Pre-School Learning Alliance Conference 2013 – Part Two   1 comment

Part One of my personal feedback from the Alliance conference ended at the point where Sue Gregory, Director of Early Childhood, Ofsted finished speaking.

Next to speak was Neil Lietch CEO, Pre-school Learning Alliance, Neil told a story about his grandchild and being nervous when speaking in public. (I will not repeat it as a personal story). He also told us all about the conversation with Nick Clegg – that amazing conversation when Nick told Neil that the ratio campaign was over because he – Nick Clegg would not be backing it (mind you I had heard this before when Neil phoned me) – and the question is  just what should Neil do with all those Rewind Ratios balloons?

On a more serious note Neil spoke about his visit to the French nurseries, and what he found there, about Elizabeth Truss’s ideas – and about the decision made to challenge the government about the ratio issue – even though at the time the Alliance was in the middle of a funding round and applying to the government for funding for several projects.

Then a  bit of a surprise for me – I was mentioned (with others) for my role in the ratio campaign – and Neil mentioned that if around for the ‘Drinks Reception’  after the conference, that the Trustee wanted to give thanks in  person. (and yes – I had pre booked to go to the drinks reception).

The next speaker was Liam Byrne MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. I was more interested in what Liam was saying as a father of 3 young daughters, as it was very clear that he is very proud of his daughters and wants the best possible care and education for them. As to the Labour Party stance on things – yes he was saying the right things but to be honest until the ideas are published and made public, I shall retain my right to reserve judgement. It is not that I don’t believe Liam – but I am afraid that my recent dragging into the political arena means that I now require evidence of policy and the research to back it up – before believing any statement.

It was then the question and answer session (mentioned in part one)

Then a real treat for us all,  the presentations of the Volunteer Awards – this had special meaning for me as some of my family, friends and colleagues had nominated me for an award – and although I was not short listed, I was very honoured that I had been nominated – and so could image how those that had won were feeling – proud, grateful, nervous, to name a few feelings. And I was right about those feelings – all of those who won awards were clearly feeling very emotional – and they all thoroughly deserved their awards – inspirational people.

The awards were presented by Amanda Lamb the TV presenter (who happens to be very pregnant and who happen to have some funny stories to tell) but it was children on the stage who presented the flowers that caught my attention (well they would as I am not much of one for celebrities and hardly ever take any notice of TV / film / magazines etc – but I always notice children!)

And then it was lunch time – describe as a Fork Buffet Lunch. It was a fantastic selection of cooked meals – I chose the fish pie and vegetables, followed by a dessert that I do not know the name of but was a cross between a cake and a biscuit – quite large and  served with cream.

While waiting to get my lunch, I took the opportunity to speak to Mel who also works for the Alliance about a new publication that the Alliance are doing, and gave Mel permission to use the information on my blog, if it was of any use.

Over lunch I sat with some people I did not know – but it turns out that the lady sat next to me works with Sue – someone I knew from my previous involvement with the Alliance.

After lunch I looked round the exhibition and order some painting sponge shapes – and as I brought two sets – I got the offer price.

I also spoke to the people on the Educare stand about the free training that all Alliance members can access. I admitted that I had not done so yet – but was keen to do all the modules, so I could provide feedback to my childminding colleagues (look out for a blog in due course) and to Educare. We also had a brief discussion about childminder specific modules.

I also spoke to the people on the volunteers stand – was given a toy dog to keep, and given some balloons to hold while my photo was taken.

Then I spotted James – who I have spoken to on the phone a few times and who I met when I was meeting Neil at the office. We had a long chat about recent events and our hopes for the future now that the ratio issue has been won. James then had to go and sort some photo’s out – so for a few seconds I was stood alone – but then who should walk right by me?

Yes Neil – and walked right past me, was what he did!

Then he stopped, turned, said in a questioning voice  ‘Penny’ while checking out my name badge.

‘What have you done with your hair’ he said

‘ Nothing’ said I

‘Well it has grown a lot and was more wavy when I last saw you’ said the observant Mr. Leitch (and he is right because when my hair is shorter – as it was when we last met – it is much more wavy).

After apologies from Neil for not recognising me – and a telling off for me, from him  –  for not making him aware that I was there, we hugged and air kissed in a professional manner before discussing the ratio issue, my new petition, the conference so far etc. Neil checked that I would be staying for the drinks reception – but then had to rush off as it was almost time for the AGM part of the conference.

I was asked for my Voting Card tear off bit – and after a search through my bag (and the pulling out of baby wipes, hair brush, medical supplies and so on) I handing in the tear off bit and took my place in the hall for the AGM.

The AGM was carried out professionally – and a point I liked,  to a time slot – with the end time clearly stated at the beginning – along with the other rules governing AGM’S.  All the Trustees were introduced – along with those sat on the stage. The chair’s report mentioned the childminder specific membership which will be available soon. All the  motions were passed.

After the conclusion of the AGM we went to our seminars – mine was the other side of the hotel and had the title ‘ Raising the status and quality of the workforce; the implication of More Great Childcare proposals for workforce reform’ and was led by Michael Freeston

I found it a very interesting seminar and liked the fact that we had a total of an hour and a half (with a 15 min break in the middle) as this gave us plenty of time for in depth discussion. I preferred this format to formats where two short workshops are provided. Just after the break I asked Michael if  he thought that the qualification requirements would be coming in for childminders – and he said Yes, he thought so – and also as Ofsted / DfE were pushing for group settings to have those qualifications even sooner than the Nutbrown review suggested – that the requirement for childminders would also come in sooner – but stressed that it would not be applied to those already registered. Micheal said that there may be ‘top up’ qualifications for those who already had a qualification and who wanted to be a Early Years Teacher. (Please remember these are Michael’s personal views not ‘official’ Alliance views)

Michael then spotted my name  badge – and apologised for not realising I was in the session – and like all the Alliance staff made me feel welcomed and valued (I think someone at the Alliance has been mentioning my name- for all these different people to know who I am)

Anyway the conclusion of those attending the same seminar as me was that – the ‘new’ qualifications were unlikely to raise professional status or pay – on their own and that there was more to high quality care and education than just a qualification.

Just  Drinks Reception before heading home – red and white wine and Orange juice were on offer, I had orange juice and chatted to a couple of ladies – one of whom had been in the seminar as me – and one who I happened to have connected with via Facebook.

Then there was a banging on the table to draw everyone’s attention to the final part of the day – which turned out to be a presentation of a huge bunch of flowers to …… ME, to thank me for all the effort I had put into the ratio campaign.


…… I was given opportunity to speak to those in the room – which I did telling them why I had started the petition and why on the day that I closed the ratio petition I had started another petition calling for More Great Childcare to be scrapped. If you agree with me about this please Click on this link

However the day was not over because as soon as I put the lovely flowers down on the floor, a lady from Scotland came up to talk me – and then two childminding officers from a London Borough – all very interested in my campaign, in the Alliance childminder membership … and my blogs.

Before we knew it – it was nearly time to go home. Neil came over to say goodbye to me (more air kissing and hugging) and I introduced him to the ladies that I was talking to – Neil said something on the lines of me being his best sales person – before saying goodbye to the ladies and heading home. Shortly afterwards Jo came over, and together Jo, the two ladies from London and I , made our way out of the hotel and home – and for me the challenge of getting the lovely flowers home safe via train.

A fantastic day – Thank You,  Pre School Learning Alliance – I hope I will be able to attend next year – and that by then there will be lots of individual childminder members.

Posted June 8, 2013 by psw260259 in Conferences that I have attended

One response to “Pre-School Learning Alliance Conference 2013 – Part Two

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  1. Pingback: Friday 6th June – Part One of my feedback on the Pre school Learning Alliance National AGM / Conference 2014 | Penny's Place Childminding

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