- 日英教育研究フォーラム (ISSN:13431102)
- vol.21, pp.71-84, 2017 (Released:2017-11-11)
This paper examines the radical changes in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in
England since the end of the twentieth century, with special consideration of the global circumstances
around ECEC and by using the framework of transitology (Cowen 2014). ECEC in England
reflects political, economic, and social changes at a global level, and it has the discourse of
‘school readiness’ as its legitimacy.
According to the OECD Report Starting Strong, increasing global interests on ECEC have
changed the meaning of ECEC, regarding it as a public good, instead of a private matter, and the
report focuses on an integrated approach to ECEC, the goal of achievement and the monitoring
of ECEC services, staff and child development. Partly it aims the economic development in the
period of low growth.
In addition, worldwide organisations such as the WHO, UNESCO and UNICEF also look at
ECEC in terms of humanitarian support. They focus on the children’s well-being, promoting health
and preventing poverty. ECEC is a hot issue shared across developed and developing countries.
As global attitudes toward ECEC have changed, the new ECEC system and curriculum in
England has also adapted, including the re-organisation of the governmental division for ECEC in
order to integrate the jurisdiction of ECEC, introducing a national curriculum with detailed
achievement goals, and monitoring systems for all the ECEC settings.
The national curriculum on ECEC in England, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), stresses the
importance of care in terms of children’s well-being as well as promotion of literacy, and increasingly
such safeguard and welfare requirements have been extended through the revisions of them.
ECEC in England is categorised as‘ school readiness’ tradition by the OECD Report. Such a slogan
has given the ECEC legitimacy from both points of view: economic growth and humanitarian
support, importance in developed and developing countries, and impact of poverty and universal
security. However, there are many who oppose the view of school readiness as the aim of ECEC.
‘School readiness’ can be recognised as‘ deductive rationality’ (Cowen 2014). The fundamental
question is thus posed - how do we recognise childhood, as a preparation period for being an
adult or a meaningful period in and of itself?