Experiences of Sure Start Children's Centre Teachers: emerging roles and identities in a collaborative setting
Welch, Victoria Carolyn
Sure Start Children’s Centres deliver a wide range of services to families with young children. For over a decade an important aspect of Sure Start has been collaborative work involving diverse practitioners, professionals, agencies and organisations. The role of Children’s Centre Teacher (CCT) was established in 2005 with the aim of improving children’s social and cognitive development. This qualitative study examines the experiences of individual CCTs, paying attention to their descriptions of role, their professional identities and how they experience and understand collaborative working.\ud The study uses two methods to collect data, iterative email interviews and personal interviews conducted on a one-to-one basis or in small groups. A total of 15 informants provided data through emails, interviews or both.\ud In terms of role, the study finds that respondents report considerable differences between the centre-based role and that of a classroom teacher. Uncertainty, variability and change pervade their accounts. Despite this it is possible to identify key characteristics of the nature of CCT activity through CCTs’ comparisons of their new role and their previous work. In terms of identity, CCTs clearly position themselves as professionals and place themselves as senior members of the Children’s Centre team. However, identifying the CCT role as a unique profession, teaching specialism or discrete occupation is found to be problematic for a number of reasons. \ud Informants endorse collaborative working, which they describe as part aspiration and part achievement, reporting a mixture of successes and barriers. Children’s Centre Teachers invoke two modes to describe the collaborative work they undertake, the first appears close to traditional models of interprofessional working, the second, which describes the majority of the work they undertake, casts CCTs as advisors and consultants to staff members they see as subordinate. The study also comments on how email interviews might be used in future research.
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