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Title: The development of quality early years provision : raising standards, improving practice : an encounter with the hydra-headed creature that is the change process
Author: Eyles, Jacqueline Giacinta
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 2002
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The provision of high quality education for three, four and five year-olds has become a major concern of Government. Set in the context of control, economic considerations and raising standards, Government has introduced statutory initiatives with a view to improving the quality of education for all young children. The introduction of the Foundation Stage based on Early Learning Goals has provided a framework for children's learning in the Early Years. The development of the Worcestershire Early Years support programme has provided a vehicle for the new initiatives and is seen in a context of improvement and effectiveness. Ensuring quality for all three, four and five year-olds in the variety of the County's Early Years settings has become the responsibility of the practitioners in those settings, supported by a team of experienced Early Years practitioners described as 'Mentor Teachers.' The County strategy for developing, supporting and maintaining quality provision in the Early Years has provided a unique opportunity to examine the value of the strategy to the settings and the practitioners who work in those settings. The role of the Mentor Teacher in that process has been central to the investigation. The complexities of developing appropriate research dialogues and methodological approaches was another area examined. The use of survey research with its quantitative and qualitative elements provided an appropriate methodological tool that revealed a wealth of data. A postal survey was employed. Questionnaires were mailed to all Worcestershire Early Years settings in June 1999 and June 2000. Statistical information was obtained from the questions together with opinions and views expressed in the open-ended comments sections. Similar questionnaires were distributed to the Mentor Teachers. Twelve practitioners across the range of Early years settings were selected as a sample for interview, as were six Mentor Teachers who supported practitioners in the Worcestershire administrative areas of Malvern, Worcester, Kidderminster, Bromsgrove and Droitwich. All were engaged in the interview process between January and March 2001. Semi-structured interview schedules were used to allow interviewees the freedom to offer a depth of elaborated information and opinion. The research evidence revealed the problematic nature of purpose, role responsibility and relationships and of developing effective learning environments. The complex nature of developing a coherent and cohesive programme exposed the difficulties of establishing truths and realities, and the value and the weaknesses of the programme. The many positive revelations provided a degree of optimism for the future development of the programme. Quality education is the right of all children, but particularly those in the Early Years. A good foundation will support children throughout their lives. The challenge for the future is to develop a framework for quality Early Years experiences. An enhanced support programme based on a shared vision and collaboration would allow Handy's (1994) 'prophets' and 'kings' to flourish, and Early Years settings of excellence to become the norm for education provision for our youngest children.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available