Pedagogy with babies: perspectives of eight nursery managers

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The last 30 years have seen a significant increase in babies attending nursery, with corresponding questions about the aims and organisation of practice. Research broadly agrees on the importance of emotionally consistent, sensitive and responsive interactions between staff and babies. Policy objectives for nursery and expectations of parents and staff give rise to different and sometimes conflicting aims for such interactions; for example attachments to staff, peer interactions or early learning. Research shows marked variations of pedagogy aims and organisation with babies in nurseries in different national and cultural contexts. It also demonstrates variation between nurseries in similar contexts and between staff in their beliefs and values about work with babies. This paper reports on an exploratory study of the beliefs, aspirations and approaches of eight managers concerning pedagogy with babies in two similar English local authorities. These managers spoke of the importance of being responsive to the concerns and priorities of parents, whilst being sensitive to the demands of the work on their staff. The main finding was of the contradictions and confusions managers felt were inherent in the work, arising from both conflicting policy objectives and personal beliefs and aspirations; sometimes their own and sometimes those of individual staff and parents. Urban, Vandenbroeck, Van Laere, Lazzari, and Peeters' [(2012). Towards competent systems in early childhood education and care. Implications for policy and practice. European Journal of Education, 47(4), 508-526.] concept of the 'competent system' is used to recommend a grounded approach to the development of a more culturally, socially and individually responsive pedagogy with babies than appears to exist at present.

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Elfer, P., & Page, J. (2015). Pedagogy with babies: perspectives of eight nursery managers. Early Child Development and Care, 185(11–12), 1762–1782.

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