Friday 6th June – Part Two of my personal feedback from Pre School Learning Alliance AGM / Conference   Leave a comment

I left Part One of my feedback just as we broke for lunch, at the Pre School Learning Alliance AGM / Conference, if you have not already read it, you can do so by clicking HERE

So I will now continue with my feedback of the lunch break, the actual AGM and the workshop that I personally attended – which was ‘Achieve  an Outstanding Ofsted Rating’ and led by Liz Elsom who was formally a Divisional Manager for Early years and Childcare at Ofsted.

Due to my low blood glucose levels, I made my way straight to where the lunches were being served – and quickly realised that there was an issue with lunch – I did not like most of it! I have got much better recently at making my dietary needs known, so that conference organisers are aware that I am diabetic and that I only really like plain food – no spices, not even pepper, no alcohol, no herbs and so on – yes I know a bit fussy – but that it just how it is. However, if I filled in the dietary needs box on the booking form this time – who knows?

So trying to make the best of things, I selected a couple of mini croissants that had salmon in them, and a small slice of a cake type dessert – the rest of the selection was not to my taste. Usually at conferences there is a selection of fruit available – but if there was I did not not see it.

Still, it was a lot better than nothing and so I took my plate into the other room and joined some other people at a table to eat lunch. Some of those at my table seemed to know each other and there was some ‘in house’ chat which I did not feel I should join in with, so I ate my lunch as quickly as possible, so that those at the table did not have to worry about me over hearing things – and more importantly that I did not have to worry about hearing anything that I should not be listening to.

I took another look round the exhibition and surprisingly resisted buying any of the lovely things on display. I bumped into Jo who was trying to manoeuvre a couple of the children who had helped with the Volunteers Awards presentations  – however the children thought the working display model of a hand washing unit – really did need exploring.

I decided that the contents of my purse would be much safer if I moved out of the exhibition – as I was starting to linger by displays and even pick things up to look at them closer – so I went and stood in the reception area.  I had a brief chat with Simona – a childminder from London – although Simona  told me that she is currently doing some work in a pre school. I then chatted  to one of the trustees, (Sophie, I think, but I may be wrong!),  we chatted about a wide range of things including the many roles we both hold and the difficulties of multi tasking and managing a family when away from home; I also spoke to Rita Sutton, the member of staff who is leaving, we chatted about her retirement plans and maybe being able  to spend more time with her grandchildren. Rita said that she thought that she would do some volunteering in the future – but was not sure if it would be with the Alliance or another organisation – she expressed her concerns about going back to grass routes with the Alliance. I could understand this as when I returned to my grass roots as a registered childminder, in 2010 –  it was at times difficult.

Then just before we were asked to get our voting cards ready to go into the AGM – Margaret Jones came over and had a word. Margaret said she had spotted me earlier but had not been able to come over and chat at that time, as so many other people wanted to talk to her. I was surprised that Margaret recognised me – as although our shared history with the Alliance (or rather the PPA) goes back a long way – Margaret was what I might call a major player and I was … well I was not. Margaret and I chatted for a while about this and that  and then it was time to go into the conference hall for the AGM. I found my voting card, gave in the tear off strip and made my way towards the second row where I had sat earlier that morning.

The trustees were sat in the front row just in front of me, on the platform were all the key people needed to hold the AGM, and  to the side was Estella ready to record the proceedings of the AGM.  Also in the room were the Tellers for if it was needed to actually hand count the votes, and a few other official people.

The formal record of the AGM will be available in due course – as recorded by Estalla  – but for now he is my personal recall.

Janette opened the meeting, and introduced the key people, she then made a outstanding speech – her last as Chair of the Board of Trustees. We moved onto the things that I and the other members in the room had to consider and vote on – not in the right order as on the day – but things like accepting the minutes of the last AGM, accepting the accounts, appointing the auditors for next year, agreeing to the appointment of new Trustees and so on- all this went very smoothly – although to ensure we remained quorate no one was allowed to leave the hall. But then things became a little more interesting – and caused a few discussions with the legal team! This was over the changing of wording in the official documents so that it reflected the broader membership that the Alliance now has, a good thing which I personally agreed with. However a suggestion then came from a member about further changes to the wording – and in light of the mornings presentations; and this is what caused the discussions around the legality of this.

In the end it was agreed that the wording could not be further changed at this point in time – although it could be changed at next years AGM – if members wanted to. A vote was then taken about the original  proposal to change the wording and because it was not clear from a show of hands – we had to use our voting cards and the votes counted. The proposed wording changes were passed due to the votes of those in the room and the postal votes  that Janette had in her charge.

Exciting stuff – and something that I have not personally been involved in – since the now famous Scarborough conference in 1995 (?) when Preschool Playgroup Association changed its name to the Preschool Learning Alliance, when doors to the hall were locked and votes counted – if memory serves me well not once but twice.

However both events show how members can and do have a say in the structure of the association that represents us.


Time was ticking on and we had to move into our seminar groups – I was looking forward to mine as it was being run by an ex Ofsted colleague with whom I had had a good relationship with in the past – Liz Elsom.

I have no intention of repeating Liz’s presentation word for word – although I do recommend readers accessing one of Liz’s workshops if they can. However I will say that the discussion points given did generate some very useful discussions and points of view – which as you would expect were varied and occasionally very different.

One of the questions debated in my group was ‘What makes a practitioner a leader?’ – I was asked this question in relationship to my role as a Ofsted Registered Childminder, directly by a member of Alliance staff.  Not something that is easy to put into words – but I did my best! Some of the other discussion were around quality of qualification training, and setting ethos and practice, and recent inspection experiences – all subjects that get me on my soap box – so apologies to the rest of my discussion group if I appeared to be opinionated and dominating (Not my intention but as I personally lack confidence – I overcome this by becoming the ‘public me’ – the one who writes blogs and challenges Government – rather than the private me who doubts own knowledge and would rather sit and say nothing – and of course in discussions I am just one of a group of people, where everyone’s opinion is valued –  so as I say apologies)

We had a very welcome tea / coffee break during the seminar,  and because I was using up a lot of energy by being the ‘public me’ and well out of my comfort zone; and the knock on from the mini hypo in the morning and the reduced intake at lunch time – I could feel myself starting to wobble and other early hypo warning signs, I put some more biscuits in my handbag.

During the break I also had time for a catch up with Liz Elsom – and was surprised that she recognised me – and clearly remembered our professional relationship from when she worked for Ofsted – and when I helped filled her inbox with lots of questions during the pilot period and early days of EYFS 12.

All to soon the seminar was over and it was time for those staying for the Drinks reception to make their way to the room set aside for this purpose. On the way I bumped into Mel – another member of Alliance staff – and another person I know from the time that I worked for Worcestershire LA. We had a little chat then separated as we collected our drinks – orange juice for me.

I found a table and took advantage of the networking opportunities with colleagues and with Alliance staff – including Dee who wants to meet up soon to discuss a few things about childminders and the Alliance from the perspective of the West Division.

Janette gave a rousing speech – reminding member that they need to be proactive in shouting about the things that concern them, and in supporting the Alliance in its work – that which is primarily representing members and speaking up for us and the children we care for.

Well said Janette – I totally agree; more members need to more proactive, as it is together that we can make a difference – the children cannot speak up for themselves – but we can speak up for them – and we can enable the children’s parents to have a voice as well.


I urge all my early years colleagues – to be proactive if they are not already doing so – and to be more proactive if they are already doing so.

Those who are currently making decisions about early years settings and about the children of this country – are not qualified to do so – and in my opinion are making a mess of things.

We – the early years sector – have the knowledge, the experience and the qualifications in our field – we MUST speak up – we MUST make Government listen.

By we – I mean  – ALL OF US


And so the AGM / Conference came to an end, and said my goodbyes – hand shakes with some, hugs with others and a verbal ‘bye’ to some;  and I walked back  to the train station in the company of Simona, and for some of the time with Neil Leitch and other members of staff who were all making their way back home after a very successful day.




Posted June 10, 2014 by psw260259 in Pre School Learning Alliance

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