16th Annual Summer Institute on Early Childhood Development

Markers, scissors, pencils, and pencil crayons in cups.
June 17, 2019
16th Annual Summer Institute

Accounting for Quality in the Early Childhood Workforce

The Summer Institute is an annual collaboration between the School of Early Childhood at George Brown College and the Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto. The Institute strives to offer timely information to inform early childhood research, policy and practice. As Canada embarks on a new early years strategy, the Institute examines the importance of the early childhood workforce and the infrastructure necessary to support educators working in an increasingly challenging and diverse sector.

Keynote Speaker

About Professor Iram Siraj

Iram is Professor of Child Development and Education at Department for Education, University of Oxford (SRF at Jesus College) and Research Professor at the University of Wollongong in Australia (till 2018). She is also on the Technical Advisory Group for the lead Australian Council for Educational Research group which won the OECD IELS pilot study tender and has advised on the measures to be used within the study.

Iram has a strong background in ECEC and an international reputation for her longitudinal research and policy expertise. She has co-directed a number of  influential studies, including the Effective Provision of Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE, DfE, 1997-2014) study, the transformative Researching Effective Pedagogy in the Early Years (REPEY, DfE, 2002) study, and the associated Effective Leadership in the Early Years Sector (ELEYS) Study. She has also studied Effective Early Educational Experiences in Australia (E4Kids, Australian Research Council and Victoria and Queensland Governments. 2009-2015).

Her current studies include cluster randomised controlled trials of interventions looking at the impact of evidence-based professional development in 90 centres in New South Wales Fostering Effective Early Learning; Researching Effective Environments for Learning in 70 centres in Victoria; and Using Research tools to Promote Language in the Early Years in 120 schools in England. She has been a Principal Investigator on research grants of over £20 million.

Iram recently completed reviews of the Welsh Foundation Phase (2014) and of the Scottish early years workforce (2015). She led two C4EO reviews of what families and integrated working contribute to child outcomes for under-fives. Amongst her many published works she has authored award-winning books including: Social Class and Educational Inequality the Role of Parents and Schools (2015) and Effective and Caring Leadership in the Early Years (2014). She has over 250 publications including three widely-used rating scales which measure the quality of environments and pedagogy in ECEC and promote child outcomes in the cognitive (ECERS-E 4th Ed. 2010), social-emotional (SSTEW, 2015) and physical (MOVERS, 2017) domains.

Iram’s policy work has included being on the Ministerial Advisory Group for the Welsh Government (2006-2016) advising four previous ministers; on the Victorian Government Early Education Advisory Group; the Nuffield Council for Bio-ethics and acting as specialist advisor to the House of Commons Select Committee inquiry on Children’s Centres. She has provided advice to UNESCO, UNICEF, World Bank, OECD, Bernard van Leer and Aga Khan Foundations and given one-off support to governments in many other regions including Chile, Federal Government of Australia, New Zealand and Portugal.

Iram has worked as an early years and primary teacher and advisory teacher, and for the last 30 years as a researcher and academic with the Universities of Warwick, London and Wollongong. She has held many visiting professorships including Melbourne, Wales, Wolverhampton, Swansea, Hong Kong and Beijing. She gained her doctorate in 1995 from Warwick University and has two honorary doctorates. Iram was awarded an OBE for her services to ECEC in 2015.

Governments often promote quality in ECEC through framework documents, standards and accreditation, dissemination of research and information, technical support, raising the training and status of staff, encouraging self-evaluation and action-practitioner research and establishing a rigorous inspection system. Successful implementation of frameworks requires investment in staff support, including in-service training, pedagogical guidance and favourable structural conditions.

The Fostering Effective Early Learning (FEEL) study involved designing and developing an evidence-based, cutting-edge, PD program - and then evaluating its direct impact on early childhood educators in 45 intervention centres and its indirect impact on 1346 children. The study measured centre quality and child outcomes in 90 centres. Centre quality was captured by the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Extension (ECERS-E 2010), and the Sustained, Shared Thinking and Emotional Well-being (SSTEW 2015) scale. Child-level outcomes comprised measures of language development, early numeracy development, and social-behavioural development.

This mixed method study shows improvements in both quality and child outcomes through our bespoke PD program for ECEC staff and will be of great interest to academics, policy-makers, ECEC trainers, practitioners and parents.

Fostering Effective Early Learning (FEEL) Study, NSW DoE (PDF Keynote Presentation)

Iram Siraj


Coaching to enhance early childhood professional development

Presenter: Louise Humphreys, RECE, Child Care Manager, Toronto District School Board

As a strength-based approach coaching builds upon individual knowledge and current understanding, allowing the early years' professional to observe, practice and evaluate through reflective practice to support continued professional learning. This session identifies the strategies required for a results-based coaching approach, relating coaching theory to practice. It links the coaching approach within the workplace to effective professional development.

Coaching to enhance early childhood professional development (PDF Presentation)

The early childhood cognitive sensitivity training study


  • Ashley Brunsek, School and Clinical Child Psychology, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
  • Veroushka Coronel, School and Clinical Child Psychology, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
  • Shailja Jain, School and Clinical Child Psychology, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
  • Michelle Rodriguez, School and Clinical Child Psychology, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
  • Nina Sokolovic, School and Clinical Child Psychology, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Cognitive sensitivity (CS) refers to an educator’s ability to respond to a child’s interactions and is positively related to children’s language and executive functioning. The Early Childhood Cognitive Sensitivity Training Study is a professional development program aimed at enhancing educator-child interactions, a key aspect of early education and care quality. This session outlines key concepts and strategies used to enhance educator CS, and in turn, overall quality in the classroom.

Developing Responsive Interactions for Learning (PDF Presentation)

Transitions in early childhood: Recent trends from Canada and abroad


  • Marie Macauley, Manager, Strategic Initiatives, Policy, Council of Ministers of Education, Canada
  • Federico Vargas, Analyst, Early Learning and Elementary-Secondary Education, Council of Ministers of Education, Canada

This workshop draws from Canada’s participation in the OECD’s Starting Strong V project, a survey of over 30 countries examining early childhood transitions. Drawing from Canadian examples, as well as from successes in other countries, learn about best practices in pedagogy and professional development that support educator practice. This is also an opportunity to discuss emerging trends in early learning that underscore children’s successful transitions in the early years.

Early learning in Canada: recent trends from Canada and abroad, with a focus on transitions (PDF Presentation)

A mentoring journey: From professional development to a culture of mentoring


  • Jamie Koshyk, Faculty, Research Department, School of Health Sciences & Community Services, Red River College
  • Shelley Jonasson, Program and Policy Consultant, Health Child Manitoba Office

Mentoring staff is one of the key aspects that fostered effective implementation of the Abecedarian Approach at Lord Selkirk Park Child Care Centre (LSPCC), located in the inner city of Winnipeg, MB. As part of the Evaluation led by Healthy Child Manitoba, researchers provided training on the Abecedarian Approach. As a partner in the study, Red River College evaluated the program finding mentoring empowered staff and led to greater teamwork. Expansion of the mentoring model into the broader community will also be discussed.

A mentoring journey: From professional development to a culture of mentoring (PDF Presentation)

Developing the whole child through movement play

Presenter: Iram Siraj, Professor of Child Development & Education, University of Oxford, Department of Education

Introducing the MOVERS scale showing how movement play and physical development can improve child learning and well-being. The workshop will show how the tool can be used to enhance practice and improve our understanding of how the physical is connected to cognitive and social and emotional well-being. Examples of practice and demonstrations using the scale will form part of the workshop. All participants will receive a copy of the MOVERS Manual. Note there is an additional $20 charge for this workshop.

Movement Environment Rating Scale (MOVERS) Mini-Workshop (PDF Presentation)

Early childhood pedagogies


  • Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw, Professor of Early Childhood Education, Western University
  • Randa Khattar, Professor, Executive Director for the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Early Years and Child Care, adjunct Assistant Professor, Western University
  • Rachel Heydon, Professor, Faculty of Education, Western University

This workshop engages with the concept of pedagogy and challenges early childhood education’s reliance on developmental psychology to rethink curriculum.

Early childhood pedagogies (PDF Presentation)


Key elements of defining and sustaining an ECE workforce


We enter a period of great opportunities for the ECE workforce and equally great challenges. The demand for ECEs reaches beyond licensed child care expanding career opportunities but also contributes to fragmenting the sector. Our panel looks at the elements necessary for a professional workforce including recognition and standards, ongoing professional development, quality monitoring and advocacy. The panel is followed by facilitated roundtable discussions.

The Annual Summer Institute on Early Childhood Development is presented by: