photo of Hayley Preston-Smith

Mrs Hayley Preston-Smith

Post:Doctoral Tutor (Education)
Other posts:Research student (Education)
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I qualified as an early years teacher in 2017, and have worked within early years settings since 2011. Based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, I began my early years studies with a Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education at K College, Tonbridge, where I gained experience working in day nurseries and a primary school. I then undertook a BA Hons in Early Childhood Studies at Canterbury Christ Church University, where I received comments and praise for my alternative views on early years education from my peers and faculty members. In conjunction with studying, I worked as a nursery practitioner in Boughton Monchelsea, caring for babies aged 3 months to 2 years. Over the following 5 years, whilst continuing with my studies, I have worked in various day nurseries and primary schools within Tunbridge Wells and surrounding area.

With a strong interest in creative teaching and teacher-child interactions, I enrolled on the MA Early Years Education with EYTS at the University of Sussex in 2016. As part of my EYTS training, I worked as a Reception class student teacher within a village primary school in Kent and as a nursery practitioner in a Tunbridge Wells Montessori day nursery. During my time on the MA, I also took on the role of a student representative.

My MA research project focused on, early years teachers' perceptions of 'quality interactions' within their daily practice. This project raised further issues that were of extreme interest to me, and in my opinion, in need of exploration in much greater depth. This has led me to apply for a PhD in Education. My future research will continue from my MA dissertation, by interviewing early years practitioners and observing their interactions with children aged 3 months-5 years in Kent settings.

I have recently been announced as runner-up in the TACTYC Student Reflections Award 2019, with my paper entitled 'Good Friends Don't Throw Your Shoes on the Bonfire': An Exploration into Early Years Practitioners’ Conceptualisations of ‘Quality Interactions’ in Everyday Practice. My entry was a precis of the aforementioned MA research project, and the further questions that were prompted as a result of the study. This paper is published on the TACTYC 'Reflections' webpage.


Doctoral Tutor for BA in Primary & Early Years Education (2019) - 'Educating the Whole Child' module. 


PhD Education (2019 - present) - University of Sussex

MSc Social Research Methods (2018-2019) - University of Sussex

MA Early Years Education with Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS) (2016-2017) - University of Sussex

BA Hons Early Childhood Studies (2013-2016) - Canterbury Christ Church University


Student Representative for MA Early Years Education with EYTS (2016-2017). 

Runner-up in the TACTYC Student Reflections Award 2019, published on the TACTYC 'Reflections' webpage.