Nursery workers' narratives: what makes a 'good' nursery worker?

Mikuska, Éva (2021) Nursery workers' narratives: what makes a 'good' nursery worker? Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) is a complex field of study. This research explores the creation of an understanding of the ways in which the concept of ‘good’ nursery workers is constructed in the current political, economic and societal context in England. It discusses the findings of a qualitative narrative study which investigates how ‘good’ practice is understood by nursery workers who directly work or have worked with babies and young children. In order to find out what nursery workers think, know and feel about ‘good’ practice, twenty-two nursery workers from a wide range of nursery settings were interviewed.

The rationale for the research was that by exploring experiences of nursery workers, a deeper understanding is provided of what they think ‘good’ nursery practice is, thus adding to the literature in this area, while simultaneously contributing to discussion around professionalisation of the ECEC workforce. The study presents insights into experiences of working with children within a feminist approach that facilitate the emergence of three themes. Each theme is presented in a separate chapter: the relationship between the nursery worker and policy; the close link between maternal discourses and formation of good practice; and the emotional labour involved in working with children.

This research highlights the impact of policies on nursery practices, societal lack of recognition of the ECEC workforce as professionals and the emotional investment of nursery workers when working not just with children but also with their families. The study also reveals the commitment and passion of nursery workers’ and their ‘love’ towards the children. It thus unsettles the notions of nursery workers as ‘technicists’ and as ‘substitute mothers’, and also calls attention to the complexities of nursery work in contemporary England.

MikuskaEva_Thesis-2021.pdf - Published Version

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