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PACEY - out and about

PACEY has attended some key events over the past week to ensure that we stay at the heart of the debate and that your voice is heard:

Baby Room Conference – 15th April

PACEY’s Policy & Research Manager, Susanna Kalitowski, gave a talk on PACEY’s practical recommendations for developing the early years workforce at the 7th annual Baby Room Conference, organised by the Research Centre for Children, Families and Communities at Canterbury Christ Church University.

This annual conference is aimed at practitioners and academics interested in early education and care for the under 3s. In addition to a lively discussion about workforce development, this year’s event also featured a unique West African storyteller, George Fiawoo, and thought-provoking presentations from two academics examining how practitioners can professionalise the love and care they provide for young children.

Professor Carmen Dalli of Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand argued that whilst love and care are undoubtedly essential components of high quality care for babies and toddlers, practitioners need to find different ways of articulating these concepts in order to maintain their professionalism and ensure the crucial work they do is not undermined and undervalued.

Dr Jools Page from the University of Sheffield presented key findings from her research project exploring practitioners’ views of love, care and intimacy in early years settings in England. The project team has produced a set of CPD materials, the Attachment Toolkit, to support early years practitioners to be more confident in their professional attachment interactions with young children. For more information, visit the Professional Love in Early Childhood Care and Education website.

Westminster Education Forum – 19th April 

Liz Bayram, PACEY’s chief executive, was part of an esteemed panel of early years experts at the recent Westminster Education Forum Keynote Seminar. The event focused on the next steps for early years - extending provision, building capacity and workforce development. Jenny Chapman MP and Caroline Ansell MP chaired proceedings which covered topics spanning funding; childminder agencies; implementation and delivery of funded hours as well as improving entitlement for disabled and disadvantaged children.

Jane Wotherspoon from Ofsted took to the floor to present the impact of its new Common Inspection Framework and highlighted some positive findings on the impact of qualifications and how 75% of those in the early years sector were now at Level 3 or above.

During the panel discussion on the early years workforce, Liz Bayram highlighted PACEY’s concerns that practitioner motivation isn’t the issue but lack of time and funding is. Qualifications were hotly debated and it was raised there was a real need for functional skills to be recognised, but that on the flip side, higher qualifications lead nowhere fast. Liz argued that progression routes and pathways need to be urgently addressed. You can read more about PACEY’s workforce strategy

Westminster Briefing on ‘Developing & Supporting Your Childminder Workforce: Strategies for Success’ – 19th April

On the same day, PACEY members Penny Webb and Maisie Collin attended an event focused on the childminder workforce. The briefing was chaired by the Family & Childcare Trust and including presentations from 4Children on childminder agencies. Penny talked through the past, present and the future of childminding. Touching on important issues that have and will affect the sector such as the EYFS; childminder agencies; ratios and qualifications. When Maisie took to the floor she spoke about the reason childminders are in decline outlining some key reasons for this worrying trend such as, professionalisation of the sector; reduced support from local authorities; costs and the false economy of ‘free’ funded places. Maisie also raised an important point about DBS check delays – currently in Hackney childminders are experiencing delays of around seven months in receiving DBS checks – hold-ups which are actually preventing some childminders from entering the profession. Penny Webb has written a detailed and candid summary of the day.