Workforce and Professionalism Strategy Group
The Workforce and Professionalism Strategy group aims to promote confident, competent and knowledgeable students that graduate with Early Childhood Studies degrees. We aim, as a strategy group, to advocate for all ECS students and graduates using the knowledge of the group membership to promote the professionalisation of the early childhood workforce.
It is recognised that these students should have extensive theoretical knowledge and are professional, reflective and reflexive in their approach. ECS graduates also have substantial skill in application of knowledge to practice, and practice to knowledge. We want this to be recognised nationally and internationally. The conditions of the workplace need to reflect the skill level of these graduates and the group aims to promote this.
We aim, as a strategy group, to advocate for all ECS students and graduates using the knowledge of the group membership to promote the professionalisation of the early childhood workforce.
Currently we are allocating significant time to develop and support the implementation of the Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies. Please see below for further information and for those current member HEI’s offering the Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies.
Vice Chairs and Members
Dr Tanya Richardson
Dr Tanya Richardson is a Senior Lecturer in Early Years at the University of Northampton and is Programme Leader for the Early Childhood Studies programmes. She has previously managed and led her own “outstanding” day nursery and out of school club. The nursery setting was fortunate enough to have a forest school as part of its ethos and Tanya became very interested in the impact that this environment had on children’s speech and language development. She therefore is lucky enough to have the practice wisdom that she is able to apply to the academic studies and her PhD researched the impact that different learning and play environments have on young children’s speech and language development. She is also particularly interested in the student experience for those studying Early Childhood Studies and researches aspects with the aim to enhance this experience and produce professionals who will be excellent advocates for children and their families.
Sigrid Brogaard Clausen is a Danish Social Pedagogue, who works as senior lecturer in Early Childhood Studies, University of Roehampton. Children’s wellbeing and democratic participation is at the forefront of her work, and she has carried out and published research into young children’s wellbeing (including assessment and professional and parental understandings thereof), early childhood professionalism & identity, and comparative curricula policy studies. Empowering democratic professionalism is part of her aims as academic tutor, researcher and member of the Early Childhood Studies Degree Network (ECSDN), where she currently holds a role a vice chair for Professionalism in Early Childhood.
Michelle has over 25 years' experience running her own Montessori nurseries and pre-schools. She and her team currently run five Montessori nurseries and pre-schools in Essex. Michelle is the Course Leader for the MA Education with Montessori and BA (Hons) Montessori Early Childhood Studies, along with continued involvement in the delivery and assessment of the new Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies. Additionally, she supervises undergraduates with their final year Major Projects and provides support to students throughout their studies. Michelle has mentored and tutored students in Early Years education for the last eight years and has supported Early Years settings to achieve the best outcome possible in Ofsted inspections. Her opportunity to work in settings with newly qualified Early Years teachers and leadership has led to the development of an interest in creating best practice models of practice both in the UK and in Malawi.
Samantha has been teaching at Bishop Grosseteste University since 2012, initially as a visiting tutor and as a full-time member of staff from 2020. Prior to joining BGU full time, Samantha has worked in a variety of early years settings, as well as managing and co-owning two early years settings in Lincolnshire. Samantha also has experience inspecting early years provision. Samantha is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Samantha teaches on the undergraduate Early Childhood Studies programme. Her teaching interests include policy, provision and practice, outdoor play, children’s rights and risky play, as well as an array of contemporary issues which impact the sector. Building on research from her Masters, Sam has a strong interest in early years professionalism and the continued development of the early years sector.
Selena Hall is a Lecturer of Early Childhood within the Faculty of Education, Health and Wellbeing. Prior experience of teaching spans over 16 years as Lecturer and Course Leader. Alongside this she was Lead Internal Verifier which complimented her role as it enabled the development of quality and rigour across the department. Prior to this role she was Programme Manager for the Foundation Degree Early Childhood and an Associate Lecturer within Higher Education. Equally, over this duration of time Selena considers herself fortunate to work within varied early years settings. This has enabled the gaining of a background of specialist practice based experiences. Current teaching and interest areas include socially constructed perspectives of childhood, the practitioner role surrounding adversity and Opportunities for play.
Fay works closely as part of the Early Years team in the planning and delivery of lectures, seminars and workshop lessons, whereby she is able to bring and share both underpinning knowledge and context experience to the students. She also undertakes placement visits to carry out observations on students who have successfully been accepted onto the Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT) course which runs alongside their BA (HONS) Joint Honours in Education (JHE). Fay joined NTU with a wealth of Early Years’ experience spanning over 30 years; this has mainly been with 3-5 year olds in the maintained sector. She was also a trainer/facilitator for Teaching Assistants at a local college.
Gayle Victoria Blackburn
Gayle joined the University in September 201; she had worked in education for almost 20 years and began her career as a Primary Teacher, specialising in Early Years before heading into lecturing within the Further Education sector. She developed a love for supporting students towards their career goal. She has managed a range of courses and teams with childhood and education being the main focus area. Developing an effective and professional workforce in the Early Years sector is something she is passionate about and has spent her career working with students and settings developing this. Learners gain so much from being "hands on" and it is invaluable for them to complete work placements so they can make meaningful links to theory. Gayle leads on the Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies route. This enables students to experience a range of placements and develop their practical skills and make links to their academic studies. The ECGPC have been very successful since their implementation as part of a pilot in 2018.