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Examine and evaluate their own practice in addressing inequalities and ensuring access to the full curriculum for all children.

Assignment B

An evaluative investigation of a specific area of inequality, including the historical and theoretical underpinnings; as it relates to theory and practice in setting. Children’s perspectives should be explored as part of the process (3,000 words)

Learning Outcomes

  • Examine and evaluate their own practice in addressing inequalities and ensuring access to the full curriculum for all children.
  • Identify the roles children take in shaping their childhoods and how practitioners can develop a listening culture in their workplace

This assignment is best suited to a report format in which you can use headings.  You are being asked to reflect and report on both positive and negative aspects of policy, practice and provision. A good place to start is often from the strengths of a setting going on to identify areas where practice etc. might be improved upon.

Background of setting:

Settings should not be identified in your assignment so change the name or use Setting A or B

Briefly describe your setting in the context of this assignment e.g. how many children, social mix, ethnicity etc. For example if you have chosen poverty and inequality as an issue you would like to explore then the ECCE funding model would need to be included. If you had decided to explore gender then it would be good to know how many boys – girls etc.

Overall we need enough of a general picture to be able to follow your evaluative process within the assignment


This heading refers to the broader context for your particular issue and will require some research in addition to the materials available on Weblearn. In providing an overview. We would usually expect to see some national statistics and data and also local information.

We expect you to also have identified key emerging themes, trends, debates and controversies and discussed how they influence practice . The legislation that guides practice in the area should be briefly outlined but need not be explored in detail unless there is a particular point that you want to make. You should also explore the historical context of the area that you have chosen.

Main Body


Theoretical underpinnings give you an opportunity to demonstrate that you have read widely about the issue you are exploring. You will, need to link your reading about theory and research to the areas of policy, provision and practice that you are exploring. This theory and research should be threaded through your report where appropriate and relevant.

In order to evaluate Practice, policy and provision you need to have explored the following areas:


What are the setting policies in this area? There may be more than one that relates to the area you are discussing. This needs to be explored in a reflective manner. For example – what is the policy making process and does everyone feels included in the process? Are there examples where policy is outdated- or not adhered to -or misinterpreted? How the policy is distributed and made known to everyone? A critical evaluation of the way policy relates to practice is needed here.


This might include the accessibility of information about the setting, physical accessibility where relevant and access to learning and resources. The goal of an inclusive setting is that everyone should have as full as possible access to the curriculum for example. You need to try and identify any barriers whether physical, attitudinal, psychological or practical that prevents children and families from having a sense of belonging and participation in the setting


You do not need to cover all of the areas unless they are directly relevant to the area you have chosen and the issues you have identified as important.

Possible areas for Investigation

You could choose:

  • Race and culture
  • Gender
  • Special Educational Need and  Disability
  • Age
  • Social Class
  • Poverty and Inequality
  • Bi and Multilingualism.
  • You might want to investigate the experiences of a particular marginalized group e.g. Gypsies and Travellers – Refugees and Asylum seekers-
  • Families with disabled children if this is a relevant issue for your settings
  • You might also have an idea of your own about a particular area of inequality   or group that you want to learn more about.

Make sure that you talk to your tutor about your ideas in order to make sure they are viable

Areas of practice that might be relevant are;

  • planning of the physical and learning environment;
  • parental partnership/ involvement,
  • team issues such as communication;
  • partnership with external agencies/
  • procedures such as settling in processes and meal times; observation and assessment
  • potentially exclusive arrangements such as circle/ carpet time in which it may not be possible to involve all the children.

In order to complete this assignment you must investigate all aspects of policy, procedures provision and practice within the setting.

This should also include the curriculum i.e. what children are learning and resources within the setting such as books and posters etc. and how they are being used.

Attitudes within the setting will need to be part of the exploration and any barriers to the group under scrutiny will need to be identified and where possible you might suggest ways in which they can be addressed and/or overcome.

Example One

Chrissie works in a Children’s Centre and has always had an interest in gender issues since she grew up with two brothers and was known as a ‘tomboy’. During the module she has been taking a few minutes now and then to observe the choices of activities that the older children make during the course of the day. She decided that she wanted to use the topic of gender for her investigative study.

Example Two

Martin works in a small nursery which is attended by two children who are thought to have additional needs. One has a speech and communication delay and the other has behavioural difficulties. Martin decides that he would like to investigate and evaluate the provision in the setting for children with Special Educational Need and disabilities.

Example Three

Rahila works in a play group that has a strong ethic regarding the involvement of parents. However she has noted that a group of Somali parents are not attending parents events or other activities. She decides to investigate how race and culture are addressed within the setting


Developing an reflective Essay:

Essay is a piece of written work in which you need to show your understanding by developing an argument using relevant information in a well-structured way (Godwin, 2014).

What can we draw from this definition:

Showing your understanding:

Godwin (2014) gives the following advice: worry less about the content and more  about showing your understanding and arguing your view point. In other words, do not attempt to include as much information as possible into your essay. In case with this essay, it is important to demonstrate that you understand how the information on legislation, official guidance, identity development relates to your practice. It is also appropriate to draw on examples from your practice. The common mistake students make is including a lot of descriptive information without any reference to how they could use it in practice. Wide reading without understanding will not get you a good result!

Developing an argument:

This part of definition relates to critical thinking. You need to demonstrate that you have a viewpoint, you need to show your voice. However, your opinion must come from your reading not from some random thoughts of yours. Some students demonstrate their opinion but make a mistake only basing their opinion on their personal experiences without relating to the reading they have done on the module.

Therefore, as you can see that there has to be a balance between your reading, describing what you have read and analyzing in it in order to demonstrate your understanding.

Study this useful Model to Generate Critical Thinking (developed in Plymouth University

https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/uploads/production/document/path/1/1713/Model_To_Gene rate_Critical_Thinking.pdf

Using appropriate academic language is important. The academic Phrase Bank (developed in Manchester University) has a selection of phrases which you can use in your work.

Using relevant information:

1) Make sure your information comes from reliable sources, not the Huffington Post or similar websites.  Wikipedia is a very popular website with students. It is generally not considered to be a reliable source for academic purposes. However, you can use this website in order to get some ideas and if you look at the list of references, it can lead you to some reliable sources which you can follow up. 2) Use legislation and guidance which relate to Ireland.

2)Be careful not to refer to UK legislation in your essay, e.g. Foundation Stage guidance. There are a lot of links to Irish documents uploaded son the Weblearn pecifically for the Irish learners, please refer to them.

3) Use up-to-date information.  There have been many changes and updates to  legislation in the past few years, so anything that is dated before 2012 has to be examined carefully. The common mistake students make is refer to Preschool Regulations 2006 and not 2016, Equality and Diversity Guidelines 2006, not the updated document of 2016.  The new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Charter and Guidelines for Early Childhood Care and Education (DCYA, 2016) is an excellent document and excellent resource which lists all up-to-date legislation and guidance in relation to the equality and diversity area. It is uploaded on the Web learn for your convenience.

Well-structured writing

An essay should not contain any headings and consists mostly of three parts:

Introduction 10% of the word count Main body 80% of the word count Conclusion 10% of the word count


– Catch the reader’s attention – Provide the reader with information they need to understand your work Explain how you understand the title/ main question of your essay, set the scene with a brief background, give definitions of terms from the title that need explanation. – Tell the reader what you intend to cover and how you will do this       List the  issues   you will explore. These should relate to the Learning Outcomes. Explain how you will explore or argue those issues.

Write the Introduction AFTER you have finished the essay!

Main body

– Answer the question in the title – Develop an argument – Your assignment is a reflective essay so you must be reflective – use your experience and analyze this. You may have to challenge your beliefs, values, attitudes and actions. If you feel that changes need to be made, outline what should be done.


– Recap what your essay has explored (one sentence)

– Present your main findings – what are the main takeaway points from your essay? – Provide the reader with your conclusion from the evidence – make sure your evidence supports your conclusion – Explain any implications from your conclusion for the future – this will demonstrate that you can relate your argument to your practice – Answer the question you have explored in the main part. Link your last sentence to the title.


– Follow the referencing guide – If you had to read it to know it – reference it! – If in doubt – reference it! – But, don’t include too many references within the same paragraph.


– Be formal. Do not write as you speak and do not use slang, e.g. say “it started to go wrong” instead of “it went pear-shaped”. – Be concise, don’t “waffle”. – Be cautious, don’t say something will happen unless you can prove it. Say something may happen. – Be ethical. Don’t discuss other people experiences without their permission.


Department of Children and Youth Affairs (2016) Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Charter and Guidelines for Early Childhood Care and Education. Dublin: DCYA.

Godwin, J. (2014) Planning Your Essay (2nd edition). Basingstoke: Palgarve Macmillan

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