Bailey, E. & Solvason, C. (2019). Embedding parents’ perspectives in the discourse for quality education and care in the early years. NZ International Research in Early Childhood Education Journal, 22(1), pp. 59 – 71. Retrieved from https://www.childforum.com/research/2019-nz-international-early-childhood-education-journal/1717-quality-discourse.html
PDF copies of articles are available - go to the ChildForum Store page
Original Research Paper
Embedding parents’ perspectives in the discourse for quality education and care in the early years
Early Years Educator, Worcester, UK
University of Worcester, UK
The Early Years sector in the UK is gripped by the notion of quality; quality improvements, quality experiences, and better-quality staff in order to build ‘foundations for quality’ (Department for Education, 2012). However, multiple conflicting perspectives exist regarding a definition for quality. This research contributes to this discussion, locating the lived experiences and expectations of parents of young children in registered settings in relation to the existing dynamic discourse for quality.
In this article existing literature is reviewed to ascertain the links between quality and leadership and to explore the value of parent partnership within quality provision. Then by investigating the perspectives of two small samples of parents (one from an online regional parenting discussion board, the other from a small domestic setting) we gain a deeper understanding of how some parents perceive quality Early Childhood Education and Care. Qualitative questionnaires and ‘purposeful conversations’ (Kvale, 1996) are analysed to reach the conclusion that the process of assessing quality is an intuitive one; based upon a sense of familiarity, safety and the emotional well-being of those in the setting.
The empirical data collected contends the need for flexibility in parent partnerships, providing a range of structured opportunities for engagement in discourse, in order to allow for greater inclusivity. It also highlights the importance of professional interactions not becoming tokenistic, as this undermines authentic dialogue and relationships with families.
Key words: Quality, discourse, perspectives, parent partnership, early years provision.
The current curriculum in the UK is based upon the acceptance that high quality Early Years (EY) experiences create better outcomes for children (Office for Standards in Education [Ofsted], 2013). Frequently referenced throughout literature, quality has become the goal for EY provision across the western world (Taguma, Litjens & Makowieck, 2012). Despite this, definitions of quality are inconsistent. Reed and Canning (2012) state that it is open to interpretation and subject to variables that influence opinion. But whose opinion is heard? The perspectives of practitioners rarely feature in EY policy, but more specifically, the perspective of parents is absent. This paper focuses upon parental perceptions of quality, using small-scale research to invite parents’ views into the ongoing debate.
To keep reading, login with your member's username and password
Here’s how our membership plans work
- Individual Members can view all the individual member-only articles and our library of Research Journals.
- Full Early Childhood Service Members (staff and managers) can view everything including individual member articles, ECE research journals, and management and business (Go to the Join Us page for more details)
- Research Library subscribers have access only to our online library of Research Journals (this includes all past and current journal issues).
If you are not yet a member you are welcome to apply now - it takes only a few minutes to apply Go to the JOIN US page