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Yearly Archives: 2015

Respect the uniqueness of every child

My son’s final parents’ evening and my final one as a parent, was on Wednesday night. Fingers crossed for university next year. Ro didn’t attend and decided to go to a ‘drum & bass’ concert with his mates! Yes, on a school night! Ooh, to be young!

I fed back to Ro what the lecturers said. They also shorten his name – just like we do! Shows that they know him!!

“100% he’ll have a successful career in the creative industries. His thinking is unique… original ideas… lovely son… great student. Great sense of humour…witty… academic… no complaints… you should be proud… reflective student… his work is outstanding!”

Ro wants to work in interactive media, in the film industry.

However, since the age of four, it’s always been the same area for improvement from his teachers: “He needs to speak up more.”

Ro said to me. “Hmm, yes, but if I do that I’ll be the same as everyone else!”

“Indeed, […]


Literacy Champions

I’m delighted to have Rebecca Marsh with us to discuss how she implemented literacy within her setting.

Rebecca is a manager at one of the Portico group of settings. Rebecca has been in Early Years for over 10 years, three of these as a manager.

Rebecca is currently completing a level 5 in management, and is passionate and driven about leading successful teams and ensuring the children in her care are given the best possible start in life.

Rebecca explains:

“Starting the literacy project was by far one of the best decisions I have made in management. We were able to participate in the NDNA Literacy Champions as we had an Early Years professional (EYP) in the setting. The project works so well for us and will do for any busy setting because apart from certain deadlines, you use the resources and webinars at your own pace […]


It feels like very cold ice-cream on your teeth!

A colleague posed a question on a social media forum that I belong to as to whether other colleagues had heard of using sensory immersive approach within a coaching session. A number of colleagues asked him to clarify, he then showed a picture of a school’s ‘sensory room’.

My reply was to be cautious when using this approach, as some individuals may have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).  As many of you know, my son is on the autistic spectrum and one of his conditions is SPD.

It made me think about children who are on the spectrum within Early Years settings who are displaying SPD, as educators may think it is due to something else.

In his own early years, my son would not step on leaves – a real challenge in autumn!

I recently spoke to a specialist in autism-related behaviour and explained how my son […]


Keeping it real and strengths!

On Friday, my 21-year-old amazing son, Rian, was officially diagnosed with Autism. I always knew that Rian was different and wonderful, right from when he was a baby. Throughout his primary and secondary school years I had many conversations with teachers about Rian’s behaviour. I even had him privately assessed twice. This highlighted dyslexia and borderline attention deficit disorder. I started to question my parenting style and as an educator became ever more frustrated with not getting to the bottom of Rian’s complex symptoms.

Rian became less sociable and his communication decreased as he headed towards his mid-teens. He avoided at all cost any social situation that meant he’d have to communicate with others.

His main focus is football; he’s a mean left-footed defender and can tell you everything you need to know about Arsenal. He plays for a local team on Sundays and takes part in the weekly 5k Park […]


Little Green Fingers

It is my pleasure to have Francis Smith, the owner of Studio Cultivate, with us. I have already had the pleasure of seeing Francis at work in a nursery. Studio Cultivate’s key principle is to realise horticultural potential in people and places. This to me is awesome and connects children with nature and their local environment and provides so many learning opportunities within settings and extension activities for children to do at home.  Of course, I had to ask Francis to write a guest blog for me, to share his amazing work!

Francis writes:

“In my previous role working as a landscape contractor I came across many underused and underappreciated outdoor school spaces. In a city where green space is limited I felt it a real shame that their potential for learning, exploration and general fun was often being overlooked. Eighteen months ago I set up the educational wing of Studio Cultivate, with the ambition of revealing […]


Actions and reactions!

I recently experienced a long train delay. The train was 30 minutes late and then proceeded to progress slowly along the tracks. Many passengers used colourful language to express their frustration although others, like myself, remained calm, with a c’est la vie attitude.

The situation reminded me of a psychology course that I was on over 25 years ago. The trainer cited an example of a fatal incident, where a passenger took their own life by jumping in front of a tube train. He said one passenger shouted:  “How the f*** do I get to work now?” while another became violently sick on the platform. It made me think of how we all react differently to situations and events.

Within the workplace we can see how colleagues and parents react differently, for example, when receiving news or during an ‘incident’.

It’s helpful to know that we all react differently to the world around us, due to a number […]


#TwitteratiChallenge

It was an honour to be nominated for the #TwitteratiChallenge by @Sue_Cowley who is an inspiring and dedicated education professional. When I read Sue’s blog in full I noted that I also had to nominate five colleagues. How to choose? There are so many inspirational colleagues to choose from. Here are the five who I feel contribute, on different levels, to the wonderful land of Twitter.

1. @SueAtkins is a former Deputy Headteacher, a mother and a well-known international parenting expert. Sue also gives frequent parenting advice on television and radio. Sue’s tweets are on education and parenting, she also connects colleagues together, especially if she believes that they are like minded and have a degree of synergy.  When encouraging colleagues to join Twitter I […]


Keep on moving….

I recently shared this statement via social media: “Indeed, outstanding doesn’t mean that a setting is perfect! Quite the contrary, it is all about constantly improving from a 360% perspective.”

A few tips on consistently improving:

Clarity about your values and how they mirror in practice
Doing your best for every child
Staff form meaningful, personal and positive relationships with children
Environment challenges and supports children’s development
Teaching clearly supports children’s current development and their next stages
High standards in place, which staff are committed to
Robust leadership, which is different from managing
Rigorous auditing of practice not only completed by management, but by the whole staff team
Moderation meetings to discuss children’s learning and development
Stakeholder involvement and consultation
Meaningful and regular two-way communication between home and setting
Self-evaluation is a team effort
Full understanding of reflective practice and use as a catalyst to improve
Regular reflective professional development that impacts on practice
Child’s voice and opinions are heard

If you would like to discuss in detail how […]


Look through the window and what do you see?

“Windows mean light, wisdom means Windows!” ~ Mehmet Murat ildan

On a recent Twitter chat called #Kinderchat Geoff Billing, an Early Years colleague, wrote this tweet.

“I remember @LauraChildcare tweeting once about not being a fan of stuff covering windows..stuck with me and changed my practice! #kinderchat

I responded:

“I sure did! Even my sons point out settings that have painted windows. Blocks out natural light & looks tacky! #Kinderchat

Other colleagues also tweeted their thoughts on painted windows within settings.

My views are very clear that windows are there for one to see outside and connects the outside in! So I’m often surprised when I still see settings that have painted their windows with either tacky paintings and/or worse still, with the paint peeling off the window.

Some settings have said to me they paint their windows […]


Disqualification by association

It is with pleasure that I have Debbie Alcock, of Influential childcare as my guest blogger. Debbie has been in childcare for over 30 years, 19 of these spent in inspection and regulation, first with the London Borough of Barnet and then with Ofsted. She has held many positions in Ofsted: as a policy writer, inspector, team manager, area manager and lastly as a regulatory inspector dealing with serious concerns and safeguarding. She currently works as a freelance trainer, consultant and writer. In addition, Debbie plays a strong part in the Ofsted Big Conversation and is the London lead for NEYTCO.

Debbie writes:

“Disqualification by association is one of the 11 reasons that a person may be disqualified from working with children. Since the 1989 Children Act there has been legislation […]