The impact of change in the early years of schooling on school based relationships

Year: 2002

Author: Stamopoulos, Elizabeth

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Currently in Western Australian schools the early childhood profession is facing profound educational change. Such a change is the 'P1', the combination of pre-primary and year one students in a classroom. The new structures were implemented without consultation with the early childhood professional community. This paper draws on a five-year study that examined the conceptual and behavioural position developed by school staff towards P1. The study revealed that the way in which school staff responded to P1 was complex, multi-faceted and dynamic. Their conduct was 'situated' in their workplace and school-based relationships and although commonalities existed, school staff's response to P1 varied. Decisions about the construction of P1 classes affected how school staff responded to the P1 context. This study found that this change forced school staff to re-examine their own beliefs, re-define their situation, re-construct their realities through interaction, negotiation and compromise. Recommendations from this study include the development of processes to monitor the impact of P1 class structures on school staff, relationships and student learning.