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European Early Childhood Research Association 14th annual conference

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Conference sponsored by the European Early Childhood Research Association provides an excellent opportunity to promote the significance of early childhood research, policy and practice in a new member country and to learn of current developments.


New Dolmen Hotel Qawra, Malta


Quality curricula: The influence of research, policy and praxis

Can research, policy or praxis create a quality curriculum for
young children? Issues of equity and access

The field of early childhood research draws on many disciplines in the pursuit of quality. Policy makers, too, increasingly look to multi-sector, multi-disciplinary solutions to the social and educational issues they face. Many practitioners find distinctions between 'education' services and 'care' services irrelevant in constructing appropriate environments and programmes for young children's development. In such multivariate conditions, can universal descriptions of a quality curriculum for young children be applied? How far, and in what ways, can policy and research inform, and be informed by, the concept of a quality curriculum? How far is an equitable, accessible curriculum for all a reality? As curriculum is increasingly defined is there scope for children to exert agency?

Within these broad themes papers at this conference will explore ideas of:

- Autonomy and agency: Should educators in early childhood settings develop their own curricula or must there be coherence in and consensus over programmes across large communities or whole countries? How far can learning programmes reflect specific needs of individual communities?

- Power, habitas and social capital: How are different stakeholders represented in the curriculum? Whose views are reflected in the curriculum?

- Equity and access: Whose needs are reflected in an early childhood curriculum? Can members of diverse groups in society identify with objectives of the curriculum? What policies encourage opportunities and resources for active and meaningful participation by all groups?

- Cultural diversity and social cohesion: Designing policies and curricula to promote cultural diversity and foster social cohesion – myth or reality?

- Supporting individual difference: Which professional practices acknowledge children's specific limitations while extending their potential within a community of diverse learners?

- Cognition and meta-cognition: How do/can learning programmes foster and promote the development of different forms of thinking?

- Learning experiences and areas of learning: How are children's experiences as learners contributing to/accounted for in the curriculum?

- Integration and multi-disciplinary work: How will an integrated approach of multi-disciplinary perspectives and services improve children's learning experiences?

- Transition, continuity and progression: How can pedagogical programmes ensure continuity and a smooth progression across early years settings?

- Assessment for learning: Which assessment practices reflect children's holistic and specific development, thus incorporating different forms of learning? Who should be involved in assessment procedures?

- Effectiveness and outcomes: Who and what determines the effectiveness of an early years curriculum? Which outcome measures reflect an effective programme? How is effectiveness defined in different societies/communities?

- Quality assurance and evaluation: What criteria are adopted across communities and cultures to promote quality? Who shares responsibility for organising, managing and evaluating quality curricula and services?

- Professional development and training: How do pre- and in-service training ensure that practitioners interpret, promote and implement a relevant and meaningful curriculum?

- Working with parents: Do parents contribute to shaping a curriculum? How do practitioners meet parents' demands and expectations while retaining professional standards?

How might these questions and issues contribute to our greater understanding of a curriculum for young children?

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