As more and more practitioners achieve Early Years Professional (EYP) Status it will be essential for newly registered EYPs to continue to expand professional expertise. The EYP network can be an excellent way to achieve this.
In Cheshire there is a thriving and growing network, led by Alex Sefton and Kim Kellock, where EYPs have already reaped the benefits of meeting and discussing issues with other professionals. The monthly, full day meetings are held at children’s centres around Cheshire and are normally organised around specific training requirements, suggested by members of the group. These have included schema, learning journeys, Masters degrees and the Early Years Foundation Stage. The day is concludes with a guided tour around the children’s centre.
A number of benefits have been identified by the enthusiastic members of this network:
- Continued professional development. The EYPs identify their own areas of expertise which need developing so the training is pertinent and it is delivered by a professional in that field.
- Sharing ideas and experiences with others; particularly recently with the EYFS when there has been much discussion about how observations are recorded and the way the EYP might facilitate this. This has also become very interesting as EYPs have developed their careers, mainly within their own settings although some have changed career paths.
- Visiting such a range of children’s centres has been incredibly educational with regard to the different services offered and how these are managed in each area. The highlight, so far, has been a full day trip to the internationally renowned research centre at Pen Green in Corby, Northamptonshire.
- The meetings have been an ideal forum to exchange information about conferences, exhibitions and further qualifications.
- A feeling of belonging. EYPs have talked about how, as a result of being a part of this network, they feel less isolated and more confident to use their expertise having exchanged their ideas with other EYPs.
- Being able to give feedback to the senior management team. We arrived at one memorable meeting to find Tim Vaughan, Principal Manager for the Early Years Foundation stage, had given his morning to discuss our experiences as EYPs. This was a unique opportunity to speak frankly about our EYP training experiences and varied experiences thereafter.
Of course, each network will evolve differently in each area, according to the needs and aspirations of the EYPs. Undoubtedly your network will be able to offer you similar benefits to ours and possibly even more. Whatever your network looks like, use it!
This article also appears in Nursery World, 30th October 2008 p23
There have been a number of updates to the Standards, requirements and Government policy. The Early Years Professional Status has been replaced with a new Status – Early Years Teacher Status – which still has 8 Standards, but you now have to hold GCSE maths, English and science to do the course.
In addition, you have to pass the professional skills tests. You can find out more information from the Government website here
Please can I join?
Just had a quick look at forum site – but of course I can not access it as not a EYP (My LA does provide access for their EYP’s) .
Thanks for the info Kathy. Maybe the childminder EYP’s are using the forum you mention.
A shame that people felt not enough time for the Linkedin group, as I find some (but not all) of these groups very useful and informative. However I do understand the time issue – each day is never long enough to fit everything in.
As you are aware I have recently raised the question about the effectiveness of EYP’s (and thank you I have read some but not all of the documents that you sent me)
It certainly sounds as though you have a very effective network in Cheshire and by meeting together are sharing good practice and ideas across settings, which I think it brilliant.
My specific concerns relates to the childminder EYP’s as in my experience they have more difficulties in fulfilling the remit of an EYP.
First they often work alone so no direct colleagues within their setting – and yes of course they will be implementing within their own setting – but I would argue that any ‘outstanding’ childminder should be reflecting on practice, researching ideas and keeping up to date with current thinking (and considering if agree with current thinking!) because this is all part of what ‘makes’ an outstanding provider.
Secondly due to the hours worked it is often difficult if not impossible for childminder EYP’s to meet with other EYP’s in the way you describe and even if could do in the evening / weekend would be difficultto arrange with everyone having such busy lives. Add to this the small number of childminder EYP’s and you have a lot barriers to overcome for childminder EYP’s to engage in the type of excellent practice offered via the Cheshire network.
However these barriers can be overcome – email newsletters and blogs being just two possible suggestions both between EYP’s and to the wider childminding community.
Of course this may be happening – but as someone who tries to keep abreast of ‘all things childminding’ I have yet to read either a newsletter or a blog that has identified that that the author is an EYP and using this means to share good practice. Maybe it is a case of not stating the obvious – but certainly within my local area (where there are at least 2 childminder EYP’s) I have no knowledge of the childminder EYP’s helping to inform or lead practice within the childminding community or indeed of other sector EYP’s offering support / guidance / information sharing to the wider community of childcare settings.
I feel this is a missed opportunity – both for childminder EYP’s who could be feeling even more isolated that their EYPs in settings, and for all the practitioners who do not have an EYP in their setting / are not an EYP. And most importantly for all the children who should be (and could be) benefiting from practice in childcare settings that has had the benefit of EYP input.
Finally on the subject – I think it is a great shame that there are some people who for whatever reason are not EYP’s – but who actually do their best to share information, good practice ideas and keep up to date with current thinking – without anyone giving them public acknowledgement or a route to some sort credit based on what they do rather than what they have studied and have a paper qualification in.
Please note that I am not ‘knocking’ EYP’s status or paper qualifications in general – however I do think that unless training (of any level) is actually put into practice – the ‘certificate’ is just a piece of paper!
I am also not knocking those practitioners who have spent hours studying and often spent large amounts of their own money(even if the course is free, the travel costs, time away from workplace etc are high) to gain EYP status – because as stated above I recognise that there many barriers for childminder EYP’s (and indeed will be for some other types of settings EYP’s)
What I hope to do is
a) Encourage those who have effective methods such as the Cheshire one – to share the methods used
b) open debate about barriers – so that together we might be able to remove those barriers
Some great comments there from the childminder’s perspective.
I’m also finding that as nurseries have less staff capacity that it is increasingly becoming more difficult for staff to have days away from the setting.
I would totally agree that the value of any training is only realised once it has been put into practice, or else it is just a paperwork exercise.
There is a fantastic forum site at http://www.eyps.info that has all things EYP – from articles to forum to contacts. I’ve also raised the idea of a ‘national network’ on the Early Years Professional Network LinkedIn group but a lot of the respondents felt that there was either not enough time or that their local LA or University had this covered – maybe I was asking the wrong group!!
Could be an opportunity to set up an ‘EYP Childminders Forum’?
It seems like you have a great network in Cheshire! Unfortunately, I have not been able to join any meetings for my area (Kent)
as they are quite a long distance from my nursery, and it would involve a day out of work, which is often quite difficult to arrange. Having achieved EYP, I’m starting to feel a little isolated and undervalued, especially with the uncertainty of the future of the qualification being discussed in the press. How do others feel across the country?
Many thanks for your comment. I’m hearing more and more that people are struggling to get time away from settings for EYP meetings. Maybe they are being viewed as a luxury?
I would totally agree about feeling isolated. Have you looked at http://www.eyps.info ? Kent are a subscribing LA, so you should be able to sign up for free. Its a great forum and information website, which caters for EYPs. A great place to let off steam, discuss issues and exchange ideas with other professionals.