“Keep it Simple: Planning”, from Laura Henry

This is just a little ” blogette” (new word) re Laura Henry’s “Keep it Simple: planning” training. It has to be a blogette, because there is nothing like going on the training to get this right, and I don’t  want give away the content. You’ll thoroughly enjoy the training.

In Early Years, we tend to be guilty of being told to do something, and then from various sources we tend to over complicate and embroider what we need to do until we are drowning in paperwork, which is not helpful to practice, and overwhelms us to the point we lose sight of what the main aim is, to be with the children and to support their development.

Enter Laura Henry’s training. I’m quite protective of my systems I have in place, and I have to admit to squirming a bit at first (it’s ok , I already told Laura that!)….it all seemed ….so easy! It made much more sense, put the child firmly in the middle of the planning, listening to them, meeting their needs. We did the training as a team, it was like they were all sighing with relief! At last, somebody saying less is so definitely more! Staff started to smile, the sun started to shine on us, and with Laura’s templates we were ready to go. I turned from squirming to feeling quite liberated.

For those who might say “what about Ofsted?” we were inspected recently, the planning and tracking progress was very clear to see, and the inspector liked how it all linked to the key person knowing the key children. We achieved Outstanding for the second time. It ticked so many boxes, knowing the children “extremely” well, effective planning, closing gaps and putting training into practice (CPD box ticked) to benefit the children.

The training helps the key persons role to be extremely effective and involves collaboration of the team to plan for the children. It does exactly what it says on the tin, keeps planning simple! Thanks Laura.

For more information visit http://www.laurahenryconsultancy.com/keep-it-simple-planning/

Well worth it. Highly recommend.


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 Safeguarding Audit

I am so lucky to know such great trainers who help me improve practice in my settings. No exception is Susan Taylor from “Tailor Made Training” offering fantastic safeguarding training at all levels. She has trained all my staff as they come to work in my settings. All come back raving about how good the training was as can they do the next level?

The offer of one of Susan’s Safeguarding Audits was a great opportunity to look at all we do to safeguard and protect children. Is it enough and can we do better? Being on site and having Susan to ourselves was a tremendous help to perfect policies, improve the look and feel of safeguarding at the Pre-School, and ask questions, however silly they felt! I Always feel comfortable talking to Susan about all we do to safeguard and protect children. Lots of applauding what we do right, and support to put tighter measures in place if there are gaps. Fortunately none of the gaps to huge! I was inspired to create this simple poster to put on the parent notice board, so it’s clear from the entry into the room, we protect children.


I’m not going to give away too much, because it’s all in the process! You need to book your own settings audit. I highly recommend!

I  have a “to do” list to address but all positive. One thing I love about Susan, is the support you get as you go through the “to do” list. The poor woman, I pestered her for days!!

Thanks Susan Taylor, you are amazing!

Contact Details

Susan Taylor
Approved Trainer

Email: susan@tailor made-training.co.uk


Tel:07538 130 617

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!

So much achieved, so much fun!

In Early Years we never know which way an activity is going to steer. I was flattered when people retweeted my photo of a challenge we had picking up pulses rice and pasta with tweezers. A great game, and great excersise for little fingers. Ability ranged from the two handed approach to pick up pasta, to the one handed approach to picking up rice. All children succeeded, the most important component to build self esteem and confidence.


This however was only a snapshot of the activity. It mutated into cake making. And we  decided to choose whether they would be delicious, or disgusting. Much amusement as we had loud “blyuek” sounds.  Children did well to get there mouths round two big words, and what were those disgusting cakes made of, snakes?


Maths also covered as one child asked me “most or less?” as she scooped up the dried goods. Lots of predicting how much, and she did use “more or less” as we went on.  Good to remember whatever you put out can cover so many areas of learning. A lot of ideas developed from the children’s direction.


Great learning, developing and most of all, fun!

New year, new post.

Happy New Year!

It’s a good start at Millies and Sparkles. Children have settled back quickly and we are back on a fun learning journey. One of my lovely ladies painted an old table with chalkboard paint (thank you) and the children are loving it for Mark making as you can see. People think this may develop into a graffiti problem, but children are wiser than that, they instinctively know when they can draw on the table and when they can’t.




Im loving this book nook too. Very popular with torches and books inside.



We we haven’t banished the festive glitter either. Here’s some glitter with the shaving foam. Well…we are called Sparkles for a reason!




Jast a a little bit of New Year inspiration.

Looking back…and forwards

It’s that time of year to reflect and look back. As I finished work for the week on Friday, I just thought “I (still) love my job!”

l’m incredibly lucky to have two brilliant teams at Millies and Sparkles Pre-Schools. We have had another successful year with fabulous children and supportive parents.

The great thing about a blog is that you can look at what you’ve been doing, what’s improved, and what’s changed. Just when we thought we couldn’t get any messier, we of course did. I was influenced by Alistair Bryce Cleggs training and changed some of the things we do. Getting children to make their own dough….well we haven’t achieved it this term, as children lead the ingredient amount, we’ve made goo. But the children are getting the idea now of how to correct the goo, and occasional balls of dough have occurred! It’s all about the process.



We have encouraged children to be more experimental. Creating challenges  for children is fun and helps to achieve next steps. Here we are experimenting with colour mixing with pippettes and kitchen roll. Even the ducks are enjoying it!


We started home play bags to link our learning with home. 45 zip lock bags with goodies to help children’s learning. (See previous blog post). A simple instruction sheet included to encourage learning through play at home.

To round our year off, we had some fantastic team training from Laura Henry, (Separate blog for the new year). Huge impact too, reducing paper work, improving child centeredness (? a word!). It has shifted the mood of the whole team to a higher place! I’m sure there’s a song in there somewhere! Thanks Laura.

Just a few of the changes we have made to make our year successful! Looking forward to the next one.

I wish all my blog readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

A Bit of DIY

Now your probably thinking I’m getting the children to decorate and make the furniture, but no! The DIY at the settings is in the form of making our own resources for their learning. We have done this in the past, but it has been a bit “token” so we are now inspired thanks to Alistair Bryce Clegg http://www.abcdoes.com to make this more the norm in our weekly plan.

The children coloured their own rice last week with food colouring. The joy of this is you get a whole lot of learning skills in  the making process. Armed with pipettes, food colouring, spoons, plastic trays (bit of recycling!) we set to work


So much to learn, from fine motor squeezing the pipettes , to discovering colour mixing, the children were engaged and challenged.

Weve also been making our own paints. The green accurately described as slime by one of our young learners!



Lots of descriptive vocabulary. That’s before you use it for play! You have double, treble the learning value if you have a hand in making the resources you use.

There’re a few “yikes!” moments, but best to bite your lip as the children soon get the hang of more water not making the paint thick enough. They are learning through experience, the best way. Although I may still need sunglasses for a few of the colours!