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Dutch delegation visits UEL to learn more about British early childcare

Who Are We

Professor Eva Lloyd organises multinational knowledge exchange

The University of East London (UEL) extended a knowledgeable hand this summer to a delegation from the Netherlands seeking to learn more about early childcare in the United Kingdom.

The Bureau Kwaliteit Kinderopvang, an independent Dutch agency charged with improving childcare in the country, led the visit to UEL’s International Centre for the Study of the Mixed Economy of Childcare (ICMEC). The group included members of the BKK and other Dutch agencies and organisations, as well as representatives from Germany and Belgium. 

The aim, officials said, was to gather information that might be useful as the Netherlands looks at changing the quality control system it has in place for childcare.

Dutch childcare expert Serv Vinders said, “The University of East London is very kind to receive us. They are very honest about what’s going on and they are not just telling us a positive story. We don’t want to hear a negative story, but we have to have balance.”

UEL Professor and ICMEC director Eva Lloyd arranged a day-long programme of presentations and small group discussions that sought to compliment the information the group received during a separate visit to the Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills) offices. Professor Lloyd invited local childcare providers and UEL students to participate in the visit.

Mr Vinders said, “If you have the story from the regulators, it’s not the story from the participants. That’s why we are here and why we are interested in what we can learn and bring back to Holland.”

ICMEC is a multi-disciplinary research centre based in UEL’s Cass School of Education and Communities. The centre works to generate greater knowledge about early childhood education and care provision in countries which offer both welfare and education services. 

Professor Lloyd said, “It’s all part of the role of ICMEC to look, to compare and contrast and to learn from the ways people approach the same issues differently, and the thinking that goes into that.”

The centre frequently brings together academics, students, childcare business leaders, policy makers and professionals from the public and private childcare sectors. It has hosted at least three recent visits by Dutch groups.

Professor Lloyd, who was born in the Netherlands, has conducted research comparing the English and Dutch early childcare systems. She frequently gives presentations in the Netherlands. 

She said, “There has been a steady exchange between ICMEC and Dutch services, Dutch organisers, Dutch organisations. It’s very nice.”

Lex Staal, director of a Dutch childcare employees union and a member of the group visiting UEL, said, “What Eva does, and I find it interesting, is look at the long-term, look at the system itself and what could be achieve and improved on. That’s very interesting.