“YOU have the privilege today to be in charge of the future.”
In an inspirational and uplifting keynote presentation at Early Years Scotland’s annual conference in Glasgow on Saturday, Professor Ferre Laevers told 330 delegates from across the early years sector that high-quality, adult interaction is a vital element in giving children the best start in life and a future with real hope.
Professor Laevers gave the conference an overview of the Experiential Education model he developed at the University of Leuven in Belgium, which focuses on two central indicators of quality early years provision: children’s ‘well-being’ and ‘involvement’.
Well-being, where children feel at ease and are self-confident; and involvement, where children are intensely engaged in activities, are the key, said Professor Laevers, to ‘deep level learning’.
The conference was expertly chaired by BBC presenter and journalist, Clare English, and heard an opening address from Mark McDonald MSP, Minister for Childcare and Early Years.
Mr McDonald reiterated the Scottish Government’s commitment to Early Learning and Childcare through the expansion of free hours, and also in the desire to ensure that practitioners across the public, private and voluntary sectors are fairly rewarded in terms of pay.
A key focus of the conference was on inspections and Lesley Brown, strategic director at Education Scotland, and Kevin Mitchell, executive director of Scrutiny and Assurance at the Care Inspectorate, delivered highly-informative presentations on the purpose of inspections and the lessons learned from inspections, while a panel of professionals who manage early learning and childcare settings shared their experiences of the process.
The fun highlight of the day came in the form of everybody in the hall dancing to Dolly Parton’s classic song, ‘9 to 5’, by way of welcoming Angie Harris, from the Dollywood Foundation in Tennessee USA.
Angie spoke about the work of Dolly Parton’s Foundation Library UK, which promotes early childhood literacy by providing free, age-appropriate books – from birth to age five.
A film of the conference, and slides from the presentations, will appear on the Early Years Scotland website soon.
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