I am a supporter of Open Eye, Early Childhood Action and now Save Childhood Movement because I strongly believe in the things these organisations stand for.
The Flourish Conference is organised by Save Childhood Movement – if you have not heard of them click here
I knew I was in for a very busy packed with inspirational speakers as soon as I saw the Summit Progamme! Day One Saturday 27th April programme was as follows
SATURDAY APRIL 27th
9.00 – 10.00 Registration
10.00 – 10.45 Introductions
10.45 –11.30 Emeritus Professor Philip Gammage - The Big Picture – Setting the context
11.30 – 12.15 Tim Gill – Careful now! Risk, resilience and everyday freedom in children’s lives
12.15 – 12.30 Alice Ferguson and Ingrid Skeels - The Playing Out Project
12.30 – 1.45 LUNCH and FILM - August to June ‘Bringing Life to School’
1.45 – 2.00 Wendy Scott – Short History of UK early years education
2.00 – 2.30 Dr Richard House – Unhurried Pathways
2.30 – 3.00 Dr Sami Tamimi – Why psychiatric diagnosis and medication doesn’t help
3.00 – 3.30 Sally Goddard-Blythe - “The Significance of Neuromotor Readiness for Learning
3.30– 4.00 Catherine Prisk – The Importance of Play
4.00 – 4.30 TEA BREAK
4.30 – 4.50 Baroness Susan Greenfield - Early Foundations – The new Climate Change
Susan will be in Australia at the time of the summit so has prepared a dedicated film for us to show
4.50 – 5.20 Dorothy Marlen – Conscious Caring - 21st century early childhood care
5.20 – 5.40 Terri Harrison – Nature Nurture: From Vulnerability to Resilience
5.40 – 6.00 Summary
I had heard some of the speakers before when I attended the Early Childhood Action conference in October 12 click here to read my blog about the ECA conference
My friend Jen and I arrived early and so we were able to have a relaxed coffee and look at the displays and wide choice of things to buy – we both resisted buying anything – but I have a feeling that I will be buying things on day 2!
The conference hall was very large with plenty of space to stretch legs and put bags etc, a mention should be given to the Quakers who provided the use of ‘Friends’ which enabled a much bigger conference to be organised. With its prime position right opposite Euston station it could not have been easier.
A mention should also be given to the volunteers and Community Playthings ladies who worked hard to ensure that all the delegates were booked in, given goody bags and directed to refreshments and toilets. One of these people was Julie Cligman who I had not met before but had chatted to on Twitter – nice to meet you Julie. Many thanks to all of the volunteers
Before the introduction to the summit we were treated to the delightful sound of children from the Camden Youth Choir singing.
After the introductions – which had set the scene as to why we were at the Flourish Summit, I listened to Emeritus Professor Philip Gammage who spoke with passion and humour from his many years of experience about the important things a child needs – as he called them ‘the soft skills’ which are hard to measure but make all the difference to children’s well being and future success in life (not just in school). Many questions posed and much to ponder on about why we do things the way we do them – what the benefit to the children is – and is their any point because children will grow and develop if we measure their development – or not. Very much inline with my thinking and my refusal to implement planning, assessment or tracking, just because the government says we should. Anything I do is for a reason – to benefit the child. Therefore it was nice to have some of my views agreed on by some a highly qualified and experienced person.
The next speaker was Tim Gil who spoke about risk taking and risk resilience – making the point that today’s children are over protected and do not learn how to manage risk themselves. A view I very much agree with – to the point that in my setting there are no risk assessments, no tick sheets, no removal of things that don’t need removing – however of course I do support the children to learn about risks and how to keep themselves safe.
The next two speaker were two parents – mothers in fact, Alice Ferguson and Ingrid Skeels who spoke to us about the The Playing Out Project, which in a nutshell is about enabling childre to play outside their front door, on their street and in their community by closing the streets to through traffic for a few hours.
A fantastic project which has had some critics – and therefore in my opinion needs more of us to join in and support by creating more play spaces in our own communities. Of course not all communities will have streets that can be closed for even short periods – but what about car parks, or parts of car parts, or unused patches of ground (which maybe still have ‘No entry’ signs or ‘No Ball Games’ signs, or dare I suggest it – school grounds that are closed for huge periods of the year (before ./ after school, weekends, school holidays) If parents took turns are providing a adult presence ( not adult direction) then why not? It would only need 2 or 3 adults to oversee each ‘play out space’ yet all the children of the neighbourhood could access the space if they wanted to – remember this is not childcare in any shape or form – with no responsibility for other people’s children – other that that which would be similar to that provided when a child attends a party or comes to play in your child’s home / garden.
By then it was lunch time – which was a packed lunch – choice of sandwich, piece of fruit, large piece of cake and a carton of juice – all very fresh and all very nice. There were plenty of spaces inside and outside to sit eat, and chat. Jen and I chatted to a primary school teacher who had as many concerns as we do, and objected as much to the things the government expected her to do as a teacher, as we do to the things the government expects us to do as childminders.
A bonus for me was I got to meet Julie Lightley from ‘The Village Nursery’. Julie is a fellow campaigner against the governments proposals and has had several letters and articles printed in papers and magazines.
Part two of day one to follow – but for now I need to get ready to attend day two