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Personal experiences and professional theories

I recently read a thought-provoking, inspiring and personal blog post by Annie Richardson. I let Annie know how much I’d enjoyed reading it.

In it, she reflects on her family, growing up within a minority community and her career and journey into Early Years.

You can read her blog here.

For me, Annie has shown vulnerability by sharing her own narrative and this is something that Brene Brown’s informative research is based on, as she asserts her paradoxical view of how vulnerability can also be a strength. Indeed, Annie has shown courage and strength in sharing her personal and professional history.

Annie also reflected on whether it is better to share more head than heart in her blog. My opinion is that blogs should be from the heart: personal reflections, observations, a comment or whatever you feel you want to write. Blogs are different to writing an academic or research paper.

I am reminded of Dr. Jacqui […]


All about professional development…

I have at times read with interest on social media and heard on my travels, that providers believe that if they don’t undertake training then they will be penalised by Ofsted, with a few claiming that this was the reason they didn’t get Outstanding. To clarify, Ofsted do not require you to have undertaken face-to-face training.

I have said many times that language is important and that it is the term Continuous Professional Development (CPD) that should be used.

Training makes up only a small percentage of CPD. There are many other areas of CPD, including: reading research, journals, papers, blogs, visiting other settings, taking part in webinars, listening to podcasts and attending workshops, briefings and conferences. Training also includes connecting on social media chats, such as #EYTalking on Twitter, watching Facebook lives, inspirations from Pinterest and Instagram. It can even be watching a television documentary or listening to a radio broadcast.  I’m sure there is […]


World Environment Day

Yesterday was World Environment Day. My colleague, Francis Joseph, shared this image on his Facebook page.

I love this quote and reflected also on how quickly we change our setting environments without considering whether the change will have a positive impact on children’s learning and development. How does the change mirror the setting’s ethos/values? Are we changing just because it’s trendy to do so? Are there links to evidence, practice and/or research?

A case in point: children can experience the benefits of mud without a mud kitchen!

What a timely reminder that, the World Forum’s, International Mud Day is on Thursday 29th June, 2017. Here’s an informative blog to read on the event.

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We were told!

For a number of years, I have been perplexed by the amount of unnecessary paperwork that educators complete within their settings.

It’s important to remember what the EYFS states:

“Assessment should not entail prolonged breaks from interaction with children, nor require excessive paperwork. Paperwork should be limited to that which is absolutely necessary to promote children’s successful learning and development.” EYFS, 2014

On various social media platforms or when delivering training or speaking to clients, I hear comments such as:

“We were told to do this.”

 “Ofsted want to see this.”

 “The local authority advisor has given us a month to complete this.”

 “A consultant/trainer suggested this was the best way.”

As a consultant/trainer, I see myself as an advisor, which means that it is only advice.

In addition, in some settings the system is so complicated that educators are unable to fully vocalise why they do what they do.

“Less paperwork = more time with the children!”

In my opinion, […]


Respect the uniqueness of every child

My son’s final parents’ evening and my final one as a parent, was on Wednesday night. Fingers crossed for university next year. Ro didn’t attend and decided to go to a ‘drum & bass’ concert with his mates! Yes, on a school night! Ooh, to be young!

I fed back to Ro what the lecturers said. They also shorten his name – just like we do! Shows that they know him!!

“100% he’ll have a successful career in the creative industries. His thinking is unique… original ideas… lovely son… great student. Great sense of humour…witty… academic… no complaints… you should be proud… reflective student… his work is outstanding!”

Ro wants to work in interactive media, in the film industry.

However, since the age of four, it’s always been the same area for improvement from his teachers: “He needs to speak up more.”

Ro said to me. “Hmm, yes, but if I do that I’ll be the same as everyone else!”

“Indeed, […]


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 […]


#TwitteratiChallenge

It was an honour to be nominated for the #TwitteratiChallenge by @Sue_Cowley who is an inspiring and dedicated education professional. When I read Sue’s blog in full I noted that I also had to nominate five colleagues. How to choose? There are so many inspirational colleagues to choose from. Here are the five who I feel contribute, on different levels, to the wonderful land of Twitter.

1. @SueAtkins is a former Deputy Headteacher, a mother and a well-known international parenting expert. Sue also gives frequent parenting advice on television and radio. Sue’s tweets are on education and parenting, she also connects colleagues together, especially if she believes that they are like minded and have a degree of synergy.  When encouraging colleagues to join Twitter I always say to follow Sue. As the ‘queen of Twitter!’ Sue is very honest and shares her personal and professional journey, as […]


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 […]


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 Education was Mahatma Gandhi! He had signed the minutes of […]