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Category Archives: training

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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


Off the shelf training….

My new resource supporting professional development:

Bespoke Early Years Training:


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 […]


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 of research. Let’s face it, we are a rare breed, less than 2% of the […]


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 and […]


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 and at all times throughout the school day.

A few schools […]