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Research conference University of East London Docklands, 26th June 2013

Towards competent systems A critically-ecologic perspective on processes of professionalisation of the early childhood workforce in Europe. Research conference University of East London Docklands, 26th June 2013 Mathias Urban, University of East London Cass School of Education and Communities.

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Research conference University of East London Docklands, 26th June 2013

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  1. Towards competent systemsA critically-ecologic perspective on processes of professionalisationof the early childhood workforce in Europe Research conference University of East LondonDocklands, 26th June 2013 Mathias Urban, University of East London Cass School of Education and Communities

  2. EU policy context 1990-2010a quick reminder Early Childhood has been on EU policy agendas for some time (for various reasons): • Recommendation of the Council of Ministers on Childcare (1992) • Quality targets in services for young children (1996) • Barcelona targets (2002) • Charter of Fundamental Rights • Art. 14 (right to education) • Art. 21 (non-discrimination) • Art. 24 (rights of the child) • UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

  3. EU policy context 2011:Europe in crisis? Europe faces a moment of transformation. The crisis has wiped out years of economic and social progress and exposed structural weaknesses in Europe's economy. In the meantime, the world is moving fast and long-term challenges – globalisation, pressure on resources, ageing – intensify. The EU must now take charge of its future.(Europe 2020. A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth)

  4. EU policy contect 2011 (cont.): • There is ‘a need to increase participation in early childhood education and care’ • ‘ … particularly acute in the case of those from a disadvantaged background, who statistically tend to perform significantly less well against each of the benchmarks. Only by addressing the needs of those at risk of social exclusion can the objectives of the Strategic Framework be properly met.’ • ‘Participation in high-quality early childhood education and care, with highly skilled staff and adequate child-to-staff ratios, produces positive results for all children and has highest benefits for the most disadvantaged.’(Council of the European Union, 2010)

  5. A key role for the early childhood profession • Workforce is the key predictor of quality. It is central for achieving policy goals of increasing both quantity and quality of provision(Oberhuemer 2000, 2010; Siraj-Blatchford 2002; OECD, 2001, 2006; Dalli 2003, 2005; Mac Naughton 2005, Urban, 2008, 2009; Dalli & Urban, 2010, 2011; Eurydice, 2009) • Most countries face major workforce challenges: recruitment, retention, gender, qualification … (OECD, 2006; CORE, 2011, Oberhuemer, 2010) • Required:‘…systemic approaches to professionalism…’(EU communication on ECEC, February 2011)

  6. The problem with ‘competence’ and the ‘highly skilled’ individual • In the current discourse competence as a fully human attribute, has been reduced to competencies - series of discrete activities that people possess the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding to engage in effectively • The implication here is that behaviour can be objectively and mechanistically measured. This is a highly questionable assumption • In order to measure, things have to be broken down into smaller and smaller units. The result is often long lists of trivial skills(Smith, 2005)

  7. Professional judgement vs.‘possession of competencies’ • This can lead to a focus on the parts rather than the whole; on the trivial, rather than the significant. It can lead to an approach to education and assessment which resembles a shopping list. When all the items are ticked, the person has passed the course or has learnt something. The role of overall judgment is sidelined.In this there is also an orientation to possessing and owning attributes (a having mode) rather than a concern with being.(Smith, 2005)

  8. To have or to be? While the having persons rely on what they have, the being persons rely on the fact that they are, that they are alive and that something new will be born if only they have the courage to let go and respond. They become fully alive in the conversation because they do not stifle themselves by anxious concern with what they have. Their own aliveness is infectious and often helps the other person to transcend his or her egocentricity. Thus the conversation ceases to be an exchange of commodities (information, knowledge, status) and becomes a dialogue in which it does not matter any more who is right.(Erich Fromm,1979)

  9. CoRe – project outline A comprehensive study on competence requirements in early childhood education and care - grounded in international research on quality, competences and professionalism in early childhood • Review of European and international literature on ‘competence’, ‘quality’ and ‘professionalism’ – beyond the limited scope of English language literature and research • Survey in 15 European countries • 7 in-depth case studies • Professional representation of most EU member states Policy recommendations University of East London / University of Ghentin collaboration with key professional networksDECET – ISSA – CiE – Education International Funded by:European CommissionDirectorate General for Education and Culture

  10. CORE competence survey • Belgium (Flemish and French speaking Communities), Croatia, Denmark, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom (England and Wales) • Conducted in collaboration with locally based but internationally experienced researchers.Aim: factual information and informed interpretation • Thematic and phenomenological analysis

  11. CORE competence survey (cont.) • Multiple scenarios: competence profiles … • for both the profession and for professional education/training • only for the profession, not for professional education/training • only for professional education/training but not for the profession • neither for the profession nor for professional education/training • Multiple issues… • individual vs. shared responsibility • responsibility of the labour-market versus responsibility of the training institutions • the invisible assistants

  12. CORE case studies Freestanding-but-related, framed rather than compared, 2-level analysis: • Professional preparation of Éducateurs Jeunes Enfants (EJE) and apprenticeship for auxiliaires de puéricultureEcole Santé Social Sud-Est - Lyon, France • The Integrated Qualifications Framework and the Early Years Professional Status: a shift towards a graduate led workforceEngland • Pedagogical Guidance as pathway to professionalisationCity of Gent, Belgium • Inter-professional collaboration in Preschool and Primary School contextsSlovenia • The Danish Pedagogue Education: principles, understandings and transformations of a generalist approach to professionalismPaedagoguddanelsen JYDSK, VIA University College - Denmark • Origins and evolution of professionalism in the context of municipal ECEC institutionsCity of Pistoia, Italy • Professional and competence development in the context of the “Where there are no preschools” (WTANP) projectPoland

  13. CoRe findings in a nutshell • Competence development is a process:Professional competence conceptualised as continuous learning process from entering the field (as students or untrained workers) to the end of their career • Professionalisation is systemic:Processes of professionalisation take place at different, interconnected levels: IndividualInstitutional Inter-institutionalSystems of governance

  14. Re-conceptualising ‘competence’: ‘competent systems’ needed EU communication on ECEC (2011):‘Systemic approaches to professionalisation needed’ ‘Competence’ is not simply the result of ‘training’ individuals ‘Competence’ develops and unfolds in relationships between individuals, teams, institutions and the wider context of community and society ‘Competence’ relates to working with children, families, and communities Developing competence requires joint learning and support systems

  15. Critical issues for practice, policy and research For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.(Freire, 2000, p. 53) • How can we provide stable frameworks for democratic experimentation and untested feasibility (Freire)? • How can we build on the ‘capacity of human beings for intelligent judgement and action if proper conditions are furnished’ (Dewey) • … and have ‘faith in the constructive powers of ordinary men and women’ (Unger)?

  16. Towards competent systems: a critical ecology • A radical shift of perspectivesA shift of perspectives: from the ‘self’ (Deleuze), the individual practitioner to the professional system and the reciprocal relationships between the various actors at the different layers of the system.(Urban, Vandenbroeck et al, 2011 / Miller, Dalli & Urban, 2012) • Critical questions and dialogueAn ability to encourage and systematically create spaces for dialogue and for asking critical questions – at every layer of the system – and to value the multitude and diversity of answers as a key to creating new understandings(‘practice-based evidence’ , Urban, 2010) • Transformative practicesHope, as an ontological need (Paulo Freire): Educational practice is there for a purpose and it implies change. But the hoped-for has to be debated. Beyond the question of what works lie questions of value and purpose

  17. Impacts on local practice:Quality Framework, City of Utrecht, The Netherlands Uitgangspunten De competente medewerker in een competente organisatie Kopjes veraneren Een belangrijke bron voor de aanbevelingen op organisatieniveau is het Europese CoRe-onderzoek naar de vereiste competenties van organisaties en professionals in opvang- en educatievoorzieningen voor jonge kinderen. Het CoRe-onderzoek laat zien dat de kwaliteit van voorzieningen voor jonge kinderen niet primair afhankelijk is van de competentie van de individuele medewerkers, maar van competente medewerkers in een competent systeem, het team en de organisatie waarin zij werken. (Van Keulen, Leseman et al 2012)

  18. Impacts on governance:‘LändermonitorfrühkindlicheBildungssysteme‘Bertelsmann Foundation, Germany Annual report on developments and achievements in ECEC in 16 states ('Länder') now using CORE system approach as ‘lens’ for monitoring the system

  19. Impacts on workforce development:CORE-C, Colombia

  20. CoRe report and further reading CoRe Final Report • Project outline • Definition of key terms • Findings • Policy recommendations CoRe Research Documents • Literature review • Detailed report on Survey • Detailed report on Case studies • Detailed appendices (data) http://ec.europa.eu/education/more-information/doc/2011/core_en.pdf http://www.uel.ac.uk/cass/staff/mathiasurban/ Urban, M. (2012). Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe: re-thinking, re-searching and re-conceptualising policies and practices. Editorial. European Journal of Education, 47(4), 477-481. Urban, M. (2012). Researching Early Childhood Policy and Practice. A Critical Ecology. European Journal of Education, 47(4), 494-507. Urban, M., Vandenbroeck, M., Van Laere, K., Lazzari, A., & Peeters, J. (2012). Towards Competent Systems in Early Childhood Education and Care. Implications for Policy and Practice. European Journal of Education, 47(4), 508-526.

  21. Thank you! m.urban@uel.ac.uk

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