Anglia Ruskin Research Online (ARRO)
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A sector in transition: changing expectations for the early years’ workforce

conference contribution
posted on 2023-08-30, 13:31 authored by Hazel R. Wright
In Britain, as in many countries, universal education developed piecemeal over several centuries with the State intervening at intervals to monitor, challenge or direct but never quite taking complete control or responsibility for underwriting the costs. Forster’s Education Act introduced compulsory elementary education in 1870, the 1944 Education Act (extending the initiatives of the 1918 Fisher Education Act) made secondary education available for all. In these sectors and in higher education, the State played an active part in shaping the nature of the provision. In comparison, until recently, non-compulsory education within the community and in further education colleges, catering for adults, young children and the less academic, attracted less interest enabling it to continue to develop organically. As someone with teaching experience in all three of the latter areas, I claim that this provision shared a range of common and constructive characteristics that are being carelessly swept aside in the name of progress, masquerading as professionalization, standardization, accreditation, managerialism and instrumentalism. As part of a doctoral thesis I was able to investigate the educational and workplace practices of successive cohorts of mature women who decided to train in childcare work as their own children grew older. . I collected background questionnaire data from a total of 150 students and carried out informal interviews with 33 who studied during a ten-year period roughly coincident with Tony Blair’s New Labour government. Their detailed biographical accounts illuminated the ways the women organized their lives, how they managed the competing demands of family, education and workplace and how they viewed the changing workplace practices being imposed from above, and I acquired a breadth of material that will be more fully discussed in the presentation. Here, however, I think it useful to focus on the theoretical background and to consider further the parallels and differences between adult education in general and this specific vocational instance.


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40th Annual Standing Conference on University Teaching and Research in the Education of Adults (SCUTREA)


Coventry, UK

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  • Accepted version


  • eng

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ARCHIVED Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education (until September 2018)

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