Professionalism in Early Childhood Education and Care


Margaret Sims, The Univeristy of New England, Australia
Antje Rothe, University of Hanover, Germany
Mary Maloney, Mary Immaculate College, Ireland


In many countries of the world, the expansion and further development of the early childhood care and education system is linked to a terminology of ‘profession’. Curricula, or national pedagogical frameworks, have been introduced as a means to foster professional practice. Qualifications, in-service training/education and an increasing number of university degrees are contributing to the notion that there is a profession in early childhood and an associated need for ‘professional’ development.

Yet (at least from our point of view), there is far less understanding about what ‘profession’ in Early Childhood is all about. Do we really understand what it means to act ‘professionally?’

  • in a rapidly changing society where settings and situations are continuously changing, in social contexts and groups which tend to be chaotic as they organize and re-organize themselves, continuously forming patterns and relations which cannot be predicted or controlled?
  • with a broad variety of people (children and adults) who pursue various interests?
  • when we know that teachers act first as human beings with a personal history and generate their ‘actionable knowledge’ (Argyris) everyday.

The SIG on professionalism in early childhood wants to address these (and other relevant) questions. We suggest paying special attention to the development of what might be called a professional habitus. And while we find that these questions can be cross-nationally addressed and reflected upon, we must be aware that ‘acting’ as a professional can only be done in the specific local context. Under these conditions, the SIG can be a place for ‘shared thinking’ and for creating synergies rather than for producing universally valid outcomes.


Click here to view the 2017-18 report (pdf) Margaret Sims and Cynthia Buettner
Click here to view the 2011-12 report (pdf) Carmen Dalli and Mathias Urban

News & Events

Professionalism in Early Childhood Education and Care SIG meeting

Time: 29/08/2017, 13.00-15.00

Location: Complesso Belmeloro, via Belmeloro, Bologna, Italy

Around the world there is a drive for early childhood to become a profession, with all the associated benefits – status, improved qualifications for staff, better pay and greater understanding of the work we do. The drive towards professionalisation intersects with other factors (neoliberal and post-colonial ideologies for example) so that in each context we see hybridisation developing resulting in different forms of early childhood professionalisation – different goals, different practices and different understandings of quality all influencing how early childhood presents itself.

The Professionalisation SIG creates an opportunity for those researching in this area to share ideas, to help us all understand different hybridisations and to affirm fundamental EC principles. In our meeting this year we will:
• Ask you to share a brief comment your context and the research you are doing in this area
• Have a brainstorm of what we can do together to support research in the professionalisation of EC
• Develop a plan so that we leave our meeting with a plan of what we will do in the next year.

This meeting will be facilitated by

Margaret Sims, University of New England, Australia and Cynthia Buettner, The Ohio State University, United States