Wednesday 30th October – Too Much, Too Soon – A Day of Action   9 comments

Details about the Too Much, Too Soon campaign can be found HERE – over the next few days updates from the Day of Action will be added.

The Day of Action was organised by the Save Childhood Movement Early Education advisory group under the brilliant guidance of Wendy Ellyatt who did most of the organising of the day and ensuring everything went smoothly . Details about Save Childhood Movement can be found HERE

This is my personal recall of the day – of course others will recall things differently depending on what they did, who they spoke to and their personal opinion.

Prior to the day, my printer had been working overtime, printing the signatures and comments from the Too Much, Too Soon petition  For Details and to sign – click HERE   and from the Stop, Listen, Consult, Petition (which is a linked petition, not a direct activity of SCM)  Click here for Details

So on the actual day, I caught the 7:30am train from Kidderminster to London carrying my own large bag with all my personal things and a carrier bag with both petitions boxed and labelled – and my home made placard – as seen below being held by chiildminding colleague Wendy’s daughter Rosie. The other side of the placard had the Too Much, Too Soon campaign poster


Unfortunately, my train was delayed and I did not get to London as early as I wanted to – but just before 11am I was stood outside Westminster tube station waiting to meet up with childminding colleagues. The first to arrive was Lisa , followed shortly afterwards by Wendy and her daughter Rosie. Rosie very kindly went and fetched me a much needed coffee.

We then went in search of Richmond Terrace which was the pre arranged meeting place – a bit difficult to find as there was not a sign! However after looking at the map, and walking up and down the road we found what we thought was Richmond Terrace – and indeed someone else thought it was too – as there we found Dr. Richard House. After introductions, I chatted to Richard about the forthcoming conference in Winchester.

I received a call from Sarah Edwards, who is the volunteer officer for Pacey – passing on the contact details of her colleague Cordia Lewis. I contacted Cordia and we arranged to meet later on in the House of Commons, as Cordia was going to attend the Parliamentary  Lobby to represent Pacey’s CEO Liz Bayram.

After a while we realise that we were not in the right place! So walked to the end of the road where we found our campaigning colleagues, on the pavement right opposite to the entrance to Downing Street. It was there that we met up with another childminding colleague Vicky and her partner.













Vicky with her very distinctive reject agencies placard and Lisa with her      equally distinctive placard

For me the next hour or so was spent chatting to people that I communicate with via email and social media frequently, but who I had never met face to face before, including my fellow campaigners from Save Childhood Movement, and primary sector colleagues that I had met previously through my involvement with The Primary Charter . One thing that did surprise me was the number of people who came up to me and said ‘Are you Penny’  ‘I follow your blog / campaigning’ – it would seem that I am more well known that I thought.

It was soon time to cross the road ready for our appointment time to hand in the Too Much, Too Soon petition in at Number 10.  So the core team gathered together; Myself. Wendy Ellyatt, Wendy Scott, Melian Mansfield, Sue Palmer and Dr. Richard House – however we were not alone as everyone else gathered outside the gates across Downing Street to wish us good luck, take photo’s and cheer / wave their Too Much, Too Soon flags as we were let in through the gate (once are identity had been checked)

Photo of us waiting to go into Downing Street – taken by Lisa

Next step was to go through the security ‘hut’  complete with bag scanner and people scanner – luckily we all passed the checks – including the box with the petition in – and then we were able to make our way to the famous front door of Number 10, Downing Street.

It was all a little surreal – of course the street was very familiar as have seen it on the TV many times – but to be actually walking down the street and crossing the traffic free road was … well as I say surreal.

The Policeman on duty outside the famous front door was very friendly and asked if we wanted to take photo’s before we knocked on the door – we did



Wendy Ellyatt with the petition outside Number 10








Wendy then knocked on the door, and when it was opened, handed the box with the petition and a letter to the Prime Minister to the gentleman who had opened the door.

The policeman then suggested we asked the professional cameraman positioned over the road if he would take some photos – and he very kindly did – using my most defiantly not professional camera












And then job done, we walked out of Downing Street to a resounding cheer and much waving of flags from the supporters still standing by the gates to Downing Street. For that brief moment in time I felt that I was personally making a difference through my own efforts, through joining together with colleagues of Save Childhood Movement – and of course with the support of all those who feel as strongly as I do, that at the very least our government need to listen to the early years sector and preferably to enter into full, and transparent consultation and debate being informed by those who provide childcare and education in this country, and those experts in the field who have realms of relevant research and evidence to inform any changes to policies and statutory frameworks.

Lots of photo’s were then taken of the children who volunteered to hold the large banner – which to be honest was a relief to me as in the original plan the core team including me were supposed to lead the March holding the banner. The children did a brilliant job and those we passed smiled at them and gave way- so our route to the Houses of Parliament was fairly easy.

We all gathered opposite the Houses of Parliament for group photo’s – personally I was a bit disappointed that the media had not put in an appearance – however there was an freelance photographer whoo took a lot of photo’s and I am sure these will make there way into the public arena in due course.

Photo taken by Vicky

I decided to take some more informal photo’s of the children – and yes I did remember to ask for permission from their parents.

From there we all started to go our separate ways – I went into the House of Commons(with a few others) through the visitor entrance  – but not without having my bag search – this time because my insulin pen caused concern – two of my colleagues also had their bags checked.Still better to be safe.

We congregated in the cafe, and had a well deserved drink and something to eat – and use the toilet facilities (at least these were free unlike the ones in the city which were 30p / 50p to use.

We had opportunity to have a chat about things that concern us in the world of childcare and education – and to find out a little bit more about those that we had met for the first time.

It was in the cafe, that Cordia from Pacey met up with me . We had a quick chat about various campaign related things and the importance of everyone working together across all organisations and all sectors. However conversations were cut short as we had to make our way through the magnificent buildings that are the Houses of Parliament – and onto committee room 5 (which was a surprise as we were expecting to be in committee room 6)

However, Lisa did not join us straight away in committee room 5, because she had arrange to meet with her MP – Alan Whitehead. When I heard that Lisa had managed to secure this appointment – I had an idea – to ask Lisa to hand her MP the Stop. Listen, Consult petition list of signatures and comments – and to ask Nursery World if they could do ‘something” to give it a bit of media coverage – which they did as can be seen HERE.

Lisa did a fantastic job of explaining about childminding agencies to her MP and why all the childminding organisations (Pacey, UKCMA, ICM-SE and The Pre school Learning Alliance) and thousands of childminders are against the proposal, that Alan has suggested that Lisa organises a meeting in Southampton for colleagues and that he will attend.

The Parliamentary Lobby started with a welcome and introduction by Annette Brooke MP who has been very supportive of the current campaign and all the various associated campaigns over many years. When Annette spoke it was with a deep rooted  passion and knowledge – something which I have not encountered much of in relation to the campaign from other government ministers or officials, from those who agree or disagree with my opinion.

Next to speak was Wendy Ellyatt in her role as CEO of Save Childhood Movement – and the driving force behind the campaign, the website and the planning (and doing) of the Day of Action. Wendy gave a rousing speech – which I won’t relay here as I know Wendy is going to put it on the website in the next day or two.

For this same reason – I am not going to report on the content of others speeches / presentations as I think it is better if you read the official feedback / actual notes / presentations.

However, I will tell you that after Wendy Ellyatt, Dr. Richard House spoke – and to my surprise he mentioned me by name and gave me credit for starting the first ratio petition – which I did – and having the strength of character to stand up and voice the concerns of many.

After  Richard House, Wendy Scott spoke about the aims of the campaign and linked them to her personal experiences.

We then listened to two excellent presentations – one by Dr. David Whitebread and one by Dr.Terry Wrigley – who were both speakers that explained the why’s and the hows of current education policies and those in the pipeline – plus a reflection on past polices – without giving away the content of the presentations – there was one question that struck a cord with me ‘Did the children of previous generations have a better or a worse education?’ From a personal perspective looking back on my own early years experiences I would say I had a better education AND a relatively stress free childhood, which ensured the foundations of learning were securely built, and when I look at the experiences my grandchildren are having I would say that not only are their educational experiences different, they are too broad, not focussed on the foundations of learning and extremely stressful a lot of the time.

To round off the Parliamentary Lobby, there was a short general discussion with questions posed and answered – the most important of which was how to ensure parents are made aware of the proposed changes and what actually takes place in schools – and more importantly how to inform parents about the value of play based experiences and activities – and that delaying formal schooling is not about delaying educational experiences – and that educational experiences are not just about learning to read and write at a ever increasing  younger age.

The day finished with a meal in a pub and a debrief / planning next steps – before everyone headed home.

In my case a long journey made longer by problems with the train and trespassers on the track.

I finally got home just before 23:30 shattered (by the long day), motivated (by everyone joining together), saddened (by our governments continued refusal to listen), depressed (by the amount of awareness raising still to be done, proud (of own achievement) determined (to keep on campaigning and doing ‘my little bit to stand up and be counted in protecting the children of this country, from developmentally inappropriate policy making )

Posted October 31, 2013 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

9 responses to “Wednesday 30th October – Too Much, Too Soon – A Day of Action

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  1. Thanks, for sharing, Penny. 🙂

  2. What an experience you had, well done to all involved :o)

  3. Thank you so much for all the work you do and for motivating me to join the day I had a great time and came home with a real feel good factor 🙂


    • Oops sorry about the capitals – didn’t write it in capitals! Also not sure why it says “search results for…” At the beginning either!

      • Reassuring to know I am not the only one for whom IT is a bit of a mystery. For example – no idea why the text in this blog is not where I intended it to be. Thank you for your lovely comments

  5. Well done Penny, hope you enjoyed your experience and I’m glad you are starting to realise how many people read and are behind you in your battle. Enjoy your conference this weekend and try and chill a bit.

  6. Great blog Penny, thank you for sharing.

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