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  1. 1. NEWSLETTER 32 CONFERENCE 2014 Summaries of conference research briefings 2 - 3 Some recent publications from this year’s conference presenters 4 Dates of next meetings 4 TACTYC’s 2014 Conference and AGM at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham, attracted 135 delegates. We hosted the History of Birmingham Nurseries exhibition and welcomed a good range of stands in our marketplace. TACTYC’s President Wendy Scott, Chair Dr Jane Payler and Executive member Nancy Stewart opened our Conference by exploring TACTYC’s recent work on advocacy and lobbying through the themes of Creation, Development and Enactment of Policy, giving a flavour of where we are now in early years and where we are heading. For our first keynote, we welcomed the team TACTYC commissioned to research ‘Two year olds in early childhood settings’: Dr Jan Georgeson, Dr Gill Boag-Munroe, Dr Verity Campbell-Barr and Sandra Mathers gave an overview of the key findings comprising an account of current provision from a range of different early years settings through views, thoughts and concerns from the workforce. The report is available on the website and makes fascinating reading. Our second speaker Professor Kathy Hall then gave a most thought provoking keynote on Networks of the Mind. Kathy spoke about the power of the ‘new net of neuroscience’ in influencing recent policies in early childhood, but she warned of the danger inherent in seeing early childhood as the critical period rather than recognising the brain’s plasticity throughout the lifespan. We enjoyed a busy AGM before lunchtime, then conference delegates attended a range of workshops on Comments from delegates ‘Very thought provoking’ ‘Feeling empowered to stand up for the rights of children’ ‘The keynote speakers – their breadth of research – all brilliant’ ‘Fabulous experience’ ‘Current topics that challenge my thinking’ ‘A great event – thank you’ ‘Nourishment of the mind’ Conference 2014: ‘Successful Pedagogy: Advocating for Strong Evidence to Support Early Learning’
  2. 2. Workshop 1 - Play Discussion Forum: ‘Play – the ultimate challenge for practitioners’. Janet Moyles, Professor Emeritus, Anglia Ruskin University. Janet began by focusing on the child’s perspective, referring to rich play as ‘pure’ play, ‘initiated and led by children and sustained and developed by them for their purposes’. Since pure play ‘requires a very open-ended planning system by the adults’, Janet raised the question whether this is achievable in educational settings and highlighted ‘playful learning’ and ‘playful teaching’ as possible alternatives. Janet concluded her presentation by raising a number of questions about play in education. ‘Child’s play? Does ‘subject’ learning have a role in pretend play?’ Maulfry Worthington, VU University, Amsterdam and the international Children’s Mathematics Network. Maulfry provided rich examples of pretend play from her current doctoral research, evidencing young children’s mathematical interests and their impromptu graphical communications of mathematics and writing in their free and spontaneous pretend play. The findings challenge TACTYC NEWSLETTER 32 page 2 Conference research briefings: full papers from the Conference can be found on the Reflections part of the website current views of ‘planned play’ and ’skills- based’ mathematics or literacies, showing that cultural understandings are exhibited not through narrow curriculum targets, but through children’s desire to communicate their thinking. ’Pure’ pretend play can provide meaningful locations of semiotic and ‘subject’ explorations, but its ownership should rest with the children. Workshop 2: Journeys through Practice. 'Are we there yet? Level 3 Early Years students’ journey to becoming practitioners.’ Helen Perkins, Head of School - Early Years and Childhood Studies, Solihull College. Helen’s presentation explored the practices, attitudes, knowledge and experience that sixteen to nineteen year- old, full time, level 3 Early Years students acquire during their course. She posed several questions relating to the role of the Early Years Practitioner; the knowledge, skills, attitudes and dispositions required so that at 18 years of age, they are ready to meet the demands of policy and employer expectations. Helen concluded by listing a number of emerging findings. ‘Making reflective practice more effective practice: deepening the process of reflection to improve the quality of teaching and learning in an early years setting.’ Hilary Smith, Bath Spa University and Lucy Driver, Head Teacher, St Paul’s Nursery School and Children’s Centre, Bristol. Lucy and Hilary presented their collaborative action-research project, conducted at a Bristol nursery school and children’s centre. Its aim was to deepen reflective practice in the setting, in order to improve responsive planning and subsequent learning outcomes for children. As a result of the project, the researchers’ aims were realised with staff subsequently developing their own model of reflection to use as a framework for responsive planning, and now provide training on reflective practice to other early years settings. ‘Does our preparation of early years students for work-based learning (WBL) align with practitioners’ expectations?’ Nicola Stobbs and Jackie Musgrave, Lecturer in Early Childhood, Institute of Education, University of Worcester. Nicola provided an account of joint research she had undertaken in collaboration with Jackie Musgrave, in response to what they could see was a gulf between students’ and practitioners’ expectations of one another when engaged in work-based learning. Several key themes emerged from their data: practitioners valued initiative and intuition; students sometimes struggled to make the move from pupil to practitioner and that students were unprepared for
  3. 3. TACTYC NEWSLETTER 32 page 3 negotiating work relationships between colleagues in settings. Workshop 3: Learning Together. ‘The significance of relational pedagogy to young children’s speech, language and communication development.’ Dr Dr Carolyn Blackburn, Centre for Research in Education, Birmingham City University. Carolyn presented findings from her PhD, which was concerned with the policy-to-practice context to the delays and difficulties in the acquisition of speech, language and communication [SLC] in the first five years. The study highlighted the difficult and subjective nature of early identification and assessment, economic and socio- cultural environments, and the wide variations in diverse features of their lives. ‘CPD for teaching assistants. Encouraging competence or ensuring performance?’ Dr Sally Neaum, Teeside University, Middlesbrough. Sally’s paper considered the substantial increase ‘in the number of teaching assistants (TAs) in school, many of whom are now working in a pedagogical role’. One of the conclusions of this research is that ‘knowledge based CPD has the potential for deep learning’, impacting ‘on their confidence, practice, role and some early evidence of an impact on children’s achievement’. Workshop 4: Young Children in their Settings. ‘How can practitioners support and include children with chronic medical conditions in early years settings?’ Dr Jackie Musgrave, Institute of Education, University of Worcester. Jackie reflected ‘on the possible implications for children with chronic medical conditions in the early years’, questioning ‘whether excluding children in the Foundation Stage from the aims of the legislation may lead to inequality in care and education because the health needs of such children may be over-looked’. Concluding her research, she emphasised that this needs to be addressed ‘in order to reduce the possible discriminatory effect on young children’. ‘Young Children as Experts in Early School Transitions.’ Megan Taddeo, University of Winchester. Megan’s research explored the perceptions of children who have recently moved to Year One about their experiences of transition. It forms part of a doctoral study and builds on a Masters study that explored how the same children viewed their transit from pre-school to school and their contribution to supporting other young children undergoing a similar transition. Implications include differences in pedagogy the children highlighted between the Foundation Stage and Key Stage One, including increasing adult ‘controlled’ structuring and attendant shifts of power that accompany children’s transit through school. Workshop 5 - Discussion Forum: 2- year-olds in early childhood settings, Dr Jan Georgeson, Dr Gill Boag-Munroe, Dr Verity Campbell- Barr, Sandra Mathers. Plymouth University and Oxford University. TWO-YEAR-OLDS in England: an exploratory study Stage Two Report: Workforce Survey and Regional Case Studies. This study was funded by TACTYC. The presentation of the report can be found here: content/uploads/2014/11/Two-year- olds-study.pdf
  4. 4. Gill Boag-Munroe. 2014. ‘Parents as partners’: the new politics of parenting. In J. Moyles, J. Payler and J. Georgeson. Eds. 2014. Early Years Foundations: Critical Issues. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Campbell Barr, V., C. Leeson and D. Ho. 2013. The quest for quality early childhood education and care: leadership in a changing political context in England and Hong Kong, in Georgeson J; Payler J International Boag-Munroe, G. Parents as partners: the new politics of parenting. In J. Georgeson and J. Payler. 2013. International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Care. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Carpenter, B., C. Blackburn and J. Egerton. Eds. 2013. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Interdisciplinary perspectives. Abingdon: Routledge. Georgeson, J. and J. Payler. 2013. international Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Care. Maidenhead Open University Press. Kendall.A., D. Carey., A. Crampand H. Perkin. 2012. Barriers and solutions to HE progression for Early Years’ practitioners. Journal of Vocational Education and Training. Vol. 64, Issue 7. Moyles, J., J. Payler and J. Georgeson. 2014. Early years Foundations: Critical Issues. Maidenhead: Open University press. Musgrave, J. and N. Stobbs. 2015. (In press). Early Years Placements. St Albans: Critical Publishing Ltd. page 4 TACTYC NEWSLETTER 31 The dates for Executive Committee meetings in 2015 will be: 16th January; 20th March; 18th June and 25th September. - // - If you’ve items you’d like to raise with the Executive, please contact Jane in good time before the meetings so that these can be placed on the agenda. Musgrave, J. 2013. Good Practice for the Welfare of the Child. In Beckley, P. (Ed) The New Early Years Foundation Stage: Changes, Challenges and Reflections. Maidenhead: Oxford University Press. Mathers, S., F. Roberts, F., and K. Sylva, K. (In press). Quality in Early Childhood Education. In G. Pugh and B. Duffy. Contemporary Issues in the Early Years, Sixth Edition. London: Sage Publications. Smith H. 2011. The Emotional Impact of Transition: what can be learned from early years practice in A. Howe and V. Richards. Eds. Bridging the Transition from Primary to Secondary School. Abingdon: Routledge. Waugh, D., S. Neaum and R. Waugh. 2013. Children’s Literature in Primary Schools. Lon don: Sage Publications. Worthington, M. 2014. (In press). Mathematics and the ecology of pretend play. In J. Moyles, Ed. Fourth Edition. The Excellence of Play. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Hall, K., A. Curtin and V. Rutherford. 2014. Networks of Mind: Learning, Culture, Neuroscience. Abingdon: Routledge. This is a new publication from Professor Kathy Hall and colleagues. Kathy’s keynote speech ‘Our nets define what we catch? Learning in early childhood’ drew directly on this work, regarded as a groundbreaking book, unique in bringing together two perspectives on learning - sociocultural theory and neuroscience. Drawing on both perspectives, it foregrounds important developments in our understanding of what learning is, where and how learning occurs and what we can do to understand learning as an everyday process. It demonstrates how sociocultural ideas (such as the relevance of experience, opportunity to learn, environment, personal histories, meaning, participation, memory, and feelings of belonging) align with and reflect upon new understandings emerging from neuroscience. A selection of recent publications from conference presenters