NEYTCO ‘An evening with ….. ‘ 14th May 2015   2 comments

For those that don’t know NEYTCO stands for National Early Years Trainers and Consultants. If you would like to find out more, click on this link http://neytco.co.uk/

I am a volunteer for NEYTCO and currently I am lead for the West Midlands area, but despite this I originally thought that I would not be able to attend the first ‘An evening with ….’ event, due to work commitments and budget restraints.

Then at almost the last minute everything fell into place; one of the children I childmind went on holiday, two other parents were able to change days / times, and the final child is one of my granddaughters who could be left in the care of Granddad aka my husband Mr. Penny’s Place.

An internet search secured return train tickets for £22, and so all that needed doing was to find somewhere to stay the night.

I am very lucky and have several London based friends who very kindly offer me free bed and breakfast. On this occasion it was a chance discussion with my friend Sally that resolved the ‘where to stay’ issue. Sally mentioned that she had thought about attending, and as I was going, she would go with me and provide a bed for the night, at her family home (which meant I would also get to spend time with another friend –her husband Mick).

And so as I have said, everything fell into place.

I left home at 12.45pm on Thursday 14th May, Mr. Penny’s Place and granddaughter Annabelle dropped me at Kidderminster station, and I began the now familiar journey to London. First to Birmingham, a bit of a wait, then to London Euston, arriving more or less on time at 16.15. Sally was waiting at Euston, and we went to a café had a soft drink and looked at the map.

Once we were both fairly sure of our journey, we set off on the underground, arriving at our destination tube station with 20mins to spare to complete our journey on foot to the venue.

It was raining heavily and the pavements were packed as people made their way home. We walked a fair distance before we realised that we had missed the connecting road, and had walked too far. We looked at the on street maps, we went in shops to ask, but no one had heard of the venue. So we retraced our steps and intended to get a taxi as soon as possible, but on a rainy rush hour evening, this was easier said than done. All the taxis were busy, so we kept walking, we consulted the map many times and tried to get our bearings, but most of the road names were missing and so it was hard to work out our route. We walked up streets and down streets, getting wetter and wetter, the hood on my coat kept falling down, and Sally’s umbrella was not being very effective. After about an hour we realised that we were walking, not in circles but in squares. We went into another shop –a sweet shop, where the gentlemen did his best to help us, telling us to continue along the street for another 15mins or so. My heart fell, I was now very tired, my overnight bag that I had been carrying for the last hour and half since we left Euston, seemed to be a billion times heavier. Glancing as Sally I could see she was not enjoying the walk any more than I was, in fact the term ‘lost the will to continue’ seemed apt.

We then turned a corner and realised that we had just walked in another square. In my head I was thinking ‘at what point do we call it a day, and give up trying to find the venue’, when we spotted a taxi pulled over without passengers. On enquiring the taxi driver could get us there, so into the taxi we jumped (well once Sally had persuaded her umbrella to fold). Then while the fare clock in the taxi generated a visual reminder of how much this was going to cost, we crawled towards our destination at a snail’s pace, and I was beginning to panic. My face matched Sally’s with a disbelief that what should have been a 10min walk had turned into such a nightmare journey.

Then suddenly the traffic cleared and about 3 minutes later we arrived at the venue, with the taxi pulling up literally outside the door.

We signed in at reception of the modern and very smart building, and were directed to a downstairs room. I noted with relief that a gentleman had also signed in for the NEYTCO event, as this meant we were not the only ones who were late – the only difference was he was not dripping wet.

We had to go down a spiral staircase and from this advantage point I could see Laura Henry sat on the platform with the people we had come to hear talk; Penny Tassoni, Sonia Blandford, Elizabeth Jarman and Martin Price. I was pleased to see Laura’s welcoming smile, as we made our way to seats at the back. We took our wet outer clothes off (although we still had damp, if not wet clothes on), were given our packs and name badges, directed to the refreshments (which we gratefully put a few on a plate and poured ourselves a drink, before taking our seats).

Tuning into the conversation from the front platform, I realised they were talking about early childhood – no surprise there really considering the guests –but what was a surprise was they were talking about their own childhoods.

Penny Tassoni was speaking about her early memories; and without going into too much detail, she recalled being cold due to lack of heating at home, so cold that there was ice on the inside of windows (actually some of my early memories are similar, and some of my early adult memories come to that), she spoke about the various countries that she has lived in, and the differences in languages even in those countries where English was spoken. Penny spoke about other personal early memories about her childhood some of which were similar to my experiences and some that were very different.

Laura then did a summing up, I was sorry that I had missed the other guests contributions, but maybe I will get another opportunity in the future.

During the rest of the evening Laura asked the guest various questions about their work, their journey so far and what drives them, in other words their passion about what and who had influenced them personally and professionally.

This is my overview , not in any particular order, but just recorded as things pop from my memory (because as usual I did not make any notes) I apologise if a bit vague but to be honest I was tired from the journey, particularly all the walking, and the things I was hearing prompted personal memories of my journey through life, and professional practice questioning and so all a bit muddled in my head.

I should mention that we had a comfort break and a challenge to talk to as many people as we could, especially people we had not met before. This meant as well as getting to enjoy more of the lovely refreshments we got to talk to others. I introduced Sally to some of the people I have met before, and we both talked to lots of other people, not everyone of course, because as usual when early years people get together and start talking early years things, the passion comes out and there is no such thing as a short early years based conversation!

Getting back to my personal recall;

I was struck with how important each guests family were to them, and also how each of them had overcome personal difficulties and / or insecurities which have impacted on their journey through life, their professional development and also their passion for what they do.

Martin spoke about sort of drifting through life, and in his words ‘wasting 15 or 20 years’ but then when he had his first child how everything changed personally and professionally, and how he found his passion which has led to setting up Reflections Nursery and a drive to somehow ‘make up for those wasted years’ (and by the way a dvd of some of the children from Reflections Nursery exploring the outside environment was playing ‘on a loop’ –which was another distraction for me, as I kept watching it –such motivating images), Martin spoke about his nine visits to Reggio Emilia and the impact it had on him, but also about other influences. He described the ethos of practice in his setting and how all staff are focussed on children and keeping those children in mind at all times, including discussions in the staff room and the office (private / personal conversation being reserved for personal time);

Elizabeth spoke about how proud she was of her children and how they had overcome personal difficulties, with one about to go to university. She also spoke about being a single parent, about relocating the family and about why the environment is so important, and sadly how many early years environments are still not designed to meet the needs of the child, and why she wants children to experience the types of enabling environments that she did as a child. Elizabeth spoke about building her own opinion and professional views based on ‘a mix and match’ of theories and practice she has seen over the years.

Sonia spoke about her adopted family, and challenges and rewards of a diverse family, she spoke about her personal need to know where each member of the family was, so that she knew they were safe. Sonia also spoke about her school years and the impact that had had, particularly music and certain teachers because Sonia had not had the best start to her education, and could be described as a late starter, and slow developer. Sonia was keen to stress the importance of personal skills and leadership not just of settings but also of people. Sonia explained about her work experiences on the various roles she has held, and how this has helped her develop her own personal beliefs and what is right for early years children.

Laura then asked some questions that had come in through social media, and the panel of experts answered as best they could. Time was running out and so Laura took a few questions from the audience before announcing it was time have a final networking opportunity, before heading home.

During this final networking I spoke to many people and was impressed with the passion vision and ethos of those present. Final farewells were said and Sally and I set off on our journey back to Sally’s house, secretly hoping that it would be a lot easier than the journey to the venue. However this was not to be because once again we miss the side roads and kept walking until Sally suddenly said ‘oh my goodness we have walked much too far but not to worry because as tube station just ahead and we will just do a roundabout route to get back’. We realise that it was going to be a very roundabout route because we could not go in the direction we needed to and so had to go one stop change tubes then go in another direction change tubes again before finally getting on the right train to head to the station near to Sally’s house.

I really enjoyed the first NEYTCO ‘An evening with …’ event and although not what I expected, but found it to be very enjoyable, relaxed and informative. I look forward to being able to attend future events and hope that on reading this recall the some of you will be interested in attending similar events in your locality.

2 responses to “NEYTCO ‘An evening with ….. ‘ 14th May 2015

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  1. Pingback: PACEY conference Saturday 16th May 2015 – Especially for Shirleen and Keith | Penny's Place Childminding

  2. Thanks. Penny for sharing.. next one we are looking at Yorkshire region, October & Manchester region, March. Yes, the weather was appalling and central London, for some reason road signs are not clear.! Note, a think to Boris!! Well done to Sally Mcgeown , Penny & the many others for making it in such dreadful weather. If you look at Neytco & EYTalking tweets positive comments, thought provoking & inspiring. Many emails to NEYTCO from attendees and the expert panel: ground breaking and a change from generic conferences, which follow the same pattern. First of it kind where experts share their personal story, journey, passion and who has inspired them.

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