spotlight archive

Why Are Our Most Important Teachers Paid the Least?

Raising preschool teacher salaries and providing high-quality training for preschool teachers improves the outcomes of their students. Why are they preschool teachers still so undervalued and underpaid?

The New York Times Magazine recently took on this issue in an article titled, “Why Are Our Most Important Teachers Paid the Least?” The article focuses on Kejo Kelly, a lead teacher at a preschool center in the Massachusetts, who works long hours for low pay. She is overburdened by extra work due to staff shortages at the preschool center she works for. The article makes poignant and crucial points about the importance of quality in early childhood education, especially for disadvantaged populations.

Read the article here.

Workforce Profiles in Systems of Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe

January 2, 2018

Thirty new or updated country reports have been complied and released by the SEEPRO-R project. SEEPRO-R revised and revamped the SEEPRO project, which reviewed and analysed the professional education and training, occupational profiles and work settings of early childhood personnel in the context of the early childhood education and care (ECEC) systems in the 27 European Union Countries. The study was conducted between 2006 and 2009.

SEEPRO-R aims to review the expansion and consolidation in Europe. The project takes a look at many of the new fundamental reforms including qualification and competence requirements for early childhood workforce and the structures of professional studies and continuing education.

The data from this project can be used by Germany, as well as in international contexts, to make informed decisions about staff qualifications and continuing professional education. Furthermore, it can be used to scrutinize in-country policies and promote mobility of ECEC staff among European countries.

Longstanding contacts in European universities, higher education institutions, research institutions and policy institutions were used to find partners. Additionally, new partners were recruited through international collegial networks. A 5-day research visit was organized in Croatia in order to conduct interviews with ministry officials, professional education/training specialists, researchers, representatives of professional organizations and other key stakeholders. Contacts with Russian and Ukraine were enabled by a German agency specializing in the recruitment and mobilization of staff from these nations.

Country experts worked along with the project team on their Workforce Profile reports. Tedious work was necessary to ensure that key concepts were comprehensible in both English and German. Constant probing and revisiting was necessary to make sure that key terms were correctly understood across languages.

Key contextual data was compiled by a two-person team. The main sources were international reports, websites and European and national statistical sites. A triangulation approach was used for checking and cross-checking data. As ECEC systems are continuously changing, these reports are only a representation of the systems included in these reports at the time the data was compiled.

Find SEEPRO-R reports on the ECWI Knowledge Hub.

NESET II:Transforming European ECEC services and Primary schools into professional learning communities: drivers, barriers and ways forward

December 20, 2017

Transforming European ECEC services and Primary schools into professional learning communities: drivers, barriers and ways forward focuses on Professional Learning Communities, within competent early years systems, which help professionals better serve the complex needs of families and their children.

The diverse societies in which we live make it impossible to find standardized solutions for all families. New competences like negotiation and reflection must be integrated with additional forms of continued professional development (CPD) that focus on the active and democratic participation of staff.

Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are a valuable answer to this complex issue. PLCs are ‘groups of people sharing and critically interrogating their practice in an on-going, reflective, collaborative, inclusive, learning-oriented, growth-promoting way’.

Competent systems are essential for the creation and maintenance of PLCs. The latter require a multilevel network of competences, structural conditions, engagement, and awareness. This report seeks to  1) provide a framework to explain the need for PLCs today; 2) offer a clear definition of the essential criteria that define a PLC, with concrete examples from several European countries; and 3) provide four in-depth case studies—from Belgium (Flanders), Croatia, Italy and Slovenia—which illustrate different ways of establishing and sustaining PLCs.
The report includes specific conclusions and recommendations for policy makers in Member States.

Please note that the report focuses on services and schools for 0 to 12 years old children. However, the key concepts and conclusions could also be readapted for secondary school.

Find Transforming European ECEC services and Primary schools into professional learning communities: drivers, barriers and ways forward ​is now on the Early Childhood Workforce Knowledge Hub.




Global Advocacy Toolkit for the Social Service Workforce

September 4, 2017

The recent Global Advocacy Toolkit from the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance focuses on creating a common narrative to advocate for social service workers. The toolkit was developed through a series of interviews with experts in the field, as well as through desk research.

This toolkit includes 4 sections:

• The importance of strengthening the social service workforce
• Advocacy – What works when talking to policy and decision-makers?
• Global and regional opportunities
• How do I create a context-specific advocacy outreach plan?

Developed with insight from global experts, the toolkit can be considered a resource for outreach in many settings. The Global Advocacy Toolkit was specifically designed to help the workforce in different settings and allow for localization as needed. It provides tools and tips helpful for developing and implementing an advocacy plan, including how to set up objectives, choose the audience, decide and elaborate the main messages, select the advocacy tools, develop a press release, accompanied by useful examples.   

You can find it on the Knowledge Hub.  If you are interested in this topic, you may also want to listen to the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative’s webinar Early childhood practitioners as advocates and activists.

The relationship between teacher qualification and the quality of the early childhood education and care environment

July 26, 2017


The very recent Campbell systematic review study adds more answers to the question: How much does the teacher qualification impact the quality of the early childhood education and care (ECEC) environment?

The authors reviewed 48 studies with 82 independent samples from 1980 to 2014 examining the relationship between teacher qualification and the quality of ECEC environment, which included children from pre-kindergarten and kindergarteners prior to primary school.

The results drawn upon information from quantitative research data from a number of countries, show that higher qualifications of teachers are significantly correlated with higher quality ECEC and they are not dependent on context or culture. The education level of teachers or caregivers is positively correlated to overall ECEC qualities measured by the environment rating scale, including in settings for infants and toddlers. In addition, there is also a positive correlation between teacher qualification and subscale ratings including program structure, language and reasoning.

 You can find more details about the research methodology, the results and authors’ recommendations by accessing the resource in the Knowledge Hub.

Supporting the early childhood workforce at scale: The Cuna Más home visiting program in Peru

3 July 2017

The Early Childhood Workforce Initiative (ECWI), hosted by International Step by Step Association and Results for Development, is a global effort to support practitioners. Under ECWI, a series of country studies will examine ways to strengthen and scale up a quality workforce. The first of these studies focuses on Cuna Más, a large-scale ECD program in Peru that operates a home visiting service in rural areas. Cuna Más operates at central, regional, and local levels and builds the capacity of its workforce through induction and training and technical assistance.

As one of few home visiting programs operating – and having been evaluated – at scale in low- and middle-income countries, Cuna Más holds valuable workforce lessons that may resonate more broadly with ECD programs and policymakers seeking to reach young children and families around the world:

  • Supervision in the field is critical for the home visiting workforce, particularly in rural contexts where many workers have limited training or experience and work independently much of the time.
  • In addition to delivering important content, educational materials are critical for empowering community home visitors who may not have the training or experience to otherwise provide guidance to young children and families.
  • It is important to identify and address workers’ travel-related barriers, especially in rural or remote areas
  • Career ladders and pay scales can reward both professionals and volunteers for their dedication, retain and leverage the experience of high-performing individuals, and encourage strong candidates to see working in ECD as a viable career path, rather than temporary employment.

Home visiting is often used to reach vulnerable young children as well as their caregivers. Trained individuals regularly visit a caregiver and child to improve parenting behaviors, the home environment, and impact child outcomes. The Cuna Más home visiting service enjoys relatively high coverage and early results are promising: a recent impact evaluation by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) found large effects on children’s cognitive and language development. However, operating at scale presents challenges to quality and sustainability.
You can find out more about Cuna Más and read a detailed analysis of the program on the Knowledge Hub.

Photo courtesy of Programa Nacional Cuna Más

Innovative Pedagogical Approaches in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE): A Resource Pack

This resource pack, published jointly by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood, includes case studies from nine countries.

The initiative focused on innovative pedagogies with the aim to improve early childhood care and education (ECCE) provision in the Asia-Pacific region. It provides a wealth of knowledge and inspiration from China, India, Japan, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Solomon Islands and Thailand.

The report indicates that there is a wide range of priorities in ECCE across countries. While many ECCE programs are established from the existing evidence base, they do not necessarily reflect local needs, priorities or agendas. The conceptualization of “quality” generally takes place in situations where ECE is considered mainly as preparation for school, services are carried out by private providers and the services are separated from the community. 

All of the cases in this resource pack are examples of innovative pedagogies that were developed in tune with their context and with concern for sustainable learning. They show that innovation in ECCE should not rely only on current models or on a “universalized ‘one size fits all’ model”, but more of the on ‘real-life’ approaches that connect the child with the contexts and communities where they are living in, with “praxis”. Innovations in the Asia-Pacific region are often intended to improve entire communities in addition to benefiting children. This is a pedagogy through which lives are transformed. An inspirational read for practitioners, researchers, and policy makers.

Find the pack on the Knowledge Hub.

Professionalisation of Childcare Assistants in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC): Pathways towards Qualification

The Erasmus+ report, “Professionalisation of Childcare Assistants in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC): Pathways towards Qualification,” focuses on reviewing profiles of ECEC assistants in 15 European countries, as well as the professionalization opportunities available to them. The report makes recommendations on how pathways for qualification and continuous professional development (CDP) can be created for assistants. Examples from Denmark, France and Slovenia show some successful pathways in these areas.

Several key findings were introduced in the report. The first is that ECEC assistants are not recognized in policy documents or research. This is unacceptable considering the high number of assistants in the ECEC workforce. Additionally, ECEC assistants have little opportunity to receive the same qualification as a core practitioner. There should be investment in systems that reward the work of all staff, and opportunities to be upwardly mobile at work. This includes increasing the number of opportunities for professional development that assistants have access to. European countries do not generally provide funding for staff’s non-contact time, causing assistants to miss out on reflection time with their teams.

The lack of competence profiles for assistants hinders the holistic approach to childhood development. When the position and competences of assistants are recognized, they are often considered simply technical workers. In fact, ECEC assistants bring diversity to the workforce and aid the ability of staff to engage with diverse children and families. National experts who acted as consultants for this study suggest that more assistants are of ethnic minority backgrounds than core practitioners.

ECEC assistants enrich the workforce, CDP and qualification opportunities should reflect the invaluable work they do.

Find the full report in the ECWI Knowledge Hub.

Early Childhood Workforce in Peru: A country study

Through a series of country studies, R4D will gather and analyze information to formulate actionable policy recommendations for strengthening and scaling up a quality early childhood workforce. The first country study will take place in Peru,  and will examine the country’s early childhood system, as well as the role of community workers who conduct home visiting. 
In collaboration with a local research partner, the study will employ a mixed-methods approach to establish both the scope of challenges facing the workforce, as well as key barriers and promising practices for achieving a quality workforce at scale. 
The first stage of the study will involve a mapping of the early childhood system  in Peru and an examination of the national policy context. Key guiding questions include: What relevant national and local policies and structures are in place to support the workforce? Who are the key decision makers and stakeholders involved, and what settings and professions comprise the early childhood system? Where possible, this study will look at both national and sub-national levels, as well as across public, private, nonprofit, and informal sectors. 
After the analyzing the country system, a specific role within the early childhood workforce will be explored in more depth. Through desk research and local data collection, the study intends to capture the composition of this particular workforce, required competencies and standards, training and professional development opportunities, processes in place for monitoring quality and providing continuous feedback, working conditions and the status of the profession, and available financing. 
Informed by the system mapping and examination of a  particular professional role (in the case of Peru, community workers) as well as interviews with key stakeholders, R4D will estimate the size and cost of scaling up this particular workforce and identify major bottlenecks to achieving quality and scale. The study will conclude with policy recommendations, focusing on innovative or promising programs, policies, and mechanisms that can be leveraged to support and strengthen the early childhood workforce.
This country study in Peru, together with other country studies conducted, will serve as analytical input for the initiative’s joint learning activities and reveal common themes, issues to tackle, and promising practices across diverse country contexts.