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Category Archives: Leadership

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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


NMT – Childcare Power 20

Croydon-based international award winning Early Years expert Laura Henry has been included in the “power 20” list of the most influential people in childcare in the UK, as compiled by Nursery Management Today (NMT) magazine. NMT is the childcare sector management bi-monthly journal.

Paul Birley, Head of Public Sector & Healthcare at Barclays, stated: ‘It is therefore important we recognise those people that have made a real difference…they have had a major influence on others. By show-casing these people who have made a difference, we believe we are helping to inspire others to continue to drive up quality in the sector.’ The award was sponsored by Barclays Bank.

As one of the 20 most influential people in childcare, Laura was invited to the awards dinner at Barclays’ head office in Canary Wharf on Thursday 29th May 2014.

Laura was surprised to be nominated by her peers; she commented: ‘There are many talented colleagues working within Early Years […]


Effective and Safer Recruitment

Please see Nursery World for my new four part monthly series on Effective and Safer Recruitment.


It’s good to talk!

#EYTalking is the FREE weekly ‘touch in’ within Social Media for anyone, be they a practitioner, childminder, teacher, educator, trainer, lecturer, tutor or assessor working within Early Years education or childcare nationally or internationally. We also have parents joining in. I created #EYTalking, managing it on a weekly basis. Topics we have covered include outdoor learning, parents as partners and literacy; we also have guest hosts, such as the Department for Education and other Early Years colleagues.

We share ideas as well as resources such as research and blogs. In addition, we comment on Early Years childcare and education issues.

Many colleagues have noted that #EYTalking is now one of their areas of continuous personal and professional development (CPPD), commenting that they write up reflections and actions to improve their practice, including sharing new ideas with colleagues and parents. For this purpose, I have created a useful reflective log

Philosophical Play in the Early Years Setting

Communicating with children and interpreting their play and language requires skill and a sensitive approach. Therefore it gives me pleasure to have Sara Stanley, who supports children by using a philosophical approach, as my guest blogger

Sara is a registered level 1 SAPERE Trainer and National and International keynote speaker. She runs workshops, in service training and courses in Philosophy for Children (P4C) and enabling enquiry based classroom environments. She is also involved in long term projects working in Early Years settings in South African townships, working with Nali’Bali, PRAESA, the University of Cape Town and the DG Murray Trust.

Sara writes:

 “It could be said that children are at their most philosophical in their formative years. If you take Socrates’ provocation that “All I know is that I know nothing” then we see everything as new and puzzling. To a child the whole world is a new and strange place; a place where some things make perfect […]


RIGHT from the start early years good practice films: assessment

New from Ofsted:

‘RIGHT from the start’ is a suite of six films showing examples of good practice in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).