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Annual National Conference 2018

Conference theme:  Partnership and interaction in language development

Hosted by the Birmingham branch

The importance of early language development is widely accepted, as shown for example by the status of Communication and Language as one of the prime areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage in England and by initiatives within the government's Social Mobility Action Plan to "close the word gap" in the early years. 

Our 2018 Annual National Conference (twitter #EEANC18) explored the development of early language, the role of the adults around the child in fostering language development and how practitioners can strengthen their practice through reflection and action research, as well as drawing on an established body of research to underpin their practice. 

We were also delighted to include a seminar on the Friday disseminating the findings of an EU-wide project on child-centredness in quality early education settings.  The conference offered an opportunity to hear from nationally and internationally acclaimed speakers, invaluable networking with colleagues and viewing examples of high quality early years provision in Birmingham.  

Speaker biographies

Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek is the Stanley and Debra Lefkowitz Faculty Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Temple University and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Her research examines the development of early language and literacy as well as the role of play in learning. With her long-term collaborator, Roberta Golinkoff, she is author of 14 books and hundreds of publications, she is the recipient of the American Psychological Association’s Bronfenbrenner Award, the American Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Service to Psychological Science, the Association for Psychological Science James McKeen Cattell Award, the Society for Research in Child Development, Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Child Development Award and the APA Distinguished Lecturer Award. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society, is the President of the International Society for Infant Studies and served as the Associate Editor of Child Development . She is on the Steering Committee of the Latin American School for Education, Cognitive Neural Science as well as on the advisory board for Vroom, The Boston Children’s Museum, The Free to Be Initiative and Jumpstart. Her book, Einstein never used Flashcards: How children really learn and why they need to play more and memorize less, (Rodale Books) won the prestigious Books for Better Life Award as the best psychology book in 2003.  Her recent book, Becoming Brilliant: What the science tells us about raising successful children, released in 2016 was on the NYTimes Best Seller List in Education and Parenting.  

Helen Moylett is an independent early years trainer, consultant and writer. She has been head teacher of an early years centre as well as working in schools and as a primary and early years lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University.  While working for the National Strategies she was centrally involved in developing the Early Years Foundation Stage and was the national lead for the Every Child a Talker programme. She co-authored ‘Development Matters’ with Nancy Stewart and has written and edited several early years books – most recently Characteristics of Effective Early Learning: helping young children become learners for life ((OU Press 2014). Helen is currently a Vice-President of Early Education and a tutor on the PGCE and MA courses at the Centre for Research in Early Childhood in Birmingham.

Nancy Stewart is a consultant and writer with wide experience across early years sectors in schools, nurseries, local authority advisory service and the National Strategies, where she was Senior Early Years Adviser with a central role in ECAT. She also served as lecturer and assessor for Early Years Professional Status with Edge Hill and Manchester Metropolitan Universities. Nancy provided expert advice to the review of the Early Years Foundation Stage, drawing on her interest in children’s development as self-regulating learners. Her writing includes How Children Learn: The Characteristics of Effective Early Learning (Early Education 2012) and she co-authored Development Matters in the EYFS with Helen Moylett. Nancy currently serves as Vice Chair of TACTYC, the Association for Professional Development in the Early Years.

Di Chilvers is an advisory consultant in early childhood education having worked in the early year’s sector for over 39 years as a Nursery Nurse, Teacher, Senior Lecturer, Adviser and National Strategies Regional Adviser.  Di works collaboratively with partners, settings, schools and LAs across the country to support the development of good practice in the early years.  Her work includes children’s creative and critical thinking and following children’s interests, ideas and fascinations through observing children, understanding their development and HOW they learn, listening to their conversational talk and trying to understand their thinking.  Visits to Reggio Emilia, Denmark, New Zealand, Oman, Ghana and India have all influenced Di’s thinking and philosophy.  She has written several books, many articles and has created an assessment tool called the Development Map – an holistic, child centred way of mapping children’s development and progress.

Professor Christine Pascal OBE is Director of Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC), an independent charitable research centre, based at the St Thomas Children's Centre in Birmingham and, along with Professor Tony Bertram, is also Director of Amber Publications & Training. She was a teacher in primary schools in Birmingham from 1976 to 1985, before moving into the university sector and specialising in early childhood research and evaluation projects. She has been Director of the Effective Early Learning (EEL) Project, the Accounting Early for Life Long Learning (AcE) Project, and was the National Evaluator of the DfES Early Excellence Centre Programme. Currently she is President of the European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA). She was President of the British Association for Early Childhood Education from 1994-1997, and is now Vice President. She has also done extensive work at government level to support the development of early years policy, sitting on a number of national committees, has served as a ministerial advisor, and since 2000 has been an Early Years Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons Select Committee on Education. She has written extensively on early childhood development and the quality of early education services and served as an Expert Advisor to Dame Tickell’s review of the EYFS in England. She developed a cross-national Early Years policy comparison tool as part of a project conducted with the IEA (Netherlands) and was awarded a Nursery World Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.


Friday 11 May 2018

12.30-3.30pm Visits to settings - a chance to visit outstanding early years nursery and reception provision in Birmingham (more details will be sent to delegates after registration)
5.00- 6.00pm Seminar: Child-centred diversity in quality early childhood education and care - sharing outcomes from an EU-funded project, Dr Verity Campbell-Barr, Plymouth University; Dr Jan Georgeson, Plymouth University and Professor Paolo Sorzio, University of Trieste
6.00-8.00pm Followed by the Opening Dinner at the Library of Birmingham 

Saturday 12 May 2018

University of Central Birmingham, McIntyre House

9.00am Registration opens
9.30am Welcome Beatrice Merrick, Chief Executive, Early Education


How high quality language environments create high quality learning environments Professor Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Temple University


Learning, Playing and Interacting: the adult role in supporting children’s thinking Helen Moylett and Nancy Stewart
11.30am Refreshment break


Engaging in our own Sustained Shared Thinking: Practitioner/Teacher research in practice Di Chilvers
12.45pm Lunch break
2.00pm Action research methodology Professor Chris Pascal
2.45pm Being a practitioner-researcher: questions and next steps - Discussion panel of researchers
3.45pm Closing remarks
4.00pm Close of conference