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Diversity and Distinction in Early Learning and Childcare

Early Years Scotland Annual National Conference
Saturday 3 September 2022, 9.30am - 1.30pm
Radisson Blu Hotel
301 Argyle Street, Glasgow, G2 8DL


The Early Years sector is a truly diverse and distinct one and in recognition of this, the Early Years Scotland Annual Conference offers a range of high-level speakers who will provide valuable input across a wide range of topics to support the interests of all those invested in our youngest children. Early Years Scotland is cognisant that ELC is offered in a wide variety of settings across the country and is committed to highlighting the diversity of provision within local authorities, private and voluntary settings.

Diversity has many dimensions, and our speakers will present content that supports the broadness of this across the ELC sector. Practitioners, children and families benefit when there is a shared, secure and positive understanding of how we meet the needs of all babies and children. Speaker input will take participants on a journey across practice for our babies, toddlers and pre-school children.

This event will support networking opportunities and celebrate a return to large scale in-person professional learning for the sector. Attendance at the event can be used as evidence towards meeting the standards for your professional body, SSSC/GTCS. For those unable to attend in person we have a streaming only ticket option.

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Keynote Speakers

Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland

Bruce Adamson is a lawyer with over 20 years of experience in human rights. He has acted as an expert for a wide array of international bodies. As Commissioner since 2017 his team has been responsible for promoting and safeguarding the rights of children and young people across Scotland.

Working with their groups of young advisers, they have helped secure legislative change in relation to the age of criminal responsibility, the physical punishment of children, and incorporation of the UNCRC into Scots law.

Is the Team all Right? - Representation and Beyond

Khadija Mohammed, Senior Lecturer, University of the West of Scotland

Khadija is a Programme Leader and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the School of Education and Social Sciences. Her PhD centres on race equality exploring the lived experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic teachers in Scotland with a focus on celebrating their cultural, linguistic and religious identities. Khadija is the co-founder and Chair of SAMEE. This is a community-led organisation providing support to educators and those in support and guidance roles across the Scottish Education system – early years, schools, colleges and universities. Khadija received the Scottish Trade Union Congress Equality Award in 2019. Khadija is the first BME Muslim educator to be elected as the Convenor of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS). She was Chair of the Advance HE/Scottish Funding Council project ‘Tackling Racial Harassment in Universities and Colleges’ and currently chairs the Anti-Racist Curriculum Project Phase 2 with the QAA. Khadija is also the Chair of the Scottish Government Curriculum Reform group on Developing an Anti-Racist Curriculum.

In Scotland, we have far too few Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) practitioners in the Early Years profession. Professor Arshad’s report on ‘Teaching in a Diverse Scotland’ led to a national commitment to interrogate trends in practitioner demographics. There is a need to recruit more practitioners that reflect the race, cultures and languages of diverse children in early years settings as this builds capacity to teach in culturally responsive ways. However, despite the benefits that BME practitioners bring, they report feeling devalued, excluded and overlooked for progression opportunities and are leaving the profession due to the racism and discrimination they experience. If we are serious about equality and social justice there are underpinning issues about the identities of BME practitioners that require further exploration.

Reflections on Social Justice in the Early Years

Shaddai Tembo, Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies, Bath Spa University

Shaddai Tembo is a lecturer in early childhood studies (UK and China) at Bath Spa University and an associate lecturer at the Open University. He is a trustee for Early Education and the Fatherhood Institute, and an independent writer and speaker through Critical Early Years. Shaddai is also currently engaged in a research project, funded by the Froebel Trust, on developing an anti-racist framework within Froebelian pedagogy. 
In this keynote, Shaddai will discuss the role of social justice in the early years. Against notions of innocence that continue to shape perceptions of the early years, Shaddai will examine the need to keep childhood political and consider how the language of diversity might enable practitioners to think differently about their practice.

The Sticky Situation of the Baby Room Leader: Understanding the Challenge to Find a Way Forward

Dr Mona Sakr, Senior Lecturer in Education and Early Childhood, Middlesex University

Dr Mona Sakr is Senior Lecturer in Education and Early Childhood. As a researcher in Early Years (EY) provision, she has published extensively on creative, digital and playful pedagogies. Mona's current research is an exploration of pedagogical, organisational and community leadership in EY and how leadership can be more effectively developed through innovative practice-based and digitally mediated professional development. Forthcoming books (with Bloomsbury) include an introduction to Social Leadership in Early Childhood Education and Care, and an edited volume on international perspectives on EY pedagogical leadership.

Our understanding of how to lead well in the early years has typically grown through observations of practice with children aged 3 and over. Few studies have looked at what it means to be a leader in the baby room, when practice is with birth to 2 year olds. This echoes a feeling across the sector that those who work with the youngest children are often not heard. We urgently need to delve into the perspectives and experiences of baby room leaders in order to truly and more fully understand what it means to be an early years leader. Drawing on the grassroots project ‘Baby Rooms – Inspiring Leaders’ this presentation offers an insight into the particular challenges that make up the ‘sticky situation’ of the baby room leader and explores the kind of support needed from the sector to help those fulfilling this invaluable role.

To view the conference programme, click here.