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
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.
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 http://bit.ly/16RmA4s . 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.
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