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Educating the youngest citizens – possibilities for early childhood education and care, in England

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posted on 2023-07-26, 14:31 authored by Paulette Luff, Mallika Kanyal, Mansur Shehu, Nicola Brewis
In this article we explore the notion of young children as citizens and the implications of this for early childhood education and care (ECEC). Citizenship has a place in the National Curriculum, in England, and is compulsory for pupils aged 11-16 years. In the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum, for children aged from 0-5 years, there is no mention of citizenship. This may be attributed to views of childhood as a time of innocence together with a perception that young children lack the ability to cope with complex concepts. This contrasts with research demonstrating young children's capacity and agency to engage with issues that affect them as present and future citizens. Whilst citizenship goes unmentioned, there is a Government requirement to communicate "British Values." These values of "democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs" are said to be implicitly embedded in the EYFS and inspection procedures are in place to ensure providers' compliance. Within this context, we draw upon theory and research to advocate and argue for democratic ECEC that shows the youngest citizens respect in six key ways: i) seeing and valuing the whole person and encouraging appreciation of diversity; ii) upholding individual and collective rights and enabling participation; iii) encouraging critical and creative thinking; iv) promoting equity and social justice; v) fostering peace and conflict resolution; and vi) challenging consumerism and encouraging action for sustainability. Each of these is discussed to propose pedagogies of citizenship for ECEC.



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Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies




Institute for Education Policy Studies

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  • eng

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

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