Worcestershire Pre -school learning Alliance AGM and Conference   1 comment

First an apology for the delay in writing this blog – things have been hectic – what with the Ofsted Big Conversation meeting which was straight after the AGM and conference, a extended family crisis – and then 3 days of various conferences – and then a week off for a much needed holiday – I just have not had time to write this before – still as they say better late than never.

So the Worcestershire Pre – school Learning Alliance, AGM and conference took place on 14th September at Perdiswell Young People’s Center – and was in fact the inaugural AGM as unfortunately the previous sub committee had folded  several years ago – after a very successful presence in Worcestershire and some high profile services and success stories.

As a volunteer – past and present for the Alliance –  I have been involved with the regeneration of the Worcestershire sub committee ever since it was first suggested, and have been on the small steering committee with two other volunteers – Carolyn Blackburn and Linda O’Rourke – plus two members of staff – Jo Randall and Raj Babber.

Many thanks have to go to Raj who organised the venue, the goody bags, the flowers for speakers, the bookings (including phoning round settings) and was there on the day to book people in, time keep and ensure the day was a huge success. THANK YOU RAJ

Although number of members attending were quite low, there were a lot of non members in the room who had come to find out more about the Alliance and what it offered – which was part of the reason for opening the event to non members. We even had one person who had turned up in the morning for the Ofsted Big Conversation meeting – having got the times mixed up – who stayed and joined in with the whole day.

It was lovely to see LA staff and Pre- school learning Alliance staff attending – and a huge representation from Bright Stars Childminding Group (which I happen to be chair of and who, as a group, are Alliance members)

AGM part of the day

Jo Randall took us through the ‘official’ part of the day – which was quite short, as being an inaugural AGM, there were no reports to read from the previous years activities.

Jo read out the financial statement – which was very healthy, as funds had been held in trust for Worcestershire since the last sub committee folded, and so – let’s just say – we should be able to provide an excellent range of support services and training for Alliance members in Worcestershire over the coming year.

The actual elections then took place and I am very pleased to have been voted in as the chair of the Alliance Worcestershire sub committee, Linda was also voted on and will take an officers position. Carolyn was unable to be voted in due to the fact that negotiations are taking place about a student rate for those who are undertaking further education. Carolyn is a full time student and once a student membership is in place Carolyn will be co-opted onto the sub committee. but in the mean time will continue to be an active supporter of the Worcestershire sub committee (There is a student rate for those studying with the Alliance – but not for those studying at college or university)

Personal comment – not part of the AGM, but mentioned at the end of the day

This does of course mean that we have room on the committee for more members to join us – and would like to co-opt some willing people, who are able to give a little time to provide support and advice to the committee. We would particularly like to involve those who work in an early years setting so that we can ensure that whatever we do over the coming year is what members want / need.

We are aware that everyone is very busy these days and that there are huge demands on people’s time – and so we do not expect sub committee members to attend every meeting or be ‘hands on’ with all the sub committee activities. A lot of our communication will be via emails (and  maybe occasional phone calls) as this is cost and time effective. Therefore all we ask is that committee members give a commitment to attend the AGM next year and to attend at least one committee meeting in person over the year.

If you are interested – please contact me – Penny Webb – email:- Pennys.place@hotmail.co.uk – or phone:- 01562 824132

Conference part of the day

We were very honoured to have Neil Leitch CEO of the Pre -School Learning Alliance as our keynote speaker. Neil spoke with passion about the young children in our care and how we all need to ensure the children access high quality care and education. He also spoke with a element of dismay, and anger about the current governments policies and proposals – and the fact that the government is not listening to the experts within early years – including the practitioners who actually do the hands on job – day in, day out, week after week, or referring to the huge amount of research available about how children learn, or even learning from our colleagues in other countries.

Neil spoke about the recent letter in the Telegraph that he had signed (and so had I) along with 120+ leading experts in early years about inappropriate curriculum’s, school starting age – and a general ‘Too Much, Too Soon’ culture. He noted with regret that so far the government had not responded appropriately to the concerns expressed – and instead had just insulted those who had signed the letter.

We were treated to a ‘Neil Joke’ – which actually was quite funny (however I promised not to share it here or via other social media – no doubt others will here the joke at other events)

After a comfort break and a welcome cup of coffee / tea – it was time for the first workshops

I was co tutoring one of the workshops with Barbara Skilton  called;

Professional Watching and Listening – how something so simple can change the world for a child!

Without giving away the content – we did cover a variety of situations and feelings of those involved child, practitioner, parent – and got onto the subject of paint colours in settings and the impact this has on children. Very relevant as two of the participants mentioned that the school setting that they work in was going to re decorate soon and had chosen colours that were not ideal  – so they were going to provide some feedback to the school about this issue.

The other workshop was run by Lesley Senter and called;

Positive approaches to supporting communication 

Of course I was not in this workshop but I could hear the laughter through the partition wall – and I saw the ‘snakes’ that had been created – even Neil Leitch had made one (although he hid it in his bag – well at least until the end of the day, when he showed us all his wonderful creation)

The next part of the day was very important – lunch and the all important networking.

However it was at this point that I received a phone call with serious and distressing news from home – and to be honest I nearly ‘lost it’ – however the support and advice that I received from my colleagues from Bright Stars Childminding Group, from LA colleagues and from Alliance staff – was outstanding, and I was able to ‘pull myself together’ and continue with the day – secure in the knowledge that if I needed to suddenly leave to deal with the situation at home, that colleagues would step in and cover for me.

After lunch, we all went to our afternoon workshops

One workshop was – How adults use gestures and body language with colleagues and children – with Lesley Senter. As with the morning session – I personally have no  idea what this session included – but I do know that there was more laughter involved. I think I need to book onto one of Lesley’s workshops in the future, just to see what I missed!

The workshop that I did attend was -Sign Language with Linda O’Rourke and Shelia Jones, this was excellent and we all learned to sign a couple of songs. Shelia and Linda explained everything so well and included lots of information about associated signs to the ones used in the songs – and they modeled all the signs so we could copy them – BUT they did test our knowledge as well! My only problem was that my fingers refused to co-operate! (but looking round the room – I was not the only one having problems with uncooperative fingers) Shelia and Linda reassured us that the more we practiced – the more flexible and co-operative our fingers would become.

Closing session

We all gathered together – but before the closing speech we had an important task to do! A little bird had suggested in the signing workshop that we learnt ‘Happy Birthday’ as one person attending was celebrating a birthday – so we did learn it – and preform our first ‘live performance’ by singing and signing ‘Happy Birthday to a very surprised Carolyn.

As the new chair – it was my job to close the day and to mention some of the ideas that the steering group had come up with – and that the new sub committee hoped to take forward;

A newsletter with local and national information and stories

Training events on childcare subjects

Social events with fun workshops based on members hobbies and interests

Open committee meetings that – subject to space- any Worcestershire member could attend and provide input to

AND – Well whatever members wanted – so a questionnaire to find out what members would like.

Raj then presented the flowers to the volunteers and workshop leaders- and some wine for Neil – the flowers were beautiful and in the Alliance corporate colours.

Everyone attending – both members and non members took home a FANTASTIC goody bag containing a copy of the Alliance book ‘Patterns of Care’, a owl puppet and various other quality items too numerous to mention (oh ok – I admit it – I can’t remember without going to look – but I know several people have mentioned how delighted they were with their goody bag)

So the Worcestershire AGM and Conference closed – but although a few people did leave to go home, most stayed for the Ofsted Big Conversation Meeting – feedback on which is also on this blog.

One response to “Worcestershire Pre -school learning Alliance AGM and Conference

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  1. Great feedback Penny. Sounds like it was a very successful and fun event.
    Hope all is now well at home…,

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