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Coalition of Early Years Sector Organisations

Press release: Statement on the new non-statutory guidance for the EYFS

7 September 2020

Press release – coalition comments on the non-statutory guidance 7-9-20

The EYFS Coalition will work with the sector over the next six months to develop guidance for the sector, by the sector: Birth to Five Matters.  This is an opportunity to revise existing guidance to develop an evidence-informed document for our times that addresses practitioners’ needs and concerns about doing what is best for children.  Priorities are likely to include children’s wellbeing and key skills and knowledge for every child growing up in the 21st century such as digital literacy, sustainability and citizenship.  The process of developing the guidance will give practitioners opportunities for active involvement in producing guidance and resources that support practice, that reflect their pedagogic principles and that bring together research and practice knowledge.

In this context, we invite all stakeholders (practitioners, parents, the public, policy makers and others) to engage with us in producing guidance for the sector, by the sector, through a public process of consultation over the coming months.  More details about the consultation will be made available via the members of the coalition, or sign up for further details at


Have you read our recent consultation activities – please do get involved and have your say – we are very busy!

Have you taken advantage of out new temporary 6 month membership reduced cost offer yet? Here is the information.

ITE OFSTED Inspection Framework – TACTYC response to the consultation

Here is TACTYC’s response to the ITE Inspection Framework consultation – please do feel free to comment, share and use, as appropriate. We do hope you will find this useful.


Please let us know if you have recently changed your email details. Contact [email protected]


Have you read Bernadett Nagy’s new reflections paper about using different aspects of the outdoors environment?


New Occasional Papers!

Occasional Paper 15 ‘The re/constructed role of nursery schools as local community hubs in the current context of austerity’ written by Dr Kate Hoskins, Dr Alice Bradbury and Mr Lewis Fogarty: Brunel University London.
Occasional Paper 14  ‘The significance of children’s play and empowerment: An observational tool’ written by Natalie Canning, Open University.
Occasional Paper 13 What role do maintained nursery schools play in Early Years sector improvements? Carla Solvason*, Rebecca Webb** and Samantha Sutton-Tsang* (*University of Worcester/**University of Sussex).
Occasional Paper 12 ‘What is ‘early reading’ for under-threes? A reflection on ‘conversations’ with graduate practitioners in England: A response to Ofsted’s ‘Early reading’ training video. Karen Boardman (Edge Hill University)
Please do read and let us know what you think!


Early years workforce development in England: Key ingredients and missed opportunities

A new report from the Education Policy Institute (EPI), funded by the Nuffield Foundation, examined how the government can develop the early years workforce in England, in order to improve the quality of provision. The study analysed the impact of major government policies affecting the sector over the past 15 years. The report then considers the early years education offer of the current government, and whether its policies are likely to support the workforce and high-quality provision.

Mapping the Landscape Survey Report

An online survey carried out by a coalition of early years organisations has found that practitioners are strongly supportive of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) in its current form despite government plans to make a number of changes to the framework. Headlines are that:
Over 80% of practitioners felt that children’s development was well supported or very well supported across the prime areas of development by the current EYFS;
60% of respondents judged that children’s development was well or very well supported by the specific areas of learning.
The survey, which received over 3000 responses from early years practitioners – the majority (72%) of whom have worked in the sector for more than 10 years – was carried out by the coalition in response to a government review of the EYFS. Practitioners cited lack of resources and excessive paperwork relating to inspections rather than the requirements of the EYFS as contributing to workload pressures. Practitioners also expressed the view that a better trained workforce would make more difference to children’s outcomes than changes to the EYFS framework, and that this needed to be accompanied by improving pay and conditions.


We have a new ‘Call for Papers’ on Early Childhood Education and Care in Latin America here and on our Journal’s pages.  And we say goodbye to one of our long-standing Editors: Professor Pamela Oberhuemer has recently retired.  We wish Pamela well in her retirement and thank her most sincerely for all her work on behalf of the Journal and TACTYC.


What a wonderful Conference … the hotel was magnificent and the Enterprise Centre Derby just brilliant! See the full report here.

Why do so few men work in the UK early years sector…and why should we care?

Dr Jo Warin and Dr Jeremy Davies have launched their two-year study GenderEYE (Gender Diversification in Early Years Education) – an international and UK based study, with a focus on recruitment , retention and support for men in the early years education workforce. This coincides with International Men’s Day on 19th November. Worth a look ….? 


We shall be closing the TACTYC Current Account on the 31st March, 2019. This means that any subscriptions paid to that account MUST be changed to the Treasurer Account before that date.  We do want you all to be part of our campaigns and help us sustain pressure on governments and institutions to make excellent provision for early years professional development and young children, so WE NEED YOU!   Please amend your standing orders now please and ensure that any bank transfers are made into the new Account (see members only part of the website).


Speaking at the Westminster Education Forum on 9th November, Professor Helen Bilton stated that “It is essential that the primary phase is adjusted to fit the early years phase. If you try to adjust the early years phase to fit the primary phase then you militate against a child’s developing self.  Early years education cannot be seen as the waiting room for proper education.”

Professor Bilton asked why the National Curriculum is not being adjusted “to fit the early years curriculum?”

Early years colleagues in attendance raised concerns about the lack of consultation and representation for the EYFS sector.


Please read this recently published article ‘The views of teachers, parents and children on the Phonics Screening Check: the continuing domination of politics over evidence’ by Margaret M Clark OBE

Also see Education Journal (10 July 2018)  ‘Evidence based policy?’

BERA has just released its Report on Baseline Assessment, which is very well formulated – read it here.

Early Education has made a strong comment on the revised EYFS and ELGs – read it here.

MEMBERS:  Read our latest online NEWSLETTER HERE 


TACTYC’s Book Series has added a sixth book to its collection: recently launched is Gina Houston’s book: Racialisation in Early Years Education: Black Children’s Stories from the Classroom. All the books in the series are available from Routledge. These include: Exploring the Contexts for Early Learning: Challenging the School Readiness Agenda by Rory McDowall Clark; Building Knowledge in Early Childhood Education: Young Children are Researchers by Jane Murray; Early Childhood Education and Care for Sustainability by Valerie Huggins and David Evans and Places for Two-year-olds in the Early Years: Supporting Learning and Development by Jan Georgeson and Verity Campbell-Barr.  Look out for Natalie Canning’s book on Children’s empowerment in play, due out later this year.

Conference and AGM 2016

CONFERENCE/AGM 2016: a great success!

Title:  Principled Early Years Practice: Valuing our past, debating our present, inspiring our future
Date: Saturday 19th November, 2016.   Venue: Park Crescent Conference Centre, International Students House, 229 Great Portland Street, London. W1W 5PN.

More than 80 delegates attended TACTYC’s one-day 2016 Conference at the Park Crescent Conference Centre, adjacent to the International Student House in London. We enjoyed a varied programme of three keynotes and thirteen workshop presentations as well as a range of poster presentations. Delegates also enjoyed networking opportunities and an excellent range of marketplace stands.

TACTYC President Wendy Scott opened the conference by welcoming everyone and introducing commissioning editor Annamarie Kino from Taylor and Francis who launched the TACTYC book series and the first book in the series: Exploring the Contexts for Early Learning: Challenging the School Readiness Agenda, written by Rory McDowall Clark. Later in the conference day, Rory then led a session in which she discussed her new book and invited delegates to consider and debate issues around school readiness and its implications for early childhood and beyond. Wendy then introduced our first keynote, Dr Julian Grenier, head teacher of Sheringham Nursery School and National Leader of Education, who spoke engagingly on ‘Assessing and celebrating young children’s learning: what can we learn from the past and how might we shape a future beyond levels?’

Following the coffee break, TACTYC Executive member Dr Jan Georgeson introduced:

Professor Jayne Osgood (Middlesex University,  whom TACTYC invited to make a return visit as a conference speaker this year to share findings from the 2016 study commissioned by TACTYC on early years’ qualifications. The study had been undertaken by herself, Alex Elwick, Leena Robertson, Mona Sakr and Dilys Wilson, and Jayne’s keynote was entitled “There’s still a long way to go”: beyond bewilderment towards a hopeful reconfiguration of Early Years qualifications. The report will be available to download from the website soon.

Over the lunch break, the TACTYC AGM took place. Poster presenters shared an excellent range of work undertaken in the field and delegates enjoyed the marketplace stands. Following lunch, the workshops offered research briefings which addressed an eclectic range of issues across three themes: (i) Learning, Development and Care in Early Childhood, (ii) Professionals in the Early Years and (iii) Partnerships and Pedagogies in the Early Years. For Research Briefing papers see below. A lively discussion forum also took place, with presentations focused on Parent Partnership, Training and EYs Assessment. The full poster and workshop programme also appears below.

TACTYC Executive member Rosa Collins then introduced our third and final speaker Dr. Jools Page (Sheffield University) whose keynote Love in a Cold Climate: Constructions of Care, Intimacy and Love within a contemporary early childhood discourse drew on Jools’ research Professional Love in Early Years Settings (PLEYS) to raise important questions concerning affective aspects of work with our youngest children.

Professor Jane Payler’s plenary concluded the conference by revisiting some of its highlights, then delegates enjoyed one last cup of tea before heading home.

We look forward very much to welcoming you to TACTYC Conference 2017 which is already in the planning!  And Conference 2018 will be very special as it’s our 50th anniversary!

Dr Jane Murray and the Conference Team


  • The whole conference was beneficial however having the opportunity to present at the workshop and network was very beneficial
  • Networking with other like-minded professionals, meeting with other EY lecturers
  • An opportunity to share our research thinking in a safe friendly environment an learn and reflect in wider sessions too.
  • Key note speakers, networking, professional development – keeping up to date!
  • The last keynote was very interesting and challenging in the sense that often in early years, staff feel that they can’t love children
  • Listening to current and ongoing research led to the start of reflective moments
  • Thank you for organising this conference.
  • It was a real pleasure to be here!









Research Briefings

Learning, Development and Care in Early Childhood

Chair: Maulfry Worthington

Anne Purdon

(Norland College)

A comparison of free time activity choices of third culture kids in Albania and children in the UK
Charlotte Vidal-Hall

(University College London)

Help, I’m feeling paralysis about ICT’: changing beliefs and practice around computer integration in the early years
Maulfry Worthington and Bert van Oers

(Department of Theory and Research in Education, VU University, Amsterdam)

Children’s social literacies: meaning making and the emergence of graphical signs and texts in pretence
Professionals in the Early Years

Chair: Dr Joy Chalke


Dr Joy Chalke

(University of Portsmouth)

Head, Heart and Hands: constructing a holistic approach to explore professionalism in the early childhood workforce
Julie Kent, Caroline Farley, Sue Hobson

(Nottingham Trent University,

Loughborough University Nursery)

An evidence-base for organisational change based on pedagogical leadership.
Sarah Lightfoot

(University of Cambridge)

Building professionality through a non-positional approach to early years educator leadership
Partnerships and Pedagogies in the Early Years

Chair: Dr Carolyn Blackburn

Dr Carolyn Blackburn

(Birmingham City University)

The value of relational pedagogy and professional love to early childhood intervention and child/family wellbeing for children with complex disabilities
Nicola Firth

(University of Huddersfield)

The ‘Disengaged’ and ‘Underachieving’ Boy? Boys’ Early Educational Experiences of Pedagogical Practices
Dr Ruth Price-Mohr Pre-school parental engagement through a personalised literacy programme
Discussion Forum Parent Partnership, Training and EYs Assessment

Chair: Rosa Collins

Charlotte Hardacre and Gill Noble-Grey

(University of Cumbria)

Using Authentic Family Learning principles to develop parental involvement in early childhood education
Hannah Young

Pedagogista at Little Jungle Nursery

Contesting the cross-national assessment of early years outcomes involving the testing of 5 year old children (International Early Learning Study (IELS)) proposed by The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Karen McInnes and Pat Black

(Bath Spa University)

Emerging dilemmas for Early Years ITT trainees and teachers

Poster Presentations

Clarrie Smith

(Leeds Trinity University)

Experiences of professional transitions within contemporary early childhood professionalism: Early thoughts on a doctoral research study
Michelle Malomo and Samantha Sutton-Tsang

(University of Worcester)

Graduate Practitioner Wheel of Progression
Nathan Archer

(University of Sheffield)

How care-full is early childhood assessment?


Sarah Procter and Lynne Truelove

(Sheffield Hallam University)

Early Years Vision and Values
Jo McEvoy

(University of Huddersfield)

The pedagogy of group gathering times in nursery and reception classes: A scoping review of the literature.
Sophie Beadle

(Kingston University, Pippa Pop-ins)

The Pedagogy of Story-time for Two-year-olds


Heather Elliott and Heather Davies

(York St John)

The continuing quest for balance: the position of the Key Person in bridging the duality of assessment purpose in the Early Years Foundation Stage in England

Conference papers – you can read them below if you click on the title.

Children’s Social Literacies: Maulfry Worthington;    ‘Help, I’m feeling paralysis about ICT’: changing beliefs and practice around computer integration in the early years: Charlotte Vidal-Hall;    An evidence-base for organisational change based on pedagogical leadership: Caroline Farley, Sue Hobson and Julie Kent;     Parental engagement through a personalised literacy programme: Dr Ruth Price-Mohr;    A comparison of free time activity choices of third culture kids in Albania and children in the UK: Anne Purdon;    Head, Heart and Hands: Constructing a holistic approach to professional identity and professional development in the early childhood workforce: Dr Joy Chalke;    The value of Relational Pedagogy and Professional Love: Dr. Carolyn Blackburn;    Building professionality through a non-positional approach to early years educator leadership: Sarah Lightfoot;  The ‘Disengaged’ and ‘Underachieving’ Boy?: Nicola Firth.


Papers for the AGM are here:  Chair’s Report, Journal Editors’ Report, Website Report and here are the Minutes of the AGM 2016 .

Conferences & AGM 2013

Title: The Early Years Continuum:
Exploring and valuing high quality practice and research in early years

Dates: Friday, 1st and Saturday, 2nd November 2013
Venue: The International Convention Centre (ICC), Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2EA, UK

Keynote by Vasudevi Reddy | Early Years editors’ Journal report | Chair’s report | Website report

We enjoyed another highly successful TACTYC Conference and AGM in 2013, with the International Convention Centre, Birmingham as our venue for the second year running. At a time of significant change for many in the early years, the breadth provided by this year’s conference focus encouraged consideration of the full range of early childhood ages and issues. Following the conference, delegates told us how much they welcomed the opportunities to reflect on what really matters for those working in early childhood and to consider new ideas and innovative research that are moving the field forward.

Conference Friday

Following a warm welcome from our Chair, Dr. Jane Payler, we opened with a keynote from Isla Hill of MakeBelieve Arts. MakeBelieve Arts have developed the helicopter storytelling technique, based on the work of Vivian Gussin Paley. In her keynote Monsters & Superheroes: The Importance of Story in Children’s Lives Isla shared ways that storytelling can be developed in ways that empower young children – and others – to engage with narrative and extend it creatively and powerfully.

Following our first keynote, delegates attended the first of two workshop sessions. In the first, a Discussion Forum was led by Dr. Geoff Taggart. Geoff began with a fascinating exposition concerning whether or not care and caring should be addressed in early years degree programmes and if so, how? Chair Wendy Scott then opened the discussion to the floor and wide-ranging debate quickly followed. You can access Geoff’s presentation at The other Friday workshops were Research Briefings. In the ‘Developing and Learning’ workshop chaired by Rosa Collins, Anne Purdon explored practitioners’ perspectives of promoting sustained shared thinking in an early childhood setting and Jackie Musgrave shared her research into parents’ perspectives about ways practitioners work with them to create inclusive environments for children aged 0-3 years with chronic health conditions. Speaking in the ‘Languages’ workshop chaired by Dr. Rosie Flewitt, Dr. Sacha Powell presented results of a pilot study – Seeking Froebel’s ‘Mother Songs’ in Daycare for Babies – undertaken by herself and Dr. Kathy Goouch while Dr. Gill Goodliff spoke about how we might value languages of spirituality by listening to two and three year olds. Dr. Pat Beckley chaired the ‘Professionalism, Policy and Practice’ workshop at which Dr. Karen Hanson presented her work looking at how the development of reflective dispositions for professional practice can be supported in the early years and Charlotte Jones spoke about the career trajectories of male practitioners within early childhood education.

An excellent Conference Dinner at Birmingham’s Copthorne Hotel concluded Friday’s business. Over dinner, delegates enjoyed networking with colleagues to discuss informally issues in early years practice, policy and research.

Conference Saturday

Following a brief welcome from Dr. Jane Payler, Saturday opened with an excellent keynote from Haki Kapasi, Director of Inspire: an organisation specialising in playwork, childcare and early years services. Haki shared the principles and practice of Inspire’s programme More is Caught Than Taught and offered new perspectives on issues of equity, diversity and values in early childhood.

The second workshop session then followed. Dr. Sacha Powell led a Discussion Forum – ‘Providing for ‘entitled’ two-year olds: whose principles dominate?’, followed by a lively debate chaired by Nancy Stewart. Running concurrently with this Saturday Discussion Forum were three further Research Briefings. On the theme of ‘Developing and Learning’, Professor Janet Moyles chaired a presentation by Professor Margaret Clark about current policy and practice in literacy teaching, followed by Dr. Paulette Luff sharing her work on sustainability in early childhood education. Focusing on the theme of ‘Professionalism, Policy and Practice’ – a session chaired by Martin Huleatt – Dr. Jim Hordern presented on early years professional knowledge, followed by Dr. Betty Liebovich speaking about the impact of Margaret McMillan’s ideals on contemporary early years teacher education. Dr. Anita Soni chaired the workshop on ‘Moving through Transitions’: Sue Johnson asked how transitions story guides can support parents and children in an early years setting understanding their transition journeys and Nicola Stobbs explored educators’ interventions to support socially withdrawn children.

The AGM took place over an extended lunch break. We received our Chair’s Report from Dr. Jane Payler, our Treasurer’s Report from Dr. Jackie Eyles and our Journal Editors’ Report from Dr. Rod Parker-Rees. Professor Janet Moyles provided the Website Editor’s Report and Maulfry Worthington gave us information about the newsletter, including the move to an electronic version.

Following lunch on Saturday our third keynote was given by Jan Dubiel, National Development Manager for Early Excellence. In his speech ‘‘Potent Professionalism – our intuitions as EYs specialists’, Jan reminded us of the importance and richness of our own knowledge and understanding of the children we work with and inspired us with confidence to trust our professional intuitions.

The final TACTYC Conference 2013 keynote was given by Professor Vasudevi Reddy who shared her research with babies. Vasudevi’s speech ‘Engagement Matters: Another look at infants and other people’ provided fascinating insights from her empirical research that demonstrates the role and importance of high quality communication between babies and their parents and carers.

During the conference, delegates enjoyed viewing posters from Janine Ryan (Who says it’s a Man’s World) and a Dr. Janet Rose, Louise Gilbert, Dr. Rebecca McGuire-Snieckus and Hilary Smith (Emotion Coaching). We also benefited from a good range of display stands from publishers and other organisations. Dr. Jane Payler provided the conference plenary to conclude.

Once the conference had closed, in their evaluations, delegates told us they particularly

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.


Papers associated with our Workshops:

2011 Conference/AGM

Date: 11th and 12th November 2011
Venue: Marriott Hotel, Tadcaster Road, York, YO24 1QQ
Topic: ‘Ready’ for School? Research, Reflection and Debate. A research into practice conference

Yet again, it seems that TACTYC pulled out all the stops and created a stunning conference. Delegates came from far and wide, a majority being UK-based, but also with people from South Africa, the United States, Italy, Finland and the Republic of Ireland. It was a very packed day and a half but, according to delegate remarks, very worthwhile:

"Presenters were particularly ‘cutting edge’ and presented new material for consideration."

"I found the whole conference informative, interesting and more importantly enjoyable and would love to repeat the experience."

"I liked the emphasis of basing practice on research – understanding the framework for what works and why – implications of pedagogy on shaping practice as critical for providing learning opportunities."

"Thematic approach really well linked between keynotes, occasional papers and workshops."

"I thought it was the most informative conference I’ve ever attended – excellent in every way."

"[gave me] renewed faith in my EY philosophy and enthusiasm to talk to everyone involved about our practice."

"Inspired me to further my own studies".

"I think a themed research conference like this is invaluable."

Language Development and the Brain: A Phonological Perspective
Usha Goswami
Read her keynote here.

We started on the Friday afternoon with a mind-blowing talk from Usha Goswami (Language Development and the Brain: A Phonological Perspective) – there was so much to absorb that was of such unique importance to young children and early years practitioners. Usha’s talk supported the notion that phonics testing is not appropriate for our young children, emphasising how involved learning the English language is for young children because of its complexity in terms of sound/symbol relationships, morpheme and grapheme structures and the richness of our syntax/semantics. She emphasised the importance to young children of hearing as much language as possible, ‘rich’ language and oral interactions with parents/carers, language enhancement in story reading interactions and activities that emphasise rhythms and metrical structure of speech, for example, nursery rhymes, poetry, music and singing.

This was followed by an introduction to our two Occasional Papers the first by Maulfry Worthington and Janet Moyles on research undertaken by the TACTYC Exec and others related to reception class practices in English schools, and the second by David Whitebread and Sue Bingham on the research, commissioned by TACTYC, into the concept of ‘school readiness’. Both talks were very well received by delegates who raised interesting questions and comments in relation to both issues – they created quite a buzz! We feel sure that delegates and TACTYC members will, once the implications of these studies have been absorbed, have further thoughts on both. When you do, please contact either Janet Moyles or Trisha Maynard respectively. More information was given about the ‘school readiness’ research in the final keynote of the conference (see below).

Constructing ‘school readiness’: European perspectives and practices
Pamela Oberhuemer
Read her keynote here.

On Saturday, Pamela Oberhuemer took us on an exciting whirlwind tour of ‘readiness’ in a wide range of European countries (Constructing ‘school readiness’: European perspectives and practices) and examined the concept from a variety of different standpoints, including the developmental, political, economic and pedagogic. She confirmed how the perspective on school readiness varies from country to country along with the age for starting school, younger in the UK than in the majority of other European countries. She concluded that ‘readiness’ is construed as either a readiness of the child for school (a relatively deficit model) or as a readiness for life with its wider focus on a range of developmental issues and learning/living experiences.

The wide-range of workshops was well received by delegates, who had the opportunity to attend one/two presentations in the morning and a further one/two presentations in the afternoon Abstracts of the sessions. However, we need to give thought to how we might make more time for these as although there was many comments such as: Workshops were very interesting and thought provoking, delegates also felt that they were very rushed and needed more time. Swap-overs from one activity to another needed more time than incorporated into the programme, something from which, be assured, we have learned. Several people suggested that we should have a full two-day conference next time!

Lunchtime saw us engaged in the AGM at which the Chair’s Report focused on a number of important achievements by TACTYC Exec this year and the need to sustain and even extend this level of activity. To this end, she outlined the Exec’s belief that there was a need for a further two elected members, a proposal agreed wholeheartedly by the members present. What we have achieved this year certainly represents a lot of work on behalf of the (unpaid) Exec this year of which we believe TACTYC can be proud! Do you feel the same? Or are there other things you would like us to be doing on your behalf? Now’s your chance to comment ([email protected]). The Treasurer/Membership Secretary’s report outlined our healthy financial situation and the current membership standing at 450, a rise of 36 since last year’s AGM. Other reports were given by key members of the Exec and these can be found in the Minutes of the AGM which will be posted soon.

Our final keynote of the Conference on Saturday was a wider discussion of the concepts and constructs involved in our commissioned research into ‘school readiness’ (David Whitebread and Sue Bingham). This lively presentation really engaged us with the variety of issues relating to ‘readiness’ particularly focused on:

  • readiness for school and ‘schoolification’ (OECD Report, 2006);
  • readiness to learn;
  • readiness of schools.

These have led to the literature-based research identifying four main areas for consideration:

  • early childhood development;
  • children’s diverse early experiences, including family and parenting;
  • starting school and transitions;
  • schools readiness for children: pedagogies for self-regulation.

For more information, see Occasional Papers.

David and Sue informed us that they hope their full report will be published as a book (a publisher has already approached them): something to look forward to in the not too distant future!

Wendy Scott, our President, implored us all at the end of the Conference to use the vast amount of information we had received to fight for young children to receive the most appropriate education, especially in England at present, where there are currently intended policies and curriculum practices which, in our view, are not conducive to quality early years pedagogies.

"Thank you for the opportunity to listen to some passionate, inspirational and highly knowledgeable speakers."

"I think a themed research conference like this is invaluable."

"I found the whole conference informative, interesting and, more importantly enjoyable and would love to repeat the experience."

It was sad to report at the end of the Conference, that we had received no submissions for the TACTYC Award this year. We will discuss at future Exec meetings whether we should continue with the Award and would be happy to receive comments/ideas from members (please contact Wendy Scott).

The Marriott Hotel in York really looked after us and we would like to thank all the staff there for their support of our conference. Any ideas for future conference venues and topics would be much appreciated (send to Trisha Maynard).

2010 Conference/AGM

Date: 13th November 2010
Venue: Novotel, Broad Street, Birmingham
Topic: Grounds for play: exploring risk in the outdoor early years environment.

Over 100 delegates attended this year’s excellent conference and, of those, 42 were present at the AGM – a really good turnout all round. The trade stands, as ever, proved popular and we all appreciated the companies’ contributions. There was a wonderful atmosphere around the whole day – the conference speakers were inspirational, knowledgeable and challenged our thinking. The topic of outdoor play obviously appealed to our many delegates and we’re already beginning to think about a similarly motivating topic for next year’s (residential) conference. Any thoughts will be gratefully received ([email protected]).

Powerpoints from the speakers – Helen Tovey, Trisha Maynard and Andy Burt – can be found on the website (see below) Sadly, we can’t publish all the wonderful photographs of children playing outdoors which all our speakers delighted us with but you can still get a good sense of the quality and content of the talks from these presentations.

The open-ended discussions in the afternoon provided a forum for a wide-range of issues to be aired and shared, which seemed mainly to appeal to delegates (“Really liked the opportunity to reflect and discuss”) – time for just talking about important early years topics often seems very limited in our busy lives and this was a great opportunity for some lively debate around provision for outdoor play and learning and the challenges for many settings in providing quality experiences.

At the AGM we reported on the year’s work of TACTYC – the Chair’s and Journal Editors’ Reports can be found here. Those present received the financial report and information about the website usage (we’ll put some of this information in the next Newsletter). Members also had the opportunity to view the new LOGO and strapline (Association for the Professional Development of Early Years Educators) and it was heartily approved. It will appear on the website early in the New Year and, hopefully, on the cover of the next Early Years Journal.

We hope you’ll keep promoting TACTYC – it’s so important that we have an active organisation that can lobby and debate on issues around children’s rights, training and continuing professional development. Don’t forget, we’re the ONLY organisation solely concerned with practitioners’ professional development and, as such, we’re gaining a voice nationally (and internationally) through our Journal, lobbying and website.

Janet Moyles – Website Editor


We gave the usual opportunity for delegates to evaluate the conference via the use of post-it labels. Here’s just a few of the comments to give those of you who weren’t able to attend a flavour of the day:

  • Really good day. Lots of ideas to take back to the setting to empower children and practitioners.
  • Very good balance of speakers, theory and practical ideas.
  • Excellent day – all 3 talks were full of good thoughts – I feel energised.
  • Wonderful to meet people from so many sectors of the early years world.
  • Excellent!! Very informative. Great opportunity to share practice and engage with current thinking/research.
  • Fantastic day – thank you so much.
  • Many, many big thanks for a truly inspiring day. If only our practitioners could access this wonderful event!

Keynote talks 2010 (click on titles to open PowerPoints):
Dr. Helen Tovey (Roehampton University) Play Outdoors: Risk, challenge and the dangers of safety.
Prof. Trisha Maynard (Canterbury Christ Church University) Letting Go; Child-led learning in the outdoor environment.
Andy Burt (Fishergate Primary School) What’s going on? An open-ended approach to outdoor play.

The next Executive Meeting is the 19th January, 2011, when we’ll no doubt be discussing next year’s conference. We’ll hope to post the dates after that so do keep watching.

2009 Conference/AGM

Date: 6th and 7th November 2009
Venue: Milton Keynes
Topic: Inspiring Practice in Early Education: Research, Reflection, Debate.

With almost a hundred delegates, the buzz at this year’s Conference was amazing. Our three keynotes were (see below) extremely well received. Each of them offered a very distinctive and highly informed presentation that is now available on this website – you can find them here. With 13 research-based workshops to choose from (see outlines here), delegates attended two of their choice and really welcomed the format. We had asked presenters to present their research – without Powerpoint – and to use their hour to allow discussion of their findings in relation to implications for practice. Again, from the feedback we received, it seems they all adhered to the format and it was well received. We also introduced a panel presentation on the Friday evening that focused this year on the experiences of children in reception classes – a topical issue given the current debates on school starting age. Again, this seemed very well received with some poignant and powerful debates and issue-raising from the audience. This session could have done with being longer but that could be said of the whole conference. We did have a slightly earlier Friday starting time this year – to cram more in – and generally this seemed to have been welcomed.

The conference also warmly welcomed Professor Trisha Maynard from Swansea University as the new Chair of TACTYC. After an enjoyable and challenging six years as Chair I am pleased to be handing over to someone so eminent in the field of early childhood. Many of you will know Trisha’s extensive research into outdoor play. I am sure she will bring a breath of fresh air to the executive and to the wider organisation. I intend to stay involved in TACTYC and to work in particular with Jackie Eyles and Margaret Simms on future conferences. The date for our next conference is 6th November. This year it will be a one-day event in Birmingham (centrally located for easy access) but the organisers are looking for ideas on content and speakers so let me know your thoughts and suggestions.

Keep promoting TACTYC – our membership is growing (now over 400) and it is so important to have an active organisation that can lobby and debate on issues around children’s rights, training and professional development.

Best wishes to all
Pat Broadhead, retiring Chair ([email protected])

EVALUATIONS – A selection

  • Lovely surroundings!
  • Workshops very helpful – spoilt for choice!
  • Thank you for providing such challenging research-based workshops.
  • Really excellent – thank you for packing so much in – very stimulating.
  • Repeat same format [another year] – overall, it worked well.
  • [Keynote 1] Excellent, interesting presentation.
  • [Keynote 2] Took me out of my comfort zone and made me think – exactly what I needed.
  • [Keynote 3] Fantastic way to end what has been a very enjoyable conference – forward thinking, it has given us lots to think about.
  • Excellent [venue] – lovely room, hot bath, food was lovely – I felt really spoilt! Thanks for a great conference.
  • All keynotes and seminars raised questions and prompted debate. Good to meet and discuss together and refresh personal pedagogy.
  • Just keep going with your fantastic work – THANK YOU!


  • Play and literacy in virtual worlds, Professor Jackie Marsh (download here).
  • Twenty first century children and curriculum: a cultural-historical perspective, Dr. Susan Edwards (download here).
  • Supporting Playful Drawing: The Role of the Adult in Early Years Foundation Stage Settings, Dr. Kathy Ring (download here).


  • What do children really think about pre-school? Why does this matter?
    Jo Armistead
    , Leeds Metropolitan University. [email protected]

    The seminar reported on the findings from a doctoral research study on children’s perspectives of quality in early years provision. A taxonomy of views was developed under a range of headings. Initially written in the adult voice, the taxonomy was ‘translated’ into children’s idiom in order to represent children’s voices. Both versions were presented for discussion and comment.

  • Seven dimensions of professionalism for early years education and care: a model of professionalism for interdisciplinary practice?
    Dr Avril Brock
    , Leeds Metropolitan University. [email protected]

    This seminar presented a model of professionalism for interdisciplinary professionals that has been developed through longitudinal research in early childhood education and care [ECEC] in England. The research explored the professionalism of a diverse group of early years educators – nursery nurses, teachers, centre managers, head teachers and lecturers and the resulting model identifies seven dimensions of professionalism. The seminar intended to promote debates surrounding professionalism and questioned whether the model could be appropriate for developing interdisciplinary practice.

  • Early transitions: the role of the key person in supporting children’s wellbeing
    Dr. Liz Brooker
    , Institute of Education, University of London. [email protected]
    This seminar introduced work in progress on some interview data collected from the parents and key-persons of children aged 7-27 months in two different children’s centres. The two questions considered were: how is the’ triangle of care’ between the child and her/his two caregivers created? How do the theories and strategies of the key person shape the new roles and identities which young children construct in the setting?

  • Psychoanalytic methods of observation as a research tool for exploring young children’s experience in different nursery contexts

    Peter Elfer
    , Roehampton Institute. [email protected]
    This seminar briefly described the method of infant and young child observation pioneered at the Tavistock Clinic over the last 60 years and used in the training of mental health professionals. The seminar argued the case for the observation method as a valuable additional tool for early childhood researchers. It illustrated data arising from the method in relation to two children aged 18 months and 24 months attending two very different nurseries. The aim was to show how children may respond to different aims and systems of organisation in different kinds of nursery.

  • Permission to Play

    Dr. Kathy Goouch
    , Canterbury Christ Church University. [email protected]

    During this seminar, research into teachers as play partners was presented and discussed. Central themes were how to inhabit the space between national policy and play in practice, reasons to play and responses to children at play.

  • Co-constructing your play based curriculum: building on children’s views to guide classroom practice
    Dr. Justine Howard
    , Swansea University. [email protected]
    This seminar introduced practitioners to photographic techniques that can enable them to develop a playful learning environment. It emphasised the benefits of conceptualising play from children’s own point of view and introduced the notion of play as approach to task, rather than as observable behaviour. It demonstrated, using findings from previous research, how children’s perception of activities as play, leads to increased motivation and engagement. Crucially, it considered the adult’s role in play and the importance of this role in determining levels of playfulness.

  • The adult gaze on outdoor play
    Dr. Pam Jarvis
    , Bradford College University Centre. [email protected]
    When I carried out observations for my Ph.D. studies in the early 2000s, adults appeared to have little interest in what children did outdoors. However, from 2007 onwards, the emphasis on outdoor play in the EYFS brought great changes to this aspect of practice, and the development of an outdoor play area is becoming a very common choice for Early Years student dissertations. This seminar considered what benefits and challenges may arise from this re-focus of the adult gaze in early years environments.

  • Environments for Learning

    Professor Theodora Papatheodorou with Pauline
    Loader and Jacqueline Davies. Anglia Ruskin University. [email protected]
    The seminar focused on research undertaken by the Essex Early Years and Childcare Service with researchers from the Early Childhood Research Group at Anglia Ruskin University. The project was inspired by the pedagogy of Reggio Emilia in relation to statutory requirements in England. The seminar offered a brief outline of the project. Participants engaged with an activity to emulate the project approach. Finally, reflections on the project and their activities formed the basis for discussing implications for practice and for training early years practitioners.

  • Active Learning – A Way to Bridge the Preschool-Primary Gap?
    Dr. Christine Stephen
    , University of Stirling. [email protected]
    In this seminar we looked at the evidence gathered during an exploratory study of active learning – a developing approach to pedagogy in the first year of primary school. Practitioners, managers and parents were enthusiastic about active learning but we were left with many questions. Can active learning take preschool practices into school? What is ‘active’ about active learning?

  • Adventurous play or a risk too far? Perceptions of risk and safety in play outdoors.

    Helen Tovey
    , Roehampton University, London. [email protected]
    Concern to keep children safe and to protect them from risk of harm underpins much policy and practice in early childhood yet concepts such as risk, safety and the place of risk in play are rarely subject to critical scrutiny. This seminar examined research on practitioners’ perspectives on physical risk taking in play outdoors. It considered the implications of the study for practice and raised questions for the wider debate on risk and adventurous play outdoors.

  • Building on the Foundations: developing integrated pedagogical approaches to play
    Professor Elizabeth Wood
    , University of Exeter. [email protected]
    This seminar examined key ideas about play and pedagogy, drawing on recent research and policy recommendations. We considered the challenges of creating a balance between adult- and child-initiated activities, and developing play beyond the EYFS. We also considered the implications for adults’ roles in and around play in light of the Rose and Alexander reports.

  • Play, private speech and self-regulation
    Dr. David Whitebread
    , University of Cambridge. dgw100[email protected]
    This seminar considered play’s significance for the development of children as self-regulating learners, in particular, the role of socio-dramatic and object/ constructional play in providing contexts for young children’s development of private speech was discussed. Current research was reported which is investigating Vygotsky’s view that private speech is crucial in the development of self-regulation. The seminar also considered the implications for early years practice.

  • Play – so what do children learn?
    Maulfry Worthington
    , Free University, Amsterdam. [email protected]
    This seminar explored data gathered from two nursery settings during the first phase of doctoral research. It focused on analysis of several episodes of imaginative play, exploring the relationship between young children’s ‘first order’ symbols in play, models and drawing and its potential for children’s learning – with a particular focus on children’s mathematical graphics. The discussion considered the implications for pedagogy from the research findings.

Regional Conference in collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University and Essex Early Years and Childcare

Date: 26th April 2008
Venue: Anglia Ruskin University Chelmsford
Topic: Happy and Healthy Children Play Outdoors

This was a lively, interesting, informative and practical Conference attended by around 80 delegates of whom a number were TACTYC members and the rest were drawn from around the Essex region. The venue was delightful and the weather even better which was just as well as the conference focus was on the great outdoors!

The Conference consisted of two keynotes and a morning and afternoon choice from eight workshops. There were displays of books by Richard Meyers (Books Education) and exhibitions by Play England, Forest Schools and, of course, TACTYC.

The Conference was also an opportunity for us to showcase TACTYC and to boost membership and we are delighted to welcome those who joined on the day.

The Conference was opened by THEODORA PAPTHEODOROU (ARU) and PAT BROADHEAD (TACTYC Chair) and we were later joined by HARRIET HILL (Essex EYC).

During the first keynote, DR. TIM WALLER (University of Wolverhampton) presented an information-packed session in which he outlined research on outdoor play in the UK, the main features and significance of outdoor play and the interim findings of his research project on children’s outdoor experiences. We were fascinated to hear about the ‘octopus tree’ and the ‘trampoline tree’ and how children were able to take control of their own learning, actions and risk-taking in outdoor environments. He also outlined the links with some aspects of Every Child Matters and showed children’s deep levels of involvement through the Laevers Involvement Scales. The examples from his research were delightful with children’s engagement and learning really shining through.

The morning ended and the afternoon began with self-selected workshops covering different aspects of the outdoor play theme. The eight workshops made a choice of just two difficult for delegates! They were:

  1. Bringing Forest Schools Home – Sara Knight, ARU
  2. Outdoor Fun and Exploration – Anna Rule, Essex Wildlife Trust
  3. Risk and Challenge in Outdoor Play – Helen Tovey, Roehampton University
  4. Building the Foundations of Positive Learning Outdoors – Sarah Walkden, Working With Others Research and Education Unit, University of Brighton
  5. Outdoor Play – Everyday! – Sue Palmer, Farley Nursery School, Salisbury
  6. Turning Spaces into Places – Theodora Papatheodorou, ARU
  7. Story-Telling and Story-Sharing – Richard Sylvester, J.I.G.S.A.W, Journey into Green Space and Waterways
  8. Run for the Hills! – Sharon Packman and Siân Ansell, Essex CC.

Last, but by no means least, we had an excellent keynote from JENNY DOYLE, the Forest School Co-ordinator for Worcestershire, She identified the benefits of Forest Schools to all children (and adults): well-being, creativity, working with a broad spectrum of adults, transfer and application of skills, dispositions and attitudes to learning. Her photographs and sensitive examples of practice, showed clearly the levels of children’s engagement and commitment to their play and learning in the Forest Schools and their persistence and problem-solving capabilities. She concluded by saying that research shows that Forest Schools are having a significant effect on children’s physical development and their knowledge and understanding of the world.

JANET MOYLES (TACTYC and ARU) concluded the afternoon by saying:

  • We spend endless hours trying to plan for and promote children’s learning (in the dry!) yet it seems clear from today that ‘nature’ can do much of it for us, engaging children in real life learning experiences.
  • Children appear to have innate knowledge of what they need and want and have a clear sense of responsibility and ability to initiate their own learning in the outdoor context.
  • The adults’ role has to be to sensitively train (educate) and trust children to take risks safely. Too much prescription can get in the way at the moment.
  • Outdoors is more than just recreation – it’s a true re-creation, in the full sense of creativity.

Janet felt sure that delegates, too, had had a re-creative experience during the day (especially in the lovely weather!)

She thanked all those involved in the planning, organisation and implementation of this worthwhile Conference for their enormous efforts and goodwill.

Delegates were clearly pleased with the Conference overall, offering such evaluations as:

  • I had an interesting and inspiring day – thank you!
  • More conferences like this would be great!
  • Lovely day! What great ideas! Thank you.
  • I have had a wonderful and interesting day and come away with strategies and views that will promote an outdoor ethos in early years settings.

2008 Conference/AGM

Date: 8th November 2008
Venue: Novotel, Broad Street, Birmingham
Topic: Not Just Choosing: Respecting and Supporting Children’s Play

This year’s oversubscribed conference was clearly a joy for the majority of its 150+ keen delegates:

“Absolutely terrific keynotes! Did me good and gave me what I wanted from the day – to expand my own knowledge and thinking.”
“Fantastic keynote speakers, passionate and enthusing.”
“All speakers very thought provoking.”
“Excellent day – well organised.”
“Good organisation of day – plenty of time to play.”
“Thought provoking – have really enjoyed meeting new faces and having wonderful discussions.”
“Lovely venue with lovely staff.”
“Birmingham perfect location – thanks for everything – brilliant!”

It seems that everyone enjoyed the venue and the keynote speakers – Professor Liz Wood, Peter Elfer and Sally Featherstone – were all enthusiastically received. Their talks were much requested and can be found by clicking on the titles of their respective inputs below:

Fascinating discussion/workshop sessions were also run by members of the TACTYC Executive under the headings:

  • We are Working? Approaches in the Early Years;
  • Contextualising Play for EAL Learners;
  • Play Processes and Emotion;
  • Respecting and Trusting Children;
  • Play Isn’t Just for Children;
  • Relative Values: Plan, Do — or Just Messing Around?
  • Play and Independent Learning;
  • Social Play and Imagination.

For the Chair’s and Journal Editors’ Reports please click here.

And delegates joined in discussions and activities eagerly and knowledgeably, comments including:

“Excellent workshop titles – I would liked to have experienced more than one workshop.”
“Workshop was thought provoking.”
“Wanted to hear more from workshop leaders, hear them share their research.”

A thoroughly enjoyable day was had by all and now we’re all looking forward to new conference developments in 2009. Watch this space!

2007 Conference/AGM

Date: Fiday 16th and Saturday 17th November 2007
Venue: The Old Ship Hotel, Brighton
Topic: Play, Diversity and Heritage in the Early Years

Our annual 2007 Conference and AGM began on Friday evening with a welcome and introduction from our Chair, Professor Pat Broadhead. This was followed by an introduction from our new President, Wendy Scott.

Friday’s keynote speech ‘That’s me – being and belonging in the EYFS’ was given by Helen Moylett, Senior Director of the Early Years Foundation Stage, (Primary National Strategy). Helen highlighted ways in which the EYFS acknowledges and emphasizes young children’s diverse cultures and their relationship with play and learning. In spite of some unfortunate and surprising interruptions form the sound system Helen retained her cool throughout! View presentation.

Friday’s evening dinner was followed by an after-dinner speech from Wendy Scott, attending her first Conference since being elected TACTYC’s President. Wendy provided thoughtful links between the topics of Saturday’s planned discussion groups and the lives and learning of those who live in communities in the Maldives, linked to her recent and ongoing work there. The dinner concluded with entertainment by Suzanna Marland, singer-songwriter.

Pat Broadhead welcomed everyone to the full day of the conference on Saturday morning, emphasising that play ‘is child-determined in terms of its focus, length and frequency, and arises from children’s interests, knowledge, explorations and desires’. It is significant, Pat argued, that adults can support, exploit or suppress play.

The first keynote talk of the morning was by Dr. Liz Brooker (Institute of Education, London), her title being ‘From home to the home corner: constructing identities through play’. Liz elaborated on the term ‘play’ and ways in which young children develop their sense of identity in different countries and cultures and through play. Exploring identity, we were guided through the many ways and contexts in which young children develop a sense of themselves. The many different ways of playing and care-giving were shown to be particular to different cultures and to shape alternative views of childhood. View presentation.

Our second keynote speaker of the morning was Avril Brock (Leeds Metropolitan University). Avril began by inviting a number of conference delegates to say ‘hello’ in either their first languages or in one or more (second) languages which they can speak. Avril spoke enthusiastically about her work in promoting bi- and multi-lingualism and gave delightful accounts of schools where she has worked with students and activities, including a version of the ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’, told in Urdu/Hindi. Avril emphasized the value of role play, small world play and repetitive stories for developing oral languages. View presentation

Lunch-time on Saturday provided an opportunity for delegates to browse the many trade stands and several poster presentations. This was followed by the presentation of the new TACTYC Award entitled ‘An Innovative Learning Journey’ which was shared between Mary Fawcett and Wendy Whittaker/Val Melnyczuk. The AGM was also held over lunchtime and included information on the current state of TACTYC provided by the Chair and Treasurer/Membership Secretary.

In the afternoon delegates attended one of nine self-selected stimulating discussion groups. Evaluative comments suggest that these were very useful and stimulating. The Conference ended with a session by June Peters, a storyteller, and closing remarks from TACTYC’s Chair.

The conference provided an enjoyable and stimulating event and was attended by approximately ninety enthusiastic delegates. Just a few of the many evaluative comments from delegates follow.

  • Lovely, sociable, informative conference;
  • Inspiring and thought provoking day;
  • Good range of keynote speakers giving broad set of ideas for taking back;
  • Brilliant subjects – so pertinent
  • Very good bringing together of ideas, experiences, challenges and refreshment – well done!
  • Enjoyable conference – good venue – excellent speakers – inspirational ideas – good to promote diversity;
  • Really enjoyed listening to the different speakers – all very interesting – lots to think about!
  • Stimulated by new concepts/different evidence/experiences/research/making new connections;
  • Wonderful speakers – ‘refreshment for the mind’;
  • Enjoyable – networking with others was good;
  • Lovely venue – thought provoking – loved Liz Brooker’s presentation;
  • I thought Liz Brooker was brilliant – it would be good to have more that is this stimulating;
  • Most valuable aspects of conference were based on current, cutting-edge research;
  • Workshops were good – they give the opportunity to discuss issues raised in keynote speeches
  • I really valued the reflective discussion group on the culture of play;
  • Storytelling session at end was uplifting – a lovely way to finish;
  • The story telling will stick in my mind for the rest of my life – I will tell the children the story!
  • Loved the storytelling and Avril was great;
  • Good networking and speakers and stands;
  • Thanks, too, to Janet for the Newsletter!
  • Long way to travel from Bath – but well worth it;
  • Could next year be focused on ‘creativity in the Early Years’?

Regional Conference with Manchester Metropolitan University and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation

Date: 6th May 2006
Venue: Manchester Metropolitan University

This Conference was a great success. It was the first regional conference for TACTYC. Our annual conferences and AGM are held in November each year but the Executive wanted to develop a new initiative for a Spring event. This conference was held in conjunction with the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Manchester Metropolitan University. Professor Lesley Abbott OBE at ManchesterMet and leader of the Birth-three project, is currently President of TACTYC so this seemed a great place to start. Conference places were quickly snapped up and it was a full house when Lesley Abbott opened the day. Dame Gillian Pugh gave us a comprehensive overview of the current issues. Helen Moylett was able to provide delegates with a red hot copy of The Early Years Foundation Stage document which had been launched only the day before by the Minister for Children, the Right Honourable Beverley Hughes MP.

The workshops were varied and well attended and Jackie Eyles and Avril Brock, who were looking after the TACTYC stall, also managed to sign up some new members – we need to keep expanding our membership. Pat Broadhead and Ann Langston closed the conference by looking at future challenges for the childcare workforce development and for the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Lunch was delicious and the many exhibitions stimulated ideas and possibilities for delegates.

Our three main speakers at the Conference gave excellent presentations which can be found here: Helen Moylett, Ann Langston, Gillian Pugh.

Look out for our next regional conference to be held at Leeds Metropolitan University in May 2007. Our focus will be on play and diversity, a key area for TACTYC into the foreseeable future.

2006 Conference/AGM

Date: 4th November 2006
Venue: Novotel, Birmingham
Topic: Birth to Eight Matters: Reading Between the Lines

Our 2006 Annual Conference and AGM got off to an excellent start with Prof. Lesley Abbott OBE (Manchester Metropolitan University), our current President, reminding us of the importance of words such as ‘matters’ and ‘communication’ in relation to both TACTYC and the early years. View presentation

Dr. Dominic Wyse (University of Cambridge) then challenged delegates to think in depth about the Rose Report and its underpinning research in relation to the learning and teaching of literacy – and, in particular, phonics. He felt that we should be concerned as early years educators that synthetic phonics has been emphasised as ‘discrete’ and separated out from contextualised reading which his (and others) examination of the literature suggests produces better readers. Dominic expressed his concerned that Rose offers no definition of ‘reading’ or of ‘synthetic’ or ‘systematic’ but makes many assumptions, most of which are not supported by background literature. He led delegates through various pieces of research (including the Clackmannanshire study) and concluded that we must act politically NOW to remove the levels of prescription and government control over teaching methods and not adopt a ‘make it work’ attitude (often prevalent in the early years). View presentation

Prof. Henrietta Dombey (University of Brighton) followed on from this by emphasising the need to look at what makes successful readers and led delegates systematically through research from several sources which identified what effective teachers do to promote literacy learning. Henrietta provided a wealth of information and examples about the most effective teaching and learning contexts and the attributes of successful literacy teachers and learners. She went on to share examples with delegates of how the English spelling system differs from nearly all other languages in the world, for example, ‘a’ can be said in many different ways (cat, many, hard, wake … and so on). She emphasised that vowel sounds in English are not easily susceptible to a phonic approach and that our spelling system is based on meaning not on sound, and shared examples of difficulties from the 50 commonest words. View handout

During the lunch break, the final Jenefer Joseph award was made to the Robert Owen Nursery School and accept by Judy Stevenson on behalf of herself and colleagues – congratulations to everyone concerned on an excellent ‘creative week’ which was explained and evaluated to great effect. Jenefer herself presented the award and expressed her delight that the JJ Award had run for the last five years and promoted high quality creative experiences for adults and children alike. (TACTYC’s new award – ‘Innovative Learning Journeys’ – is currently out for consultation amongst members and information will appear on the web early in 2007.)

The Annual General Meeting also took place after lunch with information on the current state of TACTYC provided by the Chair and Treasurer/Membership Secretary. The Chair’s paper can be found here as well as the report on our Early Years Journal.

Delegates split into ten lively and stimulating discussion groups during the first part of the afternoon and a résumé of their exchanges can be found here. As can be seen, the topics ranged widely and provoked much challenge, thinking and reflection – if few solutions!

A hard-hitting and very stimulating finale was provided by Carmen Mohamed (a consultant from Leicestershire) who provided delegates with much food for thought about the issues of children, literacy, and particularly phonics learning and teaching (View Handout and Presentation). She stressed the importance of spoken language and vocabulary to literacy development and deplored our current trend of seemingly change for changes sake. Like Dominic, she emphasised the need for integrated, cohesive and inclusive systems for teaching and the enjoyment needed if children are to gain lifelong pleasure in books and reading. Similarly, both Carmen and Dominic feel strongly that teachers need to reclaim their professional voices and to speak out against practices of which they don’t approve.

This was a very successful conference (according to the evaluations – see below) and well attended with around 140 early years enthusiasts.


  • Absolutely excellent, affirming and inspirational! I am going back to work stronger and more determined than ever. Thank you
  • ‘Play, play and more play’ – good to see this vital tool for children’s learning valued during the day
  • Really enjoyable day – good information and valuable discussions. Helped to clear away the fog surrounding ‘fonix’ to be able to give sound messages to early years settings. Lovely to be with a wide range of practitioners and tutors/advisers. Depressing that so many skilled people seem unable to stem the de-professionalisation
  • A very professional, thought provoking day – thank you. Great venue.
  • A very passionate and thought provoking day! Many Thanks.
  • Excellent conference – inspiring speakers and good discussion with lots to think about and good challenge! Please continue to put this kind of conference on – this is my first TACTYC conference and was well worth the long journey on a Saturday. Thank you.
  • An informative eye-opener. Hope the message is not too late!
  • Thank you to Birmingham Early Years for an inspiring exhibition
  • A super conference. Good speakers. Well organised. Super venue – central. Thank you.
  • Great speakers. Interesting discussion groups – I wanted to go to all of them!!