Ready for Research? The Importance of Meaningful Transitions in Enhancing Practitioner Professional Status in the Early Years

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Recent events have highlighted the importance of creating a children’s workforce which is capable of working cooperatively across professional sectors (O’Leary, 2014). Moreover, research has indicated that a child’s formative years will have a profound effect on their later life-chances, thus demanding an professional early years workforce that is highly skilled and able to deliver improved outcomes for young people (Scottish Government, 2009; Dunlop et al. 2010). Yet despite such recognition, employment conditions for early childhood practitioners are not equivocal with other childhood-related professions, including renumeration and increased demands following Children and Young People (Scotland) Act (2014). One solution proposed by Adams (2008) is to increase the status of research within the profession, including more research content within practitioner-related degrees, such as the BA Childhood Studies. This proposal thus critically evaluates one such attempt to increase the accessibility of research-based practice to undergraduate students through the development of a new ‘blended’ Honours year (Priestley et al. 2014). Informed by a learner-centred, student-led approach to curriculum-making, an aim was to implement a scaffolded transition from Years 3 to 4 of the programme (Neary, 2009). We – i.e. teachers and students - thus cooperatively evaluate the successes and challenges of developing a research culture within a new practice-based Honours degree, illustrating strategies for student empowerment, such as transition ethics workshops, a blended approach for flexible working arrangements, and sustained contact with a key academic. Indeed both students and teachers agree that building sustained, quality relationships – through peer support and other mentoring strategies – are crucial to motivating learners between stages.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventEnhance and Innovation in Higher Education - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Jun 201511 Jun 2015


ConferenceEnhance and Innovation in Higher Education
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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