The role of attachment theory in education and implications for training: Is “love” a forbidden disposition in education? Mary Wood and Ioanna Palaiologou

The concept of attachment has influenced the early childhood education . In England since the introduction of the EYFS curriculum framework there is a mandatory requirement in all early childhood settings that host children from birth to five to allocate a key person.

A vast volume of research aims to investigate how quality of provision for young children is enchanted and thus enables their learning well being and growth. One of the key issues that have been debated within the English early childhood education system is care and education and a number of studies try to investigate the role of attachment theory across the sector. However, this research is still limited and dominated by the care versus education debate. There is also discussion on the role and responsibilities of the key person in early years settings as well as a debate in regards the qualifications of people who work in the sector.

Thus, this research project aimed to investigate the early childhood studies undergraduates students’ perspectives on the role of the key person in relation to attachment theory. There are two main research objectives:

1. to investigate whether ECS students have core in depth understanding of attachment theory and its implications in early childhood education
2. to examine students’ perspectives on how they can provide “love” and “affection” to young children whilst still maintaining fully professional relationships with the children and their families.

This is a small scale qualitative longitudinal study. Data from group interviews and session observations was collected over four years of third year students in ECS from one university.

Analysis of the results indicated that although students believed that attachment theory is important, they appear to have only a rudimentary understanding of attachment theory. There was a conflict between students’ views on attachment and the early years settings managers’ views. Finally, there is a lack of recognising their role as key persons and the complexity of the role within the EYFS curriculum.