The Early Years 2013 How Children Learn Conference; Exploring child development throughout the early years. Part One   10 comments

As Penny had enjoyed last year’s conference so much, she decided to attend this year’s conference, despite the high cost of doing so.

Cost is important in these days of budget cuts, and lack of funding or support to attend such events, and this is especially the case for registered childminders such as Penny, as to attend a week day conference Penny has to close her setting and therefore reduce her income, as Penny does not charge parents if she closes her setting for training, or her holidays or her illness – only fair really as parents often have to pay for childcare elsewhere.

Although staying overnight close to the conference is personal choice – this conference has cost Penny around £900 to attend, when adding together cost of conference, travel, lost pay and hotel. Even Penny thinks this is a lot – and judging by number of people in the room on the first day – it would appear that cost has impacted on numbers attending.

Please don’t think that Penny thinks it is a waste of money – because it is not – the opportunity to listen to a range of speakers and to network with other early years professional is exceptional BUT maybe if the cost of the actual conference was less more people could attend?

So moving on to Penny’s feedback from the first day of the conference.

When Penny arrived at the conference the first person she saw was Neil Henty the editor of EYE magazine and Child Care Magazine (which is part of the Practical Pre – school magazine). As Penny is a contributor to both of these magazines, it was nice to have a face to face chat with Neil and to discuss all the current childcare issues – as you may imagine it was quite a long chat – which was curtailed due to the conference starting. Even so Penny did manage to place an order for some books before taking her place in the conference hall.

We were welcomed by Matt Govett who is the managing director of MA Education Ltd, who publish EYE magazine who of course organised the conference. However MA Education also produce Practical Pre school and the range of  books sold under the name Practical Pre- school books. Details about EYE magazine can be found here Link to EYE

The conference chair Judith Stevens then made her opening address and welcomed us all to the conference. Judith is Education Consultant and an author with books such as; Maths Now: the definitive guide to maths in the early years and Maths in Stories. More information about Judith can be found  HERE  Penny has noted that Judith used to be a childminder in the past.

As an aside Judith joined the workshop that Penny was in, and ended up in the same discussion group as part of the workshop activities (more about this later) and as it happens Judith is also one of Penny’s Linkedin connections – and was delighted to receive a message from Judith about the conference and the workshop.

The Keynote Session was ‘Developing flexibility of thinking: young children engaging with media and materials’ by Dr. Kathy Ring who is a senior lecturer in Primary and Early Years Education at York St. John University. Further information about Kathy can be found HERE

Without quoting Kathy word for word the presentation was about the provision of media – not IT based media but paper, glue, sellotape, scissors and so on – describing it as ‘Multi Modal Meaning Making’ – which in a nutshell is about how children use the materials provided to explore ideas and to engage in high levels of creativity and critical thinking. Kathy used real life example with photo’s, video and narratives from practitioners and parents to demonstrate this Multi Modal development. For Penny the things that stood out most was the different ways that children used the materials – and the engagement of boys in mark making activities – even those who showed no interest in formal  writing or mark making activities.  Also the fact that although these type of materials should be available at all times – it is OK to have them available at regular  set specific times – important in a childminding setting or a family home when the needs and safety of younger children need to be taken into consideration. Penny is now reflecting on this – and is thinking that maybe after lunch time when younger children nap or rest – the older children could have access to these materials on the kitchen table – while Penny washes up and writes in the children’s dairies – as then Penny will be ‘available’ to support and discuss but can still get on with the necessary tasks – and who knows Penny may even manage to have some lunch at the same time.

If readers want to find out more Penny has found this online – and yes, it is by Dr. Kathy Ring  Click here for article

The next session was by Sue Robb who is head of Early Years at 4 Children. Information about 4 Children can be found  HERE

Sue had come to talk about SEED which stands for – Study of Early Education and Development.  Click here for  Details about SEED project

Penny was pleased to see mention of childminders and acknowledgement that parents often want a childminder place for the children, especially the under 3’s. Penny was also pleased to hear that childminders were valued and that more childminders are needed / to be recruited. Penny was not pleased to hear that childminding agencies are central to these plans.

The most interesting thing about the project is that settings won’t be the ones volunteering to take part – parents will – then if a child of a parent taking part attends an early years setting – that setting will be asked to take part. There are several stages to the project and the data produced should not only be interesting but potentially very useful. Penny is very interested in this project but does have concerns about the methods of gathering data (based on the ECCERS family of audit tools), and on the link to childminding agencies as there is one major problem with childminding agencies and that is the removal of the need to be registered and inspected by Ofsted. If childminding agencies were planned as a support system that people could buy into if they wanted to – but also that there were other support system choices available, Penny would have less concerns and could see the benefit of such support schemes.

There was a short question and answer session – and then a very welcome comfort break. During the break Penny chatted to a lady that she had met last year – and whose school had recently had their Ofsted inspection – so an interesting chat.

It was then time for the workshops – Penny had forgotten to book her workshops – she had had the email but things have been so busy and so many emails now come into Penny’s inbox every day that Penny had simply forgotten – and not remembered until the day before the conference – so as Penny is very much of the opinion ‘You always learn something’ she sent a quick email to the organisers and said ‘any work shop will do’

And so Penny found herself on the ‘ Are you ready for me – now I am two?’ workshop.

The workshop was led by Alex Sefton and Melanie Jenkins who both work for Cheshire East Early Years and Childcare Team. Alex and Melanie have been responsible for producing this resource Link to the Cheshire East ‘Are you ready for me – now I am 2’ resource 

As you will see there is quite a lot of information on the page that the link takes you to – and you can order a copy if you want to.

The workshop was all about the document – the why and how it was produced – and a very important element in Penny’s view – about the training that went alongside the introduction of the resource. Penny has to admit that she thought the resource was very group setting based – and did not seem to include parents or childminders –  BUT Alex and Melanie are now extending the resource and have plans to include a section to support children’s centers and parents – and the are rolling out now to include childminders – they say there has been a huge interest – and hopefully the resource will be extended to specifically support childminders in the future.

As mentioned previously Judith Stevens, the conference Chair joined in with this workshop and it was interesting to hear her views on things during discussions and workshop activities.

Penny should perhaps mention that Helen Moylett  has given her approval to the resource and says it supports DEvelopment Matters and good practice – what further recommendation could you ask for? Penny has some handouts from the workshop and will read these – together with the content of the web page link above – and will then decide if she wants to order the resource to use in her setting / to share with others.

As it was then lunch time – part one of Penny’s feedback concludes – and will continue with part two as soon as possible.

Posted September 20, 2013 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

10 responses to “The Early Years 2013 How Children Learn Conference; Exploring child development throughout the early years. Part One

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  1. Thanks, Penny.
    Great sharing. Love when the early years sector comes together.

  2. Hi Penny, its just a thought, but with conference and training days costing more and more, (I for one don’t have a husband supporting me with his income (he is disabled and I am also his carer), every penny counts with two young children and a mortgage. What about forming groups of childminders, not necessarily from your own area, but internet based, who pay towards one person attending these very expensive conferences and then they can disseminate the information to the people in that payment group, I don’t think our local support groups are big enough to facilitate this.

  3. Fantastic sharing Penny! I really wanted to go this conference but couldn’t, so I am pleased that you have shared here. You’re right to make the point about cost that is pretty hefty but worth by the looks of it. Lots of interesting stuff.

  4. Caroline good point.

    However, need to think about the organisers of these conferences, at times do not make a good return. In addition, if a number of groups took the approach of one person going, organisers will not have any people going and therefore will not put on conferences.

    NEYTCO – the group for early years trainers and consultants have lightly discussed this.

    Mindful, that face-to-face training is only a small element of CPD, peer-to-peer, social media (weekly #EYTalking on twitter). Loads of free information.

    As I trainer, i know you can’t beat face-to-face training. Maybe, budget for one event to attend per year and look out for the free events that are on?

    Like you I am divorced and have a mortgage, so understand it is not easy.

    Thank god for people, like Penny who share so much.

    If you are on Twitter please follow me, as I normally upload free information, like this useful guide on Schemas.

    • Do try to follow Laura on Twitter – or sign up for her newsletter. As a thought Caroline – do you have someone in your group who could deliver training for free or low cost – I ask because Community Playthings do some excellent training programes that are free – you get a powerpoint, the handouts and the tutor notes – they can be delivered as they are – or you can add local info etc

  5. Yes we do have some of the lower cost training delivered like this, but not on the scale of Pennys conference. I give myself a target of four training sessions a year that I pay for, and three free ones, however the free ones are becoming very thin on the ground and are now typically between £30 and £100 for most training/conferences offered.

    • I am thinking about your idea Caroline – as I can see that it may increase attendance at the big conferences – as an example if there were 4 groups of childminders across the country that sent a representative to something like Early Years 2013 – that would be 4 extra cm’s attending – and cascading to those in their group.

      Although anyone can access my blog – it does not reach that many (in compassion to number of practitioners in the country) I am on holiday next week – so I will see if I can come up with a workable idea

  6. Thanks so much for taking the time to write this really useful feedback Penny, its very much appreciated. I think conference and training organisers need to think about the types of venue they book. I’d be happy to go to a less flashy venue, take my own lunch and have a reduced fee. Another option is for trainers to offer a free place if someone can provide a venue. I offer this for my ELKLAN training an it works well.

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

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