Karen Wickett



Young children’s experiences, which include their transition to school, can influence not only their academic outcomes but also their life chances. This understanding has led to governments in England investing in the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector over the past 20 years. Over time a “discourse of readiness” has become increasingly apparent in ECEC policies. The revised Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) (DfE, 2012a) framework states that the purpose of the framework is to ensure children are ready for school. Increased political involvement in the sector has led to parents/families, ECEC practitioners and teachers sharing the task of preparing children for school. The aim of this research is to explore parents’, ECEC practitioners’ and teachers’ beliefs about the nature of children’s school readiness and the relationships between them as they prepare and support children during their transition to school. A case study approach was adopted. There are two cases, each comprising a school and an ECEC setting (sharing the same site) and their respective groups of parents. Interviews and focus groups were used to gain insights into parents’, ECEC practitioners’ and teachers’ beliefs and relationships. In this thesis the conceptual framework ‘The Relational Transition to School’ has been developed. The framework identifies both readiness and adjustment as two aspects of a transition. Also represented are the relationships between those who prepare and support children. Four types of relationships were identified: a distant relationship, a dominant relationship, a familiar relationship and a utopian relationship, with each relationship having different qualities. Certain relationships and the associated interactions were prone to change during the transition. Findings highlight practices that foster the qualities of relationships which are more likely to support children’s adjustment to school. Using these findings ECEC practitioners, teachers and local and national political administrators of education can aim to create transition policies and practices that foster these relationships between the adults. Through maintaining the focus on these relationships, children are likely to have a successful transition and positive attitude to school.

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