Hey! we need a new conversation about all things early childhood


James Hempsall explains why he has launched a new initiative to invite collaboration across the sector around early childhood education priorities, starting with an online conference in October.

There is much to discuss and question in the early years. We have a lot of ambition and a fundamental role to play in the lives of children and families. We are in 2022, a year in which we accept all the profound impacts of the pandemic. We also look forward to finding out how Ofsted’s five-year plan and pledges will further develop the evidence base, particularly for curricula, pedagogy and outcomes. And it’s a time when we can all look back on a full year of EYFS reform implementation.

The pandemic and associated restrictions have posed serious questions about how best to support the cohorts of children now entering child care for the first time.

Our youngest children have lived the majority of their lives, and most of their formative years, in the shadow of Covid-19. What we do next is critically important to the developmental well-being of all children now, throughout childhood, and for the rest of their lives.

The revised EYFS framework, with an avowed emphasis on professional judgment and program spotlighting, is now about to enter its second year, and its development, creation and repositioning has led to a important debate within the sector before its introduction. A debate prolonged by a whole range of other tensions and concerns around our role, position, status and recognition; economy, financing offers, supply and demand; and the challenges of recruiting and retaining the workforce.

Speech, debate and discussion easily fall into the trap of catastrophism. The narrative, research, polls and lobbying journals paint a familiar picture.
And one that many other sectors of various public and private industries undoubtedly share. What we need is to reframe to a positive and visionary narrative. One that can be understood, valued and recognized by everyone around us.

We now have the opportunity to re-energize, realign and reframe what we do. As we catch our breath and reflect on the challenges of all current situations, we have a chance to see them as powerful possibilities and create new conversations about our true priorities and how they are communicated, understood and represented.

The conversation should consider the importance and prominence of children’s emotional and psychological well-being and how this can be effectively supported and nurtured in child care settings. The role of ‘learning behaviours’, currently articulated as characteristics of effective learning and teaching with the EYFS Statutory Framework, must be prioritized, fully recognized and understood by all educators and the learning community. broader child services. Finally, we must begin to explore the development of a new language that describes the unquestioned importance and ‘seriousness’ of what we do, why and how it is done.

At Hempsall’s Early Years (hey! for short), we are committed to making this our mission. To provide a modern, informed and positive approach to early childhood education, building on its rich history and traditions and recognizing that our understanding of this is continually evolving for better results.

We want to create an exciting and dynamic new offering and we would love for you to join us and get involved. Learn more here at Hey! and/or book on our FREE conference on October 6, 2022 where we’ll kick off that conversation, pick up existing conversation threads, and start building a new narrative. One who recognizes our challenges and embraces the possibilities. Although what we face is neither new nor unfamiliar, we have the opportunity to step back, reflect and chart a new course of positive and effective action.


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