IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


VIRTUAL EVENT: Why should we bother with neoliberalism when we have to teach children?

04 May 2021, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

Primary teaching assistant reading with pupil. Image: Aw Creative via Unsplash

In this webinar, Dr Guy Roberts-Holmes and Professor Peter Moss will draw on their new book, 'Neoliberalism and early childhood education: markets, imaginaries and governance'.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Dr Jenny Woodman

In this event, Dr Roberts-Holmes and Professor Moss will explain how, like so much else in our lives, early childhood education and care has over the last 40 or so years been drawn into the gravitational field of the ideology of neoliberalism. 

They will explore its associated theories and practices including human capital, public choice and new public management. The speakers will show the effect on how we talk about early childhood, on the images we have of young children, parents, services and workers. 

They will also explore its effect on the way services are provided, through markets and private businesses and on how these services, along with children and the workforce are governed. 

While acknowledging that neoliberalism is a formidable and entrenched force, they will argue that it is also eminently resistible and eventually replaceable, its credibility exposed by multiple crises including the pandemic and disenchantment spreading. 

At this time, therefore, it is urgent, in the words of the neoliberal guru Milton Friedman, to ‘develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.'

The talk will be followed by an interactive discussion and Q&A session.

Seminar series

This event is a joint session that brings together the TCRU seminar series and DLL seminar series.


Image: Aw Creative via Unsplash

About the Speakers

Guy Roberts-Holmes

Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at the Department of Learning and Leadership, UCL Institute of Education (IOE)

Guy Roberts-Holmes is also a member of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Pedagogy.

His most recent book is 'The Datafication of Primary and Early Years Education' (Routledge, 2018) with Alice Bradbury).

He led the research into the 2019 Pilot of Reception Baseline Assessment (IOE/National Education Union) with Siew-Fung Lee, Diana Sousa and Emma Jones.

More about Guy Roberts-Holmes

Peter Moss

Emeritus Professor of Early Childhood Provision at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, IOE

Peter was the first editor of the Contesting Early Childhood book series and his recent books include:

  • 'Transforming Early Childhood in England' (co-edited with Claire Cameron)
  • 'Parental Leave and beyond' (co-edited with Margaret O’Brien and Ann-Zofie Duvander)
  • 'Alternative Narratives in Early Childhood'.
More about Peter Moss