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Case Study

Caitlin Armstrong

Birtley, UK

BA (Hons) Childhood Studies (Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies)

During her first year of her BA (Hons) Childhood Studies degree, Caitlin discovered the opportunity to register for the Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies pathway. The ECGPC allowed her to undertake various placements to build up her competencies and enhance her portfolio as a childhood practitioner.

I first heard about the Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies during the second semester of my first year on the BA (Hons) Childhood Studies course. I was instantly interested in the opportunity as it offered an extra qualification alongside my degree, and I was excited about the placement aspect so I could enhance my skills as a practitioner.

During first year, I was only able to fulfil a week’s worth of experience due to the global pandemic, but it allowed me to gain some insight into how placement would be and how I should prepare in advance for my next one. I learnt that it would be helpful to note anything down that I could put towards my evidence and keep the competencies handy, so that I could track my evidence whenever I had some free time. Throughout lockdown, I used the time to carry out alternative work that I could use in my portfolio, such as joining online seminars, researching health and safety procedures, and using case study examples to explain my knowledge.

I started my first proper placement in second year, where I was working with children in a primary school reception class. This experience introduced me to what day-to-day life is like in a professional setting, working as part of an early childhood team. I had the opportunity to assist with setting up for the school day, lunchtime supervision, safeguarding, after school, and other responsibilities. The setting was flexible in that it allowed me to do what I needed to add to my portfolio. I carried out various ideas, implemented a lot of new classroom changes and completed a range of activities with the children, all of which I planned myself. It was a really enjoyable and fulfilling process, which I was able to reflect upon and then evolve as a practitioner.

My third year placement was within a private nursery where I was mainly working with children aged between 18 and 34 months old. This was a very different environment to my previous placement; however, the team was very welcoming and flexible when letting me complete my portfolio work. As I had completed most of my evidence during my second year placement, I used the time to focus on the competencies I hadn’t yet met, as well as strengthening some that I didn’t have much evidence for. This involved observations, discussing the setting’s various policies and reporting on any experience relevant to the competencies. I finalised my portfolio by tracking across all relevant assignments from the three years of my course and the evidence I had created.

The most importance piece of advice I could give to anyone completing the ECGPC would be to stay organised. I followed a system that worked for me, which allowed me to complete placement, create evidence and keep track of my competencies. It’s also vital to make sure you’re using placement time wisely, communicating with your setting so that they can help you carry out anything that could be used as evidence.

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience on the ECGPC pathway, as it allowed me to gain a better understanding of early education and apply my module work to a practical setting. Aside from this, it also boosted my confidence and helped me develop childcare skills that I’ll be able to utilise during my career. I would recommend it to anyone that feels this could be relevant to their career goals in any way.”

Published 26 September 2022

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