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Category Archives: Education

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 […]


Please Sir, can I have some more?

It is refreshing that the Government has introduced a new incentive of free school meals for young children.

Over the last 10 years Jamie Oliver has campaigned for healthy school lunches. I applaud him for his tireless campaigning to promote and make changes in what our children eat whilst they are at school. Children should be given freshly cooked food.

One of the things I strongly dislike about the school lunch environment is the use, in some schools, of these trays:

My reason for disliking them is that prisoners’ meals are served on these trays! Surely our children deserve better than this?

There is excellent practice in the classrooms, but then at lunch-times there is a shift in quality, which could easily be avoided. In essence, quality practice should be seen in all areas […]


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 […]


Managing Behaviour – seriously?

I continue to be intrigued by the way the EYFS talks about ‘managing children’s behaviour’. Considering what we now know about how a child learns and develops, is ‘managing children’s behaviour’ still a useful term to use within Early Years?

My views are that we can’t manage children’s behaviour, as we need to give all children the skills and tools to regulate their own behaviour, so they can resolve conflict and be emotionally grounded both within their early years and beyond.

Educators can indeed help children with self-regulation, which is different from the traditional training in ‘behaviour management’ within Early Years.

Educators require skills such as recognising a child has suffered a trauma and supporting the child sensitively to help them communicate how they are feeling; assisting children to resolve conflict through negotiation and giving them the language skills to do so; helping children know they have a voice and are able to contribute […]


Your name’s not down, you’re not coming in

I recently read a story, which quite frankly shocked me, both as a parent and an educational professional.

In brief an 11 year old was unable to join her friends for a special end-of-year treat for pupils who had a 100% attendance record. This child had missed one day to attend her mother’s funeral.

Please read her full story.

I have never been a fan of rewards for 100% attendance at school or work, be they certificates or treats, as this creates a culture of shaming those who haven’t achieved full attendance. There will be a variety of reasons for absence, for example a virus, a long term medical condition, or a sensitive personal issue. It is outright discrimination, creates divisions and can make some children feel under pressure to attend.

It can also lead to children becoming ‘people pleasers’. Yes, attending school is important, but children and parents should […]


EARLY YEARS: valuable ends and effective means

New informative report from the Centre Forum: Sets out ways that early years policy can narrow the opportunity gap between disadvantaged children and their peers.


Get Connected

Quick question: Do you use social media?

Over the years, the one piece of advice I most often give to providers and educators is that they should sign up to receive the regular email updates from Ofsted, Department for Education and the sector press. It is vital they keep up-to-date with legislation, guidance and other important information that may affect their practices and, if necessary, make changes.

Nowadays my advice is that they should also be using social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Blogs, etc).

Last week I attended an evening seminar titled: ‘Close Encounters of the Digital Kind’. 

There were interesting speakers and discussions on how we should embrace social media from a business point of view.

Social media can be used in a variety of ways within your setting: to market your setting, sharing positive aspects such as raising funds for charity, a new mud kitchen or sharing an innovative area in your practice.

However, it can […]