Laura's Early Years Podcasts

Back in 2017 I started a new free resource for the sector where I recorded interviews with a range of Early Years leaders, from the UK and further afield.

I wanted to share the stories of managers, senior staff, head teachers, directors, childminders, owners and other educators whose practice and/or approach is inspiring and I felt should be shared.

The beauty is that you can listen to them anywhere on your PC, tablet or phone and even download them to listen to later.

Episode 1

EY Leader Podcast - Martin Pace

Martin has worked in the childcare sector for over 20 years. He is director of Reflections Nursery & Forest School, which operates a 170-place setting in Worthing. The nursery won Nursery World UK Nursery of the Year 2009/10, the only time they entered.

Martin is author of I Love Forest School: Transforming early years practice through woodland experiences, published by Bloomsbury in 2014. He is a regular conference speaker on topics including: Reflections’ project work; drawing inspiration from the Reggio Emilia approach; forest school and risk in children’s play; and children’s creativity.

In this episode, we’ll discuss how Martin leads a successful Reggio Emilia-inspired Early Years setting. There is also a focus on how he inspires his team to work within a Reggio Emilia-inspired nursery and forest school. Martin also discusses the success of Reflections’ professional development days and how this has stimulated other educators to reflect on their own practice.

Episode 2

EY Leader Podcast - Swati Popat Vats

With more than 33 years’ experience, Swati Popat Vats is the founder director of Podar Jumbo Kids preschool and daycare chain in India with more than 280 centres. She is also the nursery director of Little Wonders Nursery (UAE), which has branches in Jumeirah and Sharjah. She heads the teacher-training wing of the company and is a lead assurer for the CACHE programme. She is president of Podar Education and president of Early Childhood Association (India) and the national representative for the World Forum Foundation.

In this episode, Swati describes her role as leader of a large nursery chain in India, with settings in the UAE. She recalls that the first president of Podar Education was none other than Gandhi. She reflects on Montessori and other theorists and pioneers that have informed her practice, and goes on to discuss the charity arm of Podar and how this positively impacts on children in Early Years and enriches their lifelong learning and development.

Episode 3

EY Leader Podcast - Kim Esnard

Kim Esnard founded The Child Care Coach in 2012 after noticing dwindling support and training for childminders.

She currently works alongside local authorities to provide childminding training workshops, and has over 20 years’ experience in childcare and has been rated Outstanding twice by Ofsted.

She is a Pacey local training provider. She specialises in one-to-one coaching for existing and newly registered childminders. She provides individualised packages covering registration, documentation, inspections, SEF and implementation of all areas of the EYFS by Ofsted. Her vision is to see an army of childminders across the country standing tall as professionals.

In this podcast, we discuss leadership in childminding, Kim’s role as a childminder and how she started her own consultancy and training company. We also discuss the 30-hours offer and childminding agencies.

Episode 4

EY Leader Podcast - Sharon Hogan

Sharon Hogan has been headteacher at Midland Road Nursery School in Bradford since January 2012. Midland Road provides integrated care and education for children under five years and is the lead for five children’s centres.

She was previously head of centre at Canterbury Nursery School and Centre for Children and Families in Bradford for eight years from 2000-2008. More recently, she was a school improvement partner/Early Years adviser in Leeds, and head of centre at Early Excellence in Huddersfield. As a nursery school headteacher, Sharon has received three Outstanding Ofsted inspections, has contributed to a number of Early Years articles and publications and is a national leader of education.

In this podcast, we talk to Sharon Hogan, centre head at Midland Road Nursery School and Children’s Centre. We discuss Sharon’s role as a leader for a number of other children’s centres within her locality. We discuss Sharon’s passion for working with children and their families and her role as trustee of Early Education and as a national leader of education.

Episode 5

EY Leader Podcast - Joana Smith BEM

A registered childminder for over 18 years (rated Outstanding), Joana previously worked for HSBC for 17 years.

Joana gained NVQ Level 3 in Childcare and Education in 2006 and worked as a support childminder for the local authority. Now in her second term as chair of Croydon Childminding Association, Joana also runs the local Childminder Stay and Play. Recognised for her outstanding contribution as a PACEY volunteer, Joana was awarded honorary life membership and received a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2016.

In this podcast, Joana discusses her career over the last 18 years caring for a diverse range of children. We learn how she has successfully chaired Croydon Childminding Association and organised a range of events for childminders, and hear about her role as a volunteer with PACEY.

Episode 6

EY Leader Podcast - Stacey Bailey

Stacey has worked for Fennies since 2011 and was a nursery manager prior to this – she has been working in childcare for over 19 years. She is truly at the heart of the local community and is an admired and respected manager. Stacey has strong relationships with the families and children at Addiscombe Road where she has created a caring family environment where children thrive.

She is a role model and supportive leader, encouraging her team to grow and develop into future Fennies’ room leaders, deputies and managers.

In this podcast Stacey shares her passion for leading a large setting in Addiscombe, Croydon. She discusses how she has a hands-on approach to leadership and can often be seen working in the rooms with the children and team. Stacey reflects on Fennies’ involvement with Dr. Jools Page’s research on professional love. She also sensitively discusses how her leadership skills were used in the aftermath of the Croydon tram crash and how the whole staff team selflessly supported the emergency services.

Episode 7

EY Leader Podcast - Sarah Neville

Sarah has worked as an Outstanding-graded, Ofsted registered childminder for the last 20+ years and is passionate about supporting the learning and development needs of the children in her care.

She writes for as well as various magazines and childminder support groups in addition to supporting colleagues online and selling her own e-books. She contributes information to several websites and Early Years blogs and regularly campaigns on behalf of Early Years providers.

Through her training and consultancy work, Sarah advises and supports colleagues across the country..

In this podcast, Sarah talks about her journey from teacher to childminder, explaining how she shares her passion for childcare with other childminders and Early Years colleagues. Sarah reflects on childminding agencies and the vital role of independent childminders. She also discusses how she now writes for a variety of publications as well as producing her own resources.

Episode 8

EY Leader Podcast - Julian Grenier

Julian is the head teacher of Sheringham Nursery School and Children’s Centre in Newham, East London and also a national leader of education, one of the co-founders of the East London Partnership Teaching School Alliance.

He was previously senior Early Years adviser for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, and before that he was head teacher of Kate Greenaway Nursery School and Children’s Centre in Islington. During his school career, he has worked in primary, special and nursery schools across inner and east London.

Julian has co-written several books about early education and childcare, and has just published his first book as sole author, Successful Early Years Ofsted Inspections: thriving children, confident staff (Sage, 2016).

In this podcast, Julian discusses how he leads a successful nursery school and children’s centre in London. He also shares his passion for working within Early Years and his role as a leader of a local teaching school alliance. Julian also shares his visit to Froebel’s birth place and school in Germany.

Episode 9

EY Leader Podcast - Gill Jones

Gill Jones is one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors and joined Ofsted in 2007, leading inspections of schools and children’s centres. She is the Deputy Director for Early Education Policy, introducing the Early Years common inspection framework, and is responsible for the Early Years annual reports. Before joining Ofsted, Gill was a Consultant Leader for the National College, training new and aspiring head teachers and school improvement partners. She was the head teacher of two primary schools, during which time she set up out-of-school provision and holiday clubs including day care for under-fives. She subsequently became a senior inspector for Wirral LA, with responsibility for primary education. Gill has held a number of roles in Ofsted, including Senior HMI in the East of England and Principal Officer for the inspection policy of maintained primary schools.

In this special podcast Gill explains Ofsted’s stance on Early Years inspections, especially on children’s wellbeing, welfare and care. We focus on learning and development and the quality of teaching, in particular what providers should do if they feel they are unfairly treated during an inspection. Gill also shares how to bust those ‘myths’.

Episode 10

EY Leader Podcast - Ellen Hall

With over 40 years’ experience in early childhood education, Ellen is the founder and executive director of Boulder Journey School, an innovative school for young children in Boulder, Colorado. She is adjunct faculty and executive director of the Boulder Journey School Teacher Education Program, created by Boulder Journey School in partnership with the Colorado Department of Education and the University of Colorado Denver. The Boulder Journey School Teacher Education Program offers candidates a teaching licence in early childhood education and a master’s degree in education and human development.

In this podcast, Ellen passionately discusses her work at Boulder Journey school, from starting off with just one child to now educating over 200 children! We discuss how Reggio and other practices have influenced her school. Ellen also discusses the importance of the community and the family within her setting. In describing Boulder’s impressive teacher training programme, Ellen also speaks from the heart about key values and the rights of the child. Ellen was also central to the groundbreaking filming of the Children’s Voices documentary project. I am delighted to share that Laura Henry Consultancy will be screening the first UK version of this.

Episode 11

EY Leader Podcast - Kelly Parker

Kelly Parker has worked in childcare for 12 years and has a foundation degree in Early Years, which has given her a fantastic combination of experience and education. Her leadership skills and style encourage the team to promote a creative environment to help every child to reach their full potential.

As a manager, Kelly feels it is important to spend as much time as she can with the children and her team. She is proactive, outgoing, confident and has great communication skills.

The visions and values that she has built up at Bellissima ensure that her team have a strong sense of belonging, they are passionate and care about what they are teaching the children. Kelly aims to teach lifelong skills for the future.

In this podcast, we discuss Kelly’s journey in becoming a manager of an outstanding nursery. We also focus on how Kelly supports her team with their personal and professional development.

Episode 12

EY Leader Podcast - Ricky Bullen

Ricky Bullen is the deputy nursery manager at the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF), Bird in Bush nursery. He has worked within the Early Years sector for the last 17 years, working with children from three months to eight years.

Ricky has had the opportunity to work in a mother’s aid centre, infant schools and nurseries and in 2009 he joined the LEYF family, where he has had the opportunity to learn new skills as well as aspects about himself and Early Years, which have enabled him and his team to use their experience to improve outcomes for children. He is passionate about his work in Early Years and truly believes that from birth children need to form positive attachments to significant adults in their life, particularly as many of the children in his care spend up to 10 hours a day in nursery. He strongly believes in the need to create a warm, nurturing and safe environment for them to thrive.

In this episode, Ricky reflects on his journey into leadership and the significant use of research to develop practice. Ricky shares LEYF’s values and what they mean in practice. Ricky discusses LEYF’s own action research projects Twoness of Twos and Men in Childcare.

Episode 13

EY Leader Podcast - Alicia Blanco-Bayo

Alicia Blanco-Bayo is an independent Early Years consultant, lecturer, researcher and writer. She began her teaching career in North Wales after completing her PGCE and subsequently taught in the BTEC National Diploma programme and also supported EAL students preparing for English examinations.

She has also served as head of primary at El Plantio International School in Spain and amongst her many achievements there, she implemented a literacy programme for EAL, put together an assessment and reporting system and created an area for 2-year-olds within the school..

In this podcast, Alicia shares her Early Years experience in working within a range of settings overseas. Alicia also discusses creating a department for language, communication and reading in the UAE. She also describes her setting’s unique approach to observation, assessment and planning, which has a positive impact on children’s learning and development. Additionally, Alicia enthusiastically shares information on her PhD studies.

Episode 14

EY Leader Podcast - Gill Jones & Wendy Ratcliff

I’m delighted to welcome back Gill Jones and Wendy Ratcliff from Ofsted to record this special Early Years Leaders Podcast. We discuss the new Education Inspection Framework, with a focus on Ofsted’s rationale for the term cultural capital and what inspectors will be looking for in practice. Gill and Wendy give an overview of intent, implementation and impact. The new framework places emphasis on observation and discussion with educators and Gill and Wendy share examples of what inspectors will focus on.

Gill Jones is one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors and joined Ofsted in 2007, leading inspections of schools and children’s centres. She is the deputy director for early education policy, introducing the Early Years common inspection framework, and is responsible for the Early Years annual reports.

Wendy Ratcliff is an HM Inspector. As a qualified Early Years practitioner, she has extensive experience of inspection and regulation across a full range of Early Years provisions. She has senior leadership and management experience in local authorities.

Episode 15

EY Leader Podcast - New Shoots Nursery

Graduating from Wellington College of Education with a Diploma of Teaching in 1993, Nikki has worked in the field of early childhood in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. Having managed both small community early childhood centres and large corporate groups, Nikki’s diverse management experience has further fuelled her passion for people, assisting her in the successful creation and operation of New Shoots.

Also from New Zealand, Kelly has a Diploma in Teaching ECE (0-8yrs) and has enjoyed working within the sector for the past 20 years in various roles including a period working in London. The focus of Kelly’s work is centre operations and her knowledge of leadership, governance & management, mentoring and professional support for teachers was recognised in 2014 when she won the NEITA National Cognition Education Trust Leadership Award, which was presented at Parliament House in Wellington.

In this podcast, Nikki and Kelly share the beginnings of New Shoots Children’s Centres. We discuss how they have worked with architects to create an inspiring and enabling environment for children. We reflect on the New Shoots ethos and why this is central to their new centre. Nikki and Kelly share how their children are able to direct their own learning and use real life tools within the environment.

Episode 16

EY Leader Podcast - Hayley Peacock

Hayley Peacock is Owner/Director Little Barn Owls Ltd. Hayley is the managing director and owner of Little Barn Owls Nursery group in West Sussex; her Horsham setting was awarded Nursery World UK Nursery of the Year in 2015/16. Her three nurseries are Reggio Emilia-inspired forest and farm schools, the largest being based on a farm and home to 20 animals including pigs, chickens and ducks that children look after every day, and another being a full-time forest school.

Drawing inspiration from Reggio Emilia’s approach, as well as from other sources such as Scandinavian forest schools and outdoor learning initiatives, Hayley and her colleagues have developed a unique ‘enquiry-based learning’ approach with an emergent curriculum that is highly creative and reflective in nature, and aims to develop the thinking and enquiring minds of children.

In this podcast, Hayley shares the Little Barn Owls journey and how the next step from their nurseries, forest and beach schools is to open up a school for children aged four to 16, Atelier 21. Hayley explains in detail Little Barn Owls’ unique pedagogy, and how staff have specific roles that enhance quality and build on professional development. One of the unique aspects of this approach is the project-based learning.

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