IFS 9th Biennial Conference (Edinburgh, June 2020)

Theme: Froebel 2020: Visions of social justice, equity and integrity

Social justice, equity and integrity are terms that often appear in twenty-first-century discussions of early childhood education and care (ECEC), but what do they mean and how might they be enacted in specific settings, particular locations, individual cultures and nations? What answers might be gleaned from social scientific or historical analyses? How can those who care about and work with young children – including practitioners, researchers and policymakers – develop and achieve visions of social justice, equity and integrity? (How) Do these interact with other(s’) goals for ECEC, such as improving children’s educational attainment and achievement, and increasing parents’ participation in paid employment, training or further study? (How) Might Froebelian perspectives and practices help advance equity and social justice today and in the future? And what role does (or should) integrity play in all of the above?

These questions are the heart of the International Froebel Society’s 9th Biennial Conference & Practitioners’ Day, which will take place in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh, June 3-6, 2020. Edinburgh is not only a beautiful city; it’s also the centre of a burgeoning Froebel Network and the capital of a country whose government have committed to the provision of free ECEC to all three- and four-year-olds (and some two-year-olds) beginning in 2020. What will this expansion mean for Scotland’s children – and its early years practitioners? What can Scotland learn from other countries and other time periods, and how might Froebelian perspectives and visions of social justice, equity and integrity shape the nation’s changing ECEC landscape?

The 2020 conference will focus on the following topics: 

  • Thinking about early childhood with Froebel;  
  • Children’s play;
  • Parents’ perspective on early childhood education and care; 
  • Ethical practice, power, and the relationship between the researcher and child;
  • Sustainability and early childhood practices;
  • Transnational perspectives on early childhood education; 
  • Implementing inclusion; 
  • Leadership in early childhood;  
  • Digital gifts and childhood;
  • Race, culture and ethnic disparity in early childhood.  

The conference will be comprised of one day of site visits to local Froebelian settings and local cultural tours (June 3) and two days of conference presentations, workshops, and keynote speakers from around the world (June 4-5). This will be immediately followed by a day of events on June 6th especially designed for practitioners and hosted by the Edinburgh Froebel Network. 


Confirmed keynote speakers include:

Professor Rowena Arshad CBE, University of Edinburgh, UK.  Rowena is Chair in Multicultural and Anti-Racist Education and Co-Director of the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland (CERES) at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in equity and anti-discrimination issues and how these issues are taken forward in education (school, community education and tertiary) and within educational policy. Rowena is particularly interested in how individual educators take equity and anti-discrimination, inclusion work, forward in their practice and within their establishments.

Professor Larry Prochner, Department of Elementary Education at the University of Alberta, Canada. Larry’s research examines the historical, comparative, and international dimensions of teaching and curriculum in early education. He has published 14 books, including Teacher Education in Diverse Settings: Making Space for Intersecting Worldviews. Larry has served as Vice-President of the International Froebel Society.

Dr Lynn McNair, Cowgate Under Fives Centre and University of Edinburgh, UK. Lynn is Head of Cowgate Under Fives Centre and is a Senior Teaching Fellow at the university.  She has more than 30 years experience working in Early Years Education and was awarded an OBE for services to Early Education in 2009.  Lynn is a trained Froebelian, attaining her certificate at the Froebel Institute, Roehampton University, London, UK.  She is an award-winning author.  Finally, Lynn would say her passion for egalitarianism, emancipation, democracy and a belief that children are rich, active, resourceful beings came from being a mother to Kurt and Mischa, and what she learned as she observed them playing freely as children.  This way of being with children, trusting in them in their abilities and capabilities is where she puts her energy into her work with children today.

Dr Kristen Nawrotzki, Heidelberg University of Education, Germany. Kristen’s research focuses on the history of early childhood education and care in comparative and transnational perspectives, and the role of professional narrative in practitioner identity. She has authored numerous articles and essays and edited several volumes of essays, including The Development of Early Childhood Education in Europe and North America (with Kerstin Scheiwe and Harry Willekens).  She is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Early Childhood Research Centre at Roehampton University, UK and has served as Vice-President of the International Froebel Society.

Professor Emerita Helen May, University of Otago. (Practitioners’ Day) Helen May trained as a primary school teacher in the mid-1960s and in her early career taught 5- to 6-year olds. Later, when Helen had her own children she worked in childcare and for five years was the Coordinator of the Victoria University crèche. In 1987 she began work in teacher education at Hamilton Teachers’ College and later the University of Waikato. During the early 1990s she worked with Margaret Carr on the development of Te Whaariki, the first national curriculum guidelines for New Zealand. In 1995 Helen was appointed to the first New Zealand professorial Chair in Early Childhood Education at Victoria University Wellington. In 2005, she was appointed as Professor of Education and Head of the Faculty of Education at the University of Otago, and from 2007-2011 was the Dean of the University of Otago College of Education.

Conference Fee

Registration is completed via the online purchase of an IFS 2020 Conference Ticket at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/international-froebel-society-conference-2020-tickets-85227757517 .

–Early bird rate for registration by 30 March 2020: £250 

–Standard rate for registration in April 2020: £300 

–Registration (conference ticket purchase) deadline: 30 April 2020

Your Conference Ticket includes: a conference (info) packet, as well as morning coffees, lunches and afternoon teas on the two full conference days (Thursday and Friday, June 4-5 2020). It also includes a traditional Scottish Ceilidh to be held on Friday evening, June 5th. This terrific event, featuring a live band, Scottish country dancing, food and drink, is hosted by the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House School of Education and Sport. 

Those who register for the IFS 2020 Conference will be invited to participate in site visits to local Froebelian settings and in local cultural tours arranged by the conference organizers on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. Details will be provided to Conference Ticket holders in due course.

Tickets for the three-course conference dinner, to be held at the historic Playfair Library in Old College, Edinburgh on Thurs June 4th, 2020, are available for purchase (under the aforementioned link) at a separate cost of £35 each.

Tickets to the Practitioners’ Day, to be held on Saturday 6th June, can be purchased independently or as an add-on to a standard Conference Ticket for £70 each, also at the link above.

Accommodation advice can also be found on the registration page.

Submitting a Proposal

**The proposal submission period has ended as of 29 Feb 2020. No new proposals are being accepted. The details of the call for papers remain here for reference.**

For the 2020 conference, the IFS invites proposals for 20-minute presentations, as well as for one-hour workshops, roundtables or posters to be offered as part of the main conference on June 4th and 5th.

Proposals should include:

  1. The presenters’ names, corresponding author’s email address, postal address, and institutional affiliation (if any)
  2. Category of proposed offering: 
    • presentation (20 minutes, plus 10 minutes Q&A), 
    • pre-formed panel (three 20-minute presentations on a collective theme), 
    • workshop (60 or 90 minutes)*
    • roundtable (60 or 90 minutes)*
    • poster
    • or other (please specify)
  3. The title and a 250-word description of the proposed offering, plus a list of references if/as appropriate.
  4. Be sure to indicate how your proposal relates to the conference theme. (For pre-formed panels, include a description of all three papers of up to 750 words in total length.)
  5. A list of three keywords relevant to the proposal.
  6. A description of any specific technology, space or furniture requirements. 
  7. The Froebel Trust is offering partial bursaries to students presenting at the conference. Interested students are asked to reference the student bursary and include information about their student status (institutional affiliation, course of studies/programme) when submitting their proposal.  

*The option of 90-minute workshops or roundtables was added by request as of 31 December 2019. Those who have submitted 60-minute workshop or roundtable proposals will be contacted to let them know of the 90-minute option.

All proposals should be submitted as a Word document to: ifs_froebel@yahoo.com. Please use the subject line: “IFS 2020 Proposal Submission”.


Proposal Submission Deadline – EXTENDED to February 28, 2020 (NOW ENDED)

Notification of Acceptance/Rejection – March 01, 2020

Early Bird Registration (Conference Ticket Purchase) ends March 30, 2020 

General Registration (Conference Ticket Purchase) Deadline – May 01, 2020

Any questions? Have questions about proposal submissions? Contact the International Froebel Society at ifs_froebel@yahoo.com. Have questions about the conference itself? Contact the 2020 Conference Committee Chair, Jane Whinnett MBE: jane.whinnett@yahoo.co.uk.

Photo: Andrew Collin via Flickr, unaltered (cc-by-2.0)