Early Education conference – Saturday 10th May – The main event and more of my rambling   4 comments

Continuing my recall …..

…….. After very little sleep (about an hour) I am up early and getting cross with the hotels internet connection! I wanted to use the time to deal with emails, and social media connected communications. At the moment, I am getting huge amounts of emails every day – sometimes several hundred – and even after deleting the ‘junk’ ones there are still a lot that need a response.

As a childminder this means that I need to find time outside my hands on childminding to do some of these tasks – and as an aside – I have started to write this part of my recall about the Early Education conference at 6am on Monday 12th May – and after I have tidied the house, and transformed it into a setting, unpacked from the weekend, put the washing on, done my ironing and many other tasks that need doing as a result of being away at the weekend. – one of the ‘problems’ of being a childminder is, if you have been away at the weekend, you can not just get up. shut your front door, go to work, and deal with everything after work – or even the next weekend ; you actually have to do everything to ensure your home is ready to be a childcare setting before the children arrive – in my case today – a  later start than usual as the first child is due at 7:30 am.

So having got that aside out of the way, I will continue my recall – I won’t finish recording it before first child arrives but will complete  later on today – either at lunch time when Mr.Penny’s Place is in the setting, and so able to support me with the care of the children, or after the last child has left – and in my case today that means after 18:30 tonight.

So after the frustrations of the internet connection, and breakfast in the hotel where I managed to eat some weetabix (and Mr.Penny’s Place managed to eat my cooked breakfast as well as his own), We set off to find the City Chambers – Mr.Penny’s Place was not going to the conference but had a day of sight seeing ahead of him and so it made sense to walk together to the conference venue and to say our goodbyes there.

The City Chambers were quite easy to find – set back from the street with a courtyard in front – and covered in scaffolding and some attractive screen printed netting (much nicer than the usual brightly coloured cargo type netting you usually see). However although more attractive, the netting did of course mean the visual impact of this building was not that good.

I was greeted by bagpipes playing and a friendly person asking me if I had come for the Early Education conference – and when I said yes – directed me inside where another friendly person directed me up the grand staircase. I have to say this welcome was much appreciated as it meant all those nerves about ‘Am I in the right place’ ‘Where do I go’ ‘Who do I ask’ vanished – so thank you, whoever thought of that welcoming idea..

Upstairs I was officially welcomed by yet more friendly people, given my name badge and my conference pack – and directed to the main conference room – and told where refreshments and toilets could be found.

In the conference hall, I spotted Sarah from Early Education’s London office, and I smiled but did not speak to her as she was busy setting up the IT stuff. I found a chair, and marvelled at the magnificent room that I was in – take a look HERE if you want to see some images. The main conference  room was the one with the dome in the ceiling.

I then wandered off to find the refreshments, and to have a look at the displays and trade stands – a benefit of arriving early is that you can have a good look before everyone else gets there.

Those who know me well – may now be expecting me to list all the things that I brought – however I did not order or buy one single thing – don’t get me wrong – I saw lots of things that I liked – but travelling by train does limit instant purchases that need to be transported back – and budget restraints mean that ordering to be delivered later was not really an option either. The budget restraints were of course self imposed but the cost of attending the conference was quite high – time I had added travel costs, hotel costs, conference costs – and a day off on Friday – which was unpaid. So no purchases allowed – and for once I stuck to my self imposed condition of attending.

After I had finished my coffee, I went back to the main room and took my seat, passing Helen Moylett on the way – who greeted me – but who I ignored because I did not see her until she had gone past me (in fact I heard her rather than saw her). Sorry Helen.; I spotted the ladies from the nursery that I had spoken to the night before, and exchanged smiles with them as they were sat on the opposite side of the room to me; several other people that I recognised said Hello, before taking their seats.

People started taking seats next to me and in front of me – and we chatted – I realised that I knew some of the names from my social media links – and also realised that some of them had read my blogs. It was rather nice to find this out – and also for people to say ‘I have seen you before – were you at last years conference / the AGM’ – and nice to be able to say ‘yes’.

By ‘Living We Learn’

Before we knew it is was time for the conference to start and Julian Grenier who is Chair of Early Years Education Trustees, opened the conference. Julian welcomed us all, and went through the house keeping for the day – and used the word ‘muster’ in relation to if there was a fire – that we should ‘muster’ over the road.

Julian also mentioned that he was going to take some photo’s and post them on Twitter – and that various people were going to do live updates about the conference – if you use Twitter and want to take a look, this is Early Educations Twitter name @earlyed_uk . (As an aside at lunch time tweets from those in the room and not in the room where displayed on the screen – and when I checked my emails I found out that I had been mentioned a couple of times and so I replied. If you want to check out my tweets, my Twitter name is @PSW26259)

The keynote speech was from Rosemary Roberts on ‘ Growing companionable well being’. For more information about Rosemary CLICK HERE

I had not personally heard Rosemary talk before and so I was keen to hear this speech. I found out that Rosemary has a OBE and that she a founder director of Parents Early Education Partnership (PEEP) which of course I did know about. If you have not heard of PEEP or have heard of it but want to find out a bit more CLICK HERE

As regular readers will know I do not provide word for word feedback about speakers – after all the speakers earn their living from doing these talks and so it would not be right if I gave away the content of their talk for free in my blog.

So my personal overview of Rosemary’s talk. First I could sense the passion about and the commitment to, her field of work, which for me is always a good starting point.

Rosemary spoke about well being – a term which we all use but which has different meanings. For me ‘well being’ is about being able to cope with life and all its positive and negative aspects. Rosemary’s talk agreed with this but also looked at well being through a different lens – and expanded on her own theory based on her personal research. She spoke about 4 interconnecting constructs Agency, Belonging & Boundaries, Communication and Physical – which if you think about do cover the aspects of life that could impact on a child or an adult.

Interestingly (and certainly ringing the truth bells for me –  from my own current personal lack of high levels of well being being caused by a flawed Ofsted inspection and navigation of the equally flawed complaints process) Rosemary spoke about the need for practitioner well being to support the development of child well being. I enjoyed Rosemary’s talk – and it certainly has made me think about the impact of my well being – or rather lack of well being may have on the children I care for.

It was now time for coffee – and as I stood up I realised I had a bit of a problem! In that the lack of eating was now impacting on my well being – and yes I was starting to go hypo – so I was shaking and I was sweating. Luckily coffee and biscuits were not far away, and so I avoided the worse case scenario.

I did manage to have a discussion with someone who is a colleague of one of my Save Childhood Movement colleagues, which was very interesting, and which hopefully continue at some point in the future.

When I returned to the conference hall, it was clear that I was still having a few blood glucose issues and so I found my glucose tablets and ate some. It is a problem for diabetics if for some reason they are unable to eat normally, that they will experience blood glucose levels issues.  I am sure that Ofsted – who are the cause of my stress have no idea of the impact on my well being – but there are causing a lot of stress related issues.

The next speaker was Pattie Santelices – another speaker that I had not heard speak before. So in the usual format you can read about Pattie and her role as Principal Officer of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Team with City of Edinburgh Council HERE

Pattie’s talk was based on ‘Why relationships matter’ – and of course I was ‘hooked’ even before Pattie started her talk – as I firmly believe in the importance of relationships. A lot of Pattie’s talk reinforced the message given in Rosemary’s talk and just looked at things from a slightly different perspective. However what I liked about Pattie’s talk was the opportunity to discuss various point with the person sat next to me. I think it would be fair to say that my colleague in the chair next to me – holds similar views to myself – but I find it really useful to discuss these things and to realise that many hold these similar views – including those from different areas of the early years sector.

The final session before lunch was led by Christine McCormick who is Headteacher of Cameron House Nursery School, I did have a quick look but I could not find a website for the nursery – this does not mean there isn’t one – it just means that I did not find it.

I was drawn to Chris’s softy spoken, but clear voice – and her belief that the training they had put  in place for involving parents and school staff was very effective and in part because it was the same training for both staff and parents – however – and sorry Chris if you are reading this – it was the nervous young father sat on the chair at the front that grabbed my attention. Chris had introduced him at the beginning, and kept looking and gesturing with her hands in the direction of the young father through out her talk – and finally he had opportunity to speak. I was drawn to the sparkle in his eye when he spoke about his children, I was impressed with his desire and actions to include his partner in the training – and how he cascaded it all to her, I welcomed his open and honest comments – in a nutshell – I liked him

However, all to quickly it was lunch time.

Lunch was a cold buffet of sandwiches and a few other things – chopped up fruit – plus fruit juice. Which was fine by me as it met my dietary needs and my personal likes about food.

During lunch, I engaged in conversation with a small group of professionals – some of whom I had met before – and some who I had not met. We discussed the mornings session – and that old favourite hot potato – Ofsted I told my inspection story …. and my colleagues were shocked at my experience.

I also had a conversation with the young father who had spoken in the pre lunch session – he is amazing and an inspiration to us all. And he really should think about becoming a trainer – so he can lead sessions for other parents and work in partnership with other professionals

Time was whizzing past – the summons to ‘muster’ back in the main hall went round and we all returned to our seats.

Beatrice Merrick welcomed us back and did a summing up and a ‘whats coming up next’ . Beatrice also mentioned that it is her first conference as at last years conference in York she was not the CE – she also mentioned that Edinburgh is her home town – but that it had all been agreed to well before she took over. However she was glad that we all had opportunity to explore her home town.

The afternoon session was slightly different to the morning session as it was focussed on more fun aspects of communication


Virginia Radcliffe was first to speak, Virginia is the Chief Executive of Lickityspit Child Centred Theatre Company – and yes you can access information by Clicking HERE. Virginia explained how the company started, how it has grown, and how they hope to develop – there were lots of video clips showing the plays and the intertaction with children – and children taking part – with the simplest of materials / props I was struck my the children’s faces, their engagement and their involvement. Virginia had lots of extra info about the plays and things the children had said or done. It certainly made me think about my own setting which is very child led and we do do role play . simple acting and so on – but we could do more – a lot more.

As an aside – on Sunday – inspired by the red berets used by Lickityspit – and the tam o’shanter hats in the shops in Edinburgh – I brought two child sized ones for my setting – maybe I will write a blog one day about what the child used them for.

The last speaker of the day was Eric Brennan, who is a Edinburgh based story teller  – this is Eric’s Facebook page HERE

Eric did a very good job of gaining audience participation through words and actions – and he managed to get across a few valid points about language and the use of props. In my opinion – an excellent way to round off a conference.

Helen Moylett led the closing session – she did the usual thanks and told those in the room that next years conference would be in PLYMOUTH

I hope to be there – maybe I will see you there?

Part three of this blog will follow as soon as possible and will focus on the evening of the 10th May and also the 11th May – including the guided walk round the Patrick Geddes gardens.



Posted May 12, 2014 by psw260259 in Conferences that I have attended

4 responses to “Early Education conference – Saturday 10th May – The main event and more of my rambling

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  1. I Look forward to your blogs Penny, so down to earth, honest and knowledgeable. But, reading towards the end of this one I had to smile, and I’m sure there is no disrespect meant to the speaker, but Virginia Radcliffe just may not approve of the new first name youve titled her with. Good luck with your appeal I wish you every success

    • Thank you Joan, too much haste I fear, and my usual lack of spotting such typo’s. I will go and correct now

      Made changes now – I think it was only the once that I had made my unintentional error – and apologies to all – for this.

      And thank you for your lovely comments

  2. Thank you for ALL your blog’s Penny. As always, you write with such detail – you should be a journalist, or a novelist. I sympathise with your case of a hypo right in the middle of things as I suffer the same. It’s annoying at the best of times but glad you made it to the biscuits and grabbed the glucose tablets in time. Good luck with your Ofsted campaign – again, I have read ALL your blogs on this and find it unvelieveable. Even been ranting to my long suffering hubby over it!!!!! xx

    Fran Greatorex
    • Thank you Fran – and apologies to your other half. Mr Penny’s Place gets fed up with me going on … and on ….and on – so it must be even more annoying for your other half to have the moaning on my behalf (but I thank you for caring)

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