Speakers 2019

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 for 2020 will be released later this year - see the 2019 speakers detailed below.

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'.

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.

Jan Dubiel, Early years consultant

Jan Dubiel is a specialist in Early Childhood Education. He was identified by the Times Educational Supplement as one of the ten most influential people in British education in 2018. 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. Most recently he was the head of national and international development at Early Excellence and worked as part of the team to shape and deliver a strategy that supported early years managers and educators in all aspects of practice and provision. With Early Excellence he was also responsible for developing EExBA, used by 12,000 schools as a Baseline Assessment, EExAT, and Birth to 7 tracking system and EExAQ, an international qualification for Kindergarten teachers 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 policy, pedagogy and practice. His first book Effective Assessment in the EYFS was published by SAGE in 2014.

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.

Amy Devine, SEND support, Pen Green and Kingswood Centre for Children and their Families

Amy completed her NVQ Level 3 in Early Years, Care and Education in 2006 when she worked in a private day nursery in Corby. It was whilst working here that Amy discovered her passion for identifying and supporting children with SEND. Amy worked within this setting for ten years where she undertook her Foundation Degree in 2012 through the University of Hertfordshire, delivered by tutors based at the Pen Green Research Base. It was whilst undertaking this course and spending time at the centre that Amy really became invested in the centre’s values and ethos. Amy took on the role of SEND support at The Pen Green Centre for Children and their Families, where she then went on to complete her BA Hons degree in Education and Studies in 2013. Amy has since continued to build on her skills and knowledge in the field or Early Years and SEND undertaking continuous training and short courses which focus on the two areas. In 2016, Amy undertook the Portage accreditation and gained her Portage Stamp of Approval. In 2018, she completed her Theraplay training and became a Theraplay informed practitioner and has most recently, in 2019, received her level 1 British Sign Language Qualification, alongside a short course in Alternative Communication.

Andy McCormack, Specialist in children’s literature

Andy has worked in the arenas of children's rights and culture for ten years, moving between children's arts and children's rights organisations, and qualifying as an early years teacher in addition to degrees in Law and English Language and Literature. He is currently an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded PhD candidate at the Centre for Research in Children's Literature at the University of Cambridge's Faculty of Education.

Angela Prodger, Joint head, Pen Green Centre for Children and their Families

As one of the joint heads of Pen Green Centre, I work collaboratively with children, parents, staff and partners from a multi-disciplinary background. In this role, I have strategic responsibility for the centre, leading and managing a team of 120+ staff. I endeavour to provide high-quality inclusive services for children and their families and the integrated nature of the work means that I undertake many roles within the Centre. I am passionate about working with families to improve their life chances. I believe that all children should have a voice and this must be heard. My responsibilities include working jointly with colleagues from across the centre to offer training and continuous professional development. I am also a Specialist Leader in Education. I have contributed to publications and presented at conferences locally, nationally and internationally. I have worked in Early Years for 35 years and have spent the last 30 years working with children and their families. My qualifications include: National Professional Qualification in Integrated Centre Leadership (NPQICL), Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Early Years), MA in Integrated Services for Children and Families, QTS, BA IN Early Childhood Studies, Cert. Ed. Post Compulsory Education.

Becky Dolamore, Head teacher, Rachel Keeling Nursery School

Becky is the head teacher of Rachel Keeling Nursery School in Bethnal Green, east London. It is a highly creative school and an exciting place to learn. The child’s voice is at the heart of Rachel Keeling and a joy for learning is fostered there. Becky has been a teacher in Tower Hamlets for 20 years, in primary and early years. She has also been a trailblazer for the Forest School movement within the Borough and is passionate about storytelling and story-acting with young children. Becky is an award-winning hospital radio presenter and instagrammer.

Ben Hasan, Head teacher, Wentworth Nursery School and Children's Centre

Ben Hasan is head teacher of Wentworth Nursery School and Children’s Centre, an Outstanding nursery school situated in Hackney, London. He was previously a head teacher in a nursery school in Tower Hamlets, which achieved two Outstanding judgements during his headship. Ben has delivered training and lectured in early years at a number of universities including the Institute of Education, Cumbria University, East London University and London Metropolitan University. He has also written articles on early years education for Nursery World and the National Education Union.

Ben Kingston-Hughes, Early years trainer, Inspired Children

Ben Kingston-Hughes is a national award-winning trainer and managing director of Inspired Children. He has worked with children for over 30 years and has twice appeared on television working with vulnerable children. His transformative training has been mentioned by Ofsted in inspection reports as an example of outstanding staff development and his distinctive blend of humour, neuroscience and real-life practical experiences make his training invaluable for anyone working with young children. His finest moment last year was when a group of reception children named their class frog after him.

Bryony Monaghan, Service manager, ASN and Well-being, Children and Families, Stirling Council

Bryony has worked within Stirling Council for 13 years, initially as a principal teacher with children who have autism. She moved on to lead a team working across the local authority promoting inclusion and supporting schools and nurseries in their work with children who have a wide range of additional support needs (ASN). In the past six years, she has held a leadership role with responsibility for specialist schools, provisions and teams; for inclusive practice and resources across schools and nurseries and for child protection and well-being principles and practice for the education service. A guiding principle in each of these roles is to develop relationships and environments where everyone is included and feels a sense of belonging.

Debbie Brace, Early years trainer

Debbie Brace is an early years trainer with a passionate and infectious style. Starting her career as a KS2 teacher, Debbie’s journey into the early years began with the birth of her first baby. Registering as a childminder in 2007, her studies continued as she completed an MA specialising in the emotional development of infants from the world-renowned Tavistock clinic. She is a recent winner of the Louise Emanuel Essay Prize (2019), an annual award presented for an outstanding piece of writing in the area of Infant Mental Health. Debbie devised Baby Talk and Play in 2009, an approach that aims to inspire both parents and early years professionals to create meaningful interactions and strengthen bonds in order for children to have the best chance of developing good mental health and communication skills. Currently, she is commissioned by Hounslow Early Years Education department to run the early language development programme ‘Let’s Talk Together’ (based on ECaT principles) Debbie also sits on the executive committee of the Association of Infant Mental Health UK, an organisation promoting the importance of the parent-infant relationship.

Dr Jo Basford, Senior lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr Jo Basford worked as an infant and nursery teacher and local authority officer before joining Manchester Metropolitan University in 2007. She has also been a High/Scope endorsed trainer, and an assessor for the EYPS programme. Jo is currently a senior lecturer in Early Years and Childhood Studies at in the School of Childhood, Youth and Education Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University. Alongside her teaching on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, Jo also supervises EdD students and has responsibility for student experience. Jo’s research interests and publications relate to the early years curriculum and assessment, pedagogy, policy critique and professional identity. She draws on both Bourdieu’s conceptual framework and socio-cultural theory to inform her research. Jo’s most recent interests are concerned with interpretations of cultural capital in early years practice.

Dr Stella Louis, Early years consultant

Dr Stella Louis is a freelance early years consultant, trainer and author working with individual nursery settings, parents, nursery schools, local authorities, government departments and charities. She is particularly interested in observation and its part in developing learning, especially through children’s schemas, and has written extensively about both subjects. Stella leads a small team of Froebelian traveling tutors in promoting, developing and delivering the short Froebel Trust courses in England. She has worked both in the United Kingdom and internationally, in South Africa, where she worked with teachers to develop a Froebelian approach to teaching and learning.

Jo Dabir-Alai, Lead practitioner, Grove House Nursery School and Children’s Centre, Southall

Jo completed her NNEB in 1982. She worked in social services-run day nurseries in the London Borough of Lambeth and Coventry City Council. In 1988, she gained her Montessori teachers certificate. She spent a short period as a childminder and playgroup leader and in 2003 completed her BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies at Froebel College, Roehampton University. A PGCE and teaching career followed, and Jo worked in the London boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Wandsworth and Ealing. Jo continued to build on her knowledge and skills becoming a Forest School leader and later completing a Certificate in Counselling Skills for children using the Arts. Since coming across the pedagogical principles of the pre-schools of Reggio Emilia in the 1980s, Jo has been a passionate advocate of their ideologies. She took part in a study tour to Reggio Emilia in 2001. Jo is also a member of Early Education and Sightlines Initiative.

Jo Skone, Senior teacher and forest school leader, Randolph Beresford Early Years Centre

Jo is currently a senior teacher and forest school leader at Randolph Beresford Early Years Centre in White City, London. Jo has been working in the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham for over 15 years as an early years educator and teacher in nursery schools and Reception class. Jo holds an NNEB certificate, a first-class degree in early years care and education and has qualified teacher status. She has been setting up and running forest schools for the past 13 years and holds a forest school leaders certificate. She is also a Level 4 forest school leader trainer. Jo has always had a strong belief in the value of the outdoors as a learning resource. She recognises the value it has in fostering the Characteristics of Effective Learning and promoting mental, spiritual and emotional happiness, well-being and development. Jo has developed an outdoor classroom and natural area within Randolph Beresford and currently teaches children aged one to five years in this space. The facility is also used to deliver training on outdoor learning and forest school. Jo has delivered presentations on outdoor learning at the institute of education, universities and varies conferences locally, nationally and internationally.

Judith Twani, Early years consultant and assistant head teacher

Judith 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 Judith taking a career break and, during this time, she led creative arts at a small college in Cape Town. A return to teaching took Judith 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 was a regional manager and is now an associate consultant for Early Excellence and is now a part-time assistant head teacher for teaching and learning in a Norwich Primary and Nursery School. Judith brings to her training and consultancy a wealth of experience and knowledge. She is an inspiring and motivating trainer who combines theory and practical hands on experiences successfully to create an unforgettable day.

Julia Manning-Morton, Early years consultant and author

Julia Manning-Morton is an independent consultant and group facilitator for ‘Key Times Professional Development’. She is also a Froebel Travelling Tutor, an associate trainer for Early Education and part of the Pikler (UK) Association. Her career in the early childhood field spans 40 years and diverse roles as a practitioner, manager, adviser and inspector and also as a lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at London Metropolitan University. Julia is passionate about the personal, social and emotional well-being of children and practitioners and on practice and provision that meets the needs of children from birth to three years old; her training, research and writing is focused on enabling, empowering and enthusing practitioners to make positive contributions to the lives of babies, young children and their families. Julia’s latest publications are: Foundations of Being: Understanding Young Children's Emotional, Personal and Social Development (2017); Childcare and Education co-written with C Meggitt and T Bruce (2016, 6th edition); Two Year Olds in Early Years Settings; Journeys of Discovery co-written with M Thorp (2015); and Exploring Well-being in the Early Years (2014).

Julian Grenier, Head teacher, Sheringham Nursery School and Children’s Centre

Julian has taught in inner-London schools since 1990, starting off in primary and then specialising in the early years. He has been the head teacher of two maintained nursery schools and was the senior Early Years Adviser to Tower Hamlets from 2010-2012. He has a doctorate in education (EdD) from the UCL Institute of Education and is the author of several best-selling books on early years education and care. Julian is the head teacher of Sheringham Nursery School and Children’s Centre in Newham, which is a National Teaching School. Sheringham is currently leading an EEF-funded project to improve children’s early communication, Manor Park Talks. Sheringham is also one of London’s three Early Years Hubs, supported by the Mayor of London. Julian is a Founding Fellow of the Chartered College of Teachers and is on the editorial board of their journal, Impact. He has contributed regularly to Nursery World.

Julie Revels, Early years consultant specialising in SEND and inclusive practice

Julie is a well-established independent consultant, speaker and trainer specialising in inclusion in the early years and understanding the importance of early child development on later outcomes, including supporting young children with neurodevelopmental differences. Julie delivers keynote speeches and facilitates workshops across the country and also works for a range of national organisations, such as National Association of Special Educational Needs (nasen), British Association of Early Education, Council for Disabled Children and Action for Children. Julie is involved in the delivery of a number of national projects to increase access and inclusion of children with SEND in the early years. She is also a lead associate for KCA Training, delivering training in relation to social and emotional well-being, which focuses on understanding the importance of attachment, trauma and resilience throughout a person’s lifetime.

Kevin Kelman, Chief education officer, Stirling Council

Kevin is chief education officer at Stirling Council, with strategic responsibility for Stirling’s nurseries, schools (primary, secondary and special) and Additional Support Needs (ASN) provisions. Current priorities for Kevin and the Early Years and Early Intervention team include expanding early years provision and strengthening the quality of the educational provision through school/nursery improvement partnerships. Kevin started his career as a primary teacher and has since held a wide variety of roles including a lecturer in early years education, a raising achievement co-ordinator and head teacher of an inner-city primary school in Glasgow. While on secondment from his post as head teacher, he developed two early years programmes – a degree course and a post-graduate leadership programme – at the University of Glasgow. Kevin is a professional associate with Education Scotland, where he has been involved in inspections of both schools and local authorities. He joined Stirling Council in 2009 as a quality improvement officer. He has a Master of Education (MEd) in Education and a diploma in management coaching and mentoring and has completed a Harvard University Graduate School of Education programme – Leading Change in Education Systems: Effective policy and practice for improving outcomes.

Kym Scott, Early years consultant

Before becoming a freelance conference speaker, trainer and consultant, Kym was Early Years Lead 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. This work enabled her to support many schools and settings in a variety of circumstances and to research informally the key elements that make for excellent outcomes for children. Lewisham has been named one of the top places in the country for children's development, due to how well children in the borough achieve consistently by the end of the EYFS, despite low starting points.

Professor Vivette Glover, Visiting Professor of Perinatal PsychobiologyVisiting Professor of Perinatal Psychobiology, Imperial College London

Vivette Glover is Visiting Professor of Perinatal Psychobiology at Imperial College London. Her research has shown the effects of the emotional state of the mother during pregnancy, on the developing foetus and longer term on the child, especially on neurodevelopment. Her group has also studied the biological mechanisms that may underlie such foetal programming. She has published over 450 papers. She has been awarded the International Marcé Society medal, the John Cox medal and the PIPUK award for Research into Pregnancy and Infant Mental Health. Her work is contributing to changes in Government policy.

Ranbir Jaswal, Teacher and SENCO, Grove House Nursery School and Children’s Centre, Southall

Ranbir completed her NNEB in 1993. For the next ten years, she worked as a nursery nurse in a primary school in Chiswick, during which time she completed the Advanced Diploma in Childcare and Education, as well as a BSc Degree via the Open University. This was followed by a short period of work as a family support worker in the Children and Families Department in the London Borough of Hounslow. She then started work in a children’s centre in the London Borough of Ealing, which enabled her to continue her studies whilst working, through a Graduate Teacher Training Programme at Brunel University. She has now worked as SENCO for a number of years, has gained a wealth of experience working with children and families and is dedicated to improving the life chances of the families that pass through the Grove Park Children’s Centre. Recently, she took part in a study tour to Reggio Emilia.

Sally Cave, Head teacher, Guildford Nursery School and Children’s Centre

Sally is head teacher of Guildford Nursery School and Children’s Centre and a Froebel Travelling Tutor. All staff at the nursery school receive the short courses developed by the Froebel Trust and covering the essential facets of Froebelian pedagogy, including the importance of engaging with nature and outdoor learning. Sally is motivated by the belief that every child should experience a childhood they remember as wonderful, safe, challenging, fun and exciting. She is committed to working collaboratively and building relationships that are underpinned by mutual trust and respect. She has a successful track record in the fields of school improvement and pedagogy which has been recognised at national level. She specialises in working with children from birth to seven, though has a great knowledge and experience of the whole primary age range. She works to encourage and empower both leaders and practitioners who work with children and their families.

Dr (Lady) Sue Dale Tunnicliffe, UCL Institute of Education

Sue Dale Tunnicliffe graduated in zoology and has specialised in education, having taught all ages from the early years to university level. She holds a PhD from King’s College and is now a Reader at the UCL Institute of Education. She is often invited overseas to run early years science courses. She set up and ran an advisory team in primary science and technology for an education authority in England, before becoming head of education at the Zoological Society of London. She has worked part time as a science adviser in a historical museum, as an education officer at the BBC, and has been an Ofsted school inspector and a primary school governor. She has also worked as a researcher and lecturer at Cambridge and Winchester Universities. She has written widely – books for practitioners, as well as academic papers. Presently, she is particularly interested in how pre-formal school children learn science, through observation and experiences, asserting the critical foundations are laid in unstructured, free-choice play at both home and in the community, long before formal school. She recognises that parents and community are the first and most important teachers of children. She is Chair of the Commonwealth Association for Science, Technology and Maths Educators (CASTME).

Wendy Ratcliff, HM Inspector

Wendy Ratcliff is an HM Inspector. As a qualified early years practitioner, she has extensive experience of inspection and regulation across a full range of early years provisions. She has senior leadership and management experience in local authorities. Her role in Ofsted’s education policy team is focused on the range of inspections of early years provision and any changes for the future. For example, she led the policy work on developing the new Education Inspection Framework (EIF) for early years. As an experienced inspector and policy led, she delivers training to early years inspectors.