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About childhood and early years

Child's handwritingOur work around childhood and children’s Early Years deals is concerned with a wide range of topics at individual, family, organisational and societal levels. We look at children’s experiences in context and seek to understand:

  • How children, young people and families’ experience families, institutions, services and cultural phenomena.
  • How services for children and their families can be more inclusive and create better outcomes. 
  • How and why children, young people and their carers (especially from marginalised groups) are represented as they are in societies.

In understanding these things, we ask questions about topics such as gender, inequality, power, culture, politics and the implementation of social policy. Our work in this area therefore aims to be critical and reflective, and sets out to equip people to both understand issues and take action on them. 


Child's drawingWe draw on the tradition of Childhood Studies, a multidisciplinary area since it developed predominantly in the 1980s and onwards, something reflected in our team, which incorporates staff who research in geography, art history and children’s literature alongside a number of other areas. This enables us to raise a wide range of topics with our students and explore different perspectives on how these topics intersect with childhood. This critical approach acts as a counterpoint to staff experience of practice, showing how theory can be applied in professional contexts. 


Practically, we are very interested in supporting children and equipping professionals who work with them. This involves drawing on traditions of early education and care in the UK and beyond – “Early Years” for short. With our students, we are interested in topics such as pedagogy, management, special educational needs and disability (SEND) and curriculum (including the Early Years Foundation Stage in England).

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