2012 Conference/AGM

Date: Saturday, 10th November 2012
Venue: The International Conference Centre, Birmingham
Topic: Developing Early Years Practice: Reflecting on developments in practice and research

TACTYC Conference goes from strength to strength
Early years educators this year’s TACTYC conference experienced yet another outstanding opportunity to be stimulated, challenged and supported in their professional development. The well-planned and executed day was brimming with informative and inspirationalpresentations, engaging discussions and opportunities to build professional relationships – all of which help to move the sector forward. Evaluations included comments such as:

  • Refreshing presentations/ interesting and relevant speakers
  • Lots of excellent, lively sharing of knowledge
  • Very useful meeting like-minded people/networking
  • Great opportunity to hear about current research in the sector
  • Excellent day
  • Superb keynotes
  • Excellent research seminar

Keynote speakers, Drs. Kathy Goouch and Sacha Powell (Canterbury Christchurch) opened the day with an account of their research and development project: Who in the World Cares for Babies?: A Critical Perspective of Research and Support for Baby Room Practitioners. The keynote outlined the scale and economic value of provision for the youngest children, with half a million under-2’s in centre-based settings in the UK. Their work in the Baby Room Project involved exploring what happens in baby rooms and the professional identities of baby room staff: a lack of voice and low self-image and status in line with limited experience, low pay and low qualification levels were recurrent issues. Beyond researching the status quo, however, the project was also developmental in offering the participants the opportunity to come together to reflect and develop as professionals. A lead article on this work can be found in issue 32,2 (2012) of the TACTYC journal Early Years. Their Ppoint presentation can be found here.

Claire Warden’s keynote, Inspiring the Workforce to Inspire Children, reminded us of the need to feel trust and be nurtured in order to be open to self-reflection. Her descriptions of a mindful pedagogy, based on an intuitive way of being which responds to and supports children’s moments of inspiration, highlighted the personal qualities which can be supported by role models who are aware of,and sensitive to the long professional development journeys in which early years educators are engaged. (This keynote presentation will appear on the website soon.)

Professor Cathy Nutbrown’s keynote scanned historical views of children’s learning and children’s rights, and the roles and responsibilities of adults to uphold these. Practitioners need to ‘watch and listen with wide eyes and open minds’, since their sensitive support for children’s self-propelled enquiry leads to important learning moments. Cathy Nutbrown emphasised the role of the practitioner as a key contributor to high quality experiences for children. She noted that supporting young learners will always be complex and difficult, therefore requiring the highest quality professional knowledge and skill. (This keynote presentation will also appear on the website soon.)

The day also included research and discussion workshops and poster presentations. Research workshops addressed four main themes: ‘Working with young children in settings’, ‘Working with children aged from Birth to three’, ‘Reconceptualising identities in ECEC work’, and ‘Professional spaces in ECEC work’. The Discussion Forum had a wide-ranging brief with time both for expert contributions and for general discussion. Workshop information can be found here.

Conference delegates were treated to an unexpected bonus, with Lilian Katz, Professor Emerita of Early Childhood Education at the University of Illinois, USA, delighting delegates with her closing remarks. Professor Katz shared fifteen wise messages that formed a summary for her students at the end of a year’s work together, illustrated with examples from her own life and with lively intellectual connections. The inspiring closing to the day included an apt message for the theme of the conference: ‘Always assume that the people you work with have the capacities for greatness, creativity, courage and insight. Occasionally, this assumption will be wrong, perhaps. But if you always make it you will be much more likely to uncover, encourage, strengthen, and support these qualities in them.’ Her talk can be found here.


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