Reaching across borders

June O'Sullivan
Friday, September 5, 2014

June O'Sullivan explains why those working in early years need to communicate all over the world

International Early Years (IEY)

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Why did we form the IEY?

Early years should lead the way in creativity and curiosity - just watch young children tackle things.  It also needs to be a place where we can initiate and support disruptive thinking.

With this in mind a group of people decided that we needed to find a way to allow this to happen in as free and unfettered a means as possible. We wanted to create a community that keeps the faith and shines a torch in the right places.  A community of well informed, articulate early years leaders who will connect with people from all over the world in order to lead a pedagogical conversation. We need to learn from one another and strengthen what we know across the world.


What influenced our approach?

The formation of IEY was driven by three main considerations:

First, the evidence that early years education makes a difference to children’s lives no matter where they live is compelling; research from eminent economists such as James Heckman to educationalists  supports the need for children to access high quality, childcare and education, particularly those from poor families, to give them a platform for success.

Second, in a modern world that is shaped by migration we need to better understand the context and experiences that inform high quality international early childhood services and education. We are much more effective as an international group while building and bridging our understanding in order to create genuinely inclusive pedagogical conversations.

Third, there is no current model that allows for easy shared access to colleagues elsewhere in the sector to converse quickly and easily in real time. We can exploit social media and so build a faster, more accessible platform to share information and open up a truly international gateway to all those sharing the ambition to improve the lives of children wherever they are.

What will it do?

  • Link practitioners and partners from across the world and conduct international pedagogical conversations that help improve a quality approach to ECD
  • Provide an innovative digital platform where people can share their reports, ideas and link their websites
  • Learn from world class early years leaders and practitioners wherever they are
  • Promote the best interests of babies, toddlers and young children ensuring a real focus on supporting improved outcomes for the most vulnerable
  • Enhance the status and professional identify of early years workforce across countries and support men in childcare
  • Provide access to practical and academic support at a range of levels
  • Initiate action research and support evidence based practice by linking with world class universities and research institutes globally
  • Create a pool of inspirational speakers and associates with a difference!
  • Act as professional think tank to produce original research and publish innovative thinking

What does it look like?

The IEY is a social platform that allows people from across the world to connect in their own time and in their own way with colleagues to explore ideas, arrange visits, share research, collate evidence and develop friendships.  The IEY will become an invaluable professional network both nationally and internationally.

There is no current model which allows for easy shared access to colleagues elsewhere in the sector enabling immediate and straight forward professional conversations. The IEY will exploit social media to open up an international gateway to all those sharing ambition to improve the lives of children.

Who are the members?

The IEY is an independent, professional body led and owned by the members. The IEY welcomes anyone who works with children and families.  The IEY is a cross sector multi-agency organisation and wants to actively involve people from education, health, family support, social care and community. We are keen to break down barriers and engage in conversations with people working in a range of related settings. We are aware that countries have individual approaches placing staff and organisations working with small children into a range of different sectors and we want to ensure nobody is excluded from the conversation.

We are already linked with a number of English universities and intend to link with more, as well as becoming members of local and regional early years learning hubs that drive research for impact.  We will encourage people to connect their organisation by placing their website links on to the site.  We also want people to post research papers and reports they feel are relevant so others can read, use and comment supporting quality improvement, high standards and strong performance.  

Who are we?

  • June O'Sullivan MBE
  • Sue Egersdorff
  • Dr Eunice Lumsden
  • Pam Mundy
  • Andy Kent

For more details go to


June O'Sullivan is chief executive of London Early Years Foundation

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