Discourses/6. England: The Position of Children’s Rights in the Discourse on Citizenship. The Case of the Early Years Foundation Stage for England
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In 2015, the Early Years Inspection Handbook instructed inspectors to make a judgement on the effectiveness of leadership and management to actively promote British Values in the settings. In the new inspection framework, cooperation, freedom, responsibility, that is, the Fundamental British Values, are understood as social skills to be learnt.
It is argued in this chapter, that the interpretation of Fundamental British Values as a form of learning outcome is a significant example of the cultural presuppositions underpinning legislation and policies of Early Years Education and Care in England over the last 10 years. Whilst early education is approached as a crucial phase for a healthy development of the child as a citizen in the future, the concept of citizenship remains ambiguous. Citizenship is pursued as the future outcome of a learning process designed and led by the adult, rather than experienced by children in the ‘here and now’ of their educational journey.
This chapter suggests that a consequence of the paradoxical status of citizenship in early education is that discourse on education to citizenship, as well as children’s citizenship in education, are absorbed by technical concerns about the implementation of pedagogical means. This entails neglecting that citizenship is experienced and articulated as a practice embedded within the day-to-day reality of children as of adults.
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