Interconnections between research, policy and practice
Research projects, community engagement, networks and local, national and global partnerships
(£450,000, September 2021-2024)
To develop a new widespread and transformational pedagogy of practitioner enquiry, to subtly embed Froebelian principles in ELC settings across Scotland and beyond. To pilot, evaluate and extend compelling new approaches to children’s participation in and ownership of their ELC environments, with particular attention to diversity and inclusion. To co-develop from bottom-up the local, regional, national and international infrastructure and value-based system that will sustain this work – in partnership with the Froebel Trust. To advocate for more Froebelian practice and policy coherence: across public and private sector providers and other key influencers (including a special influence on the third sector).
To establish a first wave of 5 national spokes in partnership with Edinburgh, Falkirk, west Lothian, West of Scotland and Orkney Local Authorities to sustain training and research. To develop a supporting programme of co-produced outreach, publishing, events and communications – to build community, strengthen practice and celebrate a growing treasury of knowledge and advocacy about children’s lives and childhood practice. To begin to contextualise and share our work by establishing our first two international spokes in Greece and the Czech Republic – delivering parallel training and research support.
To delivery PI training through our spokes – building on each practitioner’s prior participation with the Froebel certificate (Uof E), and extending this to leadership development. To catalyse and share unrivalled and sustained knowledge base about Froebelian approaches to children’s lives, rights and experiences in Scotland, via PI-led research. To empower practitioners with a variety of supporting tools and approaches to cultivate reflexive Froebelian practice, prototyped through our Hub (i.e., the network-servicing partnership between Cowgate, ELC research staff at The University of Edinburgh and our Hub and Spoke co-ordination team.
'Safe, Inclusive Participative Pedagogy: Improving Early Childhood Education in Fragile Contexts’ (2020-2024), (£1.8 million), Funded by the UK Research and Innovation-Global Challenge Research Fund
Professor Kay Tisdall), Dr Kristina Konstantoni (Co-I), Dr Lynn McNair (Co-I), Professor John Ravenscroft (Co-I), Dr Marlies Kustatscher (Co-I), Dr Debi Fry (Co-I), with partners from Brazil, Eswatini, South Africa, Palestine, an international research project which aims to identify and develop safe, inclusive participative pedagogy that is implementable in fragile contexts and sustainable for governments, communities and families. The project is undertaken with partners in Brazil, Eswatini, Palestine, South Africa, and Scotland using a mixed-method approach. This includes: qualitative community case studies in each country; policy and systems analysis at country and community levels; and developing the economic case for safe inclusive pedagogy. Community engagement and participation underpin the project, where children and their families play an integral role and there is a strong focus on knowledge exchange and collaborative learning.
The play-café project: What would Froebelian play cafés look like? (2021-2023) (£43,306.32) Funded by the The Froebel Trust.
Konstantoni, K. (PI), McNair, L. J. (Co-I), Kustatscher, M. (Co-I) and The Network for Children’s Rights (NGO, Greece).
A project exploring the potential of Froebelian principles in new environments, like play cafés, to provide opportunities for high quality learning and education in informal settings.This project builds on the work of two successfully funded projects: (1) that explored young children’s everyday lives and the realisation of their rights in times of crisis in Greece and (2) that explored family and staff experiences of play cafés in Scotland and Germany. This project responds to priorities identified by children (0-8) and their families linked to: a) inequalities that children faced accessing and playing in public spaces, like community and business cafes, and b) the lack of high-quality play spaces for children and social spaces for families in informal public learning environments. Building on the second project, which mainly focused on parent and staff perspectives, this project will focus on young children’s experiences and perspectives of play café spaces and will include a larger number of diverse families and staff. The project will also include the perspectives of children and families that may also face barriers in accessing public play spaces. This international project (Scotland and Greece) will investigate in more depth the current opportunities that children have to play in community and business play spaces and children’s families’, practitioners’ and staff experiences of these play spaces and their underlying principles and philosophies.The project is interested in exploring the potential of Froebelian principles for new environments like play cafés and provide opportunities for high quality learning and education in informal settings. It will work with children, families and practitioners to co-design what Froebelian play cafés may look like in two contexts: Scotland and Greece, in order to respond to the diverse needs of each country and to support children’s play expressively and creatively. This project addresses a significant gap in our understanding of children’s experiences of emerging play spaces in informal learning environments beyond the early learning and childcare institution.
An exploration of how the Froebel Storytelling Approach Can Support Young Children Through the Covid:19 Pandemic. (2020 -2021). (£12,000) Funded by the Froebel Trust.
Dr Lynn. J. McNair (PI), Sally Cave (PI) in partnership with CREC (Co-I).
Telling Life Stories: Developing a Froebelian Approach to documenting Children’s Experiences in the Early Years (2018-2019) (£7,760.00). Funded by the Froebel Trust).
Lynn. J. McNair (PI) and Cara Blaisdell (Academic Consultant)
This projects highlights an action research project that sparked transformation regarding how early years practitioners documented children’s learning. The knowledge gained from this small action research project took place in one Scottish eary yearssetting. The study was stimulated by the early years practitioners of the setting, who strongly opposed the ‘reductionist’ formal ‘tick-box’ assessments produced by their local authority. These types of didcatic formal assessments suggest that pedagogy is underpinned by a desire to tame, predict, prepare, supervise and evaluate learning.
Secured £173,000 from UK Froebel Trust for 30 MSc scholarships for the MSc Education: Early Childhood Practice and Froebel pathway.
How can business and public play spaces and cafes be reimagined and reclaimed as socially just rights-reinforcing spaces for children? (The Play-Café project) (2019) (£5000). Funded by Edinburgh Futures Institute Research Awards.
Dr Kristina Konstantoni (PI), Prof Kay Tisdall (Co-I), Dr Lynn McNair(Co-I), Dr Marlies Kustatscher (Co-I), Luke Addison (Co-I), Kurt Cleary (Photographer), Simon Bateson (Research Assistant).
A participatory ethnographic research project which reimagines community and business play café spaces as spaces that reinforce social justice and children’s rights, by engaging very young children and their families (around 30), play café business and community staff and practitioners (around 11 in a process of collaborative design. The project adopts an interdisciplinary approach which combines ideas from education, childhood studies and business.
(£1,500) (Funded by University of Edinburgh, Seedcorn Fund)
This was a small pilot study undertaken with early years practitioners and leaders in Scotland. This pilot study explored the perspectives of practitioners in Scotland regarding what ‘quality’ in early years provision entails, particularly in the time of change and expansion.
We Play Festival [The Play-Café Festival: Pop up play-cafés as radical public spaces for community engagement, learning, research and impact] A Knowledge Exchange and Impact Grant (2021) (£5000) Funded by College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. University of Edinburgh.
Konstantoni, K. (PI) and Bateson, S. (Co-PI)
A College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Knowledge Exchange and Impact Grant has been awarded to Kristina Konstantoni and Simon Bateson for: “The Play-Café Festival: Pop up play-cafés as radical public spaces for community engagement, learning, research and impact". This project aims to prototype a radical new public space which will inclusively combine play, seminars, workshops and community development through a week-long pop-up play café festival. The work builds on previously funded research projects linked to young children’s rights and play café spaces in Greece, Scotland and Germany, and a previous one-day pop-up play café (Fire Starter Festival). Interfacing research findings, knowledge exchange and community engagement the project will co-produce a new multimodal resource to provoke and develop new ideas and audiences, linked long-term to the establishment of a multi-partnership research-policy-practice early years centre.
Pop up play cafè (2019) Dr Konstantoni, K. (PI) a community engagement and research event part of the Scottish Government and Workforce Scotland’s Fire Starter Festival Festival (2019).
Funded by The Institute for Continuous Improvement Grant (£200) and In kind support from community partners: Community Playthings (£8000) and Let me eat (£560).
Partners included: University of Edinburgh, The Braidwood Community Centre; Cowgate Under Fives, Riverside Cottage Nursery, Let Me Eat and Community Playthings.
This was a community engagement event which also included research to explore children and families’ experiences and perspectives about play cafes. A growing number of community and business play spaces seek to provide ‘child-friendly’ spaces. To what extent are these adult designed spaces relevant for young children and their families, and constitute environments that promote children’s rights and high quality education and learning?
Re-Imagining the Civic University: Towards an Interactive Research-Policy-Practice Centre for the Early years (2018-2019) (£3000). Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council Business Booster Funding, College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Edinburgh.
Dr Kristina Konstantoni (PI), Dr Lynn McNair, Dr Kustatscher Marlies and Luke Addison (Co-Is).
A series of retreat days, community engagement events and meetings with Scottish Government, Social enterprise business and third-sector stakeholders, practitioners, academics, community engagement professionals, activists, architects, children and families, to initiate the preparation work for re-imagining a civic early childhood research, policy, practice centre. This work involved coordinating a multidisciplinary team (senior academic staff, high profile government officials, early career researchers, practitioners, artists, third sector representatives, children) to enable strategic meetings, which led to collaborative visioning, the production of vision papers, a centre overview chart and a pop-up play-cafe community engagement event.
Young Children’s Rights in Humanitarian Crises (2017) £1482.8 Funded by Moray House SeedCorn Funding, University of Edinburgh.
Dr Kristina Konstantoni (PI) with project partners Network for Children's Rights (NGO) in Greece.
A participatory action research project with very young children (0-5) supported by the Network for Children’s Rights (NGO) in Greece. The project explored the effects that ‘double’ humanitarian crises have on the rights of young children (0-5) with a view to reinforcing rights protection in European early childhood policies and practices. The project focused on:
-understanding the barriers to/opportunities for the implementation of young children’s rights and interacting childhood inequalities during humanitarian crises in theory, policy and practice
-a critical awareness, through participatory processes, of the most appropriate methodological tools to understand the implementation of young children’s rights during humanitarian crises
'Creating transformative partnerships: Making spaces for tackling childhood and youth inequalities' (2015-16)
A participatory action research project with young people supported by Investing in Children.
Funded by the Carnegie Research Incentive Grant (£7,500) and a University of Edinburgh CHSS Challenge Investment Fund (£13,785).
Dr Kristina Konstantoni (Co-PI), Dr Marlies Kustatscher (Co-PI) and Co-Is and academic advisors Dr Akwugo Emejulu, Prof John Davis, and Liam Cairns.
This interdisciplinary research project has been initiated by a group of ten young people (aged 10-18) and involves them as co-researchers in a small-scale participatory action research. The research seeks to examine a) young peoples’ views and experiences of intersectional discrimination in their schools and local communities and ways of tackling discriminatory practices, and b) the processes by which meaningful and transformative partnerships (between interdisciplinary researchers, young people, organisations and practitioners) can be established with the aim to effect change in the young people’s lives.
The project is located against the backdrop of an increased emphasis on questions of research impact and social change, and on children and young people’s participation in research, policy and practice, driven by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC, 1989). Participation is complex and the challenge is to ensure that it is meaningful, comprehensive and not tokenistic, and involves young people at all stages of a research project (from research design to analysis and dissemination). The project is particularly timely due to the multiple and intersecting experiences of discrimination that young people face in the current social and political climate of austerity, growing inequalities and rising anti-immigration sentiments.
What next for Childhood Studies? Pushing Boundaries’(2015)
£1,000 Funded by the British Sociological Association Early Career Forum for hosting a BSA regional one-day event.
Konstantoni, K. (Co-PI) and Kustatscher, M. (Co-PI)
· How can childhood researchers make critical connections and contributions across disciplinary and spatial boundaries?
· How do debates in childhood research and current geo-political, economic and socio-cultural contexts mutually shape each other?
· How can childhood studies commit to an emancipatory and activist agenda?
· What is needed to push theoretical and methodological boundaries?
This one-day seminar seeks to raise and debate questions about how the sociology of childhood can push its spatial and disciplinary boundaries in order to make important critical theoretical and methodological contributions not only within the childhood studies field but also beyond, for example to the wider discipline of sociology, feminist studies, geo-politics, education, economics, health and others.
Research Commissioned by Scottish Social Services Council to Review the Standard for Childhood practice (2014-2015) £27,000, Funded by the Scottish Social Services Council
Bill Thomson (Principal Investigator), Dr Kristina Konstantoni(Co-Investigator), University of Edinburgh and Dr Mary Wingrave (Co-Investigator), University of Glasgow.
A research study commissioned by the SSSC to review and update the Standard for Childhood Practice (QAA, 2007). The Standard for Childhood Practice is a benchmark statement published by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.
Children’s Rights, Social Justice and Social Identities in Scotland: Intersections in research, policy and practice (2013-2015), £20,000, Funded by the Scottish Universities Insight Institute
Dr Kristina Konstantoni (Principal Investigator)- on behalf of the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland- with colleagues from the University of Edinburgh: Dr Akwugo Emejulu, Prof John Davis, and Marlies Kustatcher ( School of Health in Social Science), the University of Strathclyde, Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People and the Scottish Human Rights Commission.
This seminar series brings together academics, practitioners, policy makers and children from Scotland and beyond to debate children’s and young people’s complex and intersecting identities and consider the ways in which multiple social inequalities impact on children’s and parents’ lives.
Further details about the forthcoming seminars can be found here
Please click here for a Briefing Summary
Please click here for video podcasts of the seminar series
Young Children’s Perceptions and Constructions of Social Identities and Social Implications: Promoting Social Justice in Early Childhood.’
Young Children’s Perceptions and Constructions of Social Identities and Social Implications: Promoting Social Justice in Early Childhood. (2006-2009)
[funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC+3 Quota Nomination Studentship for Doctoral Study), PTA-031-2006-00428] (Dr Kristina Konstantoni)
Rules, rules, rules and we’re not allowed to skip. An exploratory study: Listening to children’s voices about the transition to primary one. (2016) (Dr Lynn McNair)
- The Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town, South Africa
- The International Center for Research and Policy on Childhood at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (CIESPI/PUC-Rio) Brazil
- Bethlehem University, Bethlehem/The West Bank, Palestine
- University of Eswatini, Eswatini
- Froebel Trust
- The Scottish Government
- Community Playthings
- Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland
- Cowgate Under Fives
- Riverside Cottage Nursery
- Edinburgh City Council
- Centre for Research in Early Childhood
The Anti-racist early years collective