Feedback from Early Years 2012 conference – Part One   2 comments

WELL – where do I start?

Guess the best place is the beginning in true story telling fashion;

Once upon a time there was an early years practitioner called Penny, and for a while she had been struggling to find suitable CPD. She was frustrated – things local to her where not in enough depth – and with danger of sounding big headed Penny didn’t bother to go to most of them because she felt she could tutor those sessions if needed to or asked to.

So she looked further afield and was even more frustration and if honest a tad cross!

She found LOADS of fantastic CPD courses and conferences BUT there was always several issues – often they were in London, usually they were Monday – Friday, usually they cost hundreds of pounds.

You see Practitioner Penny is a registered childminder – she can not usually just drop everything and take a day or two off work to go to mid week day time training or conferences, she can not usually afford the cost of the conference / training AND the cost of travelling to London, AND the cost of overnight stay (often needed due to start time of these things) – and so Practitioner Penny stay in Worcestershire and used the internet for her CPD – she learnt quite a lot but something was missing – now what was it?

Oh yes of course – the opportunity to network with others, to hear things first hand, to make personal notes, to ask questions.

And so the status quo remained – even when Penny saw the Early Years 2012 conference advertised in EYE magazine – Penny sadly thought – no can’t go to that – oh I wish I could just look at the speakers and the topics being covered.

THE END

But hang on it is not the end – I am just fed up with writing in story mode

This is real – it happened – I went to the Early Years 2012 conference!

How come I hear you ask – the cost? the distance? the taking time off midweek?

Well the cost – It seems I had been spending less than usual – and so my bank balance said – well maybe if you don’t go mad while there and buy stuff you can’t afford (my bank balance is always talking sense to me – and this time – for a change – I listened)

The distance – when I looked closer – it was in Birmingham, not London – so no distance at all – just a few pounds needed for the train journey.

The time off midweek – Thanks to brilliant supportive parents of the childminded children – when I mentioned I would like to go – they said go – we will sort out our childcare – and they did.

So I sent of my application – and although a bit late in the day – I got a place.

And so on the morning of Thursday 20th September – I found my self staring at a map of Aston University looking for the way to the conference venue. And there it was just round the corner. Having allowed plenty of time – I was early – but not an issue – other were early as well – so we sat and chatted. Me, and a reception teacher from Bromsgrove, and a undergraduate from Warwickshire – whose wife happens to be a childminder – so loads in common with both. We chatted , we got on well and we were all very excited.

The doors opened and we went in for coffee and to look at the exhibitors stands – not many but opportunity to chat and ask questions which I love (yes I was still listening to my bank balance and I did not buy one single thing!).

Then I spotted the EYE stand and a man standing there who looked like the editor of EYE (seen his picture in EYE enough) He recognised me – I guess from the photo used in my recent opinion article in EYE. We formally greeted each other and then got on with the serious business of a good professional discussion about our views on this, that and the other. Enjoyed it a lot – thanks Neil.

However,  time to move on the conference was about to start – so off I go to find a seat – really surprised – a few empty seats – but maybe in these times of budget cuts it is not just childminders who struggle to justify the cost of conferences.

Matt Govett opened the conference – he is the publisher of EYE magazine

Linda Pound as Chair made some opening remarks  – I recognised her – I have a couple of her books – you know the ‘How children learn’ ones. She told us what we had in store over the next couple of days – oh and the usual where the exits were.

Then straight into the Keynote Speech ( no messing around waiting for things to happen). This was given by Pat Broadhead – who is Emerita Professor of Playful Learning at Leeds Metropolitan University. To my shame although I had heard of Pat – I had not read her book or any of her stuff (sorry Pat) but I love her title – the ‘Playful Learning’ bit.

Pat talked about Play and Creativity: so what’s the difference?

In a nutshell ( summing an hour long speech) Pat was describing how if children are provided with the right environment – meaning the space and the open ended materials – play has a capacity to support imagination, creativity and problem solving (to name a few). Very much a woman who echos my thoughts and my ethos. Pat has this wonderful phrase ‘the whatever you want it to be place’ – which I think is opens the door to ‘the whatever you want it to be resource’ within ‘the whatever you want it to be place’

Pat also mentioned ‘ The Social Play Continuum’ – and I have found this http://www.eureka.org.uk/Resources/Eureka/Documents/Learning%20through%20Play%20-%20Pat%20Broadhead.pdf which although a few years old so out of date in some places – it explains about the Social Play Continuum.

NB My thinking was already at this point and I have already taken some action to change the space and the resources within my setting – but I will now be going further – but that is for another blog!)

After Pat – again with smooth transition, Jan White spoke about ‘Learning through play outdoors’. As with Pat’s talk – inspirational and thought provoking – and led on from what Pat had been saying.

My summing up is that is about the environment provided – it is not about taking the inside, outside – it is about providing environments that support creative play and the imagination. Environments that promote active learning as in the physical sense and creative sense.

If you are interested in finding out more about Jan’s work – please take a look at her blog  http://janwhitenaturalplay.wordpress.com/ I have!

And from Jan’s blog I went to the Muddy Faces website  http://www.muddyfaces.co.uk and looked at the stuff on Mud Kitchens

Hopefully by now you will be thinking the same as I was on the day – so much info – and it is only coffee break time on the first day!

So coffee and biscuits, and loo break – and more importantly networking. I spoke to a lady who works in a college near the university – among other things she teaches level 3 qualifications – we had a lot in common and talked freely and easily for the most of the coffee break.

Time was going too fast – time for workshops. I had not got my first choice of workshop which was on ‘The intelligence of the imagination and the secret life of children’s play – I was disappointed but I had booked late. So instead I did ‘Developing creativity and imagination through sensory play’ with Sue Gascoyne. Now I did know about Sue and had only recently read a blog from her on Laura Henry’s site – link here http://laurachildcare.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/sensory-play-and-the-eyfs/

Still my personal view is that – you always learn something – maybe not what you expected and not from the source that you expected – but you always learn something.

I am very familiar with treasure baskets – I have one shop brought one and a couple of home made ones, and I have done training on them before. However the workshop was informative, the capturing of children’s play through photo’s and video demonstrating how progress can be recorded, and through  discussion with other practitioners sharing of good practice.

And the new thing – how hard some adults found it to use descriptive words – and the names and uses of 4 different items items. As I say you always learn something.

By now 1pm – and lunchtime

But more importantly end of part one of  my feedback from the conference – more later

Posted September 22, 2012 by psw260259 in Conferences that I have attended

2 responses to “Feedback from Early Years 2012 conference – Part One

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  1. Totally agree always get something from evens/training – really glad you enjoyed yourself Penny, can’t wait to read the next instalment and thanks for the links

  2. Pingback: Early Years 2014 ‘How Children Learn’ conference 19th September 2014 | Penny's Place Childminding

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