A trio of staff from Argyll and Bute Council were highly praised for their contribution to the London Early Years Foundation conference earlier this month.
The team – Anne Paterson, Quality Improvement Manager, Stephen Glen-Lee, Head Teacher at Easdale and Luing Primary School, and Kathleen Johnston, Head Teacher from Keills and the Small Isles Primary School were part of a group of eight people from Scotland who made presentations at the event, which was attended by nursery school staff from all over London.
As part of the event staff received a tour of the Foundation’s head office, and three nurseries within Westminster including the House of Commons nursery complete with it spectacular views of Big Ben and bombproof windows.
Team member Anne Paterson said, “We were asked to present workshops on our early level work in Argyll, and we made comparisons between our rural communities and London’s ‘villages’. Feedback from workshop participants was enthusiastic, with comment of ‘inspiring’ – and ‘a real strategy for learning with young children’ among the responses received. We felt that in some ways we were the envy of our colleagues south.”
Councillor Mary-Jean Devon, Lead Councillor for Children and Families (Early Years) said, “It is great to know that the quality of education provided in Argyll and Bute is admired, and that our staff were able to share best practice with colleagues in a very different environment. The exchange of ideas and knowledge which results from this sort of event reminds us that it is vital to ‘get it right’ in the early years – to provide a better future for all of our children.”
The main theme of the conference was ‘a journey’, with an emphasis on ‘quality and the home learning environment’. For the workshops, the Argyll and Bute team took as their theme ‘it takes an island/village to raise a child’ and shared their experiences and stories with the aim of helping the city audience to make connections to their own urban setting.
The Argyll team found that the learning process in the London nurseries was more structured, with a bigger focus on assessment than in Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence, and although nursery staff in London made the best use of whatever outside space they had, the experience did reinforce for the Argyll team how lucky our children are to have great outside learning spaces.