Ready, steady, learn: school readiness and children’s voices in English early childhood settings

Elspeth Brooks, Jane Murray

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Internationally, school readiness is increasingly the rationale for early childhood education and care. This is the case in England, yet the statutory English Early Years Foundation Stage framework for children 0-5 years also requires practitioners to listen to children’s voices: discourse indicates dissonance between school readiness and listening to children’s voices so this paper discusses an intrinsic case study that investigated beliefs and practices of 25 practitioners in the English midlands regarding school readiness and listening to children’s voices. In survey responses and semi-structured interviews, practitioners indicated they listen to – and act on – children’s voices but are confused about school readiness; their beliefs and practices align more strongly with social pedagogy than pre-primary schoolification. Findings carry messages for policymakers regarding the need for coherent policy concerning the purpose of early childhood education and care, with practitioner training and a framework aligned fully with that policy. A larger study is indicated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-156
Number of pages13
JournalEducation 3-13
Issue number2
Early online date18 Jul 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

Jane Murray is Associate Professor and Co-Director at the Centre for Education and Research, University of Northampton, UK. She has published extensively on early childhood education and social inclusion, and is Editor of the International Journal of Early Years Education.


  • School readiness
  • children’s voices
  • early childhood education and care
  • pre-primary approach
  • social pedagogy


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