Aspirations and actions: early childhood from policy to practice in Scotland

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This paper explores early childhood experience in Scotland in terms of how readily the aspirations of policy convert to day-to-day practices. Ambitions to improve the lives of children and families have been high on the political agenda. Policy may be understood as a tool that aims to influence childhood experience in positive ways. If this is to be so, then the processes that effect change and their limitations need to be understood better, as do the underpinning values and assumptions. The workforce is at the heart of the endeavour to put policy aspirations into action: they are considered to be agents of change. In exploring such issues this paper draws on a policy-based functional analysis of the children's workforce [Dunlop, A.-W., L. Seagraves, S. Henderson, J. Henry, J. Martlew, and J. Fee. 2011. A Policy-Based Functional Analysis of the Children's Workforce. For Scottish Government: Children and Young People Social Care Directorate, Workforce and Capacity Issues Division] and on policy developments since. The paper therefore discusses Scottish policy aspirations for young children and their families, the contribution of the workforce to achieving those aspirations and asks if staff competence in itself is sufficient to ensure policy delivery for all in a climate where child poverty continues to contribute to unequal lives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-273
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Early Years Education
Issue number3
Early online date20 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2015


  • aspirations
  • policy
  • early childhood
  • poverty
  • Scotland


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