Early Years & Montessori
Dr Criona Blackburne has worked in education for over 30 years, specialising in early childhood for almost 20 years.
As an owner of an early years setting, a lecturer and an early years specialist she has a strong understanding of early childhood and is a strong advocate for inclusion.
Criona believes that the realisation of high-quality inclusive early childhood environments lies in the skills, attitudes and education of the early years educator.
Her doctoral studies highlighted the need for an increased focus on Orientation Quality, which highlights the critical role the educator plays in quality development and how the education, dispositions, attitudes, skills and well-being of the educator need to be nurtured.
This has led to her work advocating for Orientation Quality through using the Capabilities Approach.
Criona has a strong passion for supporting the development of early years educators through her work as an owner, lecturer and specialist.
She believes that educators need opportunities to extend their learning and skill sets through accredited learning opportunities, CPD and Communities of practice, where they can engage in theoretical frameworks, critical discussions and reflection on practice to position them to respond effectively to the complex dynamics of early years classrooms.
“My life has been dedicated to education, having worked and qualified at all levels, initially as a secondary school teacher and for the predominant part of my life in early childhood.
“I opened my own early years setting in 2006 and since that time have expanded my interest in early childhood through ongoing engagement in training, CPD opportunities, networking culminating finally in a Doctorate in Education having previously completed a Masters in Early Childhood Education.
“My understanding of the sector has been deepened through lecturing, tutoring, presenting and delivering workshops in various modules and topics relevant to early childhood practice, and through my work as an Early Years Specialist, where I have had the opportunity to interact and engage in critical discussions with a very passionate early years workforce from very diverse contexts.
“These interactions have contributed to my strong interest in the impact of policy on practice and the need to highlight the importance of the much-overlooked area of Orientation Quality and consider the impact of value, well-being, functioning and capabilities on the early childhood workforce.
“I’m currently writing papers with colleagues and individually focusing on valuing the early years educator and inclusion in early childhood settings. I am also involved in module development in Leadership in Home Visiting Programmes,” she said.