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Category Archives: childcare

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 […]


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 […]


A sense of self

On a recent holiday, whilst walking to the beach there was a mirror placed in the bend of the road so that traffic and pedestrians could clearly see others coming in the opposite direction.

 I observed a child of about three standing and pulling faces in this mirror and striking different poses. Her parents allowed her to do this and I was smiling!

Good for her, I thought, as she’s building a positive sense of self and thinking about how she fits into the world.

It’s essential that educators within Early Years support children to have a sense of self and to have a positive view of themselves. Many of the insecurities that adults have can, at times, stem from how they saw themselves within their formative years and the conscious and unconscious messages from the adults around them.

Reflective thoughts for practice:

How can the key person support children effectively to have a sense […]


Men in Early Years – The election campaign starts here

On Wednesday 19th November 2014 we celebrate International Men’s Day. With this in mind it gives me great pleasure to welcome David Wright, owner of Paint Pots Nurseries, as my guest blogger.

Together with his wife, Anna, and their son, Joseph, David owns Paint Pots Nurseries in Southampton, a small group of nurseries and preschools whose motto is ‘Love, Laughter and Learning’. David is an advocate and campaigner for Men in Early Years, speaking at conferences and in the media. He set up and coordinates the local Southampton Area Men in Early Years (SAMEY) network.

 David writes:

 ‘If you are male and working in any capacity with young children, the chances are that you will have been approached to take a survey, to complete a questionnaire or to be the subject […]


The Child Obesity Catastrophe

It is my absolute delight to have June O’Sullivan MBE, the chief executive officer of London Early Years Foundation (LEYF), as my guest host. June is an inspiring speaker, author and regular commentator on Early Years, social business and child poverty. June has been instrumental in achieving a major strategic and cultural shift for the award-winning LEYF, resulting in increased profile and profitability over the past eight years. June continues to advise the government in order to better implement their vision for Early Years.

June writes:

“Did you know that one in five children under five years is obese? While obesity is highest among older children, already 11% of toddlers are obese and it’s even higher among children living in poverty. Obese children have a 40-70% chance of becoming obese adults. Diet-related ill health costs the NHS £5.8bn every year with childhood obesity-related illnesses, such as asthma, in England […]


Let’s talk about it…

“Be Kind, for Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle” ~ source unknown

This summer, like the majority of the world, I was both shocked and saddened to hear that Robin Williams, the outstanding actor and comedian, had taken his own life.

One of the discussions triggered by the news of Robin’s death was the wider issue of mental health. It was unfortunate, to say the least, to hear a few insensitive and ill-informed comments about Robin: ‘he had everything that he needed’, ‘he had all the money, why would he take his life?’

From what we know about mental health, it does not discriminate – it is an illness; it covers a wide spectrum, including anxiety/stress as well as severe depression.

The statistic from Mind UK is that, at any given time, one in six employees is suffering from a mental illness.

Therefore, even within a small Early Years setting, there could be a member of staff who […]


‘Continuous Provision’. Two words that can end up causing a great deal of confusion!

It is my pleasure to have my colleague Alistair Bryce-Clegg as a guest blogger.

Alistair enjoyed a successful 10 year career as the Head teacher of a three-form entry Infant school and Early Years unit in Cheshire. Alongside his headship he established a consultancy career specialising in the education of children in the Early Years.

Demand for his consultancy became so great that Alistair left his headship and established ABC Does… (abcdoes.com).

Most of his time is spent supporting practitioners in their settings or delivering keynotes and training, specialising in all aspects of Early Years practice and management, for both the maintained and non-maintained sectors nationally and internationally.

Alistair is also an award-winning author and product designer, whose work has been published in a number of books and magazines; he also sits on the advisory board for Early Years Educator (EYE). Alongside support and training for a range of settings […]


Learning from you, learning from me

“The real system of education is one where the children of rich and poor, of king and subject, receive education through crafts.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

It was a pleasure to be invited to Mumbai, India, by my friend Swati Popat Vats Director of Jumbo Kids, Podar Education Trust.

I have known Swati for many years from working together in our roles as National  representatives for the World Forum for Early Care and Education.

One of the values of Jumbo Kids is ‘the heart, hands and the head’ which I love; it links into the three characteristics of effective teaching and learning. The curriculum is also influenced by Reggio, Montessori and Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences.

I was also excited to hear that one of the first trustees of Podar […]