Northamptonshire Childminding Association AGM and Conference 2014   2 comments

Before anyone thinks – oh Penny you must have moved from Worcestershire – I haven’t.

 

A while ago, I posted a link to a blog by my colleague June O’Sullivan in my Facebook group  ‘One Voice’ – as I have been doing for the last year or two.

I know people find June’s blog informative and useful, but on this particular occasion, a lady called Linda Jennings from Northamptonshire Childminding Association (NCA) made contact and said ‘Thanks so much for the link to June’s blog – as a result we have now booked her to give the Keynote Speech at our childminding conference in September.

Excellent I thought – and then I responded to Linda and said – ‘Although I have met June, and worked in partnership with her (and many others) on the ratio campaign, and through the Ofsted Big Conversation Link to OBC website I have never heard her do a presentation before – it is almost worth trying to attend – apart from the fact that I am not a Northamptonshire childminder.

 

Linda said – ‘Well if you are free on the day, you are welcome to join us’

A few weeks went by, and I was able to confirm that I was indeed free – and asked Linda if it was still ok if I attended.

Well it was – and somehow it went from a general ‘I will be attending’ to a ‘You are our guest of honour’ – and it even says so on our invitations and on our website – oh and you will be taking part in our debate at the end of the conference’

WOW – That was a first for me – being invited to be a guest of honour – and no, the ladies from NCA did not want me to book and pay for a place – I was to be their guest.

Wind forward the clock a few months, and I found myself on a train to Kettering – a bit of an unusual journey as I had attended a conference in Birmingham on Friday 19th September  – and was travelling direct from there without going home inbetween.

Once at Kettering I made my way by taxi to the hotel, and as well as unpacking, I text Linda to say I had arrived.

As arranged Linda collected me later from the hotel (once she and the committee members had finished taking stuff to the conference venue) and I joined her and some of the other NCA committee members for a meal . And very nice it was too – good company and lovely food.

Thank you ladies for making me feel so welcome, and despite your tiredness from having been childminding  all day, and then moving stuff for the conference – you were all in good spirit and the conversation flowed – mainly professional discussion but with a few laughs as well.

Linda kindly took me back to the hotel – and arranged to pick me up from the hotel at 7:45am

Therefore I was up early, had breakfast and was ready in good time.

Linda arrived spot on time  – despite having hardly having any sleep due to last minute things to do – including a trip to a supermarket in the middle of the night

On arrival, I was introduced to the staff team – one of whom  – Elaine  – I had communicated with several times via email  about the ratio campaign and childminding agencies. In Northamptonshire they have a unusual set up – not unique but quite unusual, AS NCA employ the childminding staff team  If you want to read more – take a look at their website Link to NCA Website

 

  

NCA committee members                                                                                                            NCA staff team (and Linda Jennings)

Then – it was all hands to the deck – I offered to help because it is not in my character, to sit around watching others working hard. So I helped set up the books that they had for sale. Due to a very generous donation of books (they just had to pay for delivery) – they had hundreds and hundreds of good quality books to sell – at a bargain price of 20p each!!!!

It was at this point that I wished I had travelled by car – because if I had I would have loaded the car up with books. But I hadn’t and so after careful consideration I bought 15 smallish books which I hoped would fit in my overnight bag.

The delegates at the conference could hardly believe their eyes and soon were buying loads of books – well if you could buy 20 quality books for £4 – wouldn’t you?

Also doing a good trade was the table selling off the Toy Library equipment – like many areas Northamptonshire used to have a Toy Library for their Network Childminders – but no longer have a Network as such – and so all the resources were being sold off to Northamptonshire Childminders for bargain prices – I wished that I was a) a Northamptonshire Childminder and b) not travelling by train.

I have to congratulate NCA on their organisation – with the support of the staff team – they had managed to arrange and set up a superb conference with a huge range of exhibitors – some selling things and some providing information – I have been to some major conferences that have not attracted such a good range of exhibitors. I had a quick walk round the exhibits before the start of the conference but did not have time to browse.

By now June O’Sullivan had arrived and we were all being asked to take our seats.

After introductions, the AGM  part of the proceedings started – all the necessary paperwork was in the professional looking packs given to every delegate, so everyone could follow the proceedings with ease. Linda Jennings as Chair, did a ‘grand job’ of ensuring everything went smoothly – the votes were taken – and soon  the AGM part was over – with just an appeal for anyone interested in joining the committee to speak to Linda or another committee member during the day – as there was room for a couple more committee members.

Linda Jennings leading the AGM part of the day

 

June O’Sullivan was introduced – and I swivelled in my chair so I could face June.

June was speaking about two year olds, the work of LEYF , and childminders. I was pleased that June mentioned me by name a  few times and also mentioned the ratio campaign.

June O’Sullivan presenting her talk on Two Year Olds

I have no intention of repeated word for word June’s presentation but here are a few of the key points that I picked up from June

  • June is very supportive of childminders – due in part to using a childminder when her own children were little – and her past employment of working with childminders. June had a few stories to tell from when the childminders she supported used to meet around her kitchen table.
  • June understands childminders and the skills they have, and the enabling environment that a home based setting can offer.
  • June understands about two year olds – but not just about two year olds – also about their parents and the staff who work with the children
  • June questions everything, is reflective and actions things that need challenging or changing. One of the things she mentioned was that she is currently reflecting on why LEYF nurseries compile Learning Journeies – is it the best way to record? Who are LJ’s intended to benefit?
  • June is a very good speaker – certainly everyone I spoke to on the day (and since) was very impressed.

If you want to know more about June O’Sullivan, or her blog or the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) Please click here

 

After June’s speech it was time for refreshments and opportunity to network and browse the stalls. I did those things and also had a quick chat with June before she had to rush off, and I also spoke to a few of the childminders – it was good to get feedback about my blog from the childminders.

Next it was workshops – again NCA had done a fantastic job of lining up FIVE excellent workshops (which werte repeated in the afternoon, so every delegate was able to attend two workshops during the day)

I had chosen to attend ‘Behaviour – beyond the basics’  in the morning. Due to my vast experience as a parent, grandparent, childminder, trainer – and more recently foster carer (and all the workshops / courses attended over many years) I do already have a very good understanding of behaviour related issues – however as I always find on courses and workshops – I pick up new info – and in this workshop it was the benefit of using old fashion hand clapping games – and some new verses to ‘Wind the Bobbin’

Lunch was next – but unfortunately I did not get any lunch – shame as it was a hot buffet lunch, and I had ordered Lasagne

AND IT WAS ALL MY OWN FAULT THAT I DID NOT GET LUNCH. 

You see I took the opportunity to look at all the displays and things for sale – and I got carried away chatting to people. In particular to the two ladies from Pen Green, who to my surprise had heard of me and read some of my blogs. We discussed the current Government education policy, we discussed childminders access to further qualifications, and we discussed peer support (plus one or two other things – that come under ‘personal’)

Straight after lunch, it was time for the afternoon workshops – this time I had chose to do ‘What children’s bodies need’ – a interesting workshop about movement. The not so good aspect for me (as I had missed lunch) was that it was a hands on workshop and delegates were expected to MOVE. I did take part in a couple of the movement experiences – but also sat out of a couple.

After a welcome short refreshment break it was time for the DEBATE – I knew that I was to take part in the debate – but still it was a bit of a shock to hear Elaine saying ‘Do you want to add anything Penny?’ Well as the topics being discussed were childminder agencies, and Sir Michael Wilshaw’s comments, and two year olds – I did have one or two things to say!

Myself – Penny Webb – Taking part in the debate

The NCA members also had a discussion about the support they would like locally, about a few localised issues – and about the questions that June had raised that morning.

 

There were presentations made to NCA members who had received an Outstanding grade from Ofsted, and to those who were due long service awards – so those who had been childminding for certain numbers of years – a lovely gesture I thought.

Also in this final official part of the day was the raffle – and boy what a lot of lovely prizes – including those donated by local businesses. Hats off to NCA – I know many committee’s (including those that I chair) struggle to get raffle prizes donated.

There was of course a fair bit of tidying up to do once the delegates had gone home (with their free goody bag and free Play Doctor resource bag, and all the books and other goodies that they had brought or won in the raffle). I did what I could to help – but this was limited as I did not know what needed taking where, so I did end up standing around with my pile of things, while everyone else summoned up a bit more energy to get the job done

Finally goodbyes were being said, I was given my own special goody bag, hugs and handshakes were exchanged, and I was taken by Linda back to the train station – but not before I had taken off my boots and put on my sandals – as my feet were killing me!

I had to sit around and wait for trains at every station en route home and was tired and hungry. Then when I finally got to Birmingham – and only one train journey left before home – all trains to my home station were cancelled! After a long wait a train finally came through and got me part way home. Mr. Penny’s Place picked me up from that point and drove me home – very tired and regretting at that moment in time for loading my overnight bag with those 15 small bargain 20p books because at the end of the journey home, I am sure they weighed at least twice as much as when I put them in the bag!

 

A huge thank you to NCA for inviting me and making me feel so welcome – and an extra special thank you to Linda Jennings for providing transport to and from hotel / train station.

All photographs supplied by NCA

 

 

 

Posted October 1, 2014 by psw260259 in Conferences that I have attended

2 responses to “Northamptonshire Childminding Association AGM and Conference 2014

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  1. What a lovely blog, Thank you Penny. Can I just once again Thank you so much for finding the time, in your busy life, to travel and spend the time with us, we all really appreciated it, it was lovely to meet you. There was a lot of work/hours/months that went into the Conference, by all the Management Board and Staff Team, to provide the best day that we could and we are thrilled that you enjoyed it. Sorry to hear you had a bad journey home and hope you have recovered. Look forward to reading all your future blogs…..keep up the good work…love Linda x

  2. Lovely to meet you Penny. Its nice to put a face to a name.
    Like you I enjoyed the AGM immensely and thought it was the best one yet. As a committee member, its nice that people appreciate all the hours of hard work that go into making the event successful. Look forward to hearing from you again. Kerry

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