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Title: 5000 hours : organising for intimacy in the care of babies and children under three attending full time nursery
Author: Elfer, Peter
ISNI:       0000 0004 2700 6162
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2008
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This research examines how different kinds of nursery organisation and priorities influenced the intimacy of interactions between staff and children under three. By intimacy is meant the conditions in which secure attachments may be fostered. A case study design was used and between four and six months was spent in each of four nurseries chosen to be as different from each other as possible. Data was collected from documentation, staff questionnaires, staff interviews, child observations and a fieldwork diary. The data was analysed using open systems theory and a psychoanalytic model of organisational functioning, focussing particularly on the role of social defence systems as possible barriers to intimacy. Even this small number of nurseries, despite many common features, showed major differences in funding (maintained versus market approaches), organisation for attachments (key persons versus key groups) and priorities for children (educational versus relational outcomes). All four nurseries achieved a great deal, vigilant physical safety of the children and opportunities for play and interaction with others. Yet the data also showed how three of these four nurseries were only able to give limited attention to the emotional demands of nursery work. The consequence of this appeared to be that staff in these nurseries avoided close individual engagement with children and parents. The youngest children, particular those under one, experienced considerably distress, partnership with parents was not developed, there was little support for children's individual learning and staff stress was high. A starting point of the study was that nurseries that were explicitly containing of staff anxiety about intimacy would be ones where staff were able to allow children to be emotionally close. The study however showed a more complex picture of containment and the significance of implicit containment arising from good management. The study has also shown a provisional typology of nursery types with differing relative advantages and disadvantages. Further research would allow the complete range of nursery types available to be explored thus facilitating policy options and choices
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available