UON Professor leads UK ‘arm’ of European early years research

Professor of Child Advocacy Eunice Lumsden was the UK lead for a major, international project to better understand the early childhood care and education workforce.
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A project to map and monitor early years provision and professionalisation across Europe has been published online.

The third UK report in the SEEPRO series (Systems of Early Childhood Education and Care and Professionalisation in Europe) is by University of Northampton (UON) Professor of Child Advocacy Eunice Lumsden.

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SEEPRO started in 2006, tasked with reviewing and analysing the education and training, occupational profiles, and work settings of early childhood staff in the 27 European Union countries at that time, including the UK.

Children's hands playing with plasticine.Children's hands playing with plasticine.
Children's hands playing with plasticine.

The new online publication – that also includes findings about six non-EU countries – has again found that, as early childhood education and care (ECEC) across Europe expands and links more closely with other services, staff are still viewed as the key ingredient in ensuring young children thrive with quality interactions.

The UK report also underlines the inequity of school-based and private, voluntary, and independent sector qualification requirements across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

SEEPRO continues to highlight the challenges those in the sector face, including recognition for their work, pay, general employment conditions and how society does not appropriately value the people who work with our youngest citizens.

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Professor Lumsden says: “Early childhood education and care is of huge importance to our development and later educational and health outcomes. Research shows, time and time again, that these first years of our lives are the foundation stone from which we build.

“If we take the UK on its own, political ideology impacts what we provide for children and their families…sadly, not always positively. There are huge variations between the four nations in how they view families and the support they give them.

“What this report did for me was ‘reignite my fire’ as it reinforces my huge concern for the future of society. If we don’t value the workforce and own up to the fact that our model isn’t working, we’re creating problems for future generations. I feel like a broken record when I say this, but there is still much more work to do.”

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