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PACEY conference, Be Happy, Be Healthy: emotional wellbeing in the early years

One hundred delegates felt the power of the tribe and got swept away on a conga train of positive energy at the PACEY conference, Be Happy, Be Healthy on 7 November in York.Marking the launch of our #earlymindsmatter campaign.

Liz Bayram, PACEY Chief Executive opened the conference with a celebration of PACEY’s achievements in 2015 – highlighting our influence in Westminster as well as new student and learner memberships. 

Be part of the tribe

Next was PACEY President Penny Tassoni, whose down-to-earth delivery and common-sense, children-centric messages really chimed with the audience.

She reminded us that humans are born to be social, and we all just want to be part of a tribe; and looked at why attachment matters so much.

 ‘Penny Tassoni is really engaging.’ Melanie Shepherd, nursery manager

While celebrating the effort childcare professionals put in to settling children in, she also stressed the importance of a good farewell for leavers. Children can form strong relationships with staff and other children and leaving needs to be handled sensitively.

Supporting you to support young people’s mental wellbeing

Keith Chambers of MindEd reminded the room how important it is to support the people supporting children with mental health problems. His free e-learning at has a pathway tailored for childcare workers that you can access here.

Healthy child programme with childminders at the centre

Also wanting to join our tribe were the Institute of Health Visitors, who committed to:

  • joined up services
  • respecting the work of childminders
  • holding the integrated review in the childcare setting
  • their shared responsibility for personal development, behaviour and welfare in the Common Inspection Framework.

Every child should have a balanced diet

Laura Whiting, Nutritionist at Children’s Food Trust spelled out how serious the crisis in our children’s health has become. Everyone working with the one million children in early years settings has an opportunity to improve their eating habits, and habits set in early life predict how children will eat in adolescence and adulthood.

She sympathised: “While it is relatively simple to serve nutritious food to children, it can be another matter to persuade them to eat it. DfE have funded tried and tested advice and information about how to get children to eat food that is good for them.”

PACEY’s guide ‘Get set to cook’ is full of advice on nutrition and 15 tasty recipes and you can visit Children's Food Trust for further resources and recipes.

 ‘It’s all gone amazingly well. I feel people’s wellbeing has been lifted through the workshops and speakers; especially after lunch with the warm-up from the Smart Start Club really breaking barriers and lifting spirits.’ Jane Comeau, PACEY Chair.

Listening to childminders

Lee Owston, Senior HMI and Ofsted national lead spoke about the Common Inspection Framework, took lots of questions from the audience, and gave his interpretation of British values: ‘values we want people in Britain to live by.’ He promised:

  • First and foremost Ofsted's CIF is looking at leadership and if you're making a difference to children's lives you should have no concerns about your CIF inspection
  • A review of the decision around timeframe for reinspection of Requires Improvement childminders after PACEY raised the issue
  • Engagement with practitioners and offered PACEY childminders the opportunity to feature in their best practice videos
  • Reassurance that inspectors should not be coming with preconceptions, and that they should judge with fresh eyes
  • An understanding that outcomes for children are important but that time should not be taken away from caring for those children. It's about what works for you how it's evidenced. 
  • Ofsted do carry out quality assurance of their inspectors
  • To investigate why a childminder could not be inspected when only their grandchildren were present despite records and learning journey for other children.

‘Having someone from Ofsted here is very important; good common sense.’ Ann Robson, childminder

‘I felt as if Lee from Ofsted was listening.’ Judy Fielding, childminder

The long road of happiness

Andy Cope, happiness expert was greeting with a warm reception from the room as he championed the delegates’ hard work and reminded us that happiness can be found in the moment. 

The workshops were also a hit

Mick McGeown, childminder: ‘I enjoyed mindfulness. Getting kids into that frame of mind would be great. I will give it a go with my boisterous boys.’

Gemma Tasker, childminder said, ‘the Boogie Mites workshop was exhilarating, lots of fun and easy to replicate at home.’

Marta Bekele, childminder: ‘The Communication and Language seminar got straight to the point.'

Early Minds Matter

The conference marked the launch of our #earlymindsmatter campaign, promoting emotional wellbeing in the early years. We've created a spotlight page that highlights all the main resources you can access. Get involved and show your support using the hashtag #earlymindsmatter on social media too. 

Access and download the presentations and conference resources here