About the project
This project is an ERASMUS +, Key Action 2, Cooperation for Innovation and the Exchange of Good Practices – Strategic Partnerships for school education and brings together Higher Educational Institutes, Local Authority/Municipality and Early Years Settings and their Practitioners from 3 partner countries England, Norway and Spain. The Higher Educational Institute partners and Setting Partners will be using their expertise to develop a range of instruments/tools/strategies to be used by early year’s practitioners to improve their provision and practice supporting disadvantaged toddlers.
The project aims to improve the practice of professionals working with disadvantaged toddlers, in order to help them get the best start to formal education, in the hope that they will go on to maximise their potential and be active citizens in the future. It provides a unique opportunity for transnational collaboration of the partners in particularly the early year’s practitioners to work with and alongside each other. At the same time we will develop a collaborative and ongoing dialogue with different stakeholders from the three partner countries; Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) setting partners, ECEC practitioners and local authorities/municipalities and Higher Educational Institutes partners, to create new opportunities and approaches which will provide high quality learning opportunities for Continuing Professional Development.
The early years are crucial to a child’s future success, and this period is even more important for those toddlers from disadvantaged backgrounds. We aim to enhance the teaching and learning of early year’s practitioners by developing their knowledge and understanding of the theory and practice of supporting toddlers’ wellbeing. The Continuing Professional Development developed in this project will focus on a holistic approach which is targeted at disadvantaged toddlers and the settings partners have been selected with this in mind. By creating such tools we aim to improve the practice of practitioners working with disadvantaged toddlers, in order to help them get the best start to formal education, in the hope that they will go on to maximise their potential and be active citizens in the future.
Embracing achievements for all toddlers
The ToWe project is about enhancing opportunities for disadvantaged toddlers through the work carried out with early year’s practitioners to enable them to maximise the learning opportunities for disadvantaged toddlers’; as well as the tools and instruments developed to improve their provision. However, the project is also about using a holistic approach which is all embracing and inclusive and therefore beneficial to all toddlers. The term ‘universal’ is used to describe provision and support available for all toddlers and ‘targeted’ is specific additional support, intervention and strategies used where risk factors have been identified and may cause early educational disadvantage.
To define early educational disadvantage the ToWe Project refers to the ‘risk factors’ identified within the EURYDICE document:
‘Risk Factors’ for identifying disadvantaged
EURYDICE (2009) Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe: Tackling Social and Cultural Inequalities. European Commission
“Defining at risk children this study uses OECD category ‘C/Disadvantages’ for ‘pupils with special educational needs’, namely ‘children with disadvantages stemming mainly from socio-economic, cultural and/or language factors’….. This excludes measures for children with special educational needs due to organic disabilities and/or illness requiring extended hospitalisation….. Disadvantage arising in living in rural and remote areas is included in this broad definition.” (EURYDICE, 2009:7)
1.1. Causes of early education disadvantages
“There are four complementary explanations for early education disadvantages among low income, ethnic minority and immigrant children: accumulation of socio-economic and psychological ‘risks’; lack of stimulation of cognitive and language development in family interactions; different cultural beliefs determining parenting styles and socialisation practices; linguistic and educational consequences of bilingualism.” (EURYDICE, 2009: 18)