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New SEED report highlights features of good practice in early education

The latest report from SEED (Study of Early Education and Development) describes the key features of good practice in early education. SEED is a major longitudinal study which is following 6,000 children from age 2 to 7. Unlike previous studies of this type, such as the EPPE project, childminders are included in the research.

The report, Study of Early Education and Development: Good Practice in Early Education, was based on research with 16 early settings across England recognised as offering good or outstanding provision.

The report looks at key features of good practice across the different areas of learning and development; management and leadership; staff recruitment, retention and development; and engagement with parents and home learning.

The study concludes by reflecting on three themes that lie at the heart of good quality provision:

Tailoring practice to the needs of the children

This means placing the child at the centre of setting practice and having a clear vision of what they wanted to achieve for the children in their care. The study shows that all areas – including learning and development; leadership and management; and supporting home learning and communication with parents; benefit from a focus which provides a tailored approach to the needs of the child.

Skilled and experienced staff

The study identifies the importance of staff that are qualified, knowledgeable and experienced because it is this skilled workforce that enables children to reach their full potential. This means not only a good understanding of child development and the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage, but also high quality staff/child interactions and strong relationships with parents.

An open and reflective culture

The research finds that an open and reflective culture drives continuous improvement; creates a positive working environment and encourages sharing of good practice to increase the quality of the early years sector as a whole. It also highlights the importance of self-evaluation and reflection embedded into CPD, which encourages practitioners to reflect on their own practice and identify improvements.

The study complements another SEED study that showed that belonging to a peer to peer network, like PACEY local, or professional association also has a large role to play in inspiring high quality care.