The impetus to write this book originally came from local events within Homerton College. The college has a long history of training teachers for the early years. There is, indeed, a nearby local authority nursery school which bears the college’s name because it began life just over 50 years ago within the college grounds as a training nursery school. Training for the early years had been phased out, but was recommenced in 1989, both within the undergraduate BEd course and the postgraduate certificate course. Since then the small number of early years enthusiasts on the college staff has grown steadily, and links have been made with local teacher colleagues. As we worked together on developing courses slowly the idea developed for this book.
As it turns out, however, we find ourselves publishing at a time of critical importance for early years education in the UK and maybe in other parts of the developed world as well. At long last the crucial importance of good quality early years education is finally being recognised. Research evidence that children’s success in school and other aspects of their life can be significantly enhanced by quality educational experiences when they are very young is being taken seriously.
As a consequence, a number off changes are taking place in the educational provision for young children. Within the UK there has been a move in recent years to provide places in school for four-year-olds. However, there has been mounting concern that many of these children have finished up in over-large and poorly resourced reception classes, and with teachers who were not originally trained in the early years. As I write, OFSTED inspectors, educationalists, teachers’ representatives and politicians are all debating evidence that smaller class sizes can significantly affect the quality of