Our 9th Biennial Conference, originally planned for June 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland, took place in June 2021. The conference’s online format made it accessible to a greater diversity of participants than ever before, with over 150 researchers and practitioners from dozens of countries around the globe logging in to hear live presentations and join in online conversations. The conference theme was 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?
As social media coverage (#IFSFroebell2021) and the conference programme attest, participants enjoyed the very high quality of the panel and workshop presentations, the generosity of spirit and intellectual and moral rigour within the international community, and, not least, the brilliant plenaries. The Society was honoured to have Claire Haughey MSP, Scotland’s Minister for Children and Young People present to open the conference, as well as fantastic keynotes offered by Dr Lynn J McNair OBE and Professor Kay Tisdall. Professor Tina Bruce, CBE (pictured below), delivered the 2021 Kevin J. Brehony Memorial Lecture at the conference’s conclusion, recalling the roots of the IFS and the part played by so many — including the 2021 conference participants — in helping Froebelian education to blossom and flourish.
The IFS thanks the local conference hosts and organizers, the combination of Moray House and the Edinburgh Froebel Network – especially Dr. Lynn McNair and Jane Whinnett MBE– who did a marvellous job and a tremendous service to the international Froebel community in organizing the conference. We also gratefully acknowledge the Froebel Trust’s financial, technical and moral, support, all of which contributed to its roaring success.
In the tradition of the IFS going from strength to strength, we are pleased to announce that the 10th Biennial Conference, scheduled for 2023, will be hosted by the Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education at Maynooth University in Ireland. Details will be posted on this website’s Conferences page and publicized via social media in due course.