1 Working with other professionals
1.1 Examples of positive working relationships
If you are a childminder or nanny, or if you work in a small-scale setting, it may seem that you have little opportunity to work with other professionals. However, many practitioners in small-scale settings do forge positive working relationships with others. Many are involved in sharing information and certainly in cooperating with other professionals. Whether you are a childminder or you work in a large organisation, what you have in common with all early years practitioners is that you do not work in isolation. Let us look at some examples.
In England, the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) carries out inspections and directly observes early years practitioners in their own settings. This is certainly a part of your working with other professionals. It requires you to plan and prepare information, as well as respond to advice and acknowledge the expertise of others. It also requires you to share your practice and to evaluate what you do.
As a practitioner, you are required to adhere to such quality standards and to register for accreditation by a variety of quality assurance schemes. This is another example of professional contact, which requires you to collaborate with others.
If you are a practitioner working in a small-scale setting, you will have contact with a variety of other professionals, ranging from other childminders to staff at the library, the local playgroup, health visitors, and colleagues via the internet. Indeed, the use of the internet takes ‘developing working relationships with others’ into a new dimension. There are many websites that enable you to contact others, share information and keep up to date with childcare issues.
Training is another focus for professional collaboration. There are now many short courses available via Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships (EYDCPs). Over the next few years, the concept of interprofessional training recommended within the English Government Green Paper Every Child Matters (DfES, 2003a) will provide another dimension to professional development.
Our approach is to use the word ‘team’ to encompass those who you work with on a day-to-day basis, not only within your setting but also in the wider context. Whether you work with other people within your setting or outside it, how you relate and work with other professionals is influenced by your attitudes towards other people and vice versa. Jillian Rodd (1994, p.87) makes the important point that: ‘The end product of teamwork is an improvement in the quality of care and education for children.’ It is therefore important for you, as an early years practitioner, to understand what ‘teamwork’ looks like in practice and to consider how working with other professionals is influenced by your underpinning values and beliefs. In the first activity, you will think about how you develop working relationships with other professionals.