Voices from the other side of the fence: early childhood teachers' experiences with mandatory regulatory requirements

Kathryn Bown, Jennifer Sumsion

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    Guided by feminist research principles, the study reported in this article contributes to the growing research dialogue on early childhood teachers’ experiences with, and perceptions of, the impact of regulatory requirements on their teaching and on their perceptions of themselves as professionals. Specifically, three teachers from metropolitan Sydney (Australia) offered insights into their experiences working under the state of New South Wales (NSW) Children’s Services Regulation 2004 (‘the Regulation’), a mandatory Regulation applicable to all children’s services in NSW. Three early childhood teachers participated in research conversations and a visual/textual enquiry process, which involved teachers collecting, developing and constructing seven panels using photography, artefacts, text and visual art media, to represent their ‘sense of place’ in their work environment in light of the impact of the Regulation. Themes emerging from the data were identified and considered in light of the regulatory intent for children’s services, and possible unintended adverse consequences for teachers. The themes include regulatory tension, mistrust, surveillance, sacrifice, resistance, compliance, relationships, interpretation and ambiguity, and the stifling of an educational focus. The findings suggest that early childhood teachers may operate behind a metaphorical regulatory ‘fence’, which contributes to their perceptions of safety but impinges on their professional freedom, integrity and passion for teaching.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)30-49
    Number of pages20
    JournalContemporary Issues in Early Childhood
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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