Origins and evolution of professionalism in the context of municipal ECEC institutions.

This case has been chosen because it provides an example of inspiring practices developed within local initiatives for increasing the competence level of practitioners. Specifically, the case study describes the origin, evolution and key aspects of staff professionalism within the context of ECEC municipal institutions in the city of Pistoia. In Pistoia, in fact, as in many other Italian cities, ECEC provision has been conceived as a major investment by the city to answer families' needs and ensure children's right to early education. Over more than forty years, the Pistoia municipal administration has paid special attention to the quality of the ECEC provision and realised a system of educational services of good quality and many services of excellence. In the last few years, ECEC provision has faced new challenges because of a dramatic generational turnover among ECEC professionals and important social changes in families. Although the Pistoia experience has been forged in a particular social and cultural climate and nourished in the encounter with a particularly dynamic management, its analysis allows us to identify some basic that ingredients could be implemented in other contexts. Therefore the aim of the study is to analyse the actions by which the local municipality implemented continuous investment in the qualification of its ECEC professionals. The study draws on policy documents, relevant literature and recent action research carried out by pedagogical coordinators, educators and CNR researchers. The study sheds light on how the processes of reflexivity of ECEC professionals can be activated and sustained in particular conditions and suggests some procedures for ensuring them and anchoring them to the innovation of educational practice. Therefore the focus of the analysis lies on the systemic aspects that enhance educators' professionalism such as:
- paid time for sharing reflexivity in the group of professionals for planning, discussing, and analysing practices,
- an organised framework of in-service training on a group basis, provided by the municipal administration,
- a pedagogical coordination team that supports the professionals in their practice and their search for its continuous improvement,
- the activation and continuous support of networking and collegiality processes,
- the use of systematic procedures by the professionals for documenting, analysing and evaluating the outcomes of pedagogical choices on children's experience.
The case study discussion ends with a reflection on context-specific aspects and on the potential of these processes to be implemented in other contexts. In particular, the authors conclude that basic elements that have qualified the experience of ECEC municipal institutions in Pistoia could be usefully implemented in other contexts according to their specific culture and resources. From this perspective, they make specific recommendations for continuous support of professionalism, such as:
- pedagogical coordinators,
- paid working hours for in-service training on a group basis,
- systematic opportunities for shared reflexivity among professionals,
- systematic procedures for documenting, analysing and evaluating the outcomes of pedagogical choices on children's experience.

Publication type: 
Report e working Paper
Author or Creator: 
pp.87–88, 2011
Resource Identifier:
ISTC Author: 
Tullia Musatti's picture
Real name: 
Susanna Mayer's picture
Real name: