This is the section of the website where we will give you information about the projects that we sponsor through TACTYC funds. So far, we have been involved in several projects, each of which is outlined below with links to the relevant texts.


Where measurement stops_FINAL_Dec2021

Where measurement stops: A review of systematic reviews exploring international research evidence on the impact of staff qualification levels in ECEC on the experiences of, and outcomes for, children and families.

This TACTYC funded report, carried out by Joanne Josephidou, Lucy Rodriguez-Leon, Stephanie Bennett, Polly Bolshaw, Jackie Musgrave and Jonathan Rix of the Open University is based on the analysis of 25 reviews which included over 764 research studies. These reviews focused on research evidence of the relationship between practitioner qualifications/training and their links to better outcomes for young children and their families.

The summaries of findings and recommendations highlight the continuing focus on graduate qualifications and the positive outcomes on children. In addition, the report raises the importance of missing narratives and voice around race, inequalities, children’s health, physical development and play to develop an understanding of how practitioner qualifications impact children’s lives.

This review offers a synthesis of international research findings, although inconclusive in many respects. In addition, this study makes two further contributions. Firstly, a revised model of change is presented, illustrating that the relationship between qualification/training and developmental outcomes for children is two-steps removed and further complicated by multiple barriers and enablers. Secondly, it has surfaced some of the missing narratives and voices in this field of research. The lack of attention to children’s play, the absence of children’s and parents’ voices, the disregard for issues of wider inequalities in society, such as poverty or special educational needs, raises questions about ‘who’ and ‘what’ research in this area is really for.


TACTYC Maintained Nursery School Research Report

This TACTYC funded report, carried out by Dr Carla Solvason and Sam-Sutton Tsang of the University of Worcester and Dr Rebecca Webb of the University of Sussex, highlights the vital role that Maintained Nursery Schools play in areas of social deprivation. Survey feedback from 115 practitioners, in-depth interviews with 21 leaders and 6 setting visits provided a wealth of data demonstrating the impact that these schools have upon the disadvantaged children, their families and neighbouring early years settings in their local communities.

As well as achieving excellent pupil progress (with children entering these schools, on the whole, well below any expected norms) and demonstrating specific expertise in the area of Special Educational Needs and Disability, these settings also share this expertise with their neighbouring settings (whether maintained or Private, Voluntary or Independent), supporting them through ongoing training. The most extraordinary aspect to emerge throughout the data was the selfless care that was shown by staff in these settings on a daily basis. All practitioner respondents shared how they endeavoured to provide first line support to struggling families in an attempt to compensate for the disappearance of other social care structures from their local context.

At the same time maintained nursery school funding has been reduced to the point of settings facing the potential of closure; having made all of the cuts to their outgoings that they possibly can.  Recommendations arising from this research include: for the government to pay renewed attention to the vital role that early childhood education and care plays; an urgent need to address the fiscal crisis in the maintained nursery school sector (whilst acknowledging the value added that these settings provide); an acknowledgement of the wealth of knowledge and expertise, accumulated over time, found within these establishments; and recognition of (and suitable deployment of) the innovative  entrepreneurial capabilities developed by leaders in maintained nursery schools over recent years of funding cuts.


TACTYC Membership Consultation Project:  TACTYC commissioned this small-scale study into the composition of its membership and members’ satisfaction with TACTYC’s activities alongside our consideration of our organisation’s structure and purpose. The researcher, Tansy Watts, was tasked with exploring the issue of diversity among the membership and among the key activities that TACTYC pursues.  The study involved an electronic survey, which was sent to all members and was posted on TACTYC’s website so that non-members could also contribute. A small number of telephone interviews with willing participants also took place after the analysis of the survey data and allowed more in-depth information to be gathered and for clarification. Amongst the findings was that members very much value their membership …. and much more!

BERA-TACTYC Early Childhood Research Review 2003-2017:  In 2003, members of the British Educational Research Association (BERA) Early Years Special Interest Group presented a literature review of some of the international research pertaining to early years. This 2017 Review builds on the legacy of the 2003 BERA Review through a collaborative venture between BERA and TACTYC: Association for Professional Development in Early Years.

In 2013, TACTYC: (then chaired by Jane Payler) and the BERA Early Childhood Special Interest Group (then convened by Elizabeth Wood) came together to co-lead a research-focused collaboration to produce policy advice (2014) and to revisit and update the 2003 BERA research review. This 2017 review considers research findings from UK research since 2003 pertaining to five themes and their policy contexts;

  • Professionalism: early years as a career
  • Parents and families
  • Play and pedagogy
  • Learning, development and the curriculum
  • Assessment and school readiness

The age range of the 2017 Review is birth to seven years. The term ‘early childhood’ includes children, their families, communities and the adults who work with them in different contexts – centre- or home-based, formal and informal settings. ‘Early childhood’ incorporates education and care as inseparable aspects of provision. The review team has drawn on systematic approaches to produce a rigorous academic review that reflects current positions in each of the themes.

The review and a summary document offering “Key Messages” will be freely available to download from the BERA and TACTYC websites.


Early Years Teacher and Early Years Educator: a scoping study of the impact, experiences and associated issues of recent early years qualifications and training in England. Professor Jayne Osgood and Colleagues from the University of Middlesex undertook this study which aimed to map the current training and qualifications context through a review of policies since 1997 and by presenting the debates generated in research literature and through media representations. By gathering empirical data the study aimed to identify the impact, experiences and associated issues with the newly introduced qualification pathways: Early Years Teacher and Early Years Educator. The research study set out to specifically address the following questions:

  1. a) What education and training is available in early years care and education? How do the different programmes on offer compare? How are programmes marketed? What are the intended aims of each programme?
  2. b) How does the training relate to experiences in practice? How do educators feel about the training they receive and its relationship to their in-work experiences?
  3. c) Which is the ‘best’ training route on offer to early years practitioners? How is ‘best’ defined given the processes involved and the outcomes achieved? How does training impact upon professional trajectories? What lessons can be learnt to inform the future of early years training?

The aims and questions were addressed through a small-scale, mixed methods scoping study that captured breadth (in terms of the literature and policy reviewed, range of participants included, and geographical coverage) as well as depth (detailed accounts about the experiences of delivering, receiving and enacting the training and qualifications under investigation).


2015: Two-year-olds in England.  Dr. Jan Georgeson and team from Plymouth, undertook an investigation into the provision of funded places for two-year-olds using four methods, addressing the following research questions:

  1. What does the research literature tell us about the dimensions of early childhood quality that are important for two-year-old children’s development?
  2. What are the current central and local government policy and frameworks and practices for supporting the two-year-old programme?
  3. What are the practices among settings providing funded early education places for two-year-olds? And who are the staff?
  4. What do key stakeholders consider to be the key components of quality for two-year-olds, and the successes and difficulties of providing this?
  5. What are the implications of 1, 2, 3 and 4 above for policy, practice, resourcing and provision in relation to the two-year-old early education programme?

The final report has been completed.  It makes fascinating reading and give many insights into working with two-year-ods.  We are delighted with the quality and robustness of the research undertaken by Jan Georgeson and her team. The project has resulted in a forthcoming book in our TACTYC Taylor and Francis Series and also Occasional Paper 6. Jan and Colleagues also presented on our two-year-olds research at the Nursery World Conference in July 2015.

2013/1416:  (ongoing): Collaboration with the BERA Early Years Special Interest Group (SIG) to produce some briefing papers to inform early years policies and practices. This has several parts and, as one document, we have now begun distribution to all those in government and elsewhere concerned with young children and their early education and care. The papers also incorporate a research agenda to guide future scholarship in the field. We are very grateful to all of our members for their involvement and support. The papers can be access by clicking on the links below.

UPDATE:  BERA TACTYC collaboration phase 2 update

The next phase of our collaboration is underway for completion late 2016/early 2017. This phase aims to produce an academic review of UK research evidence since 2003 and a professional user review. Theme leaders met at Winchester on 17th June 2015 to scope the process and agree an outline. The theme leaders will draw on the expertise of wider theme reference groups, who will help to review the work and contribute ideas for research evidence references. All will be acknowledged in the final document, which we anticipate being published as an interactive PDF, made freely available through TACTYC and BERA. For more information contact [email protected]

2012: School Readiness:  Dr. David Whitebread and Dr. Sue Bingham undertook a literature which proved to be a very extensive undertaking, information from which we finally presented at the House of Commons in November, 2012. The main outcome was Occasional Paper 2. We are also now able to publish the FULL REPORT for your information.

2011Reception Class research: we sponsored members of the TACTYC Exec and other invited people to collect observational data on reception classrooms to gain some idea of what children experienced, such as their daily routines, activities and contact with adults. The outcome of this research was Occasional Paper 1.

Published: October 9, 2017 |

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