The Early Childhood Studies Degree Network came into existence in 1993/4. It arose out of the Early Years Training Group which met at the Early Childhood Unit of the National Children’s Bureau. The training group itself had started in 1991 when University lecturer (Pamela Calder) and two Local authority advisers from Southwark (Linda Osborn) and Camden (Jenny Williams) approached Gillian Pugh who was head of the Early Childhood Unit, to suggest that we needed to find ways to develop higher education and degree level courses for early childhood workers, since they were often expected to undertake demanding jobs which required, high skills and a flexible and critical approach and for which their current training was inadequate. Gillian Pugh had at the same time been forming the Early Childhood Education Forum, and members of this group were also concerned about training issues.

These two groups came together to form the Early Years Training Group. The group comprised of leading early childhood researchers with university links and with perspectives that spanned both care and education, and also practitioners from local authorities and from the education and child care sector and included representatives from other early childhood training organisations such as CACHE, Montessori, High Scope and the Pre-School Learning Alliance. Together over the next few years they produced two papers on new training developments (NCB 1992, Pugh 1996) in which they argued for the setting up of Early Childhood Studies Degrees.

By 1993/4 several degrees were in existence and more were planned but there was no organisation to represent them. Thus the network was born. It was initially set up only as an e-mail network, but soon also began to hold regular meetings at the National Children’s Bureau. The first conference in which the network was involved was the one to launch Abbott, L. and Pugh, G. (Eds.) (1998) Training to work in the Early years Developing the Climbing Frame Open University Press, a book to which several of the network members had contributed.

From the initial two degrees that by 1993 were set up at Bristol University and at Suffolk College there was soon an increase, so that by June 1996 there were five in existence with more planned. Since then the network and the number of degrees offered has expanded enormously. The election of the Labour government in 1997 and in particular the launch of the Childcare Strategy in 1998 provided the context in which new early childhood studies degrees became much easier to set up and in 1999 at least seven new degrees were started or planned. Early Education published an article (Calder 1999a) outlining the position at that time. The European Early childhood Education Research Journal also published an article outlining the arguments for Early Childhood Studies degrees (Calder 1999b)

On the 27th November 2002 we agreed a new structure to the network, set up an elected committee, with chair/coordinator, minutes secretary and treasurer and became a paying membership organisation, and agreed our network aims.

Please visit our dedicated webpage Membership Benefits where you can find out more about our network. We currently only offer memberships to institutions that provide the Early Childhood Studies Degree, but we are looking at developing our Membership to include those who have worked or have a particular interest in the sector by way of an Individual Membership. If you would like any further information, please email:

You can download the application form to join from the button below. 

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