In 2010 Arteveldehogeschool (University College in Gent) and VBJK (Centre for Innovation in the Early Years), with ESF (European Social Fund) funds, started a project called WANDA to develop a new method of professionalization for low qualified practitioners in the 0-3 sector of the Flemish Community of Belgium. The Wanda project started on October 1st, 2010 and ended on November 30th 2012. In september 2012 the results of the projects were disseminated on the Wanda launch day.
Roots of Wanda
The methodology used in Wanda has its roots in the French ‘Analyse de Pratiques’ and in the Anglo-Saxon ‘Appreciative Inquiry’. Analyse de Pratiques started in the ‘60ies in France thanks to Michael Balint, an English-Hungarian psychoanalyst that analysed with a group of doctors their own way of working. The method found later its way in the social sector and got influenced by the systemic theory (Favre, 2004; Sellenet, 2004). Analyse de Pratiques is a method to support groups and to make them feel valorised.
Appreciative Inquiry (AI) has been developed in the 80ies in the US by David Cooperrider and Srivasva. The starting point of AI is that positive questions can bring to effective changes faster and better than problem-centred strategies. It starts from the strengths that are present in people and organizations in order to encourage them to grow (Cooperrider, 2003).
The Wanda project is a new adaptation of these two methods that has been successfully developed in 12 ECEC initiatives and in 7 training centres in the Flemish Community of Belgium.
The framework in which this method takes place is the “reflective practitioner” (Schön, 1983) and the concept of “competent system”. As pointed out by the CoRe Research commissioned by the European Commission DG for Education and Culture, and carried out by the University of Gent and the University of East London in 15 European Member States, ECEC quality is strongly related to a professional competent workforce. But a competent workforce has to take shape in a “competent system”, which includes collaborations between individuals, teams and institutions, as well as competent governance at policy level.
A competent system has to link the staff’s initial good education to the possibility of constantly reflecting on their ideas and practices (Urban, Vandenbroeck, Peeters, Lazzari, Van Laere, 2011). Therefore we should recognize in the concept of quality the same complexity that lives in our society. Quality is then linked to negotiation (Moss, 2009) and practitioners become researchers of daily life. The complexity of our society and its constant transformations need a workforce that is capable to deal with differences and commonalities by valorising them. Therefore, in order to reach quality in the educational system, we need practitioners that are able to negotiate, to deal with uncertainty, to reflect on the meanings of what they think and do (Schön, 1983), to question themselves and constantly find the balance between agreement and disagreement in the group, as stated also in the document edited by the DECET/ISSA Working Group on Professionalism (DECET/ISSA, 2011). The complexity of the modern European societies and the changes which they have undergone in the last decade made the very family institution and the educational system change. It is then impossible today to define a single model of “the family”, “the child”, and “the school”. At the same time it becomes urgent to reflect on these concepts, to deconstruct their meanings, in order to rediscover them in a negotiating process.
End of 2012, Wanda was appointed by the European Social Fund (ESF) to 'ESF ambassador in 2013'! The 3 projects Wanda, Onthaalouders sterker maken (VBJK, Cego) and Career Expedition (SBS) became ESF ambassador in 2013.
From more than 200 projects, these 3 projects were selected because of usability, accessibility, innovation and transferability to multiple industries.
The ambassadorship is awarded to projects that score highest on the ESF validation. Throughout the year 2013, the Wanda project was further supported by the ESF with extra communication and dissemination activities of the product 'wa = Wanda' in Flanders.
This ambassadorship ended with a joint training day 'Ensembleren' on January 14, 2014.