Speakers

An exceptional lineup of speakers from across the early years is being assembled by Nursery World to deliver a vibrant, educational and inspiring mix of CPD certified seminars and masterclasses. The full list of speakers and their biographies is detailed below.

Carol Archer, Movement consultant and practitioner and author

Carol Archer is an early years movement consultant, specialising in the physical development of children aged from birth to six. She was formerly an advisory teacher in the inner London Borough of Camden for nearly three decades and has worked as a Movement-Play practitioner/consultant in the UK and overseas. She has supported staff in Children's Centres and at voluntary and private nurseries in implementing movement and physical activity in their settings and delivers central training and in-service training to staff working in early childhood education and care (ECEC) and early primary education. She co-wrote, with Professor Iram Siraj, Movement Environment Rating Scale (MOVERS) for 2–6-year-olds provision – Improving physical development through movement and physical activity and Encouraging Physical Development through Movement-Play. She has administered the Movement Environment Rating Scale (MOVERS) in a number of settings in order to assess quality.

Dr Sara Baker, Principal investigator, Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL), established by the LEGO Foundation

Sara's research interests are based in cognitive science. She studied for her Maîtrise in psychology and cognitive neuroscience at the University of Paris 8 while on placement at the Salpêtrière Hospital's Brain Imaging Unit. Sara then gained her Masters and PhD at the Rutgers University Center for Cognitive Science working with pre-school children in schools throughout New Jersey. This led on to a three-year post-doctoral research position in the University of Bristol's Cognitive Development Centre. After working as an invited lecturer at the Royal College of Psychiatrists and as lecturer in developmental psychology at the University of Salford, Sara joined the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education in October 2011. She has been a senior lecturer there since 2017 and is now also a principal investigator in the Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL) – funded by the Lego Foundation. The focus of Sara's research is belief formation and belief revision, particularly during the pre-school years when children learn about a constantly changing world. Central to her research agenda is the role of cognitive flexibility (so-called executive functions) in the formation and expression of beliefs about two core domains of knowledge: the social world and the physical world. In addition to basic research, Sara translates research from cognitive development into educational contexts, particularly early science learning. She aims to establish effective partnerships between neuroscientists and educators in order to create better evidence-informed practice and practice-informed evidence.

Nicola Burke, Early childhood music consultant, author and EYFS strategic lead, Tri-Music Together

Nicola Burke has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Music Studies from the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC). She has worked extensively as a music specialist in various early childhood settings and on a range of action research projects. Currently, Nicola is leading Tri-Music Together (TMT), a large workforce development project taking place across West London involving a range of arts and music organisations and early years services. The project has been identified as a beacon for how music education hubs can offer early childhood music across England. In September 2018, Musical Development Matters was launched, a document written to complement the EYFS guidance Development Matters. Available from Early Education, the free-to-download document aims to develop practitioners’ understanding of early childhood music and how to support it, so helping to keep music a valued part of a broad and balanced early years curriculum and addressing the current disconnect between early years provision and music education. As an Associate of Early Education and TMT EYFS Strategic Lead, Nicola was able to create the guidance with their support, the support of Youth Music, and a range of settings and organisations from across the country. Nicola has worked with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, The Royal College of Music and is currently working with the Royal Opera House. She was a co-author on The Guide to Music for 0-3 Years, created the award-winning Tune into Listening free online resource and has been published in early childhood sector magazines. Nicola is an associate of the British Association for Early Childhood Education (BAECE) and a member of MERYC (Music Educators and Researchers of Young Children).

Dr Liz Chesworth, Lecturer in early childhood education, University of Sheffield

Liz Chesworth is a lecturer at the University of Sheffield where she directs the MA in Early Childhood Education. She has worked in the field of early childhood education throughout her career and has taught in nurseries, children’s centres, primary schools and universities. Liz’s research focuses upon play, making and creative pedagogies and she is currently the principal investigator for a research project funded by the Froebel Trust entitled ‘Understanding practitioners’ curriculum decision-making to support complexity in children’s play in a multi-diverse pre-school setting’. She is also a member of an international team of researchers working on the study ‘Makerspaces in the early years: Enhancing digital literacy and creativity’ (MakEY).

Jan Dubiel, Head of national and international development, Early Excellence

Jan Dubiel is the head of national and international development at training and resource company Early Excellence and works as part of the team to support early years practitioners and settings in all aspects of practice and provision. Having trained as an early years specialist, Jan worked as a nursery, reception and year 1 teacher in schools across the country, leading teams as an early years co-ordinator. Following roles as an early years consultant and senior adviser, he was appointed by the then Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) to lead on the management of the (Early Years) Foundation Stage Profile, and had national responsibility for its implementation and moderation, developing guidance and support materials and working at a strategic level with policy makers. Jan has developed a national and international reputation as a conference speaker, consultant and trainer and he has written widely on different aspects of early years pedagogy. His first book 'Effective Assessment in the EYFS' was published by SAGE in 2014

Jane Dyke, Former owner, Yellow Dot Nursery Group

Jane originally trained as a nursery teacher in 1989 and her practice was heavily influenced by Professor Tina Bruce’s book 'Early Childhood Education', which introduced her to the pedagogy of Friedrich Froebel. After working as a reception teacher, she left Hampshire County Council to start her own Froebelian-based Kindergarten in 1997. Wanting to work with under-threes, Jane then went on to open her first Yellow Dot Nursery in 2000, and due to demand opened a further ten nurseries in the next 15 years. In 2018, she sold the Yellow Dot Group to Bright Horizons to pursue her Green Dot future. Jane is very interested in Froebelian principles and practice and enjoys travelling.

Lorraine George, Childminding development worker, Torbay Early Years Advisory Team

Lorraine George has worked in early years for 20 years, initially as an outstanding childminder and currently as a development worker based in the Torbay Early Years Advisory Team. Whilst the main part of her job is training and supporting registered childminders, Lorraine also initiates and develops innovative projects within the community for early years providers. In 2017 Lorraine was awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship to research co-located intergenerational care in the US – in which nurseries and care homes are brought under one roof. Aspects of her research are now being developed within Torbay.

Dr Jenny Gibson, Principal investigator, Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL, established by the LEGO Foundation

Jenny’s research interests lie in the interplay between linguistic and social development from childhood through to adolescence. She studied at University of Manchester where she gained a BSc (Hons) in Speech and Language Therapy, before going on to win ESRC/MRC funding to complete a Master of Research in Psychology followed by a PhD. After her PhD, Jenny did post-doctoral research in child and adolescent mental health in the Department of Developmental Psychiatry, University of Cambridge. Jenny was a lecturer in Developmental Language and Communication Disorders at the University of East Anglia before joining the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education as a lecturer in Psychology and Education in November 2014. She is also now a principal investigator at the Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL) – funded by the Lego Foundation. Her current research includes ‘Understanding children’s relationships with peers through play’ and 'Multilingualism and cognition: implications for motivation, health and well-being'. Jenny’s research expertise is in the area of autism and developmental language disorders and their impact on mental health and social relationships in childhood. Specific research interests include: • Play as a context for studying and promoting child development (especially on school/nursery playgrounds) • Links between emotional development and language development, and • School-based interventions for children with additional language and behavioural needs. Jenny is a qualified speech and language therapist and, although she has focused her career mainly on research, she has maintained her clinical registration specialising in assessment and treatment of complex language disorders and autism spectrum conditions.

Dr Sue Gifford, Principal lecturer, University of Roehampton, London

Dr Sue Gifford works with training and practising teachers at the University of Roehampton. Previously a London primary teacher, she researches early years mathematics education and children with mathematics difficulties. She is chair of the British Society for Research into the Learning of Mathematics, a founding member of the Early Childhood Maths Group and an early years advisor for the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) and NRICH, a University of Cambridge project which aims to enrich the mathematical experiences of all learners. Her publications include 'Teaching mathematics 3 to 5: developing learning in the Foundation Stage' and the Nuffield project 'Making Numbers: using manipulatives in the teaching of arithmetic'. She is currently working with teachers on developing pattern awareness with three- to five-year-olds.

Emma Harwood, Co-founder, Dandelion Education Limited

Hayley Room and Emma Harwood are co-founders of Dandelion Education Ltd, a multi-award winning and Outstanding setting, awarded Nursery World’s Nursery Of The Year 2017. Dandelion is a values-led, ethos-driven, unique business, with resolute beliefs. With over 35 years of collective teaching experience, Emma and Hayley have developed a sound pedagogy which holds child-centred learning and holistic child development at its heart. Both became disillusioned by the test-driven schooling system and its focus on product over process, having witnessed the erosion of autonomy within schools and an increasing neglect of the emotional and mental well-being, of both children and colleagues. They observed a decrease in independent skills, of problem-solving skills, and of creative and critical thinking. Over-testing and the escalating focus on literacy and numeracy outcomes, they believed, were failing to acknowledge and validate skills that are within every child. Emma and Hayley believe that each child has unique potential. Although with differing primary passions, Hayley’s first love being with Philosophy For Children and Emma’s with Forest School, they found a shared passion for holistic education. And they shared a dream – a dream of a truly child-led education system in which every child is free to play, explore, imagine, and learn; in which every child is able to reach their potential; a dream that nurtures creative and critical thinking; a dream that empowers small children, with giant voices - emotionally literate voices, with which they can be heard. A dream which equips today’s children for tomorrow’s world. This dream became Dandelion Education Ltd.
It is a place where dreams are made

Paul Howard-Jones, Professor of Neuroscience and Education, University of Bristol

Paul Howard-Jones is widely known for his contributions to Channel Four’s 'Secret Life of Four Year Olds' and other broadcasts. He is professor of Neuroscience and Education at the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, and has degrees in Engineering and Psychology and a PhD in Medical Physics. He was a school teacher of Technology before becoming a trainer of primary and secondary school teachers and inspector of schools. Since arriving at the University of Bristol in 2003, his work has focused entirely on issues at the interface of cognitive neuroscience and educational theory, practice and policy. He applies diverse research methods from computational brain imaging studies to classroom observations in order to understand learning processes and their potential relevance to educational learning. He is particularly interested in the processes by which games and learning games engage their players and can support learning. Professor Howard-Jones was a member of the UK's Royal Society working group on Neuroscience and Education (2011), authored numerous reviews and one of the first text books in this area (Routledge, 2010), has participated in many international academic and public debates regarding the interrelation of these two diverse subject areas and is currently implementing neuroscience into Initial Teacher Education at the University of Bristol (supported by the Wellcome Trust). Last year he completed a fellowship at UNESCO (Geneva) focused on the relation of neuroscience to global educational and cultural contexts. His second book A Short History of the Learning Brain was published recently by Routledge.

Gill Jones, Early education deputy director, Ofsted

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 headteachers and school improvement partners. She was the headteacher of two primary schools, during which time she set up out of school provision and holiday clubs including daycare 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.

Penny Tassoni MBE, Early years consultant, trainer and author

Penny Tassoni is a leading author, trainer and consultant in the early years sector. She is also president of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY). Amongst her many publications is a wide variety of early education and childcare textbooks and a best-selling series of handbooks, including 'Penny Tassoni’s Practical EYFS Handbook' and 'Understanding Children's Behaviour: Learning to be with others'.

Helen Moylett, Early years consultant, trainer and writer

Helen Moylett is an independent early years consultant and writer. She has been head teacher of an early years centre as well as working in schools and as a university lecturer. She was a Birth to Three Matters national trainer and from 2004-2011, she worked for the National Strategies and was centrally involved in developing the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and other national guidance. Helen was national lead for the Every Child a Talker programme. She co-authored ‘Development Matters’ with Nancy Stewart and has written and edited several early years books – most recently Characteristics of Effective Early Learning: Helping young children become learners for life (OU Press) and Active Learning (Practical Pre-School). She is a vice president of Early Education and tutors on the MA and PGCE courses at the Centre for Research in Early Childhood in Birmingham.

June O'Sullivan, Chief executive, London Early Years Foundation (LEYF)

June O'Sullivan MBE is chief executive of the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF), a social enterprise which currently runs 38 nurseries across 11 London boroughs. An inspiring speaker, author and regular media commentator on early years, social business and child poverty, June has been instrumental in achieving a major strategic, pedagogical and cultural shift for the award-winning London Early Years Foundation, resulting in increased profile, a new childcare model and stronger social impact over the past ten years. As CEO and creator of the UK's leading childcare charity and social enterprise since 2006, June continues to break new ground in the development of LEYF's scalable social business model. She remains a tireless campaigner, looking for new ways to influence policy and make society a better place for all children and families. June is a champion of community-based, multi-generational early years education as the basis for greater social and cultural capital to deliver long-term social impact. She continues to advise Governments, as well as a range of organisations, academics and services at home and overseas, about how best to implement a social enterprise vision for early years. June is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Trustee of London Hostels Association, Director of Social Enterprise UK, Founding Member of International Early Years, a board member of the Early Years Nutrition Partnership and sits on the London Mayor’s Advisory Board. June was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours in 2013 for her services to London’s children. She won the Social Enterprise UK Women’s Champion Award in November 2014 and in February 2015 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Middlesex. In 2016, she was voted one of Debretts most influential 500 and in 2017, she won the NMT Most Influential In Early Years Award. June is a published author, with an MA in Primary & Early Childhood Studies and MBA from London South Bank University.

Hayley Room, Co-founder, Dandelion Education Limited

Hayley Room and Emma Harwood are co-founders of Dandelion Education Ltd, a multi-award winning and Outstanding setting, awarded Nursery World’s Nursery Of The Year 2017. Dandelion is a values-led, ethos-driven, unique business, with resolute beliefs. With over 35 years of collective teaching experience, Emma and Hayley have developed a sound pedagogy which holds child-centred learning and holistic child development at its heart. Both became disillusioned by the test-driven schooling system and its focus on product over process, having witnessed the erosion of autonomy within schools and an increasing neglect of the emotional and mental well-being, of both children and colleagues. They observed a decrease in independent skills, of problem-solving skills, and of creative and critical thinking. Over-testing and the escalating focus on literacy and numeracy outcomes, they believed, were failing to acknowledge and validate skills that are within every child. Emma and Hayley believe that each child has unique potential. Although with differing primary passions, Hayley’s first love being with Philosophy For Children and Emma’s with Forest School, they found a shared passion for holistic education. And they shared a dream – a dream of a truly child-led education system in which every child is free to play, explore, imagine, and learn; in which every child is able to reach their potential; a dream that nurtures creative and critical thinking; a dream that empowers small children, with giant voices - emotionally literate voices, with which they can be heard. A dream which equips today’s children for tomorrow’s world. This dream became Dandelion Education Ltd.
It is a place where dreams are made

Kym Scott, Early Years Consultant

Before becoming a freelance consultant, Kym Scott was strategic lead for early years in the London Borough of Lewisham. She worked in this borough as school improvement advisor for early years for 15 years, following a successful teaching and senior leadership career in London schools. She has a proven track record of helping leaders to raise the quality of their EYFS provision and improve outcomes for children. Lewisham has recently been named as one of the top places in the country for children's development due to how well children in the borough consistently achieve at the end of the EYFS. Kym is an associate consultant for Early Education and also works closely with national training organisations such as Early Excellence. In the past she has been a maths trainer for the BEAM organisation (Be a Mathematician) as well as strategic lead for the Communication, Language and Literacy Development programme. She also works internationally. Kym is also one of the admin team and keynote speakers behind the highly regarded Keeping Early Years Unique Facebook group, a vastly growing support network with a membership of more than 30,000, created for those wishing to develop child led, play based learning further in their schools and settings. In 2013, Kym was commissioned by the Department for Education as an external moderator for the EYFS Profile. She has also been involved in two All Party Parliamentary Groups; those for Conception to Age Two, and for Parents and Families.

Alice Sharp, Managing director and director, Experiential Play and Wonderbox

Alice Sharp is managing director of training centre, Experiential Play, and director of resource company, Wonderbox, specialising in interactive products for use with children under three. As a hugely popular and effective trainer, she has undertaken training projects across the UK and abroad, and has produced a variety of training resources, most recently the DVD ‘Learning nuggets with Alice Sharp’. She trained as a primary teacher, was formerly a lecturer in early education and childcare at Glasgow College, and is an associate of the University of Glasgow and London Early Years Foundation, the UK's largest social enterprise for childcare and early education, working to support long-term social change and with 34 nurseries across London.

Balham Nursery School team

Nicola Turner is deputy head teacher and Camilla Alton is SENDCo at Balham Nursery School and Children’s Centre, south London. Eloise Robinson worked at the school as an artist educator. They have worked together at this ‘Outstanding’ setting to create an environment that enables children to lead their own learning and facilitates higher-order thinking. As part of their work, they have paid close regard to incorporating technology in a way that encourages children to engage in group learning, supports their investigations, highlights their fascinations and stimulates conversations. All three are on the steering committee for ReFocus, the London branch of Sightlines, a Reggio-inspired group that encourages an enquiry-based approach to early childhood education founded on research and evidence. They have spoken at several of the Sightlines Network Showcase Days and out of the last presentation co-wrote an article for Nursery World on the creative use of digital technology in the early years. Deputy head teacher Nicola Turner is also a specialist leader in education, specialising in the early years. She initially studied Psychology to degree level before training to become a teacher and completed her MA in Professional Studies in Education in 2013, focusing on the Characteristics of Effective Learning for her dissertation.

Jude Twani, Regional development manager and consultant, Early Excellence

Jude qualified as a junior teacher in the days of discovery learning and topic webs. Following five years of teaching, she moved to South Africa to teach in a small rural school which was a pioneer of multi-racial education in the post-apartheid years. There she developed a pre-school curriculum and introduced a creative approach to teaching. Getting married and starting a family resulted in Jude taking a career break and, during this time, she led creative arts at a small college in Cape Town. A return to teaching took Jude first to Year 2 and then to Reception where she discovered her passion for early years. She organised an early years cluster group comprising of practitioners from across early years settings and this gave her the opening to become a local authority early years consultant and children’s centre teacher. During this time she also trained as an NVQ assessor and Ofsted inspector, and spent six months on a secondment to senior leadership in a large primary school. For a couple of years, she developed her own independent training and consultancy work specialising in early years, alongside her work as a local authority consultant. She delivered training with BEAM on early years maths and has collaborated with Michael Jones, formerly an ECaT consultant, as co-author of ‘Let’s Talk About Maths’. She now works for Early Excellence as a regional development manager and senior consultant. She brings to her training and consultancy a wealth of experience and knowledge. Jude is an inspiring and motivating trainer who combines theory and practical hands on experiences successfully to create an unforgettable day.

Wendy Usher, Early years consultant and owner, Inclusion Training for All (ITA)

Wendy Usher has been working with children and young people for over 30 years, focusing primarily on supporting children with additional needs and hidden disabilities. Having taught in school, she worked in the voluntary sector providing support to families and practitioners before starting her own company The Play Doctors in 2007 designing and manufacturing resources relating to autism and associated traits. She is the author of 12 award-winning books including 'Let's Think Behaviour', which won Silver in the Practical Pre-School Awards. Wendy has also written and delivers inclusion-based training courses across the UK. She says: 'I ask adults to consider the world from the child's perspective, to place themselves into those small shoes and see the world from the child's eyes. Through this approach, I have seen how small changes and adaptations can make a significant difference to the child's understanding and development.’ In addition to her professional life, she is a parent of a now grown-up daughter who has multiple disabilities including autism and dyspraxia. Having semi-retired, Wendy now provides consultancy and continues to train adults working with children who happen to have additional needs.

Professor Elizabeth Wood, Professor, School of Education, University of Sheffield

Elizabeth Wood is professor of Education at the University of Sheffield, and head of the School of Education. Her research focuses mainly on early childhood and primary education, with specific interests in play and pedagogy; curriculum and assessment in ECE; teachers’ professionalism and professional knowledge; policy analysis and critique. Her work on play has international reach and influence, and she is Visiting Professor at the University of Auckland, and Australian Catholic University Melbourne. Elizabeth is currently researching the ways in which children are blending digital and traditional play, and the implications for curriculum and pedagogy. She is the co-investigator (with Dr Liz Chesworth and Dr Sharon Curtis) on a project funded by the Froebel Trust on understanding the relationships between children’s interests, play and pedagogy in a multi-diverse early childhood setting. Elizabeth has carried out research into these areas, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, Arts and Humanities Research Council. A recent project looked at the potential of videogames for supporting children’s play in hospital and recovery spaces. Currently, she is working with colleagues in Australian Catholic University on a project funded by the Australian Research Council into teachers’ knowledge about children’s digital play. She has worked with a range of European organisations and has provided policy and practice guidance to governments (England, Switzerland, Ireland) on play, curriculum, pedagogy and assessment.