Happening Now: IFS 9th Biennial Conference (Online, 1-4 June 2021)

We’re pleased to announce that our 9th Biennial Conference, originally planned for June 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland, has been rescheduled for 1-4 June 2021 as an online conference. Read on for details!

Froebel 2021: Visions of Social Justice, Equity and Integrity in the Year of Childhood

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, which will be hosted by Moray House School of Education and Sport at the University of Edinburgh, June 1-4, 2021. The IFS conference title celebrates the Year of Childhood in Scotland, which aims to support the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which was passed into Scots law in Spring 2021. It is also the 25th birthday year of the Children’s Parliament in Scotland.

Topics for presentation and discussion at the 2021 online conference will include: 

  • 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.  

Keynote Speakers

Dr Lynn J McNair OBE

Dr Lynn McNair is a Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. Lynn 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, and an advisory board member of Cattanach. 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.

Professor Kay Tisdall

Kay Tisdall is Professor of Childhood Policy and a member of the Childhood & Youth Studies Research Group (www.ed.ac.uk/education/childhood-and-youth-studies) at the University of Edinburgh. Her policy, teaching and research activities are within children’s human rights. She has had a collaborative programme with children, young people, and adults on participation rights, in Scotland as well as with colleagues in such places as Brazil, Canada, Columbia, India, and South Africa.


The conference will open at 14:00 (UCT+1) on Tuesday 1 June, and run until around 15:30 (UCT+1) on Friday 4 June. In addition to the two keynote lectures, sessions will take place throughout each day, with multiple speakers introducing their work in each. We are delighted to welcome speakers from six different continents to this conference, and look forward to sharing more details about each paper in due course.

Tuesday 1st June 2021

  • 14:00 (UCT+1): Opening & Keynote: “Connectivity Between Social Justice and Play: Learning from our wise elders”, delivered by Dr Lynn McNair OBE
  • Evening session – exact time TBC

Wednesday 2nd June 2021

  • Morning, afternoon and evening session – exact time TBC

Thursday 3rd June 2021

  • Morning session – exact time TBC
  • 14:00 (UCT+1): Keynote: “The Transformational Potential of Children’s Participation in a Human Rights Context”, delivered by Professor Kay Tisdall
  • Evening session – exact time TBC

Friday 4th June 2021

  • Morning session – exact time TBC
  • 14:00 (UCT+1): Closing Ceremony

A full programme including information about the timings and content of each session will be circulated to registrants and posted here a week before the conference is due to start.

How To Register

This event will be held on Zoom. Details on how to join the conference will be sent to all those who have registered around a week before the event is due to start. To register for the conference, please visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/international-froebel-society-conference-2021-tickets-150162625455.

The registration fee of 40 GBP covers attendance at all sessions during the conference, and access to the recordings of each session after the conference has closed.

If the conference fee is a serious barrier to your attendance, you can write to the MHSES Events Team at the address below, requesting financial assistance from the conference supporters, The Froebel Trust. Any such requests must be submitted by 21 May, will be treated in confidence and will be subject to availability of funding. Please allow up to 5 working days for a reply.

Contact Information

If you have any queries, please contact the Moray House Events Team at mhses.events@ed.ac.uk.

If you would like to post on social media about this event, please use the hashtag #IFSFroebel2021. We invite you to follow the International Froebel Society @ifsfroebel, The Froebel Trust @FroebelTrust and Moray House @MorayHouse on Twitter and to join the International Froebel Society Facebook Group as well.