• Hazel Wright Anglia Ruskin University


This paper examines the education of the semi-voluntary pre-school workforce in England in terms of the benefits to local communities to capture its utility in real terms.
It revisits qualitative research data collected as biographical narratives from ten cohorts of adult women training to work in childcare in English pre-schools during the political reforms of the New Labour Government, 1997-2010.
It examines the advantages to their local communities of the women gaining a qualification and found positive educational, social and economic consequences beyond the direct benefits to the women and their own families and the children with whom they worked. The training also created a local resource, raising the level of education received by local children and the learning levels in the communities in which the women lived. There were clear economic benefits in terms of women returning to work and low-cost upskilling of local provision for children but also less tangible changes. There was a greater incidence of networking and social cohesion as a consequence of students broadening their outlook on life.
This study supports recommendations that policy makers should be careful to protect initiatives that work, and that grew up slowly to serve the needs of local people. The benefits to local communities may be far greater than those derived from changes imposed from above in the name of “raising standards†and “establishing cost-effective childcareâ€, and once lost such initiatives are hard to recreate


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