Published in:
University of Northampton Tapestry Foundation Stage Forum
United Kingdom
Professor Eunice Lumsden;

The MANDELA model for Early Childhood Education and Care

The MANDELA model for Early Childhood Education and Care is a framework to place inclusivity at the heart of practice with babies, children, and families. It recognises the importance of relationships and belonging and ensuring environments reflect this. It also acknowledges that if we change the start of the journey, we can change educational outcomes for children that can impact across their life course.

The MANDELA way is not about prescription it is about FREEDOM and the workbook uses the word MANDELA to frame questions to enable a deeper understanding of practice to emerge, develop developmental plans and then embed a practice that is constantly evolving:

  • Make Time– to really understand the community that uses the setting-staff, children, families. Use this information to shape different conversations, develop relationships, co-construct action plans and ensure they are enacted.
    Acknowledge- is about striving for inclusivity in all we do through acknowledging our Needs, Differences, Education, Life experiences and Age.
  • Needs – what are the different needs of those using the setting, remembering people have the right not to share. How can you ensure the setting in inclusive of all needs? How do staff know and feel their needs are being addressed? How do parents and carers know their child’s needs will be met?
  • Difference – this is about recognising we are all different. How do I know I am safe in you setting? Do you see me? Do you value who #I am?
  • Education Experiences- acknowledging previous education experiences, providing training and further development of staff. Supporting parents and carers develop their knowledge about child development.
  • Life Experience – our journey are all different, how to we value these and how do we create safe environments for people to use and work. How do we ensure are staff are safe practitioners? How does the setting value family diversity and the different experiences of the children using the setting?
  • Age -how does the setting value people of different ages. What is its approach to intergenerational sharing? Does it know how age is viewed in different culture?

To learn more about the MANDELA Model, listen to this podcast episode with Dr Prospera Tedam who developed the Model, and Professor Eunice Lumsden who designed the Unique Childhoods Workbook. In the episode, they discuss these tools and how they can be used to support connection and build trust, deepening our anti-discriminatory practice and bringing about change in early childhood education.