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International Mud Day 2012!

I am delighted to have Kierna Corr as my guest blogger. Kierna is the nursery class teacher at Windmill Integrated Primary in Dungannon, Northern Ireland. She is also the Northern Ireland Representative for the World Forum in Early Care and Play. Kierna has been teaching nursery for over 12 years and she is passionate about outdoor learning and the impact that this has on children’s learning and development. She has formed positive links with kindergartens in Norway and Sweden through the British Council’s Comenius Programme. She has adopted a unique approach to outdoor play. Kierna’s class go outside every day, no matter what the weather, as the school provides appropriate outdoor clothing.

Kierna tell us that “June 29th is International Mud Day; this is the second year of this world wide event. The original event came about as a way for some orphans in Nepal to connect with nature and when this story was shared […]


Simple Solutions?

“Children are the most powerful source for a better world” Martha Llanos

It’s great that the government commissioned Cathy Nutbrown (click to view review)   Foundations for Quality   to review early years qualifications and that they have now set up a Childcare Commission to look at costs involved. However I feel that the government need to consult with a wide range of early years/childcare/education providers, specialists and parents.

The cost of childcare has always been a catch 22 situation, as quality childcare is expensive and parents want to pay less. As a single parent, who used childcare previously, I found that childcare costs made a huge dent in my monthly outgoings but felt that this was a sacrifice worth paying for.

I work with providers across the UK and know that financial investment in early years makes a considerable impact on children’s outcomes. The cliché ‘quality childcare costs’ is not […]


At last supervision?

 “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got.” Mark Twain

It was refreshing to see that the revised EYFS, Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements has a legal requirement that all settings should have adequate systems relating to how they supervise staff.

A number of my clients (some, currently have robust supervision measures) state that they already have supervision arrangements in place. However, when I ask for clarification this is not quite the case. Generally, what they do have is an adequate appraisal system. (This, indeed, should be in place.)

But it is important that we differentiate between supervision and appraisal; after all from September 2012 settings will need to have clear evidence, especially to show Ofsted how they supervise staff.

To help settings with this, I have attempted to define what these two terms mean:

Supervision: Focused professional and personal dialogue-empowering staff

Appraisal: Formal management evaluation of job performance

From a historical viewpoint we need to analyse the […]


Butter or Margarine? Career Orientation

 

‘Leadership is less about what we know and more about what we’re willing to discover.’ Diane Branson

I recently attended a retirement ‘do’ in my office for Dave who was the receptionist/administrator.

Dave has a very happy disposition and would greet everyone respectfully and with a smile. He would often go out of his way to solve issues and would help you out if you had a query. Nothing was ever a problem for Dave.

When I arrived at the do, Dave was busy sticking labels onto small dishes, labelling them ‘butter’ and ‘margarine,’ even stating the brand of butter!   He said to me, ‘Laura, I am just putting these labels on the dishes so that everyone has a choice as some people like butter and some like margarine.’ Wow, I thought to myself, even on his last day Dave is still thinking of others and making sure that there is attention to detail on his buffet […]


ROVING CAREGIVERS PROGRAMME

 

I am delighted to have Ruth Phillips Ferrier as my guest blogger.  Ruth is the Co-ordinator of the Roving Caregivers Programme, St. Lucia. Here Ruth gives an overview of their outreach project which is very similar to the UK’s Outreach Sure Start programme.

 

ROVING CAREGIVERS PROGRAMME (RCP)

Saint Lucia Chapter

The Roving Caregivers Programme (RCP) is an informal early childhood development initiative that seeks to reach children from birth to three years of age who do not have access to any formal early childhood development programme. The RCP aims to strengthen the care environment for these children through the provision of early stimulation educational sessions for children and their parents. The RCP addresses the developmental needs of the very young in disadvantaged conditions so that children can benefit from quality care and attention, development of basic skills, better health and nutrition and at the next level, better performance in pre-school and future education.

The RCP […]


Spot The Leader!

‘The  only real training for leadership is leadership.’ Antony Jay

Owners frequently ask me “Laura, do you know any decent managers, I have a vacancy to fill?” They also ask ”Why aren’t there enough decent managers?”  I have to agree with these owners and think that, as a sector, we need to reflect on this and find solutions.

An effective manager is one who can truly lead a setting into a zone of quality. Over the years I have had many difficult conversations with managers where I have had to inform them that actually their setting is being managed and not led. There are many tell tale signs, for example the quality of the setting is ineffective and the manager does not have clarity around their visions and values in order to lead the setting. I come away scratching my head, thinking this person has been in post for x amount of years and has attended […]


Who’s commenting on you? The Good Care Guide

The Good Care Guide www.goodcareguide.co.uk  is a new website and is a joint venture with ‘My Family Care’ and ‘United For all Ages’. The guide will give parents the opportunity to comment on their child’s nursery. In addition, families will be able to comment on elderly care homes. Nurseries will also be able to respond to comments that have been posted by parents.

The Good Care Guide is based on the ‘Trip Advisor’ concept which gives hotel guests the opportunity to rate and comment on their stay at hotels.  It is useful for prospective guests to view comments from previous guests in order that they can make an informed choice whether or not to book. For example, comments are made on a range of issues from the quality of food, cleanliness of their rooms to the calibre of the staff. However, recently Trip Advisor has had negative press, with some […]


Forty Years On

Sylvia Fields, Director of Lincolnshire Montessori is my guest blogger. Sylvia reflects on her forty years in education:

This year my twin sister and I are celebrating forty years in education – and what a journey it has been!

I can trace my first work in early years back to the 1970s. Following the birth of my first son we joined the local playgroup in a church hall, and from that point I knew that all I wanted to do was work with children. In those days – before baby cafe, drop in sessions and mumsnet, the Pre-School Playgroup Association, as it was, played a crucial role as a social function for parents and children. Committee led pre schools were practically the only early years provision in our area, and I was pleased to join with other mums running the group in a voluntary capacity.

Playgroups were very much a women-led movement, and our involvement was about having […]


Smoking and children do not mix…

…We all know it, but it’s a brave (or stupid) person that takes on an issue like this with a team of 230+ – of which probably a good 15% are smokers!

Over the years, Kids Allowed has tried all sorts to reduce the impact of smoking on children and non smoking colleagues.

When we first opened, 8 years ago, we had a team garden for all colleagues and this doubled up as a smoking area for colleagues.

Colleagues who had had a cig on their break had to spray perfume and use a mouth wash / spray to try and disguise the smell, but we all know this is totally ineffective.

We moved to colleagues, in addition to the above, having to put on a jacket so that the smoke did not make their clothes smell – a little better but still not good enough.

We then moved to a total change of clothes – this helped somewhat but […]


Have a Break!

If I am at home early evening I often see a pre-school child and his mum walking past my home. This child has caught my attention as sometimes I notice that he is crying.

On a few occasions, I have had a brief conversation with his mum who looks very tired and unsure what to do. My thoughts are that he is tired and the crying is a reaction to seeing his mum and this is his way of communicating his feelings. (Note to self – add a section in my Supporting Transitions course, around preparing children for the handover to their parents at the end of the day.) In addition, I believe that he is picking up that his mum is tired.

I saw them again as I was walking to my car during the Christmas week and I noticed that he wasn’t crying. When I wished them both Happy Christmas, mum replied ‘I’ll not be […]