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Plymouth Early Years Conference 13th May 2011

I was honoured to be invited down to University of Plymouth to deliver a keynote and 3 workshops to the 3rd Year students as part of their Early Years Conference.

This conference was the brainchild of Lecturer Pete Yeomans (@ethinking) and with the help of some of his Year 4 students, the University hosted a conference for their students where they were asked to create their own itinerary using an online booking website. Whilst talking to Peter Yeomans, it was clear that his aim was to give his students an authentic conference experience. Did he deliver? Well just take a look at the #earlyyears hashtag for yourself! (Thanks to @JCBarrington for capturing it!)

My brief was to deliver 3 x 45 minute workshops on e-Safety and Safeguarding and a 1 hour keynote about the impact of blogging at Heathfield Primary School in Bolton. I was keen to bring as much discussion into the workshops as possible as I was as much interested to hear the views of the students. I was going into that workshop as much as a learner as they were! I’m REALLY pleased to report that all 3 workshops were very different, areas of discussion took each workshop off in a different direction. It was fantastic to see so many students encouraged to tweet their thoughts, questions and feedback about the different sessions of the day. As a result, I was able to receive some feedback and also see what had been going on in the other sessions too. My Prezi for the workshops although used just for my reference can be viewed here:

It was a great pleasure to have lunch with Prof. Steve Wheeler. I have read his work for quite a while now and it was great to sit and talk for an hour with someone who I’d be complimenting myself if I said we were on the same wavelength. I really hope to work with Steve one day! Please take a moment to read his thoughts on the day here.

After my third workshop, it was a quick dash with Pete over to the main lecture theatre which was a converted Church and a wonderful venue. There was a real buzz in the air as people were arriving and it’s a testament to the quality of both students and lecturers that these future teachers were piling into the theatre, each person adding to the air of expectation. I can’t remember much from the hour to be honest, but the theme I hope that came across was showing what the pupils can do with an audience! Some links I made reference to were:

Heathfield Year 6 Project Blogs:

Fern’s Story Blog
Raja’s Book Blog
The Sandwich Project Blog
Pandora (Avatar) Inspired Writing Project Blog
Germany World Cup Blog

Heathfield Class Blogs:

Year 6 Blog
Year 4 Blog
Year 2 Blog
Reception Class blog

However, we were joined by some of my pupils during the last 15 minutes through Coveritlive which was great. They were the stars of the whole keynote as it was after all, about them and their achievements over 15 months.

It was a shame that I had to leave immediately after I finished speaking as I would have loved to have stayed and chatted through things or answered any questions. It was a mad dash back over to Exeter Airport and got my flight just in time.

I’d like to thank Pete Yeomans for pulling out the stops to get me down to Plymouth, it was obvious that he is highly respected by his students. I’d also like to pay tribute to the students as their contributions to the discussions and the questions they asked proved that our profession is in VERY safe hands!

I can’t wait to return!


  1. Birth to Five Matters - November 2, 2011

    […] There were a wide range of workshops throughout the day, but I only had time to go to three of them. The first I attended didn’t actually focus too much on the early years specifically, and that was the workshop chaired by David Mitchell (@deputymitchell) on safeguarding and e-safety. I was particularly looking forward to this session, having followed what the children at Heathfield were doing with their blogs for a while, so to meet the man that had inspired children to be so enthused by writing was great. What I really liked about this session was the fact that Dave opened up discussion to the audience, rather than standing and presenting. After witnessing a quote from our very own Pete Yeomans (@ethinking) demonstrating a surprisingly soft side (awwww!) opened the session, it was a quote from one of the parents at Heathfield that made the most striking impression. They said that they want their children to get hurt, but only a little. They want their daughter to have a boyfriend that treats her bad, again only a little, because learning by making mistakes is one of the most effective ways of learning. I think this approach to child development is key – if nobody makes mistakes at an early age, then how do people deal with making mistakes when they are older? I know my limits when it comes to how high I can climb a tree, how long I can run around for, how hot an object I can hold, etc, because my parents gave me the opportunity to test my limits, under a watchful eye of course, and I don’t think I’d be anywhere near as confident today if I was afraid of doing so. You can see David’s Prezi and his reflection of the conference on his blog here. […]

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