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i am writing an assignment and am referring to Elfers idea of the Key Person, however i'd like to mention that in my setting this is not followed (and needs to change) and the practice of Key Worker groups is used. I can't find any theorist that talk about the Key Worker Group approach and hoped someone here may be able to enlighten me?

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My understanding is that the 'key person' approach, as advocated by Elfer and colleagues (I think Sellek is another), is an emotional approach and is an indicator of 'best practice'.

A key worker is a more administrative based role, the term is used in many fields apart from early years, and I do not know the theory behind it - try a google search as well as searching for previous posts on key person on the forum.

Sometimes settings use the term key worker, when in fact they mean key person as the more 'up to date' terminology for a member of staff who has responsibility for a small number of children for whom they have formed/are forming a close, supportive emotional relationship - which has it's basis in Bowby's attachment theory.

Search also for 'Key Times': A framework for developing high quality provision for children under three years olds (2001) by Julia Manning-Morton and Maggie Thorp.

Also some good material to reference to in: Social and Emotional Aspects of Development: Guidance for practitioners working in the Early Years Foundation Stage (2008) DCSF. One ref states "The EYFS focuses attention on the important role of the key person in securing high-quality care and learning experiences for young children. It is now a specific legal requirement rather than just good practice".

Interestingly, one of the 'learning points' in this document also states: "It is very important to ensure that consideration is given to the well-being of staff". "Working with and caring for young children makes heavy emotional demands on staff and they sometimes needs support themselves".

I did a presentation last year for my foundation degree on the role of the key person which had references to quotes regarding 'key worker' - but stupidly I've deleted it from my computer! If you think it may be helpful, I will try to find my hard copy which may have more reference sources for you to search.

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I've found my hard copy! - the small section I had with regards to 'key worker' cites Elfer et al (2003) who describes the confusion that can exist in settings with the term 'key worker' and 'key person' used as interchangeable terms, rather than two separate terms, although possibly a shared role. "A key worker is an organisational strategy, involving co-ordination and liaison, ensuring services function in a professional way, which although part of a key person's role, are not the most important part".


Another name to search regarding key person is Elinor Goldschmied.

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I have just done, for my research project, the role of the key person in supporting transition to pre-school and found the following helpful:


Attachment and the Key Person Role [on line] Available on: http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk [accessed 13/02/2011]


Parents, Early Years and Learning (PEAL) [on line] Available on: http://www.peal.org.uk/pdf/CE_03_Keyworkersv2.pdf [accessed 14/02/2011]


Selleck, D. (2006) Key Persons in the Early Years Foundation Stage, in Early Education, Autumn Edition


Lindon, J. (2010) The Key Person Approach – Positive Relationships in the Early Years London: Practical Pre-school Books


good luck with it!


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