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Bridging cultures and knowledge: Our research visit to Manchester Metropolitan University

Hello everyone! We are Dr. Marta Licardo, Dr. Eva Kranjec, and Dr. Maruša Laure, experts in early childhood education and developmental psychology affiliated with the Faculty of Education at the University of Maribor, Slovenia. We are thrilled to share our recent experience with you, as we were fortunate enough to receive funding for a Transnational Visit Access (TAV) through the COORDINATE project. This unique opportunity allowed us to spend three weeks at Manchester Metropolitan University in January and February of 2024.


Our time at Manchester Metropolitan University was a great experience, offering us a perfect blend of research work and a deep dive into our subject matter. We centered our efforts around the Millennium Cohort Study databases, aiming primarily to collect data related to enhancing early childhood education and reducing inequalities. More specifically, we focused on examining the cognitive and socio-emotional development of children, particularly those from vulnerable ethnic groups or whose parents are immigrants to the UK. A significant part of our research was dedicated to investigating whether children of immigrant parents and vulnerable groups are included in formal preschool education settings, which past research has shown to have a profoundly positive impact on children's holistic development. Our findings lay a solid foundation for implementing changes in mandatory preschool education in Slovenia, potentially leading to a more inclusive and effective system. At the same time, we explored the impact of tax and benefit policies on mitigating societal inequalities using the IPPR Tax-Benefit Model.


During our research visit, we collaborated with Dr. Lee Bentley, whose support was instrumental to our work. His openness, accessibility, willingness to assist, and deep statistical knowledge were invaluable to us. Our interactions and discussions with other members of the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU), including Dr. Gary Pollock, Dr. Ashwin Kumar, and Dr. Stephen Morris, provided us with a wealth of direction and ideas. Besides the academic enrichment, experiencing Manchester's open, dynamic, and vibrant culture, along with visiting some sights outside the city, added to the richness of our visit.


In conclusion, this experience has enriched our work and provided us with fresh insights, but, most importantly, it has equipped us with new research knowledge for the future. We are deeply grateful for this opportunity.


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