By Sarah Alexander
There has been substantial study of the quality of early years education yet only recently have researchers started to ask questions and take approaches that have some relevance and meaning for practice in early childhood programmes.
This paper reviews the ways in which research has shaped our perception of quality in early childhood education and associated limitations. The dominant approach to quality is then explained and some additional comparatively new approaches are identified.
At present there is confusion as to what “quality” means due to the emergence of the stakeholder approach in the early 1990s and a more recent postmodernist interpretation (Dahlberg, Moss & Pence, 1999). To overcome this, and to increase specificity and relevance, it is suggested that we should look to the different dimensions of the word “quality” instead of regarding quality as a global, one-word-fits-all construct.
There are (at least) three different, distinct dimensions of quality in the early childhood field, namely: “standards”, “organisational culture/excellence”, and “client benefits”.
This paper includes a useful diagram showing different paths that quality promotion and assurance can take - and the consequences of this.
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