Name, Shame, Blame, Repeat!

An article in the Sunday Times caught my eye, written by their education correspondent, Sian Griffiths, under the headline, ‘Stressed heads exclude children as young as three.’ Sian subsequently tweeted, “I found this an upsetting story to write.”

In short, more children under the age of seven are being excluded according to figures quoted from the Office for National Statistics this month, indicating a rise in the number of exclusions involving primary-aged children. In her article, Sian also mentions a documentary that will be screened on Channel 4 on Tuesday 25th July – Excluded at Seven.

This doesn’t surprise me, but only further saddens me that children are excluded from school. Exclusion only adds to their trauma/anxiety and doesn’t help to give them the tools to self-regulate their behaviour and emotions. Imagine what it must feel like for these children’s self-esteem and self-worth to be excluded at such a young age?

Children who show behaviour that may […]


Professional Boundaries

An interesting Social Media post came up on my timeline:

“Question from a member: I would like to know what people would do if a member of staff began a romantic relationship with a parent of a child who is one of their key children; parents only separated very recently (within the last 4 weeks) and mom is totally unaware of the situation. Thank you.”

I was intrigued and concerned that a few commented that they felt it was fine for a member of staff to enter into a sexual relationship with a parent from the setting. I have had over 30 years’ experience working within Early Years, in a variety of roles, and I also work as an expert witness. I have seen where negative organisational behaviour of a setting can have a lasting damaging impact, and, more importantly, can fail to keep children and their families safe and protect them from harm.

Safeguarding and protecting children […]


All about professional development…

I have at times read with interest on social media and heard on my travels, that providers believe that if they don’t undertake training then they will be penalised by Ofsted, with a few claiming that this was the reason they didn’t get Outstanding. To clarify, Ofsted do not require you to have undertaken face-to-face training.

I have said many times that language is important and that it is the term Continuous Professional Development (CPD) that should be used.

Training makes up only a small percentage of CPD. There are many other areas of CPD, including: reading research, journals, papers, blogs, visiting other settings, taking part in webinars, listening to podcasts and attending workshops, briefings and conferences. Training also includes connecting on social media chats, such as #EYTalking on Twitter, watching Facebook lives, inspirations from Pinterest and Instagram. It can even be watching a television documentary or listening to a radio broadcast.  I’m sure there is […]


World Environment Day

Yesterday was World Environment Day. My colleague, Francis Joseph, shared this image on his Facebook page.

I love this quote and reflected also on how quickly we change our setting environments without considering whether the change will have a positive impact on children’s learning and development. How does the change mirror the setting’s ethos/values? Are we changing just because it’s trendy to do so? Are there links to evidence, practice and/or research?

A case in point: children can experience the benefits of mud without a mud kitchen!

What a timely reminder that, the World Forum’s, International Mud Day is on Thursday 29th June, 2017. Here’s an informative blog to read on the event.

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Getting it right for SEND Children

I’m delighted to have Cristina Gangemi, disability consultant, as my guest blogger. Cristina holds a master’s degree in this field and is director of The Kairos Forum, which focuses on enabling communities to be places of belonging for people with a disability. She has extensive experience in Special Educational Needs (SEN), offering training across a range of settings including schools and Early Years as well as parental support. Cristina has undertaken innovative and creative research with the University of Aberdeen in collaboration with people with an intellectual disability. Her research ‘EveryBody Has a Story’ (2010) has produced approaches to SEN that involve and celebrate the whole person, body, mind and spirit. Cristina is a national adviser to the bishops of England and Wales and works closely with Vatican Councils. She has also worked closely with Baroness Sheila Hollins, both on her advisory board and the series ‘Books beyond words’. Her work is recognised and valued […]


It has to make sense!

I had an enjoyable Wold Book Day at Kingswood School, sharing my children’s picture book Jo-Jo and Gran-Gran all in a week.

I was very impressed by the welcome I received, even the slice of cake and the cup of tea went down well!  A colleague of mine says that you can always tell the culture of a school by how you are received on arrival. Indeed, the culture of this school is one of sharing, caring and helping.

My role for the day was to read my book with the children in both the reception and nursery classes. It was great to be able to scaffold the children’s learning using the book and have lots of fun as well, for example, problem solving and developing new concepts.

I finished the book by setting the children a writing challenge linked to the story: to write a note to Gran-Gran with their ideas for […]


Another meeting?

We had a successful #EYTalking session on Twitter on Tuesday 6th December 2016, on the theme of safeguarding, professionalism and reflection. One of the discussions was on supervision, linked to the wider continuum of safeguarding.

Since the EYFS 2012, I’ve delivered numerous supervision sessions around the country and have written two blogs on supervision. I’m passionate about supervision and its value, if carried out effectively, in supporting the well-being and welfare of educators and supporting safe practice within a setting, as well as the positive ripple effective on children’s holistic development.

A few of the comments that came up mentioned appraisals, and as we know this has not been a requirement in the EYFS since September 2014. My view is that as appraisals are no longer a requirement of registration, I question whether there is a need to still carry out appraisals when there are other ways to measure how staff perform throughout the year […]


Professional Generosity (being good at sharing!)

I’m delighted to have Sarah Vickery, the assistant head of the Exeter Children’s Federation, writing as part of the Exeter series. When I heard Sarah speak about professional generosity at the conference I was punching the air! Sarah mentioned #EYTalking on Twitter, which I set up four years ago and I’m also known as the ‘Queen of Early Years sharing’.

Sarah writes:

“I’ve been teaching for twenty years now, starting off in a primary school in Tottenham, North London, before returning home to teach in Devon (and get married, start a family etc.!). It was here I discovered a love of all things Early Years in my first Reception class role, and I never looked back! I hope if you met me you’d realise how joyful and rewarding I find teaching in Early Years. I’m a hands-on, out-in-all-weathers, get-messy, get-stuck-in and get-the-glitter-out kind of teacher. Loving Early Years has, I believe, helped me lead successful Early Years teams […]


Being naked is ok!

I recently reviewed a copy of Julian Grenier’s book Successful Early Years Inspections. A few days later I read a blog post that Julian wrote: ‘Successful Early Years Ofsted Inspections: “what the **** did you spend your time writing that for?”’

In brief, the title comes from a message Julian received from a colleague, who actually used those words.

Julian used his blog post to explain why he wrote his book.

I have been writing in the public domain for over two decades, including sector journals, professional guides, books and blogs. I also remember, as a student 30 years ago, writing a letter to Nursery World!

When I start to write, I never think: “What if someone doesn’t like it, what if I haven’t referenced information incorrectly, what if it goes against someone else’s passion?”

I write because I’m passionate about Early Years, the little people and their families.

As a writer, you are vulnerable from the moment […]


Supporting the wellbeing of Early Years staff

Continuing with the Exeter series, I’m delighted to present Karen Salter, who delivered a session on well-being for educators at the Babcock conference. Karen has worked as an Early Years consultant in Devon since 2009. Before this she worked as an EYFS teacher and EYFS/KS1 leader. Karen has an MSc in occupational psychology, specialising in workplace wellbeing, and undertook research into the role of workplace support on school staff wellbeing levels.

Karen writes:

“As an Early Years consultant I’ve witnessed a growing need to support staff wellbeing, owing to the challenges of the education system and continued pace of change. I have recently started running training for Early Years leaders on looking after their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of their team.

It makes sense that educators who feel well, with a manageable workload, will be effective at their jobs.  Indeed, research suggests this is the case.  For example, Briner and […]