University Centre Weston (UCW) hosted an Early Years Research Conference on Saturday 11 November to bring together degree students, practitioners and experts in the sector from across the South West.
More than 100 people attended the event, which featured keynote speakers including child psychologist Dr Ioanna Palaiologou, Professor John Siraj-Blatchford from the University of Plymouth and Lynette Brock from Montessori Centre International College.
Subjects discussed during the day included how play enhances learning in early childhood, education as a means of sustainable citizenship and the ethics of leadership and practice.
The conference was held in the wake of the recent debates about whether the introduction an extended 30 hours of funded education for one to five-year-olds as part of the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework is being adequately funded.
Nakissa Campbell, who lectures on the three early years degree courses delivered at UCW in partnership with Bath Spa University, said: “This conference was timely in the wake of some controversial recent developments in the early years education sector, which certainly led to some interesting and lively debates between the sessions.
“We’re obviously delighted to have been able to welcome such respected academics as Ioanna, John and Lynette to UCW, especially as so many of our students already work in early years education alongside their studies and are therefore able to implement the ideas they are exposed to in their practice.”
John Siraj-Blatchford said: “The conference was really well organised and a magnificent achievement by Nakissa and the team.”
Lynette Brock added: “I was carried away by the buzz of the day and the sense of family; it felt like the early years community in North Somerset were really pulling together.”
The early years degree programmes at UCW are focused on work-based learning and the lecturing team has a proven track record in supporting students to succeed, wherever they are in their careers.