1st Edition

Studying for an Early Childhood Degree Using Inspirations from the Pen Green Students to Achieve Outstanding Results

Edited By Tracy Gallagher Copyright 2023
    214 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    214 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Studying for an Early Childhood Degree, based on the practices of The Pen Green Centre for children and families, exemplifies how student-practitioners can foster strong communities of learners and create student-teacher connections that remain long after studies are complete.

    The Pen Green Integrated Centre in Corby, UK, has developed a unique approach to adult education. Highly qualified tutors, with their wide-ranging experiences, have written Studying for an Early Childhood Degree in collaboration with current and former students. It illustrates different ways to complete assignments, providing 20 case-studies of work that achieved an excellent grade from students of different professional, geographical, ethnic, educational and socio-economic backgrounds; it also explores the rationale behind what contributed to these excellent final grades. Each chapter, linked to the key themes of the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Early Childhood Studies degree, includes discussions, reflections, commentary and extracts from students’ works through Levels 4-7, as well as suggestions for further reading.

    Studying for an Early Childhood Degree is an essential read for learners as well as educators and practitioners. It will be a key resource for students having varied learning needs, professional heritages, writing styles and interests. Further, it will also support other educators to consider the unique and often competing demands of being an adult in higher education.

    1. Principles for working with adult learners
    Joanne Benford
    2. Yourself as a Learner and Reflective Practitioner
    Dr Christine Parker and Sandra Clare
    3. Child Study ‘Children as Learners’
    Sandra Clare
    4. Working with families
    Sandra Clare
    5. Practitioner Research ‘Why practitioner research has value’
    Dr Christine Parker
    6. Leadership
    Dr Christine Parker
    7. Conclusion about the impact of Pen Green learning in practice
    Sandra Clare, Dr Christine Parker and Joanne Benford


    Tracy Gallagher holds overall strategic responsibilities for the effective running of Pen Green Centre, working with the multi-professional team. She is particularly interested in leadership within the Early Years.

    Joanne Benford has worked in different roles at Pen Green since 2000, having developed a suite of courses including bespoke training, the level 3 Early Years Educator, apprenticeships and undergraduate programmes.

    Sandra Clare first visited Pen Green as a parent. She has always felt strongly towards the rights of children and the communities they inhabit, possessing a passion for critiquing educational inequalities and learning.

    Dr Christine Parker has worked as an educator in many settings in the UK and abroad. She feels strongly towards children’s unique learning patterns based on their social contexts and believes that it is important for Early Years staff to focus on these aspects of education.

    "The world class work of the team at Pen Green is legendary and the Centre has become a beacon in the development of integrated high quality early childhood and family services, supported by well-qualified and experienced professional practitioners. Pen Green is also home to a democratic community of practitioner researchers, many of whom are studying for advanced level qualifications in their quest to enhance their expertise. The critical importance of knowledge development and transfer in ECEC is vital as the pressures on early childhood in the 21st century become even greater.

    This stimulating and provocative book of Pen Green students’ practitioner research assignments, which are then subject to critical and reflective dialogue between the students themselves and their tutors, provides a set of inspiring narratives, underpinned by evidence and a clear values set. It creates a reflective and action focused agenda for all those who work with young children and are studying to improve their practice. The chapters collectively bring diverse research and development experiences together and attempts the courageous act of producing an integrated and unifying narrative of deep professional development through academic study. Individually each chapter provides an insight into reflective and dialogic research and practice, but collectively they stand as a model of critical thinking and theory making for practice. I believe anyone who reads this book of professional studies will be inspired and motivated to challenge and extend their thinking and professional practice, adopting the critical and nurturing stance which lies at the heart of Pen Green’s quality services for children and families."

    Professor Chris Pascal
    , Director, Centre for Research in Early Childhood

    "Pen Green degree courses are grounded in constructivism, respecting that, from the beginning of our lives, through experiencing and engaging with others and the world around us, we create representations, make meaning from and assimilate and accommodate new information into our prior apperceptions. The Pen Green team celebrates the wealth of experience and knowledge each adult learner brings to their studies and encourages each to follow their particular interests in their readings, reflections, practice and research. This book attests to the powerful learning journeys of 20 diverse learners on their individual paths in gaining Pen Green degrees.

    Pen Green courses make explicit our basic psychological needs from birth through old age, and the social environments needed to meet those needs in order to ensure healthy functioning and development throughout our lives. Social inclusion, equality, equity and democratic approaches are intrinsic features of healthy environments. Just as those working in early years seek to promote the wellbeing and development of the young children, families and communities they serve, leaders and managers seek to promote the wellbeing and development of all those providing services. These aspects of best practice are brought to life in the work of the adult learners and tutors who share their work in this book."

    Karen John, PhD, Developmental Psychologist Adlerian Psychotherapist, Co-author, "Democratising Leadership in the Early Years: A Systemic Approach"