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Ensuring high quality is at the heart of the expansion in Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) was the focus of Early Years Scotland’s annual national conference 2018 held in Glasgow on Saturday 15 September.

A sold-out audience of over 360 delegates from across the early years sector heard keynote speaker Professor Iram Siraj from the University of Oxford deliver a detailed, thought-provoking and inspirational overview of what high quality ELC looks like.

Maree Todd MSP, Minister for Childcare and Early Years, opened the conference by giving an update on the expansion process, and delegates heard also from Catherine Agnew, Chief Inspector for Children’s Services at the Care Inspectorate, and Janie McManus, Interim Strategic Director of Inspection at Education Scotland, on the new Shared Inspection Framework.

Before the grown-ups got down to business, hearts were well and truly warmed by the children from Camstradden Primary School and Chesters Nursery in Glasgow, who gave a live performance of ‘Believe in Me’, the song they wrote in collaboration with the award-winning Scottish musicians, Chris Stout and Catriona McKay.

Delegates at the conference were the first to hear the outcome of a survey giving an insight into what parents of young children in Scotland feel about a variety of contentious issues, in an interactive session hosted by EYS Chief Executive, Jean Carwood-Edwards. . In the lead-up to the conference, EYS asked 150 parents who use its services 10 questions covering controversial and topical concerns such as the school starting age, smacking, breastfeeding and attitudes towards smart technology in nurseries, men in childcare, and gender identification.

Utilising a voting app via their smartphones, delegates were themselves asked to answer the questions, and asked how they think parents might have answered them. The ‘digi-voting’ mechanism allowed an immediate comparison between the professionals’ own views, their assumptions about parents’ views, and the actual views of parents, to be displayed on the conference screens as the voting came in.

We asked the speakers what were the key messages they wanted delegates to take away from the conference. Here's what they told us:
Professor Iram Siraj
Catherine Agnew
Janie McManus
Jean Carwood-Edwards

Speakers' presentations

Professor Iram Siraj: 'Why is Quality ECEC Important? Evidence from Research'.