2009 Conference/AGM

Date: 6th and 7th November 2009
Venue: Milton Keynes
Topic: Inspiring Practice in Early Education: Research, Reflection, Debate.

With almost a hundred delegates, the buzz at this year’s Conference was amazing. Our three keynotes were (see below) extremely well received. Each of them offered a very distinctive and highly informed presentation that is now available on this website – you can find them here. With 13 research-based workshops to choose from (see outlines here), delegates attended two of their choice and really welcomed the format. We had asked presenters to present their research – without Powerpoint – and to use their hour to allow discussion of their findings in relation to implications for practice. Again, from the feedback we received, it seems they all adhered to the format and it was well received. We also introduced a panel presentation on the Friday evening that focused this year on the experiences of children in reception classes – a topical issue given the current debates on school starting age. Again, this seemed very well received with some poignant and powerful debates and issue-raising from the audience. This session could have done with being longer but that could be said of the whole conference. We did have a slightly earlier Friday starting time this year – to cram more in – and generally this seemed to have been welcomed.

The conference also warmly welcomed Professor Trisha Maynard from Swansea University as the new Chair of TACTYC. After an enjoyable and challenging six years as Chair I am pleased to be handing over to someone so eminent in the field of early childhood. Many of you will know Trisha’s extensive research into outdoor play. I am sure she will bring a breath of fresh air to the executive and to the wider organisation. I intend to stay involved in TACTYC and to work in particular with Jackie Eyles and Margaret Simms on future conferences. The date for our next conference is 6th November. This year it will be a one-day event in Birmingham (centrally located for easy access) but the organisers are looking for ideas on content and speakers so let me know your thoughts and suggestions.

Keep promoting TACTYC – our membership is growing (now over 400) and it is so important to have an active organisation that can lobby and debate on issues around children’s rights, training and professional development.

Best wishes to all
Pat Broadhead, retiring Chair ([email protected])

EVALUATIONS – A selection

  • Lovely surroundings!
  • Workshops very helpful – spoilt for choice!
  • Thank you for providing such challenging research-based workshops.
  • Really excellent – thank you for packing so much in – very stimulating.
  • Repeat same format [another year] – overall, it worked well.
  • [Keynote 1] Excellent, interesting presentation.
  • [Keynote 2] Took me out of my comfort zone and made me think – exactly what I needed.
  • [Keynote 3] Fantastic way to end what has been a very enjoyable conference – forward thinking, it has given us lots to think about.
  • Excellent [venue] – lovely room, hot bath, food was lovely – I felt really spoilt! Thanks for a great conference.
  • All keynotes and seminars raised questions and prompted debate. Good to meet and discuss together and refresh personal pedagogy.
  • Just keep going with your fantastic work – THANK YOU!


  • Play and literacy in virtual worldsProfessor Jackie Marsh (download here).
  • Twenty first century children and curriculum: a cultural-historical perspectiveDr. Susan Edwards (download here).
  • Supporting Playful Drawing: The Role of the Adult in Early Years Foundation Stage SettingsDr. Kathy Ring (download here).


  • What do children really think about pre-school? Why does this matter?
    Jo Armistead
    , Leeds Metropolitan University. [email protected]

    The seminar reported on the findings from a doctoral research study on children’s perspectives of quality in early years provision. A taxonomy of views was developed under a range of headings. Initially written in the adult voice, the taxonomy was ‘translated’ into children’s idiom in order to represent children’s voices. Both versions were presented for discussion and comment. 

  • Seven dimensions of professionalism for early years education and care: a model of professionalism for interdisciplinary practice?
    Dr Avril Brock
    , Leeds Metropolitan University. [email protected]

    This seminar presented a model of professionalism for interdisciplinary professionals that has been developed through longitudinal research in early childhood education and care [ECEC] in England. The research explored the professionalism of a diverse group of early years educators – nursery nurses, teachers, centre managers, head teachers and lecturers and the resulting model identifies seven dimensions of professionalism. The seminar intended to promote debates surrounding professionalism and questioned whether the model could be appropriate for developing interdisciplinary practice. 

  • Early transitions: the role of the key person in supporting children’s wellbeing
    Dr. Liz Brooker
    , Institute of Education, University of London. [email protected]
    This seminar introduced work in progress on some interview data collected from the parents and key-persons of children aged 7-27 months in two different children’s centres. The two questions considered were: how is the’ triangle of care’ between the child and her/his two caregivers created? How do the theories and strategies of the key person shape the new roles and identities which young children construct in the setting? 
  • Psychoanalytic methods of observation as a research tool for exploring young children’s experience in different nursery contexts

    Peter Elfer, Roehampton Institute. [email protected]
    This seminar briefly described the method of infant and young child observation pioneered at the Tavistock Clinic over the last 60 years and used in the training of mental health professionals. The seminar argued the case for the observation method as a valuable additional tool for early childhood researchers. It illustrated data arising from the method in relation to two children aged 18 months and 24 months attending two very different nurseries. The aim was to show how children may respond to different aims and systems of organisation in different kinds of nursery. 

  • Permission to Play

    Dr. Kathy Goouch, Canterbury Christ Church University. [email protected]

    During this seminar, research into teachers as play partners was presented and discussed. Central themes were how to inhabit the space between national policy and play in practice, reasons to play and responses to children at play. 

  • Co-constructing your play based curriculum: building on children’s views to guide classroom practice
    Dr. Justine Howard
    , Swansea University. [email protected]
    This seminar introduced practitioners to photographic techniques that can enable them to develop a playful learning environment. It emphasised the benefits of conceptualising play from children’s own point of view and introduced the notion of play as approach to task, rather than as observable behaviour. It demonstrated, using findings from previous research, how children’s perception of activities as play, leads to increased motivation and engagement. Crucially, it considered the adult’s role in play and the importance of this role in determining levels of playfulness. 
  • The adult gaze on outdoor play
    Dr. Pam Jarvis
    , Bradford College University Centre. [email protected]
    When I carried out observations for my Ph.D. studies in the early 2000s, adults appeared to have little interest in what children did outdoors. However, from 2007 onwards, the emphasis on outdoor play in the EYFS brought great changes to this aspect of practice, and the development of an outdoor play area is becoming a very common choice for Early Years student dissertations. This seminar considered what benefits and challenges may arise from this re-focus of the adult gaze in early years environments. 
  • Environments for Learning

    Professor Theodora Papatheodorou with Pauline Loader and Jacqueline Davies. Anglia Ruskin University. [email protected]
    The seminar focused on research undertaken by the Essex Early Years and Childcare Service with researchers from the Early Childhood Research Group at Anglia Ruskin University. The project was inspired by the pedagogy of Reggio Emilia in relation to statutory requirements in England. The seminar offered a brief outline of the project. Participants engaged with an activity to emulate the project approach. Finally, reflections on the project and their activities formed the basis for discussing implications for practice and for training early years practitioners. 

  • Active Learning – A Way to Bridge the Preschool-Primary Gap?
    Dr. Christine Stephen
    , University of Stirling. [email protected]
    In this seminar we looked at the evidence gathered during an exploratory study of active learning – a developing approach to pedagogy in the first year of primary school. Practitioners, managers and parents were enthusiastic about active learning but we were left with many questions. Can active learning take preschool practices into school? What is ‘active’ about active learning? 
  • Adventurous play or a risk too far? Perceptions of risk and safety in play outdoors.

    Helen Tovey, Roehampton University, London. [email protected]
    Concern to keep children safe and to protect them from risk of harm underpins much policy and practice in early childhood yet concepts such as risk, safety and the place of risk in play are rarely subject to critical scrutiny. This seminar examined research on practitioners’ perspectives on physical risk taking in play outdoors. It considered the implications of the study for practice and raised questions for the wider debate on risk and adventurous play outdoors. 

  • Building on the Foundations: developing integrated pedagogical approaches to play
    Professor Elizabeth Wood
    , University of Exeter. [email protected]
    This seminar examined key ideas about play and pedagogy, drawing on recent research and policy recommendations. We considered the challenges of creating a balance between adult- and child-initiated activities, and developing play beyond the EYFS. We also considered the implications for adults’ roles in and around play in light of the Rose and Alexander reports. 
  • Play, private speech and self-regulation
    Dr. David Whitebread
    , University of Cambridge. [email protected]
    This seminar considered play’s significance for the development of children as self-regulating learners, in particular, the role of socio-dramatic and object/ constructional play in providing contexts for young children’s development of private speech was discussed. Current research was reported which is investigating Vygotsky’s view that private speech is crucial in the development of self-regulation. The seminar also considered the implications for early years practice. 
  • Play – so what do children learn?
    Maulfry Worthington
    , Free University, Amsterdam. [email protected]
    This seminar explored data gathered from two nursery settings during the first phase of doctoral research. It focused on analysis of several episodes of imaginative play, exploring the relationship between young children’s ‘first order’ symbols in play, models and drawing and its potential for children’s learning – with a particular focus on children’s mathematical graphics. The discussion considered the implications for pedagogy from the research findings.

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