Early Insights worked with community members from thirteen early childhood organisations from four continents to provide global evidence-informed training to Teach First, the UK’s largest teacher trainer.

Early Insights’ professional development elevates grassroots innovations from around the world to a global audience, brings global expertise to local contexts and shares the knowledge and experience of our community of leaders. Teach First trains thousands of new teachers in schools in low-income areas of the UK. This year, an exciting new programme incorporates modules designed to enhance trainees’ specialist pedagogy and practice early childhood.

We are extremely grateful to the community members…

Early educators hold lower status, qualifications and pay than the wider education sector. It’s a global phenomenon. It contradicts ample evidence that quality early education is one of the most powerful levers to improve social equality (Stewart and Waldfogel 2017). We know that higher quality educators translates into better educational outcomes (OECD, 2011).

Why is early education low status?

There are complex social factors underpinning early education’s social status. One of these was highlighted to me via social media in the early stages of the pandemic. Supporting their young children’s education at home, friends and contacts commented on the ‘magic’ of early educators. “She’s some kind…

Quality early childhood education has a huge impact on the lives of women around the world. The sector will have an important role to play in global Covid recovery efforts. How can we ensure an early childhood education and care system that drives gender equality?

The ECE workforce is 98% women. Photo Credit: Key Education Foundation.

Although men and older people have been more vulnerable to the virus, its economic and social effects have disproportionately hit women and children (Vora et al, 2020). …

The world’s education systems are very diverse. So are the social challenges faced by the countries they operate in. After a year, we have found that our global community of early childhood educators has more in common than we have apart. Early childhood education is a global priority with shared barriers. I explore why it needs a global movement.

Our experience: shared experiences in global early education

I recently met with 25 early educators from Lebanon, UK, India, US, Morocco, Kenya and Tanzania. We shared our experiences of barriers to early childhood education (ECE) in our countries. One colleague pointed out:

“We face so many different problems as…

The amazing result of talking to Folashade Babatunde about her work developing feeding programmes in Nigeria is that, instead of feeling depressed about two million malnourished young children in the country, you leave with a sense of optimism that the solutions will be found.

Folashade’s inspiration came from her 71 pupils during the Teach for Nigeria fellowship. Photo credit: Folashade Babatunde.

“I have two passions:” she tells me, “nutrition and education.” Her professional experience has led to powerful innovations for solving a persistent barrier to education and care in Nigeria — food poverty. Folashade established Waste for Meals initiative after her Teach for Nigeria fellowship in Lagos. …

Educators from UK, India, Morocco, Denmark, Mexico and Cambodia share their perspectives on the impact of Covid-19 on early education in 2021.

Early childhood education relies on a range of resources that children may not always have at home. Credit: Enseña por Mexico.

In March 2020, our global Early Childhood Education community focused on commonalities, as the pandemic took hold. In our diverse roles, we found ourselves reviewing the best evidence for reaching the youngest children remotely, supporting families and mitigating the challenges for preschoolers from low income backgrounds.

Close to a year later UNICEF estimates that more than 150 million more children are living in multidimensional poverty as a result of Covid-19 and more than 30% of children cannot be reached by digital or broadcast learning. …

Daily play posters developed from exploring research and practical experiences of educators working with children who struggle to access early education around the world. Credit: Polly Crowther

Online learning was not a priority for my early childhood classroom. Not in 2019. Many of my students had limited access to the internet or devices. What was the point? My online learning focus was highlighting good quality online content for parents. As a parent of young children I know screen time is used as childcare (no judgement, our television is babysitting whilst I write this article). My students though already faced an array of socioeconomically-influenced barriers to traditional in-school learning and this was my priority.

Then, as we all know, everything changed.

My students needed to learn remotely and…

250 million hungry preschoolers

Around the world, 250 million children under the age of five suffer from extreme poverty and its developmental impact. In the first year of the pandemic, this might increase by 6.7 million . Globally, around one third of deaths in children under five could be due to underlying undernutrition. The period of 0–24 months is one of the most critical (after in utero development) in a human life, when children’s bodies and brains grow at a rate they will never achieve again.

Is there a solution? Increased global access to early childhood education and care could provide an efficient, scalable…

In March, when the realities of the pandemic struck schools and early education settings around the world, early childhood educators from around the globe came together to understand the impact of COVID-19 on learning. As alumni of Teach For All member organisations, we shared a particular concern for the impact on children already at a disadvantage due to other barriers to education, most often those as sociated with low-income. Seven months later and with a community of more than 60, we return to the topic that concerned us most urgently: play and its role in learning for young children.


Polly Crowther

Early years teacher and leader in the UK.

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