The Early Childhood Studies Degrees Network exhibited for the first time at the Nursery World Show 2022.
This year the ECSDN wanted to showcase the Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies and share the outcomes of two major research projects which were commissioned by the network and led by a team of academics and explored the application of the ECSDN Graduate Practitioner Competencies.
The Two Research Projects are outlined below:
Project 1: What do students, placement mentors and academics think of Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies – reporting from a ECSDN study
The Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies (ECGPC, 2018) were developed ‘to ensure skilful application of knowledge to practice and practice to knowledge’ (ECSDN, 2019). In Early Childhood Studies, the strengthening of the practical skill base links to evidencing and valuing holistic understandings of young children’s rights, wellbeing, development and learning in diverse contexts.
- Students have found that the competencies allowed them to gain and be interested in a wider range of placements and develop their confidence in these settings
- Placement mentors reported on the relevance of the competencies to the professionalism of the workforce
- Academic tutors found that employability and career choices would be enhanced
- At the same time, it was recognised that there were barriers identified such as lack of time.
The Research Team
Project 2 : The Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector’s perspective on the Early Childhood Studies graduate and the Graduate Practitioner Competencies
- Requirement for students on placement include: good communication skills; child centred pedagogy; safeguarding knowledge; new ideas; knowledge of policy/theory; ready to learn
- The sector has expected skills for graduates that should be in degree programmes. These include: understanding of child development theories/behaviour management; good knowledge of relevant legislation; good communication skill with parents, children and staff; business management skills; knowledge of first aid and safeguarding issues; being a critical thinker; knowledge of how to observe, assess and plan; patience; empathy
- Staff who held degrees had a stronger underpinning knowledge of relevant ECEC practice
- There was a strong link between staff who have degrees and the depth of reflective practice. It was important to know the why as well as the how
The Research Team
The two days were full of enquiry by professionals discussing all things related to the Early Childhood sector. It was alive with questions, enquiry, and deep discussions, and we got to meet so many professionals who were interested in the wider context of the work of the ECSDN. The Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies were a hot topic, with so many questions around graduates within the sector.
The Live Stage was our chance to give a keynote to the delegates and there were so many people interested in the research and next steps of the network. We thank Sigrid, Su and Eva for presenting these sessions at the show.
The exhibition was buzzing with so many people visiting our stand to enquire. This was an opportunity for us all to promote Early Childhood Studies Degrees and we spoke holistically on behalf of our members.
Philippa Thompson and Dr Tanya Richardson, Co-Chairs of the ECSDN have said:
"This was a fantastic couple of days and really was beneficial to go and talk to the sector and those at the grass roots of what we do. There is much uncertainty within the workforce currently and we hope we went some way to help alleviate the concerns and queries that many had. It also gave us an opportunity to talk to many school and college students along with those on apprenticeships who were there and considering studying ECS degrees. We were able to advocate for all courses and the profession, and as such felt the event to be very worthwhile".