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Autumn Conference 2020: Children's Interests


This year our autumn conference will take place online over Friday 6 and Saturday 7 November.  Presentations will be available to watch live or "on demand" and the programme will also include Q&A sessions and networking slots.


Friday 6 November

2.00-3.00pm Session 1: Gender-sensitive practices in early years education and care (EYEC): cross-cultural perspectives, Dr Yuwei Xu 

3.15-4.15pm - Session 2: Narratives of difference: Troubling "race" and discourses of diversity and identity in early childhood education, Dr Jaclyn Murray

4.30-5.00pm Networking slot

Saturday 7 November

9.00-10.00am   Session 3: Inspiring children’s interests: Challenging taken-for-granted understandings, Professor Helen Hedges

10.15-11.15am   Session 4: Towards a child centred curriculum, Georgina Trevor and Amanda Ince

11.30-12.00noon   Branch networking session

12.00-1.00pm  Annual General Meeting - For the agenda and papers for our AGM, see our Governance page

Session details

Session 1: Gender-sensitive practices in early years education and care (EYEC): cross-cultural perspectives, Dr Yuwei Xu 

Gender is an important aspect of young children's early life. Practitioners who are gender-aware and -sensitive in their practices, who challenge gender stereotypes and promote gender diversity, can provide children with enriched experiences in their early life and support children to achieve their full potential. In this session, practitioners and researchers are invited to reflect on their understanding of why and how gender matters in EYEC, and to share gender-sensitive practices from their own experiences. To facilitate the reflections, findings are shared from research projects that investigated how gender influences practitioners’ practices in China, England, Germany, Scotland, and Sweden. The cross-cultural perspectives aim to enable reflexivity on taken-for-granted and gendered practices that exist in EYEC.

Session 2: Narratives of difference: Troubling "race" and discourses of diversity and identity in early childhood education, Dr Jaclyn Murray

This talk starts from the premise that "race" is most assuredly the business of early childhood education (Mac Naughton and Davis, 2009). It will critically explore the relationship between conceptions of the young child and "race" politics, and how this impacts on pedagogical practice. Drawing on empirical data from international research studies, discourses of difference and identity are explored with the hope of providing "alternative ways of seeing, understanding and responding" (Ebrahim and Francis, 2008, p.286) to racialised scripts and narratives that inform processes of subject formation in early childhood education.

MacNaughton, G. and Davis, K. (2009). “Race” and Early Childhood Education: An international approach to identity, politics, and pedagogy. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
Ebrahim, H. and Francis, D. (2008). You said, ‘Black girl’: doing difference in early childhood. Africa Educational Review, 5(2), 274-287

Session 3: Inspiring children’s interests: Challenging taken-for-granted understandings, Professor Helen Hedges

What inspires children’s interests? How might we understand and appreciate these more deeply? The term “children’s interests” appears prominently in a number of early childhood curricular documents and guides internationally, including those in the UK and New Zealand. Entrenched interpretations connected with developmental theory have dominated understandings internationally. These understandings create polarising tensions about the role of practitioner interests, knowledge and responses. This presentation challenges longstanding interpretations. It offers alternative lenses for understanding, responding to, and inspiring children’s interests that position practitioners as adaptable and knowledgeable professionals. Considerations for practice and policy are offered.

Session 4: Towards a child centred curriculum, Georgina Trevor and Amanda Ince

This talk focuses on the curriculum in the context of tensions arising from competing early years agendas; a workforce striving for child-centred pedagogy in the face of a one-size-fits-all approach, increasingly under pressure from a top-down school readiness agenda, and asks if possible alternative and transformative approaches might prove successful in practice.

It is linked to Amanda and Georgina's recent chapter contribution, alongside Dr Lynn Ang, in Transforming Early Childhood in England: Towards a Democratic Education, edited by Peter Moss and Claire Cameron and published by UCL Press.

Speaker biographies

Dr Yuwei Xu is a research fellow at the Centre for Teacher and Early Years Education (CTEY), UCL Institute of Education. Yuwei has particular research interests in gender, men’s participation in ECEC, and child agency. He is lead editor for a special issue on ‘Beyond gender binaries: pedagogies and practices in early childhood education and care (ECEC)’, published by Early Years: An International Research Journal.  Yuwei recently receives funding from the British Association for International and Comparative Education (BAICE) to pilot gender-sensitive teacher training among early years practitioners in China, England, Germany, and Sweden. 

Dr Jaclyn Murray is a Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Winchester. Her research centres on intercultural education with a specific focus on social justice and identity formation processes in early childhood. She is particularly interested in using ethnography to explore the complexities of how young children construct, negotiate, contest and perform their "race" identities in early schooling. Set within the broad framework of transformation and integration within the education system, her work seeks to gain deeper insight into how dominant ideological and discursive frameworks serve to structure socially constructed categories and imbue them with power.

Helen Hedges is Professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Helen’s research programme examines children’s and teachers’ interests, knowledge and learning. Driving this is intellectual curiosity about the nature of interests-based curriculum in early childhood education. Helen was one of seven members of a writing team to revise and update Te Whāriki (2017). She considered it as an immense privilege to become a guardian of a curriculum that has been highly regarded internationally.

Georgina Trevor is a member of the leadership and management team across a group of two family run North London nurseries. She volunteers as a Trustee for Home-Start Camden & Islington, a charity supporting parents of children under five.

Amanda Ince is a Principle Teaching Fellow at UCL Institute of Education teaching on the MA Early Years and MA Primary Education 4-12 programmes. Her interest is in professional learning with a focus on action research in early years.

Yuwei Xu
Jaclyn Murray
Helen Hedges
Amanda Ince
Georgina Trevor
Friday, 6 November, 2020
Ongoing over 6 and 7 November 2020

Live participation and access to recordings: Members £30, Non-members £40

Access to recordings only: £20 - to purchase access, visit the conference recordings page.


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