Professor of Early Childhood, Cass School of Education and Communities
Helen's current interests are the interfaces between theory, policy and practice in early childhood education and care
Professor Helen Penn’s current interests are the interfaces between theory, policy and practice in early childhood education and care, and in particular how policy shapes provision; and early education policy and practice in low income countries. A key part of her work on policy concerns the childcare market, and the role of for-profit entrepreneurs within systems of early education and care provision. This perspective on the childcare market is important and relevant not only in high income neo-liberal English speaking countries, but even more so in low income countries, where much or most provision for young children is entrepreneurial.
With her colleague Eva Lloyd, Helen is co-director of UEL’s International Centre for the Study of the Mixed Economy of Childcare. This is a multi-disciplinary centre, involving economics, business studies, and the private sector, as well as early childhood specialists. The Centre runs regular seminars on topical issues concerning childcare markets, as well as generating a small research programme. With Eva, Helen is editing a book on childcare markets, with contributors from many countries. The theme is the relationship between provision that relies heavily on entrepreneurial for-profit activities and inequality. She has also published widely on this topic in academic journals.
Helen is a registered expert on EU ECEC policy and acts as a consultant/contributor to various international policy forums. She also still undertakes consultancy work in developing/low income countries
Helen teaches the policy module on the PhD research methods course
Helen works on a number of European projects. She was commissioned to write the report Early Education and Care in Europe; Lessons for Policy Makers which has been widely translated and circulated throughout Europe
She has also worked on other European projects on the regulation of the for-profit sector across Europe and on financing childcare. She has also undertaken work for the OECD, a summary of which is available in her recent book: Quality in Early Childhood Services: An International Perspective
Helen has been working in low income countries, especially in Southern Africa and Central Asia for over 15 years. Much of her work has been with international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) and large consultancy firms, where she has been contracted to develop policy initiatives and developments in early education at a governmental level. She has undertaken work for UNICEF, most recently in Iraq; and for UNESCO, when she contributed to the 2010 World Conference on Early Education, held in Moscow. She has close links with the University of the Free State in South Africa, and co-authored a recent booklet on childcare provision in South Africa, Siyabonana: We All See Each Other.
Helen has taken a critical perspective on the activities of INGOs and in particular on the early childhood policies of the World Bank, and argued that they are unduly influenced by neo-liberal economic theory emanating from the USA. This work has been published in a variety of books and journal articles, most recently in the journal Childhood.
Helen reviews for over 20 academic journals, and sits on various advisory boards.
Eds E.Lloyd and H. Penn. (2012) Childcare Markets: Global and Local. Policy Press. forthcoming
Penn, H. (2011) Quality in Early Education and Care; An International Perspective. Maindenhead. Open University Press/McGraw Hill.
Penn, H. and Maynard, T. (2010) Siyabonana: We all see each other: Building Better Childhoods in South Africa.Children in Scotland.
Penn, H. (2008) Understanding Early Childhood: Issues and Controversies.Maidenhead. Open University Press/McGraw Hill. (2nd revised enlarged edition.)
Chapters in Books
Childcare markets: do they work? in Lloyd, E. and Penn, H. Childcare Markets: Global and Local. Bristol. Policy Press. Forthcoming 2012
Raw Markets. in Lloyd, E. and Penn, H. Childcare Markets: Global and Local. Bristol. Policy Press. Forthcoming 2012
The Rhetoric and Realities of Early Childhood Programmes promoted by the World Bank.in eds A. Twum Danso Imoh and R. Ame. Ensuring a Particular Childhood for all: The Movement Towards a Global Childhood. London. Palgrave MacMillan. 2012. Forthcoming.
Overview and Postscript in N.Howe and L.Prochner. Recent Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada. Toronto University Press. 2012. Forthcoming
(with Hasina Ebrahim) Undertaking research on early childhood in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, in ed A. Halai and D.Wiliam. Research Methodologies in the South. Oxford University Press. 2012 Forthcoming.
Child Rearing and Early Education: Parents and Professionals International Encyclopedia of Education 3rd Edition. Edited by Eva Baker, Penelope Peterson and Barry McGaw, Elsevier 2010. pp151-156
Shaping the Future: A critique of human capital arguments about investment in early childhood. In ed. N. Yelland (2010) Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood Education. Maidenhead. Open University Press. pp49-65
Public and private: the history of early education and care institutions in the UK: in eds. K. Schweie and H.Willekens. Childcare and Pre-school Development in Europe” Palgrave MacMillan 2009 pp 105-125
International Perspectives on Participatory Learning: Young Children’s perspectives across rich and poor countries in eds D.Berthelsen and J Brownlees: Young Children’s Participatory Learning. London. Routledge. 2009 pp 12-25
The Globalization of Early Childhood Education and Care. (2009) in eds. T.Maynard and N.Thomas (2009) An Introduction to Early Childhood Studies, London. Sage. pp47-60
The Parenting and Substitute Parenting of Young Children. in eds. G.Bentley and R.Mace. Alloparenting in Human Societies. Oxford. Berghahn Books. 2009 pp 179-193
Articles in Refereed Journals
‘Travelling Policies and Global Buzzwords: how international non-governmental organizations and charities spread the word about early childhood in the global South. Childhood. 2011. V.18 (1) pp94-113
‘Gambling on the Market: the role of for-profit provision in early childhood education and care in the UK.’ Journal of Early Childhood Research. 2011. V.9(2) 150-161
‘Child Rights: A Global Perspective’. In International Journal of Equity and Innovation in Early Childhood. V.8(1) 2010 pp38-52
(with Eva Lloyd) ‘Working with Young Children Who are Victims of Armed Conflict’ Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood. 2010. V11(3) pp278-287
‘International Perspectives on Quality in Mixed Economies of Childcare.’ National Institute Economic Review. No 2007. January 2009
`Working on the Impossible: Early Childhood Policies in Namibia’ Childhood, V15(3) 2008 pp378- 398
`The Role of International Expert’ Journal of Early Childhood Research. V 6(1) 2008 pp23-30
‘Childcare Market Management: How the UK Government has reshaped its role in developing early education and care.’ Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood. 8 (3) 192-207. 2007
Other publications and consultancy reports
UNICEF/CARA: A Study of the Education of Children with Disabilities and Early Childhood Development in Iraq. (with 7 others) 2011.
Roger Tym Associates/London Development Agency. London Childcare Market. 2010
EU/NESSE (2009) Early Childhood Education and Care: Key Lessons from research for Policy Makers. Directorate of Education and Culture. www.nesse.fr/nesse/activities/reports/ecec-report-pdf
Early Education and Care in Southern Africa; Think-Piece for CfBT Educational Trust. July 2008
(with Eva Lloyd) Why Do Childcare Markets Fail? Public Policy Research. V17 (1) March-May 2010 pp42-48
‘The Universal and the Particular’ in Early Childhood in Focus 6: Culture and Learning. Bernard Van Leer Foundation/Open University 2010 p4.
‘Enabling Conditions for Development and Learning’ in Early Childhood in Focus 6: Culture and Learning. Bernard Van Leer Foundation/Open University 2010 p6.
‘Policy Rationales for Early Childhood Services’ International Journal of Childcare and Education Policy. 2011. V5 (1). 1-16.
Selection of International Keynote speeches and invited seminar presentations
Policy and Profit in Early Childhood: OECD/Irish Government Conference on Employment. Dublin. October 2011
The Curriculum in Context: Working in Very Unequal Societies. University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa. September 2011
Does International Aid Work? The Example of Early Childhood. University of Cork/Irish Aid international ECEC conference. April 2011
Early Childhood Education and Care Policy. Early Childhood Care and Education International Conference. Turkish Ministry of Education/UNICEF Istanbul. March 2011
EU Presidency Conference on Early Education and Care: Finance Overview. Budapest February 2011
Rationales for Early Education and Care. University of Taiwan.Taipei. Nov. 2010
Childcare Markets. UNESCO World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education.Moscow. September 2010
Rethinking the Role of Local Authorities in Education: Early Childhood Education and Care. CUIMPB/OECD Barcelona July 2010
The Importance of the Childcare Market in the UK. Office of National Statistics/NIESR Seminar. London June 2010
Overview of Early Education and Care in Canada. University of Concordia/Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. March 2010
Siyabonana: Child Rights in South Africa. Edinburgh. Children in Scotland. March 2010
Implementing Child Rights in Early Childhood. University of Melbourne. Australia. November 2009.
International perspectives on Quality in Childcare Markets. Hong Kong Institute of Education. November 2009.
How Does Canada Compare: ECEC policy in Canada and Europe: an analysis of recent policy documents. University of Victoria, Canada. May 2009.
Childcare for Young Children: Czech Presidency Conference, EU. Prague. Feb. 2009.
Early Education and Care in Europe; Lessons for Policy Makers. EU Education Conference, Brussels Oct 2008.
Helen undertakes consultancy work in developing/low income countries
Telephone: +44 (0)20 8223 7672
Contact address: Cass School of Education and Communities, Stratford Campus, Water Lane, Stratford, London E15 4LZ