A News story by Radhika Sharma 19 April 2023

On Monday 17 April, E-ACT’s early years education team hosted an EYFS conference in Birmingham aimed at early years teachers and support colleagues.

The room was filled with 83 E-ACT colleagues from all our primary settings and included roles such as EYFS teachers, teaching assistants, Early Reading leads, headteachers and directors.  The event was hosted by Clio Brown, National EYFS and Early Reading Advisor at E-ACT and the keynote speaker was the one and only Gill Jones MBE – one of His Majesty’s Inspectors and Ofsted’s Deputy Director for Schools and Early Education Policy.  

All of our EYFS colleagues understand how vital the early years are for a child, the event was the perfect opportunity for all our educators to share their ideas and best practices with other colleagues. What’s more, the event fuelled a collaborative atmosphere, enabling our teaching professionals to refine their strategies and unlock the full potential of our young learners.  

Gill Jones MBE keynote  

Gill Jones MBE’s keynote speech highlighted the importance of a language-rich curriculum for fluency development. During the afternoon session, attendees engaged in moderation of reading work from their schools, fostering consistency and collaboration. Colleagues shared best practices in phonics teaching and explore strategies for enhancing students’ linguistic foundations. 

Key highlights

  • The Matthew Effect: Homes that immerse children in a vocabulary-rich environment expose them to significantly more linguistic input, which in turn influences their future opportunities.  
  • Phonics instruction: Systematic and engaging phonics teaching in fidelity with the schools chosen strategy is crucial for developing strong reading and comprehension skills in early years. 
  • Encouraging communication: Providing ample opportunities for children to express themselves verbally enhances their confidence and fluency. 
  • Diverse literature: Exposure to a wide range of age-appropriate texts helps broaden children’s understanding and appreciation of different narratives and cultures. 
  • Balancing curriculum and play: A purposeful and well-planned curriculum does not exclude play. Instead, it integrates structured learning with meaningful play experiences, recognising the importance of play in fostering creativity, social skills, and overall development in early years education.  

We’re delighted that the E-ACT EYFS conference was a resounding success, fostering collaboration and inspiring innovation in early years education. We believe that implementing key principles discussed will empower our educators to create enriching learning experiences for our youngest students, setting them up for a bright and successful future. 

Martin Fitzwilliam, National Director of Primary at E-ACT said: 

“I am incredibly proud of our colleagues’ unwavering commitment to excellence in early years education. Their enthusiasm, creativity, and collaboration during the EYFS conference demonstrated their dedication to the continuous improvement of teaching and learning practices. Their collective passion for shaping the futures of our young learners is truly inspiring, and I have no doubt that their efforts will drive lasting positive change across all our primary schools.”