My Teachers…what I remember from primary school.

After watching Rita Pierson on YouTube TED talk, my first thought was, I wish she’d been my teacher. Seven and a half minutes of pure inspiration! You can see it here Sadly she is no longer with us, but her legacy is to inspire others. So it got me thinking, and I looked back at my primary teachers. I remember nearly every one! Sometimes funny, sometimes painful. I can see why I always have a problem with confidence. Even though people tell me I’m good at my job (even Ofsted!) I never quite believe it. Good news is I surround myself with good people, who maybe see qualities I don’t recognise myself. If they say I’m good…there has to be some truth in it. Anyway, I digress. Here we go…

First primary school reception teacher–

Not there for long as we moved. On my first day, I didn’t like it, told my Mum school wasn’t for me, then she delivered the news that I would be at school till 16!!!! At 4, that’s forever! Cried all night….second day, slept on my desk so I’m told! Outside toilets were freezing!

Second reception teacher Mrs LeFevre. Nice lady, dark hair. Indoor toilets!

Year 1 Mrs Lowe- lovely lady, told us she was 94, knew EVERYTHING, and we believed her! I remember telling my dad she REALLY was 94. We were on tables of 6. If we all did well on the table she put a big T on it for trustworthy. Horrible if she ever had to wipe it off!

Year 2 Mrs Brearly. Loved her, she had the patience of a saint, except when I couldn’t spell WEDNESDAY, then she “had to move away from me.” I wouldn’t write it…it didn’t look right!  In the Old building, so back to outside toilets!

Year 3 Mr Sharp also music teacher. His initial was A so his name was A Sharp, really A# and he was a music teacher! He was strict but mostly fair…except when he made me stand up in front of the whole school for not looking at the hymn book in assembly. But I’d had eye drops in that made my vision blurry for days. He apologised secretly later. Maybe not so fair.

Year 4 Mrs McNally, Scottish, drove to school on a moped. Curley hair and long cardigans, red crash helmet. Hmmm, that’s all I remember, so I can’t have annoyed her!

Year 5 Mr Price. Terrified of him before he was my teacher, tall, loud Welsh accent. From the “valleys” Loved him as a teacher. Used to tell us all sorts of interesting things. Also did basketry and pottery this year. There was a kiln in the back room of the class room…honest! Very creative year. Lovely man in teaching.

Year 6 Mr Parks. Quiet, patient, helpful. Did lots of tests this year, was absolutely hopeless at them!!

So this is a whistle stop tour of my primary school education back in the 60’s. Amazing what we remember, and points out negative events in my school have been remembered throughout my life. I remember friendships warmly, living in the countryside, playing in the woods daily, playing tennis in the road and happy childhood memories. Great childhood, not so happy at school.

So I go back to Rita… And the importance of building relationships, liking the people that teach you help you to learn, building self esteem sets you up for life. Lets do that!





Do We Need English and Maths GCSE’s for Early Years?

To me, quality doesn’t always equate to academia. It’s the mix and balance of staff that build a successful childcare and early education team. Some of my brilliant level 3 staff have been non academic type people. On the other hand, I have some staff  doing their Early Years degrees, passing on  their new knowledge to the team and keeping us all up to date with latest best practice. If we suddenly switch to insistence on English and maths grade C to undertake level 3 training we are going to lose out on those practitioners with a natural flare to work with children. I’m all for functional skills which seem far more relevant to our environment. Does that make us any less deserving of recognition (and adequate funding for financial reward) as being professional high quality outfit. No! Always pick the person with a passion for early years, quality will follow. I end how I began, academia doesn’t always equate to quality.  Continue reading

The Magic Notebook

I have a confession to make. I love a note book. Not just any notebook, a luxurious notebook. I’ve bought cheap ones, I’ve bought bumper packs of cheap pads, but now I value and love my posh notebooks.


I use thes for meetings, courses, webinars and for making work notes. Now, if I wrote thes notes in a  paperback notebook, or on an A4 pad, the notes would disappear, never to be seen again, or sometimes to be looked at years later, when the information is out of date and I can’t remember what I was writing about! With my posh hard back note books however, I tend to look back at my notes and revise the points I made. I also seem to know which to find the notes I made on  eg. CIF workshop, or this webinar.


Or this remark that made me smile, from Alistair Bryce Clegg training describing sometimes we get carried away with setting out an araea.



I get handbag sized, so it’s handy, I don’t have to take a huge bag to meetings and courses. The best thing, like any book they look lovely and feel good. They’re nice to write in, they tell a story of how I work and develop my settings. I love them! So please don’t judge me, but go and look for a lovely notebook that is worthy of your jottings!


If anyone’s interested in how much you can fit in this little note book (so well worth the extravagance!)

Alistair Bryce Clegg ABCdoes Excellence in Early Years training notes

Laura Henry leadership and management webinar

Laura Henry Personalised Planning course notes

Susan Taylor’s safeguarding update training

2 Staff meetings

British Values and Prevent PLA onLine course notes

2X Big Ofsted Conversation notes

Neytco An Evening with notes

Astec solutions notes from visit to Day Nursery and software chat

CIF LA meeting

Notes on Tapestry

Gina Davies training on autism

EYPodcast notes on safeguarding Debbie Alcock

Notes on new work website

things to do lists

And there’s still more room!!

See, they’re magic!




Careers Day

I always get so nervous on this day. I give a careers talk to a local school and talk to their year 11’s about Early years. My fears are always unfounded and I have an enjoyable day enthusing about a subject dear to my heart!

The sessions are 50 minutes. Quite a long time for those that don’t want to go into child care, so I take TOYS! The first bit I talk about all things childcare, and then we play.

I take a variety of bits, but I always take plenty of dough! they were making models creating scenes and all sorts.The students loved the transient art, using mirrors for symmetry ( and to check their mascara.) They made a fantastic butterfly with some chain links. These year 11’s love to play, and I get the feeling that they haven’t been so freely creative in a long while.

There is always a teacher in the room (just in case!) and this year she pulled me to one side. “Look at them,” she said “They’re loving it. They’re so relaxed, so happy. What’s the recipe for dough? I’m going to try and weave it into my lessons.” Needless to say I love this lady. The potential for learning through play should be life long!

My top 5 bloggers – #TwitteratiChallenge!

I’d like to thank Kathy Brodie for nominating me for the twitteratichallenge. I have been honoured to be one of your guest bloggers and have some really favourite blogs on her site that are so uplifting and inspiring. I’m fairly new to Twitter, and it has been a fabulous media to connect with such fantastic people!

My nominations are:

@beckmakesthings Becks you have a great blog which has energy behind it. I really like the presentation and your style of writing. You’ve made me think about creativity, and you blog demonstrates your point!

@Totstars although I don’t think you have a blog(!) your mission to get all preschoolers physically fit is inspirational. You have come such a long way in such a short time. The last trip was Dubai, so watch out for Totstars International! You have a dream. Watching you follow it is such a pleasure.

@ABCDoes Mr Bryce-Clegg, you are amazing. I have “shared” lots of your ideas in my settings. Both have an Incredible Hulk board with incredible work. You make activities fun, meaningful and challenging. Your blog is packed with creative ideas to get all children mark making, particularly boys. Super Hero’s rock! Very child centred learning. On your course in June, so excited!

@rockmyclassroom I love your pictures of good practice.  I am often directing my team to your fabulous ideas. I think I picked up Tapestry Online learning journals) from one of your posts, life changing for my settings, especially for sharing learning with parents an carers (and a grandparent in New Zealand!) Engaging with parents is a value we both (and all great EY practitioners) share and you have plenty of ideas to achieve this.

@JeniHooper You give me insight into children’s minds and self esteem. Your “easy read” blogs packed with information, which makes me think about the children’s emotional welfare in our setting. Emotional well being and supporting emotional literacy is so important, especially as children will start to be tested so early at school. Time to think of holistic well being of children, and take heed of your good advice.

Just to say there are so may inspirational people on EY twitter network. Love you all!


@teachertoolkit rules are:

You cannot knowingly include someone you work with in real life.
You cannot list somebody that has already been named if you are already aware of them being listed on #TwitteratiChallenge.
You will need to copy and paste the title of this blogpost and (the rules and what to do) information into your own blog post.

What to do?

Within seven days of being nominated by somebody else, you need to identify colleagues that you rely regularly on and go to for support and challenge. They have now been challenged and must act as participants of the #TwitteratiChallenge.

If you’ve been nominated, please write your own #TwitteratiChallenge blog post within seven days. If you do not have your own blog, try @staffrm.
The educator that is now (newly) nominated, has seven days to compose their own #TwitteratiChallenge blog post and identify who their top five go-to educators are.

What if I fall…



This is is so inspirational for me. Fairy, superhero, child or early years practitioner/trainer, we feel we might fall when we really need to find out ..what if we fly? We all find ourselves falling from time to time, or stumble while we perfect a new skill (it’s taken me four months to get the hang of tweeting!) but a lot of the time, most of us fly.

It’s all about risk taking with children, without taking risks children wouldn’t develop skills, not only physical skills like climbing, balancing, but the risk of all activities children do. If we let the children lead activities and engage in Sustained Shared Thinking (great book by Kathie Brodie by the same title, on Amazon) to help children move to the unknown limits of learning then we will have our flyers. We have to help those who think they are going to fall to believe they can fly. Let’s boost  self-esteem and build children’s  confidence.

“All children both need and want to take risks in order to explore limits, venture into new experiences and develop their capacities, from a very young age and from their earliest play experiences. Children would never learn to walk, climb stairs or ride a bicycle unless they were strongly motivated to respond to challenges involving a risk of injury. The Play Forum’s Position Statement is focused more on play equipment and playgrounds, but the message is relevant to children’s play in a much broader context too. Play and risk go hand-in-hand. If we are to truly value play then we must also value risk.”

So let’s fly!

Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle…really, don’t

 Calling  my first Pre-School Sparkles, I have to admit was my husbands idea (darn it!) but I have to  say, I love it. The word sparkle is so powerful. When you think of children sparkling in early years, it cunjours pictures of confident shining children who thrive at what they do, playing and achieving next steps. They  are  happy with high self esteem, they have fun and are fun to be with. With sparkling children I need sparkling staff, who will keep and sustain the sparkle in the children. Ok, so my second Pre-School isn’t called Sparkles (which makes my life far easier) and it being the same name as my niece, and historically embedded in St Mildred’s Church as Millies Pre School, I didn’t have the heart to change it’s original name. However, my Pre-Schools both shine and Sparkle. So don’t let anyone dull your Sparkle. I’ve let no one dull my two little gems!