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Category Archives: Education

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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


The Power of Noticing

I attended the TACTYC annual conference on Saturday, and over the next few weeks I’m going to write about the three keynote speeches and the workshop that I attended. The theme of the conference was Principled Early Years Education – Valuing our past, debating our present, inspiring our future.

Dr. Julian Grenier, headteacher, Sheringham Nursery School, delivered the first keynote on Assessing and Celebrating Young Children’s Learning: What can we learn from the past and how might we shape a future beyond levels?

Within Julian’s speech he reflected on the pioneers in the industry, for instance Susan Isaac and Jerome Bruner. Julian also eloquently read extracts from the works of Dorothy Cranfield Fisher and Margaret Donaldson.

Julian referenced Dr. Jayne Osgood’s points on how many educators see carrying out observations as a ‘chore’. This saddened me as noticing and celebrating children’s achievements should never be a chore and should fill the educator with more knowledge in […]


The Exeter Series – Truly narrowing the gap!

In October, I was honoured to deliver a key-note speech for Babcock Education linked to good practice within leadership. At the conference it was refreshing and inspiring to listen to local educators, who presented on their groundbreaking work with children.

With this in mind, I am delighted to have Amelia Joyner as my first guest blogger from the conference. Amelia spoke passionately about her outstanding provision and what her setting does in practice to ‘narrow the gap.’

Amelia has 13 years’ experience in Early Years, having started on a pre-school committee, moving into administration and then retraining in 2013 to become a teacher. She started work as a pre-school leader at Cullompton Pre School in September 2014.  Amelia’s particular passions are child protection and improving outcomes for disadvantaged children.

Amelia, writes:

“I met Laura recently at a conference on leadership and management. I listened to her talk, which happily was after mine (I was much more relaxed by […]


Schemas for Parents

I’m delighted to write about the Schema Guru, Stella Louis MA. As her profile on Early Education states, Stella is a freelance Early Years consultant who has worked as a nursery nurse, nursery manager, diploma in childcare and education course coordinator, Early Years training coordinator and local authority Early Years consultant.  She wrote her first book in 2008 on understanding children’s schemas and has had articles published in Nursery World and Early Education.  Stella has developed a sustained interest in working with parents and is involved in research on sharing knowledge and understanding young children’s schemas with parents.

“Children have a natural urge to do the same thing again and again, whether it is throwing things, hiding things all over the house in bags, or emptying all the toys out of the toy box.” Stella Louis

In September 2016, Stella launched Schemas for parents, published by Suffolk County Council. This 29-page full colour booklet is designed […]