The early years sector continues to be under pressure with recent changes to Ofsted inspections, upcoming changes to the EYFS and the uncertainty of the sustainability of our settings due to politics and Brexit.
As practitioners we must ensure we continue to access a range of different types of continuous professional development (CPD); informal, formal, online and face-to-face; to not only keep on top of these changes but to continue to develop our knowledge.
Just like a balanced diet, each type of CPD has different benefits for practitioners, whether it be knowledge, a qualification, online learning, opportunities to network, an introduction into a new concept or topic, or alternatively to stay up to date with latest legislation.
Sometimes, early years conferences and courses can be expensive and for many settings including lone-working practitioners and small settings such as home-based childcare providers, this simply does not fit within tight budgets. At times of such uncertainty, having accessible, high-quality and affordable CPD is paramount.
Recently, CPD is evolving, there is a new type of learning that is sweeping the education sector in the form of ‘BrewED/BrewEDEY’ events - offering accessible, inspiring and informal CPD and networking opportunities within your locality.
BrewED was born from an idea that teachers Ed Finch and Daryn Simon (both recognised recently as two of the most influential people in 2019 by TES) had, as they found that teacher colleagues enjoyed getting together to discuss all things education within an informal environment – they saw the CPD/networking potential in this and BrewED was born.
These grassroots non-profit event are organised by the people in the education sector, for the educational sector. Speakers offer their time for free to bring the sector together and spark debate, networking and professional development opportunities or a minimum price.
The events are designed to be easy to set up and, as the movement grows and word spreads, more and more people are exploring different types of CPD. We’d all benefit from access to high quality CPD on a budget and these events do exactly that. You may even want to host your own BrewED event – the possibilities for this are endless and will ultimately not only equip our sector’s practitioners with knowledge, confidence but help foster a wider network of support. The goal of these events is that we all come together to discuss, teach and learn about our shared interest: children and their learning and development in an informal and supportive environment.
Don’t forget, it is essential you do not limit yourselves to one type of CPD; whilst BrewEDEY events are an accessible form of learning and networking, they may not be for everyone.
There are many other types available to practitioners of varying levels and expertise to extend practice and knowledge, through both formal and informal means. As a practitioner who works long hours, I find the PACEY online courses fantastic sources of information and their online accessibility and up to date knowledge, within a broad range of topics is the perfect tool to utilise when I want to refresh my knowledge in my own time and at my own pace. There are eight PACEY courses that are free to members and only a small charge for some specific courses and/or for non-members. Don't forget, PACEY's free, digital, bite-sized learning platform EY smart will also be launched later this year.
Face-to-face courses and events are also a get way to extend your knowledge, share ideas and make professional links - you just have to find the best way for something like this to fit into your budget effectively. This type of CPD can offer access to a range of speakers, keynotes, workshops and professionals in our sector which can leave you feeling inspired and brimming with ideas which can transform your practice as a result.
I also find reading a great form of learning; combining two loves – reading and early years, whilst also keeping up to date with everything I need to know and be aware of in the changing times of our sector. Recently I have been read Greg Bottril's 'Can I Go and Play Now?' and Julie Fisher's 'Interacting or Interfering'. Both really though provoking reads.
For all early years practitioners, keeping up to date with a varied range of CPD is an essential part of our everyday practice, in order for us to continue to be knowledgeable, inspired practitioners with the best interests of children at the heart of our practice. We should not limit ourselves to one particularly form of CPD but maintain a balance of high-quality, accessible and affordable CPD options that reflect our own professional goals, skills and aspirations. It’s this balance that is key to keeping the early years sector an ever-changing, inspiring and exciting place to be, with knowledgeable, informed and balanced practitioners at the forefront.