Posing Unique and Urgent Challenges to Understandings of Quality

Elucidations through a Froebelian lens


  • Lynn J. McNair
  • Luke J. Addison University of Edinburgh
  • Caralyn Blaisdell Queen Margaret University
  • John M. Davis University of Strathclyde


Quality, Fröbel, Early Learning and Childcare, Neoliberalism.


This paper reports on findings from a small pilot study undertaken with early years practitioners in Scotland.  The Scottish Government is currently implementing its key election promise of almost doubling the entitlement to publicly funded early learning and childcare (ELC) for all three and four-year old and eligible two-year old children. A key message from the Scottish Government during this period has been that quality is at the heart of the expansion initiative (Scottish Government, 2017b). However, quality can be a contested and an ill understood concept (Moss, 2019). This pilot study, therefore, explored the perspectives of practitioners in Scotland regarding what quality in early years provision entails, particularly in this time of change and expansion. The paper will make three key arguments based on the findings from the study. First, that although quality is a much-used term in Scottish ELC settings, understandings of the term can be subjective, yet powerful and can leave practitioners with more questions than answers. Second, we argue that Fröbelian principles could ameliorate some of the issues regarding quality in Scotland, particularly in terms of combatting discrimination. Finally, we argue that those principles must be accompanied by a social justice lens in which prejudice and stereotypes are recognized, named, and unpacked and action for change taken.

Author Biography

John M. Davis, University of Strathclyde