Reconceptualising professional learning and development through a Froebelian lens
: Early Childhood educators ’ perspectives on professional identities in the UK and Italy

  • Valeria Scacchi

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research contributes to developing a reconceptualisation of professional learning and development (PLD) in two contexts of practice, in Tuscany, Italy, and London, UK, through a Froebelian lens and concentrates on the way in which Early Childhood educators develop and conceptualise their professional identities. I have constructed two freestanding but related case studies (Stake, 2003), highlighting and exploring the complex interrelationships within the cases selected. I have developed this qualitative study using semi-structured interviews, activity-based focus groups and documentary research. The main strategies I have used to analyse the data are a dynamic approach to Grounded Theory supplemented by Clarke’s (2005) Situational Analysis. The purpose of the study is to explore PLD opportunities and the process of identity development for Early Childhood educators, considering contemporary practices in Tuscany and London to create a vision of PLD that is informed and guided by Froebelian philosophy. This research produces new insights on what it means to be an Early Childhood educator today in London and San Miniato – with it I have shown the need for a reconceptualisation of the current PLD offer with one that is instead designed around educators’ needs, starting from where the learner is and aiming to make a significant
difference to the professional lives of Early Childhood educators working with young children, while staying true to fundamental Froebelian principles and philosophy. Implications of this study suggest that a reconceptualised offer of PLD must be strictly linked to the culture of practice in the setting, where the educators’ experiences and needs are used to diversify the offer to remain relevant to local realities and local practitioners. Educators’ identity development must be supported with a holistic approach that also cares for their mental wellbeing to build resilience against everyday stress brought by close interpersonal relationships with children and families.
Date of Award14 Dec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SponsorsThe Froebel Trust
SupervisorMathias Urban (Director of Studies) & Clara Rubiano (Co-Supervisor)


  • Froebel
  • professional learning and development
  • professional development ,
  • professional learning
  • CPD
  • Early Childhood
  • identity development
  • Professionalism
  • early years educators
  • situational analysis
  • young children
  • early years

Cite this