From education to employment

Sheffield Uni launches UK first early years educator course

Nurseries in South West Yorkshire invited to benefit from a free programme for early years educators

Nursery staff and managers in South and West Yorkshire are being called on to participate in a free programme for early years educators, designed to help them develop new skills and to deal with difficult situations.

The new Positive Early Childhood Education (PECE) programme, offered by the Sheffield University School of Education, is looking for early years and nursery settings across the region to volunteer to take part in a trial evaluating the programme.

The programme has been developed in partnership with the internationally renowned

parenting programme Triple P, who see this as a huge opportunity for individuals working with young children to improve their care and education post-pandemic.

Matt Buttery, CEO of Triple P UK, said: ‘Early years staff play a crucial role in the lives of the babies and children they care for – and in turn we want them to be as supported as possible to form quality relationships, and help promote self-regulation for both themselves and the child. The PECE programme can really make a difference to teams who are supporting families with the impact of Covid on child development.’

PECE has already been successfully used by nursery staff and teachers working with young children in Canada and Australia, as well as closer to home in Leicester, Portsmouth and Bedfordshire. They reported an increased sense of confidence, competence, and job satisfaction, while also a reduction in workplace stress after taking the course. For children in their care, this contributes to a positive approach to learning, improvements to their social and emotional skills, and learning better behaviours.

The opportunity to take part in the trial comes as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on children becomes increasingly clear. The National Institute for Economic and Social Research released a report earlier this year indicating that social and educational development of four and five-year-olds was severely affected by the lockdowns.

Triple P’s Positive Parenting Programmes have helped more than 4 million families in over 25 countries around the world to develop more secure relationships and bring out the best in both parents and children. This new course aims to establish continuity between positive parenting at home and positive teaching in nursery, ultimately geared towards the best outcomes for children.

Mr Buttery also added: ‘We’re excited to see the strength and existing evidence for the impact of PECE recognised through this funding – the ongoing learning will help us take PECE to more areas, to ensure staff in nurseries have the support systems they need to improve the physical and emotional wellbeing of children following the pandemic.’

Dr Anna Weighall from the University of Sheffield School of Education and academic lead for the trial, added: ‘This is an exciting opportunity to build on existing evidence that the PECE programme makes a positive difference to early years educators. It’s a timely moment to offer more support to staff as policy makers look to invest more in early learning environments and improving outcomes for babies and children.’ 

The programme is being evaluated by a team from Sheffield and Leeds Universities and will include work to articulate how it supports the revised Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and the OFSTED EIF, to improve the quality of care children receive in the early years.

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