Early Years Research, Policy and Practice Group

We bring together students, researchers, practitioners, academics and policymakers from across the early years sector. Our members work with each other and with children, young people and others locally, nationally and internationally to make children’s rights real by strengthening and advancing early childhood research, policy and practice and the way they interconnect.

Froebelian Futures conference: Repositioning Power In Early (and later) Childhood

The essential national gathering of Froebelian educators provides a chance to share ideas, hopes and vision with and for our children. This marks the culmination of three years of practitioner-led research and action developing Froebelian principles and practice in Scotland. 

Learn more and register on Eventbrite ​​​​

We are a group of practical visionaries who are:

  • research and teaching academics and practitioners with over 80 years early childhood experience between us

  • currently living in Edinburgh and working within the University of Edinburgh, Cowgate Under 5s Centre and Riverside Cottage Nursery
  • working collaboratively to articulate our vision, explore opportunities and scope a workable business strategy

The research group is co-led by Dr Kristina Konstantoni and Dr Lynn McNair.


Our vision

Our vision ​​is a social justice and rights-based world for young children in high-quality early learning and childcare, and in homes and communities​. We want to live with each other in interconnected ways where children’s rights are known and made real so that Scotland is the best place for children to grow up and children’s lived experiences are enhanced locally, nationally and globally.

Our objectives

  • To increase knowledge and understanding of children’s rights and the practices, resources and values we need in our families, communities, work and play spaces to make these real. 

  • To cultivate a more organic interaction between research, training, practice and policy that strengthens how we – as families, communities and nations – support and nurture young children. ​

  • To contribute to the development of a stronger, more confident and skilled early childhood workforce in Scotland. 
  • To ensure children can play a stronger role in shaping policy, training, research and practice.
  • To support, strengthen and advance the University of Edinburgh’s global ambitions to impact society through excellence and innovation in research, learning and resourcing communities both within and beyond the University.

Our guiding principles ​

Children at the heart and actively involved

We are inspired by children and work in ways that enable them to help shape our research, teaching, policy and practice. We work to ensure children are actively involved in the design, in the setting and in our learning.

Proactive in pursuing equality and challenging injustice

Social justice is at the heart of all we do. We seek to make explicit and honour children’s rights.  To do this we actively challenge exclusion, discrimination, injustice and damaging approaches and advocate for approaches that can bring wellbeing and enable flourishing.

Quality and confidence

Social justice goes hand-in-hand with quality practice. We want all practitioners to be confident in what they do; to feel proud and able to see and articulate the value of what they do (common language). To deliver excellence for children, everyone involved in this work must bring a reflective and reflexive approach – being thoughtful, evidence informed, responsive and able to adapt.

Practical visionaries

We adopt a leadership and sustainability mentality in addressing challenges and opportunities for improving the lived experiences of children. There are complex, ‘knotty’ issues that we must address with inspiring vision applied in concrete, practical ways.

Modelling positive collective endeavour

 The only way we can live and thrive is by working and playing together. An ecosystem view of partnership and collaboration drives our approach. We recognise the importance of diverse skills and contributions, asking for help and nurturing relationships that make working together enjoyable. We invest energy in how we form and nurture partnerships so that we can work well together on our common task.

Our values

Humanity and compassion

Father (30s) playing with daughter (2 years) who has down syndrome. Using digital tablet.

To address the challenges we face, our relationships and work must be characterised by respect, ease, warmth and fairness. We place a high value on listening to people involved in and affected by what we do.

Diversity and welcome

We all belong. Within our communities, we affirm and celebrate the diversity of children and families. Within this space we want people to be themselves and to feel included and able to shape developments and participate in what we are doing.

Critical and reflective

Within an ever-changing context, ​our learning and development must be fluid and responsive. We prioritise relationships. While aspiring to the highest standards we also welcome our imperfection and mistakes, always seeking to be proportionate about what matters most.

Creativity and change making

We exist to make a difference and lead positive change in the world. We want our contribution to be inspirational and have a multiplying effect. This demands an approach rooted in innovation and creativity.


We celebrate our capacity and need for beauty – inside and out. We value and create beautiful spaces and harmonious environments that feel home-like (warm). We enable connection to outside spaces and the natural environment.

Sustainable and holistic

We are humans on a finite planet. The way we work, the buildings we build, the tools and practices we use must all be sustainable – financially, socially, environmentally. We bring our humanity to our work and living together. We value and each adopt different roles within this initiative so that we can enable meaningful interlinking of our research, policy, training and practice.

Teaching, CPDs and PhDs

We are involved with teaching at all levels, with a focus on early childhood, children’s human rights, play, child-centred and post-human pedagogical approaches, Froebelian philosophy and practice and social justice.

The specific programmes we are connected to are:

PhD study

Information about PhD study with us, including supervisors' areas of research interest and availability, can be found in the Research Degrees area of our website.

Research degrees


Our group’s co-leads and members.

Our work

Our latest, upcoming and highlighted research projects.

Book group: Friedrich Froebel: A Critical Introduction to Key Themes and Debates

Every Wednesday evening, 7pm – 8pm

Childhood and Youth Studies Research Group writing groups

Writing groups take place each week. See the 'Childhood and Youth Studies Research Group' events page for details.

Childhood and Youth Studies Research Group events  

Interested in working with us?

Please get in touch with Dr Kristina Konstantoni and Dr Lynn McNair.

Dr Kristina Konstantoni   Dr Lynn McNair