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Enhancing the Education and Wellbeing of Disadvantaged Toddlers through the development of training and materials to support Early Years Practitioners
Date du début: 1 sept. 2015, Date de fin: 31 août 2018 PROJET  TERMINÉ 

The early years of a child’s life (birth—5) are a major determinant of future educational success. Those who start formal education at a disadvantage compared to their peers are likely to remain at a disadvantage throughout their life, and be in greater danger of economic and social exclusion. They are also more likely to contribute to the education drop-out rates the EU wishes to reduce, and less likely to participate in tertiary education. However, despite this, the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of those practitioners in early years care and education (ECEC) continues to lag behind that of educational professionals working with older children. For this group of, often lower paid, workers, opportunities to learn from best practice elsewhere, particularly transnationally, are severely limited. At the same time, there is now greater focus on the contribution wellbeing plays in an individual’s life chances, particularly in the early years. The Comenius TODDLER project has already identified best practice and developed materials relating to toddler wellbeing. However, proper training and the development of a holistic approach is vital to bring about a real change in practice for this important group. ToWe therefore aims to provide a unique continuing professional development opportunity for early years practitioners (EYPs) in the three partner countries – Norway, Spain and the UK, focussing on the needs of disadvantaged toddlers. Alongside this, and with full stakeholder engagement, the project will also develop a suite of training materials incorporating tools and strategies which will be of practical use to EYPs in the partner countries and beyond. The CPD will involve two short-term training visits. The first will allow the practitioners to be trained in the use of updated TODDLER and new ToWE tools and materials. The second visit will enable these practitioners to participate in job shadowing in another partner country. These CPD opportunities will not be stand-alone events, but will be integral to the creation of the eventual materials, as participants’ experience will feed into the development of all tools and strategies. This feedback will be ongoing as they use the developing materials in their own settings and participate in local focus groups. This will also contribute to a detailed impact study of the materials’ use by practitioners, giving practical case studies as examples. Three HEIs will provide the robust academic underpinning of the materials, which will be complemented by this practical feedback. Quality will be further ensured by an external evaluation liaison group, drawn from key players in the field. The tools and strategies will provide a holistic approach to ECEC for disadvantaged toddlers and focus on three key areas which have previously been identified – toddlers’ voice and expressions; meal times and toddlers with an additional language. A wellbeing audit tool, with strategies, will underpin all areas. All ToWe tools will be openly accessible and three national workshops will disseminate the training materials and impact study to practitioners in the partner countries. National participants will be able to cascade this learning to their own colleagues in early years settings and local authorities/municipalities. In addition, an International Trainers' Workshop will be held, aimed at academics and training institutes in this field, to promote the embedding of this approach in future research and training. Through the provision of CPD and real practical tools to facilitate a change in practice, towards a more holistic approach to ECEC, this project aims to raise the quality of ECEC in the partner countries and beyond, increasing the opportunities for disadvantaged toddlers and provide them with a better start to their lifelong learning journey.



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