We see our commitment to research as being essential if we are to positively influence the position and recognition of the value that Montessori can bring to educational practice worldwide. Our research fund will help shape modern day early years education through the promotion of relevant, professionally collaborative quality research into Education and the Montessori approach in the 21st century.

Critical Perspectives of Curriculum and Development in the Early Years University of Plymouth, UK

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This study is a critical analysis of curriculum alongside looking at understandings of child-development. By gathering opinions from focus groups of educators and professionals, including learning walks with those in practice, will offer an insight into and understanding of how approaches to the curriculum are developed.

This will include Montessori but will not be focused on Montessori provision in any way. It is a deliberate contextual project to reflect the challenges and opportunities for Montessori in practice today.

This new research project at the University of Plymouth aims to explore how children up to the age of five can get the most out of early years education, whether that is delivered at home, in day nurseries, or in their first months at school. It will also explore how early years educators can be best supported to provide this education and take advantage of existing and new best practice in teaching methods. This study is a critical analysis of curriculum alongside looking at understandings of child-development. By gathering opinions from focus groups of educators and professionals, including learning walks with those in practice, will offer an insight into and understanding of how approaches to the curriculum are developed.

Funded by the Montessori Group, the project is being launched on the same day as the Department for Education’s revised Early Years Foundation Stage framework comes into force. The project will include Montessori but will not be focused on Montessori provision in any way. It is a deliberate contextual project to reflect the challenges and opportunities for Montessori in practice today.

To start, the new research will initially involve a series of questionnaires being directed at experts in the field on the nature of the curriculum and how it relates to child development. The project team will then speak with groups of practitioners, including childminders and day nursery staff, to get their views and to understand how the curriculum is delivered in practice. The project is the latest in a long line of research on child-centred early years education by academics in the University’s Plymouth Institute of Education. It will be led by Associate Professor in Early Childhood Studies Dr Verity Campbell-Barr and Associate Professor Dr Jan Georgeson, working alongside Lecturer in Education (Early Childhood Studies) Dr Katherine Evans and Doctoral Teaching and Research Assistant Sasha Tragenza-May.

Find out more about the research here.

The education children receive in the first years of their lives can often shape their future opportunities and successes. So it is important, if not essential, that it is delivered in the best possible way to support their development. With the recent revisions in the Early Years Foundation Stage framework, this project is extremely timely. It also raises important questions that seek to evidence some commonly held assumptions as to what good early years education looks like in support of child development.

Dr. Verity Campbell-Barr, Associate Professor in Early Childhood Studies, University of Plymouth