Resisting the caricature to embrace diversity and “the hard bit” of engaging with parents in poverty

  • Donald Simpson (Author)
  • Lumsden, E. (Author)
  • Rory McDowall Clark (Author)

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch


Abstract 1. Research aims or questions This research project aimed to identify pre-school practitioners’ perspectives about child poverty and the ways they engage with parents and children in poverty. 2. Relationship to previous studies by others and self Scholars and policy makers highlight the importance of pre-school practitioners developing effective relations with parents in poverty to support their children’s learning (Sylva et al, 2004; DfE/DWP, 2011). But there is little research consulting with practitioners about how they adopt, adapt and engage with this expectation (Simpson, 2013). 3. Theoretical and conceptual framework of research Theories of poverty (Levitas, 2012), new class analysis (Sayer, 2005; Roberts, 2011) and effective partnership work with parents in the early years (Simmons et al, 2007; Draper and Wheeler, 2010) provide insight. 4. Paradigm, methodology and methods The research falls within an interpretive paradigm adopting a qualitative (phenomenological) methodology and 30 interviews with senior pre-school practitioners in 3 geographic areas of England. 5. Ethical Considerations Ethical approval was obtained from the School of Social Sciences and Law’s Research Ethics Committee at Teesside University. Consent was obtained from all participants who were provided with a guarantee of anonymity. 6. Main finding or discussion Practitioners adopted a majority and minority construction of child poverty with each position differing in regard to attribution of cause, blame and responsibility for the condition. The relationship between the morality pervading these two very different positions and the shaping of on-going engagement (or not) between respondents in the study and parents in poverty will be discussed. 7. Implications, practice or policy The potential effectiveness of pre-school’s role outlined in the child poverty strategy and the need for a poverty proofing toolkit in the pre-school sector will be critically considered.
Period19 Feb 2014
Event titleBritish Early Childhood Education Research Association (BECERA) Conference 2014: Working with Diversity: Parental Participation in Young Children's Learning
Event typeConference
LocationBirmingham, United KingdomShow on map


  • Povery
  • Early years
  • Children
  • Pre-school