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The whole thing’s daft, I don’t know why – to teach or not to teach?

I delivered an inset day training session recently to a nursery group. The session was called: ‘Are you listening to me? Really, listening to me?’  In short, looking how educators need to be tuned into children in order to effectively support them with their learning and development.

One of the delegates, who I know from previous training and who follows me on Twitter, said: ‘Laura, I know your son works for Arsenal. What does he do? Love Thierry Henry, best player Arsenal had. If your son ever meets him, please ask for a photograph and autograph!’

I then burst out into The Thierry Henry song. I am an Arsenal supporter as well and I remember going to a game and singing the ‘Thierry song’, loud and clear with the rest of the fans!

She then went on to say how a child in the nursery was an Arsenal supporter and that […]


We Are The World!

One of my key times within early years has been attending the World Forum on Early Care and Education events which take place at different locations around the world every few years.

The next said conference will be in San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 6th – 9th 2014.

Of all the conferences that I have attended, I have found the World Forum to be the most profound, informative and inspirational, with a massive positive impact on my practice.  Listening to the world renowned Professor Stuart Shanker, bespoke presentation on brain development, and Professor Lillian Katz’s talks regarding her lifelong commitment to early childhood education were truly inspirational. Oh, and by the way, Lillian and I made the connection that we both attended Oxford Gardens, Primary School, in Kensington, London! To be able to share ideas and connect with colleagues regarding their early years practice is indeed a privilege. I’ve met colleagues from India, Nigeria and Australia, to […]


Whose Voice Should We Listen To?

On Twitter I follow Huffington Post Parents and I read a tweet with the introduction, ‘Parents of a 7yr old boy in a wheelchair were shocked when they saw his class picture…’  With such a headline I had to click to read the article in full. Please read the article to get the background information on this story.

Like most people reading this, I was shocked by this story and then reflected on a few points.

The mother said the image was discriminatory. The father’s view was that although it was upsetting and hurtful the photographer and/or school did not intentionally discriminate against their son.

The photograph was retaken and this time Miles was sat on the bench with his peers. An expert on disability found this to still show a lack of awareness of Miles, as the wheelchair is part of him. Miles’s father commented that when he […]


Steps Into School

We have all been through different transitions in our life, for example moving home or starting a new job. Or can we clearly remember when we started school? These transitions in life all bring a variety of emotions (perhaps excitement, happiness, sadness,loss etc) and whether they are positive or negative we, as adults, have a degree of choice to go through a certain transition. However, a child doesn’t have a choice when starting school and it is therefore imperative that we support them through this transition to school with the best of our intentions.

Image: Starting School. By, Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Involving your child in the process will help them to feel a degree of ownership and settle well into their new school.

The majority of schools, in the term before new children start, arrange a visit for all new children. The children are then able to meet their new teacher […]


We need to talk too!

“Truly great leaders spend as much time collecting and acting upon feedback as they do providing it” Alexander Lucia

As of late I have been very busy delivering supervision training in line with the revised safeguarding and welfare requirements of the EYFS.

One issue that comes up time and time again, irrespective of whether the delegate is a manager or owner, is that they receive no supervision or have a one-to-one with anyone. This is the same whether their setting is in the private, voluntary, independent or maintained sector.

This worries me slightly, as I believe that this should be in place for many different reasons: to discuss leadership and management issues, to focus on their own personal and professional development and, more importantly, to discuss how they support staff to make a difference to children’s learning and development.

Over the years I have coached, mentored and carried out supervision with managers and owners, with a focus on […]


Learning Outdoors in Early Childhood

It is my pleasure to have Jan White as my guest blogger this week.  Jan is fascinated by outdoor learning and play and the many benefits that this brings. She works both nationally and internationally to advocate and support high quality outdoor provision for services for children from birth to five.  With twenty-eight years’ experience of working in education, she is author of Playing and Learning Outdoors: making provision for high quality experiences in the outdoor environment (Routledge, 2008), and Making a Mud Kitchen (Muddy faces 2012), editor of Outdoor Provision in the Early Years (Sage, 2011), and Jan also collaborated with Siren Films to make the award-winning training DVDs Babies Outdoors, Toddlers Outdoors and Two Year-olds Outdoors (Siren Films, 2011).

Learning Outdoors in Early Childhood: An opportunity to dig deeply into the why, what and how of playing and learning outdoors for young children from birth to five!

Cooking up something wonderful!

Jan writes […]


Sensory Play and the EYFS

I am very excited to have Sue Gascoyne as my guest blogger. I whole heartedly promote sensory play and multi-sensory learning within early years and education as I believe sensory play impacts positively on children’s learning and development.

Sue Gascoyne is an educational consultant, early years researcher, trainer and author. She runs workshops and speaks nationally and internationally, drawing upon the research which she has instigated to further understanding of the benefits of sensory-rich object play. This is also reflected in her award winning training – Sue was named Nursery World’s ‘Trainer of the Year’ in 2009 for her contribution to the early years sector. Her accomplished books, Sensory Play, 2011 (Practical Pre-School) and Treasure Baskets and Beyond – Realising the benefits of sensory rich play, 2012 (Open University Press) successfully convey both the theory and practical application of sensory play. Sue is the founder of Play to Z Ltd, specialist providers of award-winning sensory […]


Creating Developmentally Appropriate Spaces to Encourage Communication

As we continue to develop and enhance our practice, in line with the revised EYFS, it is an honour to have Elizabeth Jarman as my guest blogger. 

Elizabeth is an internationally recognised education professional who specialises in creating optimum conditions for learning. She is an award winning author. Her work is widely respected and professionally challenges the way that learning environments for children and families are considered.

Elizabeth writes:

“When reviewing your environment and the way that it supports your underpinning pedagogy1, pay attention to your children’s stages of development. Create developmentally appropriate spaces that acknowledge where they are at. Here are some ideas to inspire your thinking and help you to audit your context. Consider:

Spaces for one: Children can be egocentric and can’t cope with sharing at first. There are times when even the most mature child needs space and time alone.

Make it OK to be by yourself; a space where adults won’t fit, giving […]


All roads lead to two year olds!

It is a pleasure to have James Hempsall as my guest blogger. James has been the Director of Hempsall’s since 1999, leading a team of 25 trainers, researchers, development officers and consultants in early years, childcare and children’s centres.  He has worked with over 100 local authorities supporting them to implement all aspects of government childcare policy at strategic and operational levels.

James writes ”There’s big things happening around two year olds.  The government has signalled their importance by allocating significant new funding to the roll out of thousands of new places.  At a time when new money is scarce, it is incredible that all roads lead to two year olds and their early education.  It is an economic, social mobility, early intervention, poverty and achievement agenda.  And one which retains the potential to support families to make sound economic choices, learn and achieve, and close the gap between the least advantaged children and their peers.

The […]


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 […]