The Early Years 2013 How Children Learn Conference; Exploring child development throughout the early years. Part Two   1 comment

Part One of Penny’s feedback from the Early Years 2013 conference ended at lunch time on day one, so now Penny is going to continue with her feedback and cover the rest of day one.


Lunch was a mixture of hot and cold buffet – and Penny was very pleased to see that not all the food was spicy or had mustard etc added – and the fact that there was also cake provided and fruit.

Having selected her lunch, Penny joined another lady at a table who was a room leader in baby room in a nursery. One of the things that Penny really likes about conferences is that you get the opportunity to network with other professionals – and this is why Penny does not often sit just with friends at conferences – or even sit with friends at all – after all Penny can chat to them att other times and already has a good idea what they think about childcare issues.

So Penny and her  lunch time companion shared info about their various roles, the workshop they had attended and what they thought about the conference so far. Before long they were joined by two other people who were not actual practitioners but worked in  further education. Discussion soon got round to Ofsted inspections – the lady from the baby room had recently had an inspection at her setting , and she felt it had not been a very good inspection. She described how they were marked down due to a trainees lack of knowledge about the children and also for not making the most out of an activity she was leading.

Of course the ladies from further  education were very interested in this – and wanted to know if the student was supervised? – she was, if the person supervising had intervened? – they hadn’t as although not as good as it could have been,the children were enjoying the activity and there were learning outcomes,  the supervisor felt  the student needed to reflect on this during feedback – so next question –  had the student had a feedback session? – yes but Ofsted had not observed it. Everyone taking part in the discussion felt that Ofsted should have observed the feedback session with the student or at least discussed with the person supervising the student what the feedback would be as this indicate leadership and management  of students. Penny’s personal view is the children were not at risk from harm, it can be very hard for staff – let alone students, to know all the children really well (is that not a key role of the key person?), the children were enjoying the activity which is important and there were learning outcomes. Penny was not there on the day but the question in her mind was ‘Was the inspector looking for ‘direct instruction’ type input – such as how many? what colour? and so on  -rather than active participation and learning through own experiences and discovery with the adult supporting ‘. Penny will of course never know the answer to this.

As a result of the conversation, Penny was able to tell her colleagues about the recent Ofsted Big Conversation meetings – which she had had an active part in and had hosted the Worcester meeting.

Lunch time was soon over, and it was back into the main hall for the next session, this was on ‘ Nurturing and celebrating young children’s talents and fascinations’ by Dr. Jacqui Hardie  you can read a bit  about Jacqui  HERE   Jacqui also is the co author of Mark Making Matters.

Jacqui spoke about young gifted and talented children and how you can support their interests and fascinations – and encourage them to interact more with their peers, as often these children prefer the company of adults. One point that struck home with Penny was about the vital communication with child’s family and finding out what the child does at home as this information will often give an insight into interests and fascinations not seen in the setting. As a childminder Penny communicates on a daily basis with the parents of the children and knows the families and children really well – but she appreciates how much harder this must be in group settings especially those that have a lot of part time children. The other thing that Penny noted was how by using the children’s fascinations and interests it is possible to incorporate all areas of learning  – again something that Penny is able to do in her setting – but it was interesting how this could be woven into a busy group setting. Having a grandchild with Aspergers – Penny thought how useful these ideas would be to support children with additional needs as using their interests – even their obsessions – can help support all areas of learning.

The next speaker was Dr. Kathy Gooch talking about ‘Beginning with babies: cultrual expectations, political ambitions and family lives’ yiou can read a little bit about Kathy HERE

Kathy has been involved in The Baby Room Project and you can find out about this HERE

Kathy spoke in Penny’s language not just about babies but also about the Governments eroding of childhood and the damage being done to our babies and young children.

But Kathy did not only talk about babies and their needs – she also spoke about those who work with babies especially those who work in baby rooms in nurseries – and their perceived professional status and the challenges and isolation of their job. As Kathy says many think that babies are not as interesting or as rewarding as working with older pre school age children and so baby room practitioners are not given the credit they deserve – but when you think of the development that occurs within the baby room and the rate that that development takes place – actually those working within baby rooms or with babies in other settings – such as childminders – those working with babies should have a high professional status.

Of course Kathy is right and Penny agrees that those who work with babies should have a much a higher professional status and more should recognise the challenges – and the joys of caring for babies.


There was then a question and answer session – and as Kathy had mentioned politics and the Governments current education  policy  and its impact on childhood – Penny mentioned the Too Much, Too Soon campaign – and if you have not heard of this campaign, not  seen the letter in the Telegraph or signed the petition – you can find out more HERE  (and if you click on some of the other links you will also find out about the Day of Action – and Penny’s involvement.

Feedback from Day Two – to follow ……

Posted September 21, 2013 by psw260259 in Conferences that I have attended

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

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

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