In recent times, a growing consensus has emerged, among researchers and policy-makers, that a well-educated, competent and adequately supported workforce is crucial for the quality of early childhood education and care (ECEC). Despite governmental initiatives aimed to enhance the professional preparation and continuing development of early years practitioners being high on the political agenda of many EU member states, very few studies are analysing professionalisation policy developments and their implications within the national contexts of ECEC. Against this background, the article describes the key features of ECEC policies in Italy and their current trends by focussing specifically on the professionalisation of early childhood practitioners working across 0-3 and 3-6 services. Drawing on the data collected from documentary sources and interviews with key informants, this paper will critically review policy discourses as well as recurring themes and tensions arising from the academic and political debate. The findings from our analysis highlight that the increasing discontinuity characterising professionalisation initiatives across the 0-3 and 3-6 sector might lead to widening the gap among professionals working in such services. The risks that are associated with this trend are, on the one side, to devalue the educational role of 0-3 services and, on the other, to produce the schoolification of educational practices in 3-6 services. In addition, our analysis identified inconsistencies between initial and continuing professional development policies, which are progressively creating a dichotomy between initial and in-service training. The consequences of this process might produce, on the long term, the fragmentation of the ECEC system across public and private not-for-profit provision with the subsequent risk of impoverishing the local culture of childhood on which the Italian ECEC system has traditionally built its strength.
Professionalisation policies in the ECEC field: trends and tensions in the Italian context
Carfax International Publishers, [Abingdon] , Regno Unito
International journal of early years education 23 (2015): 274–287. doi:10.1080/09669760.2015.1078725
info:cnr-pdr/source/autori:Lazzari, A., Picchio, M., Balduzzi, L./titolo:Professionalisation policies in the ECEC field: trends and tensions in the Italian context/doi:10.1080/09669760.2015.1078725/rivista:International journal of early years education/an