Published on 05 December 2023
The University of Sunderland has hosted its largest ever round of Winter Graduation Ceremonies with more than 2,000 students stepping onto the stage to collect their degrees.
Twelve ceremonies were held across three days at the Stadium of Light (Tuesday 28 November, Thursday 30 November and Friday 1 December) – to celebrate all the hard work and effort students have committed to their studies over the past few years.
More than 20 students from Nigeria are among those celebrating after completing the MA Childhood and Youth Studies with the Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies.
Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society at the University, Professor Lynne McKenna MBE, said: “The Faculty have been extremely impressed with the commitment of our students from Nigeria. They have reported that the skills, knowledge and competencies they have learnt from the MA Childhood and Youth Studies programme will help them make important contributions to the future direction of early years policy and practice upon their return to Nigeria.”
Sunderland was one of only eight universities in the country - and first in the north-east - to pilot this a new level of recognition for students on its undergraduate Childhood Studies course in 2018.
The Early Childhood Studies Graduate Practitioner Competencies aim to shape the identity of the early childhood workforce and strengthen the professional practice aspect of the degree.
The competencies have been developed by members of the national Early Childhood Studies Degree Network (ECSDN) in conjunction with students and employers, and have been endorsed by the Department for Education (DfE).
Currently there are different routes into the early childhood careers, with some programmes having an academic focus only, while others offer placement opportunities or are employment based.
Under the MA programme, which began at Sunderland in September 2021, students have to meet nine competencies through assessed placement tasks, observations of practice and academic assignments.
They include: advocating for young children’s rights and participation, promoting holistic child development, working directly with young children, families and colleagues to promote health, well-being, safety and nurturing care, observing, listening and planning for young children to support their well-being, early learning, progression and transitions, safeguarding and child protection.
Dr Bruce Marjoribanks, Associate Head of School – Childhood, Health and Society, said: “We are delighted to share the journey that our international students from Nigeria have experienced. Many of the students had previous experience working in the Early Years sector and others had primary teaching experience.
“We are proud of all the students who have achieved the competencies and many of them have shared with us that they are excited to return to Nigeria and implement what they have learned regarding Early Years practice at the University of Sunderland.”