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A mixed methods study: evaluating the impact of a bespoke professional development based on an analysis of existing quality in one local authority

posted on 2023-06-09, 12:23 authored by Denise Kingston
A four year quasi-experimental, repeated measures, mixed methods study was run in one Local Authority in England. Designed to improve early childhood quality and support policy development; it aimed to capture: first, the quality of all (279) pre-school settings within the county; second, the impact of a bespoke professional development (PD) on a sample of fifty private, voluntary and independent settings with matched controls. A database of quality, pre- and post- intervention, was established using Early Childhood Environment Rating Scales (ERS) [ECERS-R and E, (Harms et al., 2005; Sylva et al., 2003)], interviews, focus groups and questionnaires provided additional information. The PD was devised to support educators’ implementing: • collaborative, evidence-based practice, • their role, including interpreting and using the Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage (DfEE, 2000), • effective practice and research on: o the early Home Learning Environment, o children’s behaviour for learning, o engaging with sustained shared thinking and o quality improvement processes. The PD data (ERS scores, focus groups, interviews and questionnaire responses) suggested that a short evidence-based PD can impact on practice predictably and consistently. Overall, quality ERS scores suggested the need for additional support and investment. Initial quality ratings (at pre-test) were predictive of modest improvements following the PD (at post-test). Ensuring the PD was accessible to all educators was an important part of the process. Where quality was extremely low at the beginning of the PD, no real progress was found, suggesting that this group of settings was unique and required more than the PD could offer. Bronfenbrenner’s Bio-ecological Model of Human Development (2005) was applied to the educators’ learning during the study. It supported: first, consideration of the interrelated multi-level systems that impacted on the educators’ learning; and, second, the development of a new model considering the process of learning they underwent during the PD.




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  • Education Theses

Qualification level

  • doctoral

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  • phd


UCL, London

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