Research seminar: Muting diverse communication in early education

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Wednesday 28 November 2018

Come to our free lunchtime seminar: 'Muting diverse communication: An unintended consequence of formalising Early Years Education in England', with visiting scholar Christina Fashanu.

The College of Arts and Education and the Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities, bring you this 2018 Research Seminar Series presentation.

Seminar topic

In England, the Early Years Foundation Stage framework has become increasingly structured over the past decade, advocating the embedding of educational outcomes in practically every area and activity of reception. A 2017 review of the curriculum by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills entitled ‘Bold Beginnings’ continued the trajectory of formalising early years education by conceptualising play as nothing more than a tool for learning. This paper aims to provide tangible evidence for the importance of unstructured, child-led play in the early years.

This paper presents the findings from a recent research project that took place in Sheffield, England. The aim of the project was to explore the communicative practices of young children in an extremely diverse (or ‘super-diverse’) educational environment. The researcher spent one year with a class of children, following them from foundation stage 2 (reception) through to year 1.

Data was gathered through collaborative ethnography, the accumulation of multimodal artefacts and informal conversations with the children, their parents and their teachers. The findings indicate that rich communication, in English and in other languages, occurred in the liminal spaces between the timetabled sessions and at the peripherals of the organised activities.

During these unstructured moments children demonstrated they are expert inter-cultural communicators through rich multilingual and multimodal dialogue. The evidence from this study also suggests that the more formal setting of year 1 had a detrimental impact on the diversity and quantity of communication, particularly among the pupils who were learning English as an Additional Language.

The implications of the research are valuable to academics and practitioners in the field of Early Childhood Education when considering the nature of best practice and the sorts of learning opportunities we provide for young children in educational contexts. There is currently intensifying pressure from policy makers and educational inspectorates to provide evidence of learning, even in play, and this paper serves as a reminder of the things we risk losing if we eliminate child-led play altogether.

Seminar details

  • Date: 28 November 2018
  • Time: 12.00pm -1.30pm
  • Venue: Building G, Room G368, Footscray Park Campus
  • Chair: Associate Professor Mark Vicars

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This event has already taken place.

28 November 2018, 12:30pm to 1:30pm


Footscray Park Ballarat Road

Building G, Room G368