Archive for the ‘Random Things!’ Category

Childminders Conference at Pen Green   9 comments

It is not often that I write a blog about forth coming events – as of course usually I write about events that I have attended.

However this conference t Pen Green has been brought to my attention, and I wonder how many people know about it.

So I promise I am not on a sales commission, or being paid to write this blog – it is just information sharing

I hope to go myself and I have sent an email to book my place

So here are the details

Date: Saturday 21st March2015
Venue: Pen Green Research Base, Corby
Cost £75

For full details please click on the link

Pen Green Childminders Conference

If you have not heard of Pen Green – take a look at their website (access from the link above)

But for starters here is the information copied from their ‘About us’ page

Our Research Base was established to facilitate professional development and higher education courses for everyone involved in the Early Years Sector. Our students and delegates benefit from a unique education and research facility; we are based within one of the country’s largest children’s centres and have over 30 years experience running an integrated early years provision.

The Research Base has been at the forefront of early years research and training since we first opened in 1997. Since then we have developed our expert knowledge through the management and co-ordination of national and regional training programmes. We have built strong links with governments and national agencies; we have worked closely with the Australian, New Zealand, German and Malaysian governments and state departments in an advisory capacity, and we frequently welcome guest speakers and visitors from all around the world. Our portfolio ranges from the conceptualisation of high profile projects for the Department of Education, to the development and facilitation of our own unique training programmes. Our research team continue to produce relevant and engaging programmes and materials for early years practitioners, some of which are available for purchase on the website.

Maybe I will see you there?

Posted February 6, 2015 by psw260259 in Random Things!

How many hats? Is it possible to have too many hats?   2 comments

I have not always been the sort of person to wear different hats – and adopt different persona’s to fit the hat that I am wearing at the time. This is a fairly recent thing, although looking back with hindsight, I can see this has developed over the last 10 years or so (before that I just had one hat – the private me one that I wore everywhere), but these days I do wear different hats – and lots of them!

Over the last couple of weeks, I have  had cause to wear several of my hats one after another, and have commented on social media about my diverse life …….

……… so just for fun, I thought I would have a go at recalling all those different hats and to try to describe the hat and the persona that goes with it.

First Hat – Private Me
My natural persona under my ‘Me’ hat is one of lacking confidence, of being quietly spoken (actually of preferring not to speak unless I really have to!), I have always hated phones, hated confrontation – or even lively debate, at school I never spoke up (as proved by my school reports) – but lurking under that hat is an opinionated, stubborn persona, that is also  passionate about the things that concern me. Sometimes in the privacy of my own home, or when with very close friends in person or via email – I slip my ‘me’ hat to one side, and do speak up about the things that concern me – in fact sometimes I forget that I am not wearing one of my public hats and I don’t shut up and can go on and on and on – until someone pushes my hat back on straight, and I retreat to the private me – well hidden by my ‘me’ hat.

However most of the time, my private me hat is firmly on my head, I prefer to listen and to support my close friends and family, I also will bend over backwards to help those close to me – maybe with a phone call, or meeting for a coffee, or giving advice or opinion on something that they ask for help with.

Honesty and confidentiality are very important to me – and form the basis of my personal ethos (which is similar to but not the same as my professional ethos).

I am happiest when wearing my private ‘me’ hat, I like my own company, pottering about in jeans, t.shirt and nothing on my feet. When wearing this hat, I am not a very social person – and I don’t like going to go to the pub, or to concerts, or to watch TV, or to play team games. I like to walk, to do puzzles, to read (but mainly by quickly scanning things) to cook cakes, and occasionally to knit, and if at all possible hidden from the sight of others by the wide rim on my private ‘me’ hat.

Second Hat – Wife
I have been wearing the hat belonging to wife of Garry for over 38 years now (and for 2 years before that I wore the girlfriend of Garry hat) – so actually I have only had 15 of my 55 years without a  Garry influenced hat being there. The hat has not always been comfortable to wear because as I have matured, I have changed – and I now wear lots of other hats that at times do not coordinate with the wife hat.

Wearing my wife hat is  my second favourite hat, I am happy in that role, and feel secure and loved, if at times constrained by expectations based on times when I wore less hats.

I have no intentions of throwing away my well worn wife hat – but every now and then it needs a little patching to ensure it still fits, and is fit for purpose.

When wearing my wife hat  – I lack confidence, I look for reassurance and direction, and can be misunderstood as I struggle to make my opinion / views known  and understood

Third Hat – Mother
My mother hat is also now well worn being 36 years old, it is also very patched and has changed shape / design a few times over the years. It has large pockets that once held nappy pins, and story books, and teddies, but these days holds my mobile phone for instant access to me by my now grown up daughters. My mother hat also has an ever ready supply of words or comfort, reassurance and advice, which is drawn from my head full of life experiences but are hidden from public  view under the hat.

When wearing my mother hat, I am fairly confident, I try to be fair, just and reasonable, I try not to judge or to impose my ideas – I try to always have my mother hat on – or at least close to hand

I am pretty sure that I will never lose my mother hat, but I have noted a change in my mother hat recently as it has got older and more patched – nowadays it is required less often in practical terms and although is still fully functioning as a hat, it is quite delicate, and at times the thin threads snap.

Fourth Hat – Granny
Where as my mother hat is well worn and patched, my Granny hat has a remarkable way of expanding to accommodate more and more things to meet the needs of the grandchildren. It has a mobile phone pocket which those grandchildren able to talk phone me on – with requests for help and information to share; it also has pockets for stories both in books and in head; and for teddies; and room for sweets and cakes and extra pocket money for holidays. However mainly my Granny hat is filled with LOVE – lots of it.

I love my Granny hat and having opportunity to wear it, and when I have my Granny hat on, I feel very special and a lucky granny to have so many lovely grandchildren – all 10 of them are so special in their own individual way

Fifth Hat – Volunteer
Volunteering has always been part of my life (well since I became a mother) and so over the years I have sort of added to the size of my volunteering hat – and now it is huge and of many colours – with a different colour for each organisation that I volunteer for – but all joined together like patchwork to make one big hat with lots of joined together pieces – that are both individual and collective.

Wearing my volunteer hat makes me feel both confident and at the same time unsure of myself – it is a very complex hat to wear. I like to lead some things and yet I like direction and reassurance – which I seek from those whose organisations I volunteer for.

Mainly my volunteer hat meets my need to be supportive and helpful – and to give something back. Some struggle to understand why I have such a large volunteer hat – but actually I need it – it is what makes me who I am – as in the public persona- which is very different from the private persona.

Sixth Hat – Friend and Colleague hat                                                           
I love this hat!

I only have a few very close friends – and those friends know who they are. I can go long periods of time without talking to them – but if they need my support, I will drop everything to help them in whatever way I can  emotionally, physically, practically – if I can help I will. The other thing about my close friends is they do the same for me – usually their role is to listen when I am stressed and finding things too much to cope with. So my Friends hat is one that I share with others – and it fits me and my friends.

I have a very similar hat as my colleagues hat – it is mainly a supportive hat and it does not cover my ears, so I am always able to listen, it is soft and cuddly, has hugs and love all over it – and in a pocket some tissues. Surrounding the hat is a ring of confidence and hope, that can be shared with anyone who wants or needs it.

Seventh  Hat (actually also  Eighth, Ninth and Tenth hats) – Chair of Committees
As a volunteer – I seem to be collecting these chair hats! The hats are similar in many ways – but also unique.

When wearing a chair of committee hat – I somehow manage to come across as confident and knowledgeable, even though I am often in a state of panic or stress. These hats are held on with double sided sticky tape so that I can’t take it off when out of my comfort zone, but needing to ‘see something through’ . However with a bit of effort, I can pull them off on occasion – to put on one of my other hats.

I do have a bit of an issue with taking off my hats – and can sometimes wear a hat (or more than one hat at the same time) for too long – which is  not good for me personally  and sometimes not good for the organisation that I volunteer for.

I do enjoy being able to help others and to ensure things get done – but admit that I am not superwoman, and without the support of other committee members and the paid staff of the organisation that I represent in these committee’s – I would fall to bits and drown under the workload – and the personal stress.

Eleventh Hat – Childminder                                                               This hat is remarkable and has two sides – each a different colour and texture. The smaller blue side is smooth and is very compliant, wanting to tick boxes, to get it right, to be praised and acknowledge as ‘doing a good job’. My persona under this hat is fast disappearing, and maybe the time has come to recover this side of the hat with some yellow material and a big embroidered smile.

The much bigger red side is rough and refuses to tick boxes just because others expect boxes ticked, that says ‘NO’ not doing that because not in best interests of children, that says to anyone who will listen – this is madness, where is the common sense? The persona under this side of the childminder hat is confident, knows what is right and what is not and is prepared to practice ‘Principled non compliance’. In fact this side of the hat is in danger of becoming an accessory to the campaigning hat.

Twelfth  Hat – Campaigner                                                                  This is quite a new hat – being just under 3 years old. It is not a hat that I enjoy wearing, because it takes me way out of my comfort zone and is so different from the other hats that I wear – but actually I don’t have a lot of choice in wearing this hat – it sort of just arrived and found its way to my head – and despite efforts to change it for a less noticeable hat, or a smaller hat – and on a couple of occasions attempts to shove it in the bin – it remains securely fixed to my head – in fact it is never taken off and remains there under the other hats – which is why sometimes I find this hat taking over things and my campaigning persona of having strong opinions, and ethos, and values, and common sense, and sense of what is in the best interests of children and what is not, is so strong it just stamps on my other hats and persona’s. This is why sometimes I find myself being outspoken in situations where I never thought I would be – and as time goes on this is happening more and more – the more campaigning I do, the stronger the influence of that hat becomes on the rest of my hats.

I do find this a little worrying – am I being controlled by a hat that I did not actually buy or make – but that now is changing who I am?

Do I want to be known as a campaigner with a well worn soap box – or do I want to be known for one of my other hats persona?

Is it possible to stop the campaigning hat from taking over? Will the campaigning hat ever come off and leave the other hats that are more suited to my natural persona to become the main hat?

Indeed is it possible  to wear so many different hats?

Thirteenth  hat – Student                                                                                                                                                                        
This is a very new hat – and I am not sure that it is a very good fit!

It clashes with lots of the other hats in design and purpose – and the campaigning hat is not really giving the student hat much of a chance to prove itself useful.

Add to that the fact that the student hat has a bit of an issue with managing words – spoken, read and written – and time is going to be needed to see if this hat will stretch, adapt and fit – and put the campaigning hat in its place!

Fourteenth hat – Tutor / public speaker hat
There are actually two hats the one I wear when delivering courses to close colleagues – this hat is comfortable and fits well. The persona under this tutor hat copes, and just speaks from the heart.

However the public speaker hat . keynote speaker hat, is very new and slightly itchy! It may need a little working on, stretching it and expanding it a bit more – but once on and in public – it does seem to show potential as a hat that I may wear more often


So to answer the questions in the title of this blog 

How many hats?  At least 14 – but there are others – such as the daughter hat, the sibling hat (both of which are not worn very much at the moment but are still there just waiting for time to put them on), and of course the foster carer hat – which again is new and ‘settling in’

Is it possible to have too many hats? Mmmmm MAYBE – but I can’t see any of the hats going out of fashion or use, just yet.


Posted December 18, 2014 by psw260259 in Random Things!

Nursery World Awards 2014 – My nomination   4 comments

Before I get down to the details of my nomination and my experience of the Nursery World Awards 2014, I need to make it very clear that this a personal recall of my experience, it is about how I felt from the beginning when I was first nominated, through to actual awards evening.

This is not the opinion of my friends that attended the event with me or those I work in partnership with – it is just my personal view

Therefore it has to be acknowledged that this blog is not intended to criticise the Nursery World Awards event, or to assume that everyone feels the same, but at the same time is also has to be acknowledged that this will be a honest personal reflection, and so some may feel that I am being critical.


There will be very positive aspects, some less positive aspects, and some aspects that for me personally were very challenging.

As always – I welcome comments on my blog – both from those who agree with my opinion and from those that disagree.

So to start at the beginning

I am a mature person (being over 50), a mother of 4, Granny to 9 (almost 10) grandchildren, currently an Ofsted  registered childminder – and with over 30 years experience within the field of childminding. I am also a wife, a volunteer to many organisations, and more recently a foster carer. In total counting birth children, foster children, and childminded children, almost 300 children have been in my care – albeit some for many years and some just for a few weeks.


My natural persona is one of lacking confidence, quietly spoken, honest, caring  – and having a passion for my chosen career within the field  Registered Childminding – and more importantly for not just the children I personally care for but for all children.

I am not the sort of person to complain if a meal out is not to standard expected, I am not the sort of person to take  something I have brought back,  if it is not fit for purpose, I am not the sort of person to negotiate a better price for something. Even within my setting practice I am not the sort of person to insist on notice period being given and paid for – my setting documentation states very clearly that notice period is required to give opportunity for the child to have a smooth transition, if parents choose not to give much  notice to enable this transition, I do my best with the time period available.

So in a nutshell – I am not the sort of person to challenge or make a fuss. However, I am the sort of person to reflect on things, to think if I could personally improve things to enhance the opportunities for children ……

So where the rights of children are concerned, my personal ethos and principles will not let me remain quiet, will not let me just mutter under my breath or have a bit of a rant at close family or friends.

Therefore I find myself with a rather well worn ‘soap box’ on which I stand on to ‘shout’ about all the things, that I consider to not be in the best interests of the children. I do so, despite the stress this causes me personally, despite the ill health it results in (not least from trying to fit so much into my so called spare time), and despite feeling that  often  I am speaking to a brick wall called Government .

In recent years I have had more and more things to shout about – and in doing so I have made contact with others who feel the same, and who are also speaking up for the rights of the children, in their own ways – some quietly and some as loud if not louder than I do.

Those of you who have not read one of my blogs before, and maybe do not know what it is that I campaign about – please take a few moments to look at some of my other blogs on here, or try googling my name, or Penny’s Place Childminding.


Having set the background to who I am and why I feel the need to campaign, I can move on to my actual nomination for a Nursery World Award

Some colleagues suggested that it would be a good idea to enter the Nursery World Awards to raise awareness of my campaigning work , and to acknowledge everything that I do, from my hands on childminding, to my support of colleagues through training and information sharing, to working in partnership with other individuals and organisations – and challenging Government.


I was reluctant – very reluctant to be nominated – as I hate drawing attention to myself . However I was persuaded to enter the Nursery World Awards and a childminding colleague volunteered to put in a nomination and therefore a bit of background work was undertaken. When that colleague had to withdraw her support, I was tempted to forget about the idea – but then my colleague and friend Laura Henry offered to put in the nomination – and so the process began of gathering evidence – in fact the gathering  of evidence was easy! Many, people wanted to add their voice and to support my nomination – I was shocked that so many people wanted to do so – in fact there were so many that appendices had to be added, as the word count limit on the actual nomination documentation was exceeded

I am now going to add my nomination paperwork here – not because I am having a big head moment – but because I want people to see what those who supported me said. In doing so I hope to help people to understand what it is I do, and why I do it – and therefore to help raise awareness of my campaigning and  an awareness of who I work in partnership with.

I think it is important that everyone works together in partnership on aspects that agree with – as this will have the greatest impact. Of course we are not all going to agree 100% of the time on 100% of the issues – and when we don’t agree, I think it is fine to disagree on those aspects.

The links are just have a title and are  numbered – so if possible read them all and in order – although I accept that some readers won’t have time to do that, and will just scan read, or read the bits most relevant to them.

Document ONE NW Covering letter

Document TWO Role of the nominee

Document THREE Making a difference to children ..

Document FOUR Why Penny deserves to win this award

Document FIVE Appendix One Final    Voice of the Child and Statements from parents

Document SIX Appendix Two – Final  Supporting statements from childminding colleagues

Document SEVEN Appendix Three Final Supporting statements from other professionals

For those of you who don’t have time to read the above documents, I want to give an insight into the other professionals who supported my nomination – this is important as it shows how many are not only working with myself but with each other –  maybe other on reading the documentation will want to join us – may be those who work with one or two of those that I am about to mention, will  now want to work in partnership with more organisations and individuals who share the same concerns about the well being and rights of children.

And to be honest – although I would personally like to work in partnership with others – if people do not want to work directly in partnership with me – that is fine. If I can act as a link through this blog to enable more to work together, I shall be happy, because TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

(PS if you are thinking – when is she going to get to the Nursery World Awards bit – I will – soon, but as you will have noted the whole reason for agreeing to be nominated was to raise awareness of my campaigning – so naturally I am not going to waste the opportunity to raise awareness in this blog)

So – for the list of those other professionals who supported my nomination (please note this does not mean they agree with every single word I say, or every thing that I do – it just means they agree with certain aspects and / or that they work in partnership with me


Dr. Richard House   – Too Much Too Soon Campaign / Open EYE campaign / Save Childhood Movement


Wendy Ellyatt – CE Save Childhood Movement

Nathan Archer – Colleague who supported setting up of ratio petition/  Lincolnshire Montessori

Barbara Skilton – Retire Improvement advisor for Worcestershire Early Years

Cath Ellicott – Worcestershire Early Years and Childcare Manager

Bea Heath – Director Independent Childminders Social Enterprise

Beatrice Merrick – CE Early Education

Liz Bayram – CE Pacey

Neil Leitch – CE Pre school Learning Alliance

Helen Moylett – President Early Education

Marie Peacock – Childminder / Chair Mothers at Home Matter / Save Childhood Movement

Lynda De Wolf – Director Uk  Childminding Association

Sue Palmer – Save Childhood Movement / Author


When the documentation was complete – My nomination was sent in by Laura Henry – and the waiting began

Meanwhile I was flattered and humbled that so many people wanted to support my nomination  (and don’t forget the list above is just the other professional – parents past and present, and childminding colleagues also added their support as can be seen in the documents added above)


And then just when I thought I had not been shortlisted, I found out that I had been, I was delighted.

I had been shortlisted for the Individual Outstanding Contribution Award – I have to admit I had a huge grin on my face for the rest of the day – this was just what I wanted – some publicity for my campaigning.

However, I have to say – I was a bit disappointed because as the weeks marched forward toward the actual awards event, there was no pre event information about those who had been shortlisted. I understand that it is expensive to print information in the NW magazine – but I had hoped that there would have been some information about all of those who had been shortlisted available online – so that everyone could read about their achievements. Maybe I missed it – and there was some – but I did visit the awards page on NW website several times, I did not see any information – other than a list of names.

I did however receive ‘official’ confirmation of being shortlisted and a request that I book my place on the online booking form.

I have to admit I had to think about this, as the Nursery World Award event is a Black Tie event, very glamorous – and to be honest, way out of my comfort zone. Of course some people love this type of event and really look forward to dressing up, celebrating and having a fantastic time – but not me.

In the end though, after thinking about it and talking to close friends and family, I though I should go because there would be networking opportunities.

So I went online to book my place – and at that time not even thinking that as a finalist that I would be expected to pay to attend.

I was in for a shock – I did have to pay – but I was relieved to see I was booking in time to take advantage of the Early Bird price – which was £160 – a huge amount for someone like me – who like most early years practitioners does not earn a great amount.

To put it some sort of perspective – my weeks family holiday – for myself, my husband and my foster child cost £160 – and yes we did have a few extra expenses such as spending money, travel to the holiday and so on, but the actual holiday was £160.

And I was about to find out that attending the Nursery World Awards event had a few extra expenses as well – starting with VAT being added to the ticket price.

Therefore my ticket cost £192 – and at that price my local friends and my family members said – sorry but we can’t afford to come with you – and I certainly could not afford to pay for them.

I then started the search for suitable dress, shoes, and cheap train tickets and accommodation – all very time consuming – and all stressful

Luckily a friend who lives in London (but quite a way from the venue) offered her spare room, Ebay came up trumps for dress and shoes, and the trainline offered some travel options that were ‘reasonable’ but even so my total expense was in excess of £350 – far more than the total cost of my family summer holiday. ( I should mention here that a couple of very good friends – Carol and Brita, did make donations towards to the cost, for which I am extremely grateful)

Another issue is that because I am not familiar with, or comfortable about even the thought of attending Black Tie events – especially on my own, and do not like drawing attention to myself as ‘me’ rather than as ‘ campaigning me’ – I was becoming more and more stressed at the thought of attending – and was considering not going

But that would have been complete waste of money that I can not afford to waste – and the reasons for going were still valid.

I did start a discussion on Linkedin – as I thought that some everyday practitioners like myself may have similar difficulties in affording to attend or in attending an event outside their personal comfort zone. Response was mixed, but Nursery World have said they will consider other options – although they think from previous feedback that most people prefer the type of event provided. That may well be the case – and it proves that I am in the minority, then of course the event should continue in its present format. However, if it proves after consultation that others also would like some changes made, then I trust Nursery World to consider changes.

I was getting myself into a state of stress about the whole thing – even those who know me, struggled to understand how someone like me, who will challenge Government, attend meetings at all levels – and write blogs, could possibly be so nervous and so stressed about attending an event such as the Nursery World Awards.

However those who know me very well – knew that the reason was – because I lack confidence, I hate drawing attention to myself, I am naturally a quietly spoken and humble person (if you have read the supporting statements you will see this mentioned in several of them)

Meanwhile, unknown to me two of my London based friends and colleagues were emailing each other, and basically saying ‘ We have to do something – Penny is going to ‘bottle out’ and not attend’ – and so they spoke directly to Nursery World – and despite it being a bit late in the proceedings, secured tickets for themselves, and a promise that they could sit at the table with me. I can not thank Bea and Jen enough for going to the personal expense of doing this to support me.

My eldest daughter Michelle, then stepped in to organise and pay for a hair cut – again I am very grateful.  My husband Garry (better known in this blog as Mr. Penny’s Place)  brought me a suitable handbag – and I was more or less sorted.


Before I knew it, the time arrived to start preparing for my journey to London – and in the middle of the night in the week before the event – the dress crisis hit me! I had been expecting this due to my lack of confidence, and lack of experience of this type of event. So I looked at photo’s online of previous years events – and felt worse – would I be over dressed or under dressed? – and why did I think a £16.99 dress from Ebay was going to be suitable?

Friends and family poured reassurance on me – my dress was not just ‘fine’ it was prefect.

Early on Saturday morning, having not slept much the previous two nights – I found myself on the 6.37 am train from Kidderminster to London – nerves were getting the better of me – and my digestive system was working over time! Social media played an important part in providing constant reassurance and support during the journey – thank you everyone.

I arrived at Marylebone, and was very grateful to find that the disruption to underground services was not going affect my journey to Victoria where I had arranged to meet my good friend Wendy.

Wendy and I chatted a few hours away over two cups of coffee each, then it was time for Wendy to head home as she needed to rest before taking part in the Shine walk that evening, and I had to head toward my friend Jen’s house where I was staying.

It was at this point that the underground disruptions impacted on me!

Wendy pointed me in the right direction, we hugged and kissed – and then I was on my own. I am fairly confident on the tube system now (after many campaigning trips to London) but I was not prepared for this – too many people for tubes and lifts, stairways closed off, and a lot further to walk – all carrying my large suitcase (that I joked contained fairy godmother, pumpkin, mice and so on – as per the story of Cinderella). I finally get on the final tube of my journey to Jen’s – along with rather a lot of Chelsea supporters on their way to a match – they were not an issue – other than there were a lot of them all determined to get to the match on time, so they all squeezed into the limited space.

I arrived at Jen’s hot and tired and stressed about the forth coming event. Jen provided coffee and cake and chat which helped to keep my mind off things a bit – but then it could not be avoided any longer, as our shared friend and colleague Bea was due to arrive in 30 mins!

Dresses and shoes were put on, hair quickly sorted (and in Jen’s case some make up applied) and we were ready! I felt fairly good about my appearance and comments from Jen, and Bea who had just arrived, help boost my confidence even more.

We stepped out into Jen’s garden and took this photo

Ready for awards


By now I was a nervous wreck – and so grateful that Jen and Bea were going with me – I am sure it is difficult for those who enjoy such occasions to understand how I felt – but I felt physically sick and if it was not for my friends I would have not gone.

But go we did and we found ourselves showing our tickets to gain entry to the extremely grand venue. We were directed to where a whole line of waiters were stood with trays of reception drinks. As I don’t drink alcohol, I selected a glass of orange  juice – as did my friends (even though they do enjoy a glass of wine now and then)

We found a space to stand in the huge room that was slowly filling with people – all dressed in their finery. I know if I had gone on my own and had got as far as the reception drinks – I would have left fairly quickly. It is amazing how lonely crowded places can be if you are stood on your own.

Jane (Vice Chair of Pacey) came over and had a chat – and told me what to expect – as she has attended these awards before – thank you Jane.

My digestive system was threatening to explode – and so I needed to visit the ladies room – my very wise friends came with me – as to get to the ladies room you had to go past the entrance (and therefore the exit!)

They ensured I made it back to the drinks reception and we went back to chatting together and people watching. We were spotted by Neil Leitch, CE of Pre school Learning Alliance, who came over to speak to us all and as a supporter of my nomination to wish me good luck.

We were then all asked to make our way to dinner as it was about to be serve, on the way up the stairs, I had a quick chat with June O’Sullivan but then she made her way to her table with her staff from LEYF.

The room looked fantastic and certainly very glamorous




We stood for a while looking down on the room before making our way to table 38 where we found our places. As promise Jen and Bea were sat with me – one either side. The rest of the table was occupied by lovely people from Springboard Opportunity Group in Wiltshire – it was touching that as not all their team could be with them, that they had printed photo’s of their colleagues, and so their present was felt at the event.

Alarm bells started ringing for me as I noticed that my dietary requirements were noted as ‘normal’ for starter and main – but different for pudding. Still there was no way I was going to make a fuss  (and I had communicated about my dietary needs at time of booking and a few days before the event)- and when the starter arrived which was totally unsuitable, I just nibbled on a small slice of bread. However Bea had other ideas and called over a waitress – she explained about my needs – and in a short space of time chef arrived so I explained to him. A second starter was served – again unsuitable – but finally at third attempt a suitable starter was provided. Chef checked my requirements for the main, and I was relived to find that when the main was served it was suitable. I can not fault chef on this as it appeared he had not had notice about my email until that morning.

The point I would like to make though is having provided details, I should not have had to deal with my dietary needs on the night – or rather Bea should not have had to. If I had been on my own – and had managed to stay until dinner was served – I would not have made a fuss and as a result would not have been able to eat the starter or the main.

I question why at such events there is not a choice on the menu – I understand the difficulties of preparing and serving meals to so many people, at the same time,  but if there was a choice, people could pre book, especially as there is clearly a system in place to record what people have requested.

Chat round the table during dinner was very pleasant and friendly.

Others at the table drank some of the wine provided at the table – and as a non drinker, I wonder why wine is included in the price especially as there will always be people who don’t drink, and people who drink more than others. As a soft drinks drinker I have a choice if I buy a soft drink or not  ( and on this occasion I just drank the iced water on the table), so why don’t wine drinkers have the same choice – to buy or not to buy?

And I am sure it is not just the Nursery World event where this needs to be considered.

Option could be that everyone was given  a ticket that could be exchanged at the bar for a drink of their choice, and thereafter everyone paid for their own drinks;

or fruit juice was provided at tables as an option.

or just iced water was provided at the table

Sorry I digress

After dinner Dave Benson Phillips was introduced and he quickly got down to the job of ‘entertaining everyone. I  like Dave – and so don’t have a problem with him being chosen – but in my opinion there were a host of people present who are well known in the early years field, who I would have preferred to introduce the winners and to say a little about the awards and what the judges were looking for in each category, and what was special about the winners. This in my opinion would have also been better than the voice over information about the winners.

We were entertained by a chap who I had never heard of – and who I would not choose to see perform again – but that is personal choice – and you won’t please everyone all the time.

It was then time for the actual awards – my stress  levels started to go through the roof, both Jen and Bea noticed this and asked if I was ok / put a  hand on me, every so often.

I suppose like others who have not attended such events before, I had made a few assumptions about what the event would be like – and certainly from what I had been told about previous events, and from following on Twitter last year – I expected a real celebration of all the achievements of everyone in the room – after all everyone was a finalist and that in its self is a major achievement – especially as we were told there had been over 300 entries.

I have to say I was really disappointed with the event as a celebration – there was no deigning that it was glamorous event – the table settings were lovely, everyone had made an effort to dress for the occasion – but I did not feel that the event did justice to those who were finalists or winners.

But that is just my opinion – I am sure others will have felt it was celebratory and that they felt their achievements had been valued.

To explain this is why I felt that the event was not a celebration – maybe it was just me, maybe it was just this years event – but I was disappointed.

First, as mentioned I would have preferred the judges to have announced the winners –  someone had been chosen to present each award but they did not speak to room, they just presented the award (apart from the well deserved award presented to Tina Bruce for her life time achievement – as she had a ‘proper’ introduction and was given opportunity to say a few words – and then had a rousing standing ovation- as deserved)

Dave introduced the finalists – in that their picture and name was flashed onto the screen for a few seconds – the Highly Commended were then mentioned by name – but they did not even get to go up on stage  – and a certificate was just taken to their table. In my view hardly celebrating either the achievements of the finalists for each award or those that were highly commended.

Then the winners were announced – they did get to go up to the stage – and there was a voice over about them and their achievements. They were presented with their award, the photographer quickly took a photo and they left the stage whole thing taking on average around 5 mins, because as soon as they left the stage, the whole cycle of announcing names started again.

All well and good but what I observed – was that as the night went on there was less clapping from other tables – yes the winning teams jumped up and screamed and clap but others in the room were less enthusiastic – Dave was doing his best to get people to cheer and clap – but those in the room were not engaging.

I have a theory about this – you see I think those who were not winners were not only disappointed but a bit deflated about  how they and their achievements had been more or less dismissed. Certainly a table near me that was not a winner were very quiet once they knew they had not won. By the time the first few awards had been given out people were not really even clapping much when the finalists for each award were announced.

By the time it got to the award that I was nominated for, there was hardly any clapping going on apart from the tables were winners were sat. I personally felt what a wasted opportunity – surely all the finalists needed to hear people congratulating them when their name was announced – surely they wanted people to know what was special about them and why they had been nominated and short listed by the expert panel of judges.


I was further disappointed when my picture and name flashed onto the screen for those few seconds – no one looking at it would have a clue that I was a campaigner – it looked like I had been nominated for something connected to outstanding contribution in my setting. In fact I had sent a range of photo’s in showing me in my various roles (complete with notes about what each photo was) – and the one chosen was of me with one of my grandchildren at THEIR house, so it was not even one of me in my setting (there were photo’s of me in my setting and in campaigning mode sent in).

I did not win, nor was I even highly commended – not only was I naturally disappointed, I also felt that entering had not achieved my personal aim of raising awareness of my campaigning – I had not entered for personal recognition as me, only as a campaigner in the hope that more people would come together to stand up for children’s rights and their well being.

Still, as I sat there reflecting I thought about the networking opportunities, and about the booklet we had been told we would get at the end with details of the finalists in it.

However, again I was disappointed – my name is listed as a finalist in the booklet – but no one will realise what I was nominated for, and the opportunities for networking were there at the end – but the room was filled with tables, the dance floor small for the number of people, and unless you are a very confident person you are not going to go up to people you recognise but don’t know and say ‘Hello’ – and even if you did, the opportunity to chat was  limited due to the dance music.

I did get chance for a few words with Neil Leitch (together with Jen and Bea) and he kindly agreed to the photo below being taken and shared .

Neil and us girls

Bea, Jen and myself decided it would be better to get a taxi back – before midnight – which we did – noticing that we were not the only people leaving at this time.


Would agree to being nominated again – I am not sure

Would I attend again – In its present format, I don’t think so, but if Nursery World consults and makes changes that reduce the costs and really celebrates the achievements of those who are finalist – well who knows.


I have made a couple of suggestions within the text of this blog but as I have said that I would be happy to help Nursery World evaluate and reflect on their event so that they can consider changes – here are all those suggestions in one place – plus a few others not mentioned before.

  1. Consider holding the event somewhere outside London, as venues would be less expensive, travel distances would be reduced for many, and hotel costs for those needing overnight accommodation would cost less.
  2. Consider not having a guest to host the event (actually I thought Liz Roberts, editor of Nursery World, spoke well and has the benefit of knowing about the sector so would be an informed speaker)
  3. Consider asking those judges that present the awards to actually give details of the awards, what they were looking for and what made the winners stand out
  4. Consider providing choice of menu items – even if people do have to pre book what they want
  5. Consider more equality and either don’t provide wine at the tables, or provide a soft drink option
  6. Consider not charging finalists – or have a reduced rate for them and for a guest, so that early years practitioners on low income can afford to attend, and if not part of a team can afford to take someone with them
  7. Consider providing pre event information online about all the finalists – so that everyone is aware of their achievements
  8. Consider providing information about all the finalist either while doing the presentations or in written format on the table at the event.
  9. Consider giving all the finalist a certificate so they have ‘something official ‘ to show others

NB Because I am always honest and fair – I need to mention that finalists do get a certificate and mine is on its way. So this point does not          need considering as already in place. Thank You Nursery World.

  1. Consider how to ensure all are applauded at the event – not sure how to do this but maybe it could be led by the panel of judges if they sat in view and  clapped everyone?

I don’t claim to represent everyone or even anyone other than myself – I do not know if others attending were disappointed with the event in the same ways as myself or even in different ways, or if they had a truly fantastic time (certainly one or two had had a bit too much to drink and were having a wonderful time – even though they may have ‘suffered’ a bit the following day)

I do not claim to have the answers, about what to do, if consultation shows that people would like change.

All I know is it never hurts to reflect, it never hurts to consult and to listen to the views of others.

And it never hurts to say – I / we have reflected, we have consulted and now we know we need to make changes – or now we can continue doing it as we were because change is not needed at the moment.


And that applies to individuals like me, organisations like Nursery World and indeed Government



I must make it clear (due to comments made) that I am not questioning the judges decision, I fully accept the judges decisions which are based on their professional opinion. Those finalists that were picked as winners or highly commended were picked because they were considered the best entrants. 












Posted September 29, 2014 by psw260259 in Random Things!

Whistle blowing Policy? – Anti Bullying Policy?   16 comments


Please can you respect this request – if you comment on this particular blog that you do not add any names of people you think might be involved – as this is not about those particular people – it is about making a stand against bullies generally.


This is going to be the hardest blog that I have ever written – and it may well be my last, because I am sure that it will create a reaction – I am just not sure at this stage, if I will be supported by colleagues or become the victim of more of what I am going to write about.

The person (s) concerned – those responsible will not be named.

People will come to their own conclusions that I am writing about them, or someone they know. People will come to their own conclusions about who these people are that shared information with me.

But let’s be clear – if a person is named in a private message or in an email or in a conversation, (and it is not specifically requested that the information is kept confidential – and the reason why given,) if that information is shared with the person named in the communications, or with another person as part of upholding a whistle blowing or a anti bullying policy – it is not breaking the law, it is not breaking data protection, it is not even breaking confidentiality.

And in any case, although it is true that if a person is named in a public format, that they can ask for information to be removed – they can ask but they can’t insist.

Of course it would be different if the information posted was inaccurate or a fabrication – and in that case MAYBE action could be taken.

However in this situation though the person(s)  is/ are not going to be named – and although the information is inaccurate and at times complete fabrication – that information is also not going to be pasted here.

People may assume they know who the person (s) are but I am not going to confirm or deny – I will remain silent about these details.

The crux of the problem is – bullies rely on threatening people, or frightening them and in making them feel that they are in the wrong – because the bully makes the victim feel that the bully is bigger, stronger, has powerful connections, has money to support them. And online bullying is the worse, as they feel no one can touch them, prove any thing  – they attack the victim’s weak point, they keep up the campaign of bullying until the victim can take no more.

And all the time they claim their innocence, that they have been the victim, that they would not hurt a fly and so on.

Anyone who has had to deal with bullying will know how hard it is to get to the bottom of the issue, anyone who has tried to whistle blow in a work place setting knows that often no one believes them, often people they thought of as good friends or close colleagues desert them and don’t believe them – it can be a very lonely place for the whistle blower and it can be a very lonely place for a victim – when they see the people they thought had listened, had believed them, had said how dreadful – still associate with the bully and in doing so reinforce the bullies view that they are right, that everyone needs them – can’t possibly do with out them.

And the victim even though he or she may have a few colleagues who fully support and believe 100% what is going on – it does not stop the bullying, it does not stop the victim thinking what is the point in continuing with what I am trying to do, it does stop the victim – when alone at night and the night terrors kick in thinking about what this stronger, more influential, more powerful, more able to withstand any consequences that may impact on how to earn a living – will do next.

It is shocking, it is dreadful, it is soul destroying and it can potentially not only ruin lives but end lives.

So you the reader may be wondering why I, Penny Webb am writing this, some of the readers will know, some will not – and so without naming people, without passing on information about the things that have been communicated about me in writing, by email, by private messages, through verbal communication – and not to just one person but to several people over the course of the last 9 – 12 months, I will tell you.

Basically the bully(s) is / are sending messages to people that they know will pass on to me – in one it even  said something on the lines of ‘I know you will pass this on’ – so this is deliberate.

My weak spot is being targeted – the person (s) concerned knows I lack confidence, they know I hate confrontation, they know that I find writing difficult and that I often make spelling and grammar errors – not to mention lots of typo’s.

So they mention things related to my weaknesses.

They know that I want to share information with all early years settings – so they make that difficult.

They know that I do my best to support colleagues, to be fair, to be helpful, for nothing to be too much trouble if a colleague needs support – so they suggest that I don’t support, that I make things difficult for colleagues.

They know that I spend hours and hours of my own time – for free – every week – and have been even more so for over 18 months to stand up and be counted and to try to ensure that any changes made to the regulations of early year settings are in the best interest of the children – and they know that I am doing everything I can to inform those that are taking the Children and Families Bill through the House of Commons and the House of Lords about childminding agencies – so they suggest that I am making things worse, that I should leave things to them .

And you might be thinking so what? – it is not a big deal, just rise above it

And I will despite the night terrors and the moments when I am at my lowest ebb


There is more to this – this person (s) is / are early years people who work with children and families in various ways – if they can do this to me, to other colleagues through sweeping statements about those who connect with me in any way – could they (not saying they do) but could they also say such hurtful things about the parents using their service, or even about the children? As I say, not saying they do, but it is a known fact that bullies need help – need support because if they do it once they could do it again.

BUT there is another important message here – about the children we care for – I am struggling with this bullying and I am adult, I get night terrors and I can turn on a light,  go downstairs and make a drink – and take my mind off things – a child can not. I can talk openly, I can do my research about such things and know that I am in the right – a child can not.

So although this bullying is having a huge impact on my life – it is NOTHING compared to the impact on a child, so as early years professionals we must be vigilant for signs that a child is being bullied, we must listen to the children and believe what they tell us, we must follow our whistle blowing and anti bullying policies and not remain silent.

It is NOT acceptable in ANY circumstance towards children or towards adults.

Which is why I have decided to write this blog, why I am risking losing friends.  Why I am risking negative comments from colleagues, and yes why I am risking being the target of even more / worse bullying.

My ethos, values and principles will not allow me to remain silent any longer – in fact I am ashamed that as a fully grown woman, that it has taken me so long to speak up.

I hope that not only the person (s) responsible for my bullying take notice – and think about the policies and procedures that they have for their workplace (s) – and actually follow them.

I hope those who think it is dreadful, that it should not be allowed, that something should be done about – but who still associate in any way with a person or persons that they know to be bullies – have to strength to challenge the bully and yes to support them as the bully will also need friends and colleagues to help them stop this bullying.

I also hope all those who are a victim of bullying or who are trying to deal with the issue of a child they know being bullied but without speaking up  – will be given some strength to do what they know needs doing.

To end – I really hope that I have not offended or upset people and that my ‘real’ friends will still be there for me when they have read this – and that early years colleagues will still want to share information with me, and to continue to campaign against the things we believe are not right.  However if I become ‘Billy No Mates’, I will know that I did what I could to raise awareness of bullying, and anyone who chooses not to be associated with me after reading this – well at least I will know where I stand


Please remember if you comment on this particular blog that you should not add any names of people you think might be involved – as this is not about those particular people – it is about making a stand against bullies in general.

Posted September 2, 2013 by psw260259 in Random Things!

Happy 1st Birthday to my blog!!   4 comments

Today is the anniversary of my first ever ‘proper’ blog 🙂

I did actually set up the blog on 11th July 2012 – but to be honest I did not have a clue about what I was doing – and so spent a lot of time between 11th and 20th July being very frustrated and getting nowhere fast!

I have learnt a thing or to since then – but there are still many ‘options’ and ‘tools’ on here that I still do not have a clue about – and won’t unless I have reason to use them! And I still don’t know how to get the page layout to look like I want it to – pure pot luck as to how it looks once published!

My typing has got a little quicker – but I still type with one finger and my thumb on my right hand and one finger (occasionally) on my left hand – basically if I want to press the button to do capitals!

My spelling / grammar has not improved that much – although there are some words that I can now spelling more or less correctly – well enough for the spell check to have a reasonable chance of guessing what I am trying to spell!!

My confidence in my ability to write something that people might be interested in reading has grown – although I am still surprised that people do want to read what I have written – and even more surprised that people are prepared to ‘skim over’ the typo’s, the spelling mistakes, the terrible grammar and that the fact that the words come tumbling out of my head at a faster rate than I can type – and refuse to make sense on paper (often even to me, if reading back later).

So before I do my thanks here are some stats for you all, about my first year of blogging

62,566 page views

Most busy day  – 840 page views


Ten  most popular blogs

If I joined a childminding agency                                                                                                 1,835 views

I have been waiting for this                                                                                                             1,243 views

My Planning and recording for EYFS 12                                                                                    1,156 views

Tuesday 5th February – A few minutes of your time Mr. Cameron                                 893 views

Bye, Bye variations, Hello exceptions                                                                                        831 views

Childminding Agencies – The changing picture                                                                      793 views

Chester to London to meet Lord Storey                                                                                      746 views

Well there is a surprise Ms. Truss has been cherry picking                                                 715 views

Phonics for two year olds – I think not                                                                                        711 views

Yet another headline, yet another drip, drip piece of information                                  624 views

I know that compared to many other blogs these stats are not impressive – but to me they are – I thought that maybe  – if I was lucky I would get a dozen or so views of  each  blog – and then only from close family and friends – so yest I am impressed and delighted.

My personal thanks have to go to;

Laura Henry for her encouragement to try blogging,

Neil Henty for encouragement and my first ‘paid for’ pieces of writing,

My mother who is my most avid reader – well it is the only way she knows what I am doing these days – but she is proud of my achievements in the world of blogging and the childcare field in general

My husband for his understanding that I am always saying ‘in a minute – I just want to finish this’ – and then in half an hour or so finding I have still not ‘finished’ – and for putting up with blogs that mention ‘Mr. Penny’s Place’ when in fact his name is Garry!

My readers – especially those that comment and what to I call my ‘band of followers’ – those than have signed up to be notified when I publish a new blog

And so on to the next year

Will I continue blogging? – Yes – I am hooked now

Will I blog as much? – I hope not because I hope my campaigning blogs will come to an end – hopefully because the government has seen sense. I do hope to resume blogging a lot more about childminding, my childminding practice and childcare in general.

Will I do any more ‘paid for’ articles? – well if asked – but actually being paid to write does not sit that comfortably with my ethos – as I prefer to share information freely and to support those that ask for support in whatever way I can – BUT I realise that by writing for magazines etc I can reach a much wider audience  and so as I say, if I am asked to write for a magazine, I will do so.

Would I speak at conferences? – yes if asked (although I hate public speaking and lack confidence but I will – and do – do public speaking ) – but most likely would do for free or just for travel expenses – same for speaking at local events/ group meetings / AGM’s  and so on – or providing training to colleagues.

My whole ethos is based on the child comes first – and as part of that, sharing information in whatever way I can – has to be for free or just to cover expenses – as I don’t feel it is right only to provide information to those that can afford it – or to make money myself from providing that information to others.(Even when I was paid by a local authority to support others – I did far more unpaid hours than I did paid hours) It is because of my ethos that I volunteer for the organisations that I am involved with.

Have to say not everyone – including family and friends agrees with me – but I am who I am and I have to be happy with what I do and how I do it.

Sorry – I got a bit carried away with the whole ‘ethos’ thing but it is why I blog, why I am who I am, and why I will always help and support others – if I am able to do so.

Thank you for reading this blog – and if you are a regular reader thanks for your support.


Posted July 20, 2013 by psw260259 in Random Things!

Truss’s views on Thatcher and why I am now even more concerned   2 comments

I should start by saying ‘I don’t do politics’ and if honest think most  MP’s are  not qualified to undertake their areas of responsibility and that sometimes behaviour in the House of Commons is disgraceful.

However I have found myself dragged into the political arena because of  my passion for children, childminding and all things early years due to the proposals within More Great Childcare and in particular the view of Elizabeth Truss.

Even before the death of Margaret Thatcher and the publication of this article in The Telegraph by Elizabeth Truss I had made an observation that Truss displays many of the same characteristics as Thatcher did when she was the Prime Minister.

I suppose the reason for my comparison is because the other politician to have an impact on me was Mrs. Thatcher. You see when she became Prime Minister, I was leaving school, getting engaged and working hard to save up with my husband to be, for the deposit for our first house. Thatchers policies had a direct impact on us and our plans – we had to face the mortgage crisis when you had to apply for the few mortgages that were available and have the  10% deposit in the bank before a mortgage would be agreed. Then once we had moved into our brand new house we had to cope with some of the highest interest rates this country has ever seen, we had to cope with redundancy and  constant worry about every bill.

We did manage to survive but that is how it seemed survival – and so Thatcher and her policies (many of which I did not agree with) do remain a strong memory for me.

Which is why – having read the article in the Telegraph – I think Truss is ‘a chip off the Thatcher Conservative block’ , why I think that Truss may have her eye on becoming the second  female Prime Minister.

I read with interest Truss’s views about the positive impact of the Thatcher tax reforms and in particular women’s right to individual taxation – because my personall recall is some what different – I started work in 1975 and I had my own tax code and paid my own tax – the only thing that did happen was my husband had all the tax benefits for us as a married couple and for our interest relief on the mortgage – hardly making any difference to me at all. Being curious I goggle it – and I found that the people who benefited most from these changes about such things were – yes the middle and higher income earners – so not really surprising that my recall is rather different from that of Truss.

However I have to ask why she didn’t check out the facts before suggesting that the Thatcher tax reforms were of huge benefit to all women. But thinking about it I should not be surprised as in my experience Truss is very good at using bits of information – taken out of context.

Truss is like Thatcher in many ways – and the bit I like least is the stubborn attitude, the conviction that she is right, the refusal to listen to the voice of reason or the many voices of concern about her proposals- the determination to succeed at whatever cost, the ability to smile and continue saying the same thing over and over again despite huge public protest.

I can’t help thinking that now information is being released / made public about the reality of the Thatcher years and the impact it has had and continues to have  – proves that those who expressed concerns were not just being difficult or trying to ‘feather their own nest’ but were genuinely concerned based on their own knowledge and research of the day – and that we may see history repeat itself and in years to come, the full impact of the proposals within More Great Childcare that Truss is determined to implement, will become known – and that people will say ‘Why did no one do anything to stop this?’

Well of course I – and many others are all speaking up and saying ‘STOP – before it is too late’  – because although Thatcher’s policies did impact on children and families, there were not as damaging to the long term well being of children, families and indeed society, as Truss’s ideas will be.

And it has not escaped my notice from media coverage that Thatcher did have many supporters both within political circles and the general public who agreed with her and spoke up at the time and now after her death in support of her  ideas – where as – with Truss there is only a VERY small number of people who are publicly supporting Truss’s ideas but TENS OF THOUSANDS who are publicly opposing them.

Finally – maybe Truss and the rest of this government should consider some reforms to THEIR job – Maybe they need a qualification framework to ensure their suitability for their jobs?  Maybe they should have to apply for their jobs and be subject to a review on issues of performance and outcomes?

After all Truss says the early years sector needs to change and adapt, needs to meet the needs of  those who pay for the services provided, need to update and improve their qualifications, need to provide value for money and to be accountable for what they do.

I say –  AND SO DO THE GOVERNMENT  – lets start now – by listening to those who pay through their taxes for government services.



Posted April 11, 2013 by psw260259 in Random Things!

Article from Go.Nannies on empathy   1 comment

I suppose the fact that if you do a search for  my name on the internet it comes up quite easily that I should not be surprised that I am getting emails from all over the country – and even from other parts of the world!


However I am surprised – and to use a term that I personally hate – ‘I am just a childminder’ by that mean I am just an everyday person – not rich, not famous, nothing special just as I say an everyday person who happens to be a childminder and who happens to be passionate about the children in my care – but more than that passionate about all children


So it was a lovely surprise today to receive an email from Annie with a link to (which is an American company) with a link to an article on their site about ‘How to help your child be empathetic’ as she thought the readers of my blog might be interested.

I have had a look – and I think you might be – as some interesting points are discussed


So without further ado here is the link

Link to article on Empathy


I am very much in favour of thee international links and hope that this will be the first of many such links

I am going to put the link to Go.Nannies in the link section – so it is easy to find in future


Posted February 25, 2013 by psw260259 in Random Things!