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Category Archives: Early Years

British Values

A colleague recently asked me my views on British Values.

This was my response:


World Nursery Rhyme Week

Register here for Nursery Rhyme Week

See my book on Nursery Rhymes!


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 […]


Seeds of behaviour

My Podcast on behaviour via Paul Dix:

Seeds of behaviour:


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 […]


Confident Talkers – Conversations for Early Years

“Why is this special to you?”

“How do you know when your friends are sad?”

Asking children open-ended questions helps them to think critically and expand their vocabulary. It also builds their confidence, aiding their personal, emotional and social development.

In these Confident Talkers cards, I’ve put together 48 such questions to engage and stimulate conversation with children from two to seven years.

Each card contains a thought-provoking question that can be adapted to any number of situations – inside or out and about, playing quietly, on the go, in the car or at the dinner table. You can use different scenarios and objects to set the scene, such as using something the child has created, describing what their lunch tastes like or discuss how they feel about a special event, such as their birthday or other celebration.

By encouraging conversation children learn new words and concepts, develop active listening skills, learn to problem solve and make connections, and most […]


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 […]


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 […]