This research explored the impact of Early Years Professionals (EYPs) on their settings and on practitioners' roles, career development and aspirations over three years. It was based on two national surveys of EYPs and in-depth case studies of 30 early years settings across England.
You can find the suite of four research reports, published by the Department for Education in September 2012 on this page. In addition, you can explore the four multimedia case studies below, that capture key issues from the research and complement the reports and other research outputs.
Tracking quality improvement in the case study settings
The longitudinal nature of the study provided an opportunity to monitor the quality of 30 case study settings over time. To make an overall assessment of improvement, we made initial (baseline) assessments of quality in all the settings, combining measures of framing pedagogies and pedagogical interactions, then monitored changes in these measures over time in order to make an overall assessment of improvement. See p43 of the final report for full details.
Fig 1 indicates the extent to which the case study settings’ quality scores improved during the period of the study. The numbers are the codes assigned to each setting for the study. The detail of what the axes mean is outlined in relation to Fig 2 but what we want to emphasise here are the four improvement categories to which we allocated the 25 case study settings for which there was sufficiently robust data:
1. Significantly improved – originally below average in quality but achieved significant improvements during the study.
2. Maintaining high quality – initially above average and maintained their position.
3. Static or slow-moving - below average or average initially and appeared to be making slow progress.
4. Inconsistent - initially above average and had negative improvement scores at the end of the study.
Tracking quality improvement in the case study settings
Fig 2 features the same data as Fig 1 but removes the shading and setting codes to make the initial position clearer. The baseline quality score axis (y) indicates the original assessment of the quality of each setting at the beginning of the study: the higher the score, the higher the initial quality of the setting. The improvement axis (x) indicates the extent to which the settings improved against their baseline measure of quality: the zero line indicates no overall improvement and a positive score indicates improvement from the baseline. Further explanation can be found in on p42 of the study’s final report.
Final quality scores
Fig 3 plots the improvement scores from Figures 1 and 2 against the final quality scores for all settings at the end of the study. This indicates the improvement made by the settings overall during the study. As in Fig 2, the crosshairs are created where the horizontal line that represents the mean baseline quality score, which was 57.30, crosses the vertical zero improvement line, which indicates no overall improvement in quality over the length of the study. Thus, the settings in the top right quadrant, for example, were above average in terms of quality at the beginning of the study and improved during its course.
The multimedia case studies
Fig 4 takes Fig 3 and isolates the four multimedia case study settings featured on this site. You can link from the graph, or the links below, to the multimedia case studies themselves, which use a combination of film and narrative to explore the quality improvements indicated on the graph and to relate them to key trends and changes in the leadership practices and activities of the settings’ EYPs. You can view details of each of these case study settings below in the multimedia case studies.
The EYPS Case Studies
Four of the longitudinal study’s 30 case study settings were selected to be multimedia case studies in order to exemplify in depth how their EYPs lead practice and improve the quality of provision. The multimedia case studies combine film of the settings, EYPs and their colleagues with narrative exploring key issues in the research, impact data and other illustrative material.
HIGHBURY: Establishing practice leadership at all levels
This is a large voluntary setting in Highbury in London for children aged 0-5. Noelle is one of its two lead practitioners and three EYPs. As the only EYP during the course of the study, Noelle leads practice and training and mentors colleagues, as well as working directly with children. The setting’s major focus was on increasing room leaders’ responsibility for quality of provision. At the beginning of the study it was below average in overall quality, but achieved the highest improvement score of all case study settings.
ISLINGTON: The lone practice leader
This is a small, voluntary setting for children aged over three in a deprived part of Islington in London. Carrol, its only EYP, joined the setting as manager in 2009 with the objective of improving provision and focused initially on improving curriculum planning and the learning environment. As a result, the setting, which was below average in terms of quality scores at the beginning of the study, had improved significantly by the end of the research.
LEICESTER: The quality coordinator as practice leader
This setting is made up three private nurseries for children aged 0-5. Jo, the only EYP in the group, works across the group as quality coordinator. Her role is supernumerary and practice-oriented and she spends up to four days a week working directly with children, as well as leading new initiatives across the nurseries. Initially above average in terms of overall quality, the setting maintained this position during the study.
BRIGHTON: Practice leadership for quality and equality
This is a private nursery attached to a university in Brighton. It has two EYPs and the case study focuses on Chris, the only male EYP in the study, who is responsible for quality assurance and equality policy. Focusing on practice, he typically spends up to four days a week working directly with children. During the study, the setting’s improvement strategy centred on implementing changes associated with the Effective Early Learning Project (EEL). Above average in terms of baseline quality, the setting improved further during the study.