Interview: Alison Clark - pioneer of the Mosaic approach

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Katy Morton talks to Alison Clark about this highly-rated approach to listening to young children


A second edition of the best-selling book Ms Clark, senior lecturer in childhood studies at the Centre for Childhood Development and Learning at the Open University, co-wrote with Peter Moss in 2001, Listening to Young Children: The Mosaic Approach, is published this month.

She pioneered the Mosaic approach, which offers a creative framework for sharing young children's perspectives through a range of methods including child-led tours, map-making and working with children's photographs.

What changes have been made to the second edition of Listening to Young Children: The Mosaic Approach?

Listening to young children has continued to be an important issue in policy and practice despite many changes in the field. The revised edition of the book presented an opportunity to step back and re-examine the initial study, while providing new readers with some pointers as to how this work has been adapted by myself and others. The main body of the text has not been changed, as the research still remains important and relevant. To update the book, we have included short case studies of how the Mosaic approach has been adapted by practitioners. These demonstrate how the approach can be used in a range of early years settings to show that the framework is not limited to one environment.

How has the Mosaic approach progressed since you founded it more than ten years ago?

At the time we introduced the approach it was considered unusual to take into account children's perspectives of early childhood settings to improve their quality. However, it is now used by practitioners and early childhood students around the world in countries such as New Zealand, Iceland and Greece.

In light of the number of children involved in the recent UK riots, do you believe continuing to listen to children can make a difference?

What we've seen is relationships and communication breaking down. If children in early childhood are listened to, it is more likely that healthy communities will be built where children and adults respect each other and the places they live.

How are you continuing your work?

The next step is to pilot the Mosaic approach with older children in residential care. I am working with a group of researchers in Norway to examine the quality of kindergarten spaces from practitioners' and children's points of view.

'Listening to Young Children: The Mosaic Approach' costs £18.99 and is available from the National Children's Bureau's website. Visit

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