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Pre-school Practitioners, Child Poverty and Social Justice

Simpson, D., Lumsden, E. and McDowall Clark, Rory (2015) Pre-school Practitioners, Child Poverty and Social Justice. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 35 (5/6). pp. 325-339. ISSN 0144-333X

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Abstract

Purpose Several ideas exist about social justice and how inequalities can be tackled to help families and children in poverty. The Coalition government released the UK’s first Child Poverty Strategy in 2011. Pervaded by neoliberal ideology, the strategy mentions “empowering” pre-school services and practitioners within the childcare market “to do more for the most disadvantaged” (Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Department for Education (DfE) 2011, p. 35). The purpose of this paper is to bring to light how Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) practitioners across England have engaged with policy discussions and adopted expectations concerning their place in addressing child poverty. Design/methodology/approach Using a phenomenological qualitative research design the paper draws upon 30 interviews with pre-school practitioners in three geographic areas of England. All interviewees worked with families and children in poverty and were senior ECEC practitioners within their pre-school settings. Findings Many interviewees shared the Coalition’s construction of child poverty as a problem of “troubled” parenting. These views pervaded their interaction with parents and intersected with the regulatory influence of “policy technologies” to influence their practice within a context of austerity cuts. This limited practitioners’ poverty sensitivity and their promotion of social justice. Therefore this paper concludes by critiquing the contribution which ECEC practitioners can make to addressing child poverty. Practical implications The findings suggest there may be a need for poverty proofing toolkits in the pre-school sector. Originality/value This paper provides a rare insight into how pre-school practitioners have engaged with, adopted and adapted assumptions about their role within policy discussion over child poverty and the promotion of social justice.

Item Type: Article
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Uncontrolled Keywords: social policy, poverty, social inclusion, social exclusion, social welfare, children
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: Academic Departments > Institute of Education
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Depositing User: Rory Clark
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2019 17:14
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2019 17:14
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/8356

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