It takes time to research and develop practice. We expect projects to take 12-18 months to complete and hope that all the projects will have lasting, positive effects.

Projects must start by 31 March 2022 and are likely to finish by 30 September 2023.

Key information/ downloads for applicants

Guidance for applicants (updated September 2021)

Frequently asked questions about Practice Led Research Grants

Froebel Trust Statement on Expectations of Ethical Practice in Research

Froebel Trust Grant Offer - and Terms and Conditions

The referencing style to be used by grant holders in their reports

About making changes to your grant

About us

The Froebel Trust is a grant making charity. Our aim is to ensure that the Froebelian framework of principled education and care is recognised, understood, valued and practised across the early childhood sector for the benefit of young children in the UK and internationally.

We publish our annual accounts detailing our charity's structure, activities, income and spending and these can be found on the Charity Commission for England and Wales website. The Froebel Trust is a registered Charity No: 1145128. Registered as a Company limited by guarantee in England and Wales No: 07862112.

Our current strategy is designed to promote and advance Froebelian approaches to education and learning by:

  • enabling early childhood educators to access high quality courses and resources for education, training, research and professional development underpinned by Froebelian principles
  • supporting practice development and research that is underpinned by Froebelian principles for early childhood education and care
  • collaborating with educators to help more families know, understand and apply Froebelian approaches that support and extend their babies’ and young children’s growth and learning
  • researching and evaluating so that we can share evidence about the characteristics of high quality Froebelian education, the benefits for babies, young children, their educators and carers and the impact of our programmes.
Find out more about a Froebelian approach in a free to download Froebel Trust pamphlet

Froebel's Principles and Practice Today