The Baby Room
This two-phase project is led by Dr Kathy Goouch (Department of Professional Development, Christ Church University) and Dr Sacha Powell (centre, Christ Church University) and has been funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.
This project involved working with baby room practitioners and their managers in Kent and Medway daycare settings. The aim was to explore and develop good practice in daycare for babies (aged from birth to 12 months).
Professional development activities offer opportunities for the practitioners to develop supportive networks across different early years settings and to discuss practice and the research evidence, policies, theories and the principles that shape this.
The research included video-recorded observational data of practitioners working with key children in their baby rooms. This was also used as a professional development resource, and included semi-structured interviews with the practitioners, their colleagues and managers. Practitioners' written reflections were captured on NING (a social network site) and their discussions were also recorded at professional development sessions. Further interviews with babies' parents or primary carers will take place at their homes.
The project included an annual conference, held in July 2010 at Canterbury Christ Church University. The Baby Room Conference (2010) included keynote speeches by Dr Peter Elfer (Roehampton University), Dr Jools Page (Sheffield University) and Liz Attenborough (former Manager of Talk to Your Baby at the National Literacy Trust).
The findings from the project's first phase have strongly suggested that baby room practitioners often feel isolated and overlooked in their work and this has serious implications for their professional identity and status. The evidence indicates that the practitioners are both supported and limited by complex and multi-layered contexts of influence, which in turn influence the babies' daycare experiences.