My research evolved from a desire to explore barriers to partnership working between childcare and education providers and seeks strategies to overcome these barriers. The research focuses on relationships between the various early years practitioners and settings, the extent to which they work in partnership, what promotes and inhibits this,\ud and how this affects the educational experience of children. Particular attention is paid to the quality of transition from a pre-school setting into a reception class and a child’s first experience of school. Cross sector cluster networks were established as a strategy to\ud enable partnership working to evolve. Management of change, change agents, reflective learning are all key threads and a mechanism for developing and enhancing practice\ud linked to transition for children at age 5.\ud My research is qualitative; my qualitative approach is concerned with producing meanings and understandings. It is a non-positivistic approach, seeking to illuminate a set\ud of circumstances in order to find more effective policies for future action. Data collection methods within this large-scale action research included questionnaires, semi structured interviews, focus groups, vignettes of practice and interviews with children. The concept of a Community of Practice introduced by Lave and Wenger (1991) underpins collaborative networks. Central to this concept is the process of learning from others, that members have shared interests, are motivated to do something about them and\ud that the communities of practice are self–generating. The action research identified impact through the introduction of a change agent to facilitate the networks; the ability to\ud engage with the practitioners at grass roots level and to motivate practitioners to attend was the catalyst for success. My findings were that collaborative networks promoted reflective thinking in practitioners from all early years sectors leading to change in practice. Children as a result of strong and equal partnerships experienced an enhanced transition to school. My recommendations were for a common model based on the collaborative networks to be\ud established to develop a culture of change and innovation within early years provision. The professional learning that took place in this research crossed sector and institutional boundaries as one sector on its own could not provide the answer
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