Staying one step ahead

6th February 2018

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By Andi Turner

It’s that time of year again. Reviewing policies and procedures. Updating individual learning plans (ILPs), setting new goals and reflecting on all that Continuing Personal and Professional Development (CPPD) we’ve done and the impact it’s had upon our practice and provision. Updating our Ofsted Self Evaluation Forms (SEF). Have we really changed that much in 12 months? I surprise myself every single year I really do. You’d think you’d run out of courses to do, research papers & reports to read, but you don’t do you? You look back through all your previous ILPs and SEFs and think…wow! that used to be outstanding practice? Heck, now it’s just the very least parents and carers have come to expect. And those things that used to be our unique selling points 10 years ago? Well, they’re just not that unique any more. Everyone’s doing baby sign. Everyone’s doing baby yoga. Everyone’s doing baby massage. And everyone’s binning their plastic fantastic and going all out Reggio with our wellies & puddle suits for the gluggaveður & the skogsmulle, and a smörgåsbord of fake fur rugs, cable knit throws, cashmere cushions & potted plants which deep down we wish were fake because (alḥamdulillāh) we can keep 6 kids alive and well all year long but can we stop a spider plant from dying over a single weekend? Erm, nope. And all in pursuit of creating the perfect hygge (oh yeah, we’ve been going all-out Scandi alright haven’t we?)

But let’s face it: living and working all Nordic-ly (yes, it’s a word) just ain’t that unique any more. Since 2013 we’ve thrashed hygge [to death]; throttled gezellig and lagom; and now it’s time to murder something a bit closer to home. Time for Còsagach anyone? Hello tartan, tweed & fairisle: goodbye dala horses, folk art & retro flowers. But when it’s all stripped back, it’s what us Childminders have been doing all along. What other settings have been emulating for as long as I’ve been in the sector – with their tissue paper flames in their fake brick wallpaper fireplaces. Fundamentally, we all want to create that sense of being warm and secure and cosy so we can all relax and unwind and boost our wellbeing and contentment with “the complete absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming” (Russell, 2015). Think about it – we have to spend all day in the space too and I know what puts me right on edge – nursery rhymes on a loop; primary coloured jigsaw foam flooring; Disney murals. Aaaaaargh!

But as usual I’ve gone right off track. What I was supposed to be talking about before I lost my way was how I’ve seen some great opportunities for personal and professional growth. Sadly though, much of it is cost prohibitive in these financially challenging times. There’s some I’ve identified for my own learning journey and the only thing I can write in the “when do I hope to achieve this by?” box is “when I win the lottery”. Only I’ll have to start actually putting the lottery on. Yup, a trip to Italy or Iceland or Sweden, or earning my stripes with The Curiosity Approach will just have to wait…[sigh]. In the meantime, I’ll continue doing my own research, sourcing all the free CPD I can get my grubby little hands on, scribbling down my own ideas and being my own change agent.

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