Early years education
Our early years education research explores the experiences and opportunities that play a role in the development of young children (pre-birth to 8 years old) at all levels of life and society – from the accessibility and quality of early years education and care, to the parenting, family, and social issues that influence how a young child develops.
Our research is closely aligned with two of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – improving the quality of early years education, and tackling gender and other social inequalities.
Our work is already making an impact. We're currently developing child-centred pedagogies and practices designed to meet children’s needs and encourage active learning and agency in children. Our findings are being put to practical use by local authorities, kindergartens and other early years providers in England and overseas.
We're challenging the perceptions and practices – around gender, culture, language, race, ethnicity, special educational needs, and family dynamics – that prevent children from achieving their potential.
Our research covers the following key topics
- Pedagogy and practice
- Sociology of (early) childhood
- Comparative early childhood education
- Special Education
- Professionalism in the early years
- Children’s rights
- Child agency
Through qualitative research methods – including interviews with children, practitioners, and other key stakeholders, classroom observations, narratives, and storylines – we're exploring children’s and adults’ perceptions and experiences of early years education.
And through creative and visual research methods such as pictorial conversations, photo diaries, mental maps and drawings, we're giving children a voice in our research.
Partnerships and publications
We collaborate with academic institutions around the world, such as Macquarie University and University of Queensland (Australia), Queen Maud University College of Early Childhood Education (Norway), Early Childhood Ireland, University of KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), and The Education University of Hong Kong (China).
Our work is frequently published in leading academic journals such as the European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, and Early Education and Development.
Explores the competences required to work in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in diverse contexts, and aims to create professional development plans to support the ECEC workforce to achieve them
Our research on men’s career trajectories in early years education is informing national and international policies that seek to improve gender balance and increase number of male practitioners in early years workforce
Discover our areas of expertise
Early years education is one of our 5 areas of expertise in Education research – explore the others below.
We're examining the factors underpinning issues such as inequality, under-representation of women, mental health and wellbeing in higher education.
Our work is identifying, exploring and engaging with forms of discrimination across gender and race in the education system.
Through our research, we're exploring the issue of mental health and mental illness in young people.
Interested in a PhD in Education?
Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Education postgraduate research degrees page.