How do Nursery Nurses, working in Day Nurseries, interpret the 'Early Learning Goals'?

Richardson, Helen. 2009. How do Nursery Nurses, working in Day Nurseries, interpret the 'Early Learning Goals'?. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (How do Nursery Nurses, working in Day Nurseries, interpret the 'Early Learning Goals'?)
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Abstract or Description

In this thesis I address the research question, 'How do nursery nurses, in day nurseries, interpret the Early Learning Goals?' This question arises out of questions raised during my work as an Ofsted Nursery Inspector (RgNI) and the changing curriculum for pre-school children. Nursery nurses have an outcome curriculum which they are required to follow upon and this curriculum stresses the importance ofliteracy and numeracy. Most nursery nurses have had little training in these matters. I look at the changes in the curriculum and the effect it has had on nursery nurses working in day nurseries. I discovered that the child developmental approach, found in nursery nurse training, runs contrary to the outcomes curriculum which is being developed at present. I found that the introduction of the Early Learning Goals and the Foundation Stage, which the nursery nurses are required to follow, has caused confusion, time wasting and a lowering of morale in some day nurseries. The change from a child developmental curriculum to an outcome curriculum has meant that nursery nurses have to plan, assess and teach children skills, for which they judge many are not ready. Nursery nurses have not been trained to teach reading and writing skills or to teach anything other than basic numeracy and they do not think that teaching those subjects is necessary. I also set out to show how the role of the nursery nurse as a carer is being diminished, in order that the literacy and numeracy of children in school are improved. I show that many children in the day nurseries that I studied, needed the care that nursery nurses can give them, if they are to be ready for the world of school.

The method used for this study was a qualitative or naturalistic research. I used a small-scale study and decided that the theories to be tested would arise in the data. I decided to collect the data over a period of eighteen months, by interviews and observations in three different types of day nurseries; a community nursery, a local authority nursery and a day nursery which was part of a large chain. I then analysed the data and built up a picture a picture of the complex roles and tasks of a nursery nurse. I then looked at the training of nursery nurses, using documents which nursery nurses in my study would have used for their training. I compared this with the present outcomes related requirements by Ofsted. I suggest that young children in day nurseries still need a great deal of help with their personal, social and emotional development, as well as their health and hygiene skills and language development. The nursery nurse training fitted the nursery nurses with a caring role, which they saw as important. They were trained to help three to five-year-old children adapt to a group situation and also provide the atmosphere and learning through play, which they might get if they were at home. They felt that it was important for children to have a good self-image and for them to enjoy being with other children.

I found that the nursery nurses, whom I interviewed, thought that there needs to be an acceptance that some children require more caring and less teaching between the ages of three to five years, in order to prepare them for school. I conclude that the outcomes curriculum fails to take these arguments into account and that it is more important that young children are well prepared for school, where trained teachers can then develop their literacy and numeracy skills.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Early Leaning Goals, Ofsted Nursery Inspector, reading and writing skills, social and emotional development, health and hygiene skills, language development



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Date Deposited:

09 Jul 2020 11:35

Last Modified:

12 Sep 2022 11:22


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