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Professional Boundaries

An interesting Social Media post came up on my timeline:

“Question from a member: I would like to know what people would do if a member of staff began a romantic relationship with a parent of a child who is one of their key children; parents only separated very recently (within the last 4 weeks) and mom is totally unaware of the situation. Thank you.”

I was intrigued and concerned that a few commented that they felt it was fine for a member of staff to enter into a sexual relationship with a parent from the setting. I have had over 30 years’ experience working within Early Years, in a variety of roles, and I also work as an expert witness. I have seen where negative organisational behaviour of a setting can have a lasting damaging impact, and, more importantly, can fail to keep children and their families safe and protect them from harm.

Safeguarding and protecting children […]


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 […]


The Exeter Series – Truly narrowing the gap!

In October, I was honoured to deliver a key-note speech for Babcock Education linked to good practice within leadership. At the conference it was refreshing and inspiring to listen to local educators, who presented on their groundbreaking work with children.

With this in mind, I am delighted to have Amelia Joyner as my first guest blogger from the conference. Amelia spoke passionately about her outstanding provision and what her setting does in practice to ‘narrow the gap.’

Amelia has 13 years’ experience in Early Years, having started on a pre-school committee, moving into administration and then retraining in 2013 to become a teacher. She started work as a pre-school leader at Cullompton Pre School in September 2014.  Amelia’s particular passions are child protection and improving outcomes for disadvantaged children.

Amelia, writes:

“I met Laura recently at a conference on leadership and management. I listened to her talk, which happily was after mine (I was much more relaxed by […]


Bottom-up!

So, the Government is busy recruiting the next HMCI, to replace Sir Michael Wilshaw.

The shortlist has been reported via TES and the education community is in full flow discussing who the Government may choose and why.

One tweet that caught my eye was from the inspiring Sue Cowley, who noted:

“I think it’d be a good idea to have someone with primary experience as the next head of Ofsted. Historically it’s mostly been secondary people.’

I would wholeheartedly agree with Sue. In addition, they should have working knowledge and an understanding of the Early Years.

For far too long we’ve had a top-down approach, which has had a detrimental effect on little people, from inappropriate testing to a lack of understanding of the importance of play within Early Years.

Biology informs us that it all starts from conception.  There’s a reason why babies are not born walking!

A sound understanding of child development […]


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, […]


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 […]


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 preventing a child being cared for where there is a […]


What’s the story?

Last week I had the pleasure of attending Fashioning Winter: From Fairy Tales to Fashion at Somerset House, for the start of their winter season events.

The evening was hosted by Shonagh Marshall, curator at Somerset House and Camilla Morton, a London-based fashion writer. In brief, the panel discussed storytelling within fashion (even quoting some of my childhood favourites, such as the Princess and the Pea, Sleeping Beauty, and the Elves and the Shoemaker) and how these stories influenced the work of fashion designers Alexander McQueen and John Galliano.

 A poignant comment from Camilla was ‘Every object has a story’. I listened attentively as Camilla spoke about narratives in stories and how these can bring a fashion show to life.

This made me reflect on using objects to share with children, to deepen their understanding of oral stories and the […]


Children don’t do Autumn, they do kicking leaves….

I came across an interesting blog on the wonderful land of Twitter, appropriately titled: ‘Are you addicted to Themes? A tale about themes, a Caterpillar and change.’

As with most of the inspiring blogs and other information I come across, I always share, this time via LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. The majority of colleagues agreed with Denita’s analysis of ‘no themes’, with a few saying they still use themes and topics to make sure that children have variety. My view is that Educators who still hold on to the security blanket of themes, do so as a result of pedagogy practice within their Early Years professional development, in particular how they learned to emotionally connect with and to communicate with children. It is more important to know how […]


Effective and Safer Recruitment

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