TODDLER Project (2010-2013) Towards Opportunities for Disadvantaged and Diverse Learners on the Early-childhood Road. European Union, Lifelong Learning Programme, Comenius.

Sutherland, Helen and Styman, Jan

Impact Summary

TODDLER Project, Lifelong Learning Programme created opportunities for knowledge transfer and exchange through focusing on the development of provisions for toddlers and investigations of different approaches promoting learning in a child-centred way. Module materials explored strategies and good practice of provision of high-quality education and care for disadvantaged toddlers. A framework created a report on ‘Toddler in Europe the Context’ on ECEC systems and approaches used to support diverse and disadvantaged toddlers. Then explored topic areas of ‘Language Support in Multicultural Settings’, Supporting Wellbeing’ and ‘Enhancing Parental Involvement’ with ‘Educating the Reflective Practitioner’ underpinning all of this. The module materials were successfully trialled and completed being made available on the TODDLER website as a Course Reader, Course Lecture Materials, and resources. KU led the Report and Case Studies: Promoting the Wellbeing of Toddler’s within the European Union creating an innovative pedagogical approach ‘Reflective Story Boards’ using a description of the context of the strategy followed by photos with explanations and supported with further description /explanation making visible to all stakeholders how educators promote wellbeing for toddlers. The final report highlighted the Reflective Story Boards contribution reaching the goal of showing the educational potential of high quality ECEC (Final Report, 2011).

Key Achievements

  1. Knowledge transfer with international HEI partners in the co-production of range of materials on international perspectives and shared good practice to support diverse and disadvantaged toddlers.
  2. Knowledge exchange through national and international paper publications and presentations. (Sutherland and Styman, 2014, Sutherland and Styman, 2013, Sutherland and Styman 2012)
  3. Participation and contribution to successful EU bid-grant application and Kingston University partnership lead. (61609-LLP-I-2010-NO-COMENIUS-CMP)
  4. Invitation to Lessius (now Thomas More), Mechelen, Belgium as part of EU ERASMUS funded Teacher Mobility (12.12.11-15.12.11) to present to the Dean and pedagogues on the TODDLER Project. To deliver taught sessions to teaching students on the TODDLER Proj
  5. Enhancement of ICCIP IP6000 module using the TODDLER Project materials to provide international and alternative perspectives on wellbeing.
  6. Dissemination of the TODDLER project to range of stakeholders: School of Education - Research Days, FE Staff Development Day, LA Forum, SEFDEY, AfC Network Conference, Early Years Professionals in Surrey, EECERA Conference, EAPRIL Conference

Key Aims

The overall aim of the TODDLER project was to offer toddlers from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds an enriched learning environment through strengthening the education of reflective early years teachers and practitioner by: • Showing the benefits of high-quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) education for at risk toddlers and improve the curriculum and teaching strategies within teacher education. • Contributing to a shift in the way provision for children under three is perceived. • Developing teaching materials that enable early years students, practitioners, and teachers to explore examples and strategies of good practice and through different international perspectives. 9 HEI from 8 different countries building on knowledge transfer and exchange worked collaborative to share expertise in the production and contribution to a range of supportive teaching materials. The Kingston University part of the partnership lead the wellbeing contribution designing a report on each partner countries concept, definition and context of wellbeing making links to literature and their countries educational system and curriculum. A Case Study was then produced providing international perspectives and examples of good practice in supporting toddlers’ wellbeing within each partner country.


A collaborative cooperative approach was used to bringing together experienced HEI teacher trainers to share, examine and develop different approaches to support toddlers’ learning. The teaching materials developed enabled students, early years’ practitioners, and teachers to explore strategies and examine examples of good practice. The methodology underpinning this was a Case Study approach with the materials were trialled with 3 Masters groups at level 7, 2 BA groups from: University of Stavanger, Norway, Kingston University, London, Lessius (Thomas More) University College, Mechelen, Belgium, University of Education, Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany and Instituto Politécnico de Santarém, Portugal. Quantitative and qualitative evaluative questionnaire and focus groups were used with the students to gather data. A construct categories/characteristics for coding (adapted from Cohen, Manion and Morrison, 2005:79) was used to identify patterns from the results and reports were then written by each of these partners of the results. The Report and Case Study were amended in light of the feedback.

Key Outcomes

The results of the trialling of the materials identified the following outcomes from the students: • Promoted critical thinking, comparison, constructive dialogue, reflection and consideration of different perspectives and practices. • Deeper understanding on the concept of wellbeing through shared knowledge creating a constructive dialogue and appreciation of other countries’ perspectives. • ‘Wordle’ developed to support students with limited understanding of the concept wellbeing and English as an Additional Language. • Format of the theoretical background and overview of literature helpful providing a steppingstone to further study and critical thinking and underpinning their knowledge and understanding of wellbeing. • The Story Boards enabled engagement opportunities to reflect on practice, develop knowledge and understanding in an interesting and active way of learning with real images and real examples of practice to reflect upon. Students developed a deeper insight into how other countries work and facilitated reflection and development of ideas for practice. • Language was one of the main barriers as the materials were not in all the students’ home language. Some difficulty with comprehension of the materials and tasks.

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