IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Early childhood education projects awarded UCL funding

18 February 2022

Two new IOE projects looking at early childhood education in England and China have been awarded the UCL-PKU Strategic Partner Fund 2021/22 and the UCL Global Engagement Fund 2021/22.

Teacher high fiving child with other nursery pupils sat around table

Led by Dr Jie Gao from the Centre for Teacher and Early Years Education (CTEY), part of IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society, one project connects preschools from disadvantaged areas of China and England. It was awarded the UCL-PKU Strategic Partner Fund 2021/22.

The second project will see six knowledge exchange workshops taking place between February and July 2022 that aim to empower children and ensure that early childhood education research includes children’s voices. This project was awarded the UCL Global Engagement Fund 2021/22.

Cultural-exchange between preschools of disadvantaged backgrounds in England and China

Awarded £10,000 from the UCL-Peking University Strategic partner fund, this project is a joint research activity connecting two preschools of disadvantaged backgrounds in England and China. It will fulfil two aims:

  1. To foreground children's perspectives in understanding the changing Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) practices in post-pandemic times and the implications on children's wellbeing.
  2. To mitigate the negative impacts of Covid-19 pandemic on global perspectives, cultural and knowledge exchange in young children and ECEC teachers of disadvantaged backgrounds in England and China.

The research team is made up of Co-Principal Investigators Dr Jie Gao, Dr Xiaoying Lin (Peking University, China), Co-investigators Dr Minyi Li (Beijing Normal University, China), Dr Yuwei Xu (UCL/University of Nottingham) and Dr Yangyang Fang (China Women's University).

In addition to a research report and academic articles as outputs from this project, the team will hold an online Teacher Conference for English and Chinese preschool teachers. This will showcase what they have learnt from facilitating children in the cultural-exchange activities, reflecting on their practices and engaging in dialogues on cross-cultural perspectives. They will also run two research-informed CPD online workshops to reach out to a wider audience of English and Chinese ECEC teachers of disadvantaged backgrounds, to share findings from the cultural-exchange activities and the implications for practice.

Knowledge-exchange workshops for practitioners to empower children

Based on the preliminary findings from CTEY’s ongoing School Readiness project, the centre’s collaborative CPD programme ‘Promoting children's right and participation in Chinese Early Childhood Education: Knowledge-exchange workshops for practitioners to empower children’ was awarded £5,000 from the UCL Global Engagement Fund.

This project began in January 2022 and runs to 31 August 2022. It is a joint initiative bringing together Co-Principal Investigators Dr Jie Gao, Dr Minyi Li (Beijing Normal University, China), Co-investigators Dr Yuwei Xu (UCL/University of Nottingham), Dr Li Feng (Beijing Haidian Teachers’ Training College, China), Dr Yangyang Fang (China Women's University) and Dr Weining Yang (Beijing Xicheng Teachers’ Training College, China). The design of the CPD programme is based on CTEY’s ongoing collaborative project ‘(Re)constructing school readiness from Chinese young children's perspectives’.

The project will include knowledge-exchange activity to promote children's rights and participation in Chinese ECE through delivering and evaluating a series of research-informed CPD online workshops for Chinese ECE practitioners.

Six research-informed workshops will feature six empirical research strands that foreground young children's voices in different topics. These include children's Covid-19 lockdown experiences, supporting children with special needs, school readiness, play-based and/or project-based learning, gender sensitivity and quality ECE environment.

International researchers will present research findings and the implications on practice in each workshop. Following this, the practitioners will take part in hands-on activities, role-play, group discussion and reflection, facilitated by English-Chinese bilingual facilitators with ECE backgrounds.

About the funding

The UCL-PKU Strategic Partner Funds aim to encourage junior and senior UCL academics to engage in collaborations with Peking University (PKU). The initiative seeks to build on existing links and stimulate new ones between UCL and PKU.

The UCL Global Engagement Funds support UCL academics in collaborating with colleagues based in other countries. The funds are led by UCL's network of Vice-Deans (International) and Regional Pro-Vice-Provosts, supported by the Global Engagement team.



Image: RODNAE Productions from Pexels.