Quality Early Childhood Education and Care practices: the importance of skills, knowledge, and the Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner competencies

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This article focuses on the English Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector’s perception of graduates in the workforce. Previous research has already highlighted the benefits of a graduate workforce, demonstrating a positive impact on provision and leading to high-quality education and care. However, there has been limited appetite for policy makers to reflect the wider need for graduates in non-compulsory provision. This research aimed to explore the ECEC sector’s perspectives on: higher education (HE) qualifications on the skills and knowledge graduates’ need to develop, both in training and in practice, to provide high quality ECEC provision. Employing qualitative research approaches via survey (n = 105) and semi-structured interview (n = 16) methods, data were collected from ECEC owners, managers and practitioners. Our findings indicate the importance of HE qualifications as: they give a sound foundational knowledge of child development and behaviour management to future staff; develop students’ and graduates reflective skills about their own, and others’ professional practice; support development of business management skills; and enhance further understanding and knowledge of how to interpret current legislation. The findings inform the understanding of the ways in which HE programmes can enable practitioners to develop themselves and contribute to their wider profession.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Early Years Education
Early online date7 Sept 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 7 Sept 2023


  • skills
  • knowledge
  • reflective practice
  • professionalisation
  • competence

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