Flourish Summit – Day Two   2 comments

First an apology for the delay in my personal feedback on Day Two of the Flourish Summit – where does time go? As I write it is a whole week since day two – this will be a challenge for my memory because as usual I did not take any notes – fingers crossed that the old memory does not let me down.

The programme for day two was as packed as day one – as you can see below


9.00 – 10.00                    Registration

10.00 – 10.15                   Introduction

10.10 – 10.45                   Anthony Seldon – What are we waiting for?      

10.45 – 11.30                   Reg Baiiley – Bye Buy Childhood

11.30 – 12.15                   Sue Palmer – The Opportunities and Dangers of Screen Technology 

12.15 – 12.30                   Susan Stranks – Children’s Radio – A Sound Start

12.30 – 1.30                     LUNCH and FILM – Babyhood

1.30  – 2.00                      David Bond – Marketing Director for Nature

2.00 –  2.30                      Cassandra French – The National Trust’s ‘Natural Childhood’ Project

2.30 – 3.00                      Jan White – Natural play in early childhood

3.00 – 3.30                       Sarah Blackwell – The Reflection of a puddle, the challenge of a stick!

3.30- 4.00                        Rebecca Nye – Childhood Spirituality: Deep, Genuine and Endangered

4.00 – 4.15                       Mike Grenier – Slow Education

4.15 – 4.25                       Right from the Start Project

4.25 – 4.45                      TEA BREAK

4.45 – 5.30                     Richard Barrett – Valuing our Children’s Education

5.30 – 6.00                      What’s next? – some of the exciting ideas that we are exploring

As with day one – day two had speakers that I had heard before and speakers that were new to me

The first speaker of the day was Anthony Seldon  and his talk was  called ‘What are we waiting for?’  I admit I struggled a bit with this talk , not because it was not good but because I could not relate to it very well personally. In fact it is only today as I write this blog that I have found out more – and can now relate the talk to life – and to my work with the children.

Maybe this was because Anthony was a new speaker to me and I did not have any background knowledge to draw on and make those connections on the day?  Maybe I was not fully awake and missed the vital information at the start of the talk?

Anyway Anthony talked about ‘letting go’ of all those negative inner feelings and being proactive in bringing about change to our relationships with the people in our lives, and the things we care about in our lives. We were supported in to thinking about these things through a short meditation or ‘quite personally time’ (depending on own thinking about such things) and giving the opportunity to send a text to someone to say sorry, or to reconnect with them.

For me personally (and I think for those around me) this was not what I had expected – maybe because the only person I want to connect with is Ms.Truss   and it is not for lack of trying! – and the only thing I want to bring about change for is Ms.Truss and her government colleagues proposals in More Great Childcare – and I think I am already being proactive in doing what I can to bring about those changes.

However as I said – today I have found out a bit more, I read the biography about Anthony  that was provided in the delegate pack , and I noticed something called ‘Action for Happiness’ and so did an internet search. Success!!!

Now I can make the links, now I can see what was behind Anthony’s talk – which just goes to show that things are not always what you first think, that it is worthwhile doing some personal research – and   is my personal belief – you always learn something – not always at the time, not always what you expected, not always directly but you do always learn something. And so if my rather rambling recall of the first first speaker of day two has left you either confused or wanting to find out more visit  Action for Happiness website      and in particular look at this page from the site.

So onto the second speaker of the day who was Reg Bailey  talking about ‘Bye Buy Childhood’ a clever play on words. Reg is the CEO of the Mother’s Union and very involved in campaign against the commercialisation of childhood – hence the title of his talk. Reg told us about why he felt this was an important campaign (and I agree) and about the success that has been achieved so far – quite remarkable success – but still more to do. If you want to find out more Click here to go to the Bye Buy Childhood website

Two speakers into the packed conference – and as I am writing this blog and finding the links,  one thought is in my mind – I am amazed at how much there is going on that I know nothing about – and so how much more I have to personally learn – but also – how many separate strands there are to this whole early childhood thing – and what a huge task it is going to be to bring everyone together and to make the changes needed in order to enable children to flourish.

Speaker three was Sue Palmer  (who I have heard speak a few times before and I have read a couple of her books), her talk at this conference was on ‘The Opportunities and Dangers of Screen Technology ‘  and the title is very true in my opinion because I for one can not image how I would cope without my ‘screen based’ equipment. Sue said much the same – laptops, mobile phones, sat navs and so are all so much part of our lives – and do enable things to be done quicker, for information to be shared (would be very little point in me handwriting this blog content in a notebook as it would be very hard to share) BUT and it is a big but – screen take over our lives – and I admit that since buying a internet phone I am guilty of constantly checking for messages, for emails, what is happening on Facebook – and even while in London for the conference – a friend showed me how to add Twitter to my phone – so something else to check. And WHY? Most things can wait – can’t they?

However for the children is there any need for all this screen use? Is it beneficial or harmful? Personally I am on the side of harmful and so I feel although some limited use can be beneficial – really it is not needed. There are far more important things that children can do – talk, play, explore, find out about their world through their senses and indeed do nothing at times – even be board.

I recently attended a one day course at Lincolnshire Montessori about outdoor learning – but pick up a very useful tip about the use of computers etc.The trainer (who runs early years settings) has computers etc in her settings and they are freely accessible – however they are not plugged in, and for a child to be able to access the computer they first have to be able to connect all the leads and plug it in, turn it on and select the programmes needed. Love it – such a simple way to ensure children are ready to start using the computer.

Back to the Flourish Summit – the last speaker before lunch was Susan Stranks  again a speaker that I had heard before, she was talking about   ‘Children’s Radio – A Sound Start’ . Susan’s talk was very worrying – I had not realised just what has happened to Children’s radio – especially where it sits in the programming schedule  – no wonder people can’t find it and then if they do they worry about the content of the programmes either side of the children’s programme. Susan stressed the importance of listening skills and all those lovely nursery rhymes which for generations have not only been enjoyed by children but have been instrumental is basic learning  in so many areas. Think about it! Yes, just about all areas! You can find out more here

Then it was time lunch – much the same as Saturday which was fine by me as it was most enjoyable. Lots more opportunities for networking – a Montessori childminder that my friend Wendy introduced me to (and whose name escapes me at the moment) , and Juliet a Twiiter based connection with the Twitter name ‘Creative Star’. Lovely to talk to them both. I also was able to talk to the two Julie’s that I met the day before.

Before we knew it lunch was over and so back into the main hall.

First speaker of the afternoon was David Bond – Marketing Director for Nature – within minutes all signs of post lunch sleepiness had gone!, David’s main job is a film maker but he is also  a very good speaker and with a great sense of humour. We were shown a few snippets of his latest film ‘Project Wild Thing’ – very funny in place but with a serious message – all about getting children outdoors and the barriers the stop them. The images of a little boy showing David round his community spaces will stick with me forever. To find out more click here and here to read  guardian article from Nov 12

Following on from David was Cassandra French – The National Trust’s ‘Natural Childhood’ Project which was a good thing as The National Trust are involved with the Wild Thing project. Cassandra backed up a lot of what David had been saying about children losing touch with nature – and what the National Trust are doing about it Click here for details of National Trust’s work with children

After Cassandra came Jan White   talking about  Natural play in early childhood (have you noticed the outdoor link to the speakers this afternoon?) Jan wanted to inspire us, to lift the mood and get away from current debate about More Great Childcare, so she had lots of lovely photo’s to show us and to explain what was happening / the background to the photo and of course our mood was lift – how could it not be? If you are not familiar with Jan’s work take a look at her blogs link to Jan White blog – I am personally a great admirer of Jan’s work and have heard her speak a few times / visit her blog.

The outdoor theme continued as after Jan we had a talk by Sarah Blackwell  on The Reflection of a puddle, the challenge of a stick! Sarah had wanted to bring us all a stick – but as there were around 300 people and she was travelling by train – a bit of an impossible task – so she brought us all a piece of string as instead. Of course being early years people we all fiddled with the string in our own individual way! I wrapped mine round my fingers, I tied some nice neat reef knots (yes I was a Girl Guide), I felt it’s length by running through my finger, I wrapped it round my hand, I screwed it up into a ball – but quickly unscrewed it as didn’t like it like that. And to prove a point – I heard Sarah say ‘I know that if you are twiddling with your string – you are listening to me – even though you are not looking at me’ – and it was true – I was not looking, I was twiddling – and I was listening’ An important message I feel for my work with the children – twiddling is a good thing – not a bad thing, and furthermore although those stretchy toys, and twisting toys that I have brought for twiddling (and which are used) a piece of string (or piece of blue tac or indeed a pebble or a stick) are just as good.

Unfortunately the next speaker could not attend as her own children were ill – and of course everyone in the room understood – the children – whether our own or the ones we work with – must come first.

So we moved onto Mike Grenier – Slow Education, I have heard Mike speak before and totally agree. Our education system is wrong, children are taught specific knowledge in order to pass tests or exams, it is all too rushed, children do not have time to explore the things that interest them – yet are made to do subjects that do not interest them. Of course some subjects are key to learning important skills – but others – well others are only any use if they interest you. Children should have time to explore things in depth, to set their own learning journey (and if we had faith in the children they would actually learn all that important key knowledge, but they would also stretch themselves find out things that were not on curriculum, and develop a thirst for learning and transferable skills .

Mike was asked a question about when he though a child should be taught to read – his answer was in my opinion – spot on. Not word for word as I don’t take notes but on the lines of  ‘At the right time for that child – to hold a child back is the worse thing you can do, to try to make a child read before he or she is ready – is the worse thing that you can do’ And that I believe should be the viewpoint that all education is based on – when the child is ready!

Another welcome tea / coffee break – I have to admit that by now I was tired and my brain was protesting at the sheer amount of information that it was trying to absorb (although hats off to my brain – as it clearly did cope and not only heard the information but ensured it was available in my memory for this blog)

Sarah Woodhouse then gave a passionate speech about her work which she started in 1988 and the resulting establishment of ‘Right from the start’ and her search now for people to help and eventually take over the helm as the next. Please take a look at the website – a internent search brings up lots of things with this name but this is right link – (as a tip look for the boy and the dolphin logo)

Richard Barrett  was next to tell us all the results of the online survey  in to what we the delegates at the conference thought about our education system and our own values – telling – but in my opinion not surprising results. The press release about the survey can be accessed here  and the results accessed here

Time then for the summing up, the thanks and the what next.

Wendy Ellyatt took on this task as chair of the day – but also as organiser of this wonderful conference

I suppose the ‘What Next?’ is the most important aspect – well there is lots!

Information can be found here but I would like to highlight a couple of pages from the site

The active campaigns page link to active campaigns page where you will notice the One Voice site that I set is mentioned and many others including the link to June O’Sullivans blog and the Pre -School Learning Alliance petition.

Then there is the The National Children’s Day UK event on May 15th. The children in my setting want to go to the arboretum (a regular outing) and they specifically want to roll down the hill – if anyone wants to join us either rolling down the same hill at Arley Arboretum or maybe rolling down a hill near you – please get in touch and we can share our experiences.

There are also various other things planned:

The Flourish Portal,

The  Playing with Big Ideas

The Advisory Groups (very pleased to say that I have been invited – and accepted – to be on the advisory board for Early Years Education, chuffed to have been asked – but delighted that childminders will be represented in this group)

Children’s Advisory Council

Child Well Being Impact Assessment Tool

Details can be found on the website – mainly outline at the moment but will be added to as things get established

Exciting times

I hope you have enjoyed my personal recall of the Flourish Summit – I really enjoyed it and the time spent networking at the conference , and over the four days outside conference hours with childminding colleagues.

Straight after the conference I met with colleagues Wendy, Sally and  Brita for a meal and more networking / sharing of information  and then traveled back to my friend Jen’s house where I was staying – and gave Jen a personal feedback on the day (as Jen had not attended day two) and somehow time disappeared as we shared thoughts, ideas and information – and before we knew it – it was 3am on Monday morning!

Posted May 5, 2013 by psw260259 in Conferences that I have attended

2 responses to “Flourish Summit – Day Two

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  1. Excellent and very informative blog Penny! The whole summit sounds to have been an amazing opportunity to hear a wide range of inspirational speakers. Thank you for sharing and especially for all the links you’ve added.

    Helen Rawstron
  2. Pingback: Penny’s Involvement with the Save Childhood Movement , the Too Much, Too Soon campaign and petition | Penny's Place Childminding

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