Developing international perspectives on the curriculum for the MA Early Years Education programme


Students: Iba Beyza Yuanyuan Dai (project lead student) Chunjing Li Kateryna Tyzhuk

Staff: Jennifer Chung Eirini Gkouskou Joseph Mintz (project lead staff)


Learning and Leadership, IOE

In this project we worked with staff and students on the MA Early Years cluster (MA Early Years Face to Face, MA Early Years Online and MA Primary) to develop an understanding of how we could approach developing a more international perspective on the programme. Our objectives were to consider how the programme could better draw on the personal and professional experience of all students and their understanding of their own local contexts in their home countries, and further consider how this could be translated into curriculum developments. We ran focus groups with staff and students on the programme as well as a student survey. Based on analysis of this feedback we developed two exemplar resources for two units on two modules, illustrating how an international perspective could be developed in the programme. We also came up with a set of recommendations. One of the best things about the project was that we gained a real sense of what students thought was important – for example that student diversity was a real resource for learning that could be made more use of in the curriculum for the programme. We also understood better the challenges perceived by staff – in particular the need to avoid tokenistic approaches and instead to focus on deeper learning that made use of staff diversity and the full staff knowledge base on international perspectives.
So a key thing we learned was that students and staff can work together and learn together as equals. One student noted, “..the whole process we were treated as equal members of the research team, whose insights were always seriously considered. As a result, it had an immense (positive) impact on my self-esteem as a novice researcher.” Another student said, “”definitely do it because It is an excellent opportunity to develop some research skills, improve your network and experience the program from a different perspective”. Adopting a co-production perspective from the start is really important but at the same time working initially to understand the strengths and limitations across the whole team and how we can work to support each other is also really important

SWANA Forum for Social Justice

The team

MPhil/Phd Student – Reem Ben Giaber: Co-lead Doctoral Candidate – Nidal Al Haj Sleiman: Co-lead Doctoral Candidate – Jumana Al-Waeli: Co-Lead Staff Partner – Professor Eleanor Hargreaves: Staff Partner at Department of Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment (IOE)

Department of Learning and Leadership (IOE)
What happened?

The SWANA Forum for Social Justice has emerged out of a perceived need for a community of scholars from South West Asia and North Africa (SWANA) region interested in education and social justice. With a specific focus on the SWANA region, members would be aware of the similarities and differences between countries in this vast geographical area (often too reductively and easily lumped together) and speak about/from specific countries to draw out practical opportunities for positive change in context. The co-founders of SWANA-FSJ find that one of the most exciting parts of this ongoing project is developing a monthly Webinar Series where two Guest Speakers from or working in the region present their thoughts and research on issues of social justice and education in the region. The Webinar Series hosts a range of scholars, practitioners and activists which draws in UCL students from a range of faculties and degree levels. One of the aims of the Webinar Series is to encourage aspiring academics from the SWANA region at UCL and beyond to find a community of shared interests – a place that values their voice and visibility in such an effort. SWANA-FSJ also organised a Focus Group discussion with UCL students to evaluate the need for such a Forum and the value of our activities. The findings where both encouraging and thought-provoking when the main themes from this discussion where issues of belonging, visibility of minorities in a big university like UCL and the importance of finding and building community action and solidarity – we have work to do.

SWANA FSJ Flyer_Reem Ben Giaber

What advice or encouragement would you give to someone thinking of doing a ChangeMakers project?
Be organised: decide how many hours you would like to dedicate the the ChangeMakers project and stick to it – it can easily take over!