An exceptional lineup of speakers from across the early years is being assembled by Nursery World to deliver a vibrant, educational and inspiring mix of CPD certified seminars and masterclasses at Nursery World NORTH 2019. 

Michele Barrett , executive headteacher , Randolph Beresford Early Years Centre and Vanessa Nursery School, London

For the last seven years, Michele has been headteacher of Vanessa Nursery School and Cathnor Park Children’s Centre in Shepherd’s Bush, West London and within the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. Then in September 2015, she took on the exciting challenge of becoming executive headteacher across both Vanessa Nursery School and Randolph Beresford Early Years Centre. Michele has a deep respect for the learning that happens in the early years and for those professionals that work tirelessly to make a real difference in children’s lives.

Nicola Burke , early childhood music consultant

Nicola Burke has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Music Studies from the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC). She has worked extensively as a music specialist in various early childhood settings and on a range of action research projects. Currently, Nicola is leading Tri-Music Together, a large workforce development project taking place across West London and involving a range of arts and music organisations and early years services. The project has been identified as a beacon for how music education hubs can offer early childhood music across England. In September 2018, she launched Musical Development Matters, a document written to complement the EYFS guidance Development Matters. Available from Early Education, the free-to-download document aims to develop practitioners’ understanding of early childhood music and how to support it, so helping to keep music a valued part of a broad and balanced early years curriculum and addressing the current disconnect between early years provision and music education. Nicola part-funded and wrote the document herself with support from the Tri-borough Music Hub, the Tri-Music Together project and a range of settings from across the country. Nicola has worked with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, The Royal College of Music and is currently working with the Royal Opera House. She was a co-author on The Guide to Music for 0-3 Years, created the award-winning Tune into Listening free online resource and has been published in early childhood sector magazines. She is also an associate of the British Association for Early Childhood Education (BAECE) and a member of MERYC (Music Educators and Researchers of Young Children).

Dr Kath Dickinson , Owner of SEND to Learn Nursery , Morpeth, Northumberland

Kath runs her own inclusive nursery which is situated in Morpeth, Northumberland and specialises in care and education for children with SEND. She has taught in both mainstream and special educational schools and across all age groups for over 30 years, but she specialises in early years education and childcare and working with children with SEND. Kath has a doctorate in SEND (Autism) and a MA in Early Years Education and Childcare. She fully believes that every child deserves the best start in life and the earlier support can be put in place, the better the outcomes for the child their family.

Barbara Isaacs , Montessori global ambassador

Having trained Montessori teachers at Montessori St Nicholas (MSN), London Montessori Centre and Montessori Centre International (MCI), Barbara has contributed to all course developments at MCI since its inception in 1998. She was one of the founding members of the MSN’s Montessori Accreditation and Evaluation Board (MEAB) and since 2010 has been actively engaged in the Montessori School Association. Between 1991 and 2007 she was the proprietor of Seedlings Montessori Nursery in Oxfordshire. She also initiated the thriving Montessori St Nicholas (MSN) partnership with the Museum of Childhood. In her current role as Montessori global ambassador, she continues to champion the Montessori approach, particularly with disadvantaged communities and with politicians to demonstrate the relevance of Montessori education in the 21st Century. Barbara’s goal is to establish Montessori Peace Hub – a global resource for all Montessori trainers, teachers and pupils to validate Montessori’s vision of the child as an agent of change.

Cath Larkin , early years trainer

Cath has had a long career in early years as a teacher and nursery school head teacher. Her nursery school was graded Outstanding by Ofsted at three inspections and her leadership was described as ‘inspirational’. She also spent two years as a children’s centre leader in Manchester. Since 2016, Cath has been an associate trainer for Quality 4 Early Years, supporting leaders and practitioners to enhance their practices through continuous professional development.

Ellie Larkin MA , head teacher , Greenfields Nursery School and Children’s Centre, London Borough of Ealing

Ellie began her career as a nursery nurse and qualified as a teacher in 1999. She has continued to work in early years ever since and went on to achieve a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education in 2014 with the University of Sheffield. Ellie is passionate about all children being able to enjoy the rich childhood that they deserve, where they can foster a love for learning and embark on a journey of endless possibilities. Creativity is at the heart of the collaborative learning community at Greenfields where young children are challenged with a range of large-scale materials and stimulating experiences that cause them to think 'outside of the box’.

Julie Mountain , Director, specialist early years landscape designer and educator , Play Learning Life CIC

Julie Mountain is a former operations director at Learning through Landscapes, while her community-interest company, Play Learning Life, currently works alongside schools, settings and families to make the most of the special nature of outdoor learning and play. Julie has travelled widely for her work, written three books, created numerous online resources, produced a DVD training programme for Nursery World and writes regularly for the magazine.

Anne O'Connor , Early years consultant and author, specialising in the Prime areas of physical and emotional development.

Anne is an early years consultant and author, specialising in the Prime areas of physical and emotional development.contributing regularly to Nursery World on a range of topics. She is a longstanding associate trainer with Early Education and co-founder of Primed for Life Training Associates (www.primedforlife.co.uk), offering consultation and training on several aspects of early years pedagogy. These include attachment and well-being, transitions, equalities and diversity, as well as physical development. As an experienced adoptive parent, Anne also provides support for schools and settings working with adoptive families and children in care. Her recent publications include Understanding Physical Development in the Early Years: Linking bodies and minds published by Routledge and co-written with Anna Daly.

Hayley Peacock , managing director and owner , Little Barn Owls Nursery group in West Sussex

Hayley Peacock is the managing director and owner of Little Barn Owls Nursery group in West Sussex. Her three nurseries are Forest and Farm Schools, with the largest based on a farm and home to 20 animals including pigs, chickens and ducks that children look after every day, while another is a full-time Forest School. Her Horsham setting was Nursery World Nursery of the Year in 2015/16. Drawing inspiration from Reggio Emilia’s approach, as well as from other sources such as Scandinavian Forest School and outdoor learning initiatives, Hayley and her colleagues have developed a unique enquiry-based approach to learning, with an emergent curriculum that is highly creative, based on nature, and designed to develop the thinking and enquiring minds of children. Hayley is honoured to be part of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Pedagogy (0-11 years) as an advisory board member representing early years education at the Institute of Education. She is passionate about promoting progressive and innovative ideas for change in education for all children and also provides training and professional development opportunities to other nursery staff groups, students and professionals in the early years sector across the globe, including China and Canada. Little Barn Owls received Outstanding in 2017 for the second time, while her other settings are awaiting inspection. Their awards include NW Enabling Environments Award in 2015/16, and locally, Business Matters – Business of the Year, Business Matters – Team of the Year Award and the South East Business Award for Innovation all in 2015. As a mother of four children, Hayley has always had a very keen interest in child development, and before embarking on running a nursery she was carving out a career as a journalist with a specialism in parenting and child development. Since discovering the Reggio Emilia approach, she has aspired to build early years centres that promote independent thought, creativity, innovation, motivation and social conscience and have a project-based curriculum that is driven largely by children’s interests and unique strategies for understanding the world around them.

Rosie Potter MA , artist, lecturer and artist-in-residence , Greenfields Nursery School and Children’s Centre, London Borough of Ealing

Rosie Potter is an artist and lecturer at University of the Arts (UAL), whose work has been exhibited internationally. The themes of her practice often involve social engagement and long-term collaborations with communities and individuals in relation to site-specific locations and events. Her work in early years began over 12 years ago through the joint initiative ‘Creativity Matters’, proposed by Ealing Council and Wimbledon College, UAL, to embed practising artists in early years settings. Together with children from Greenfields Nursery School and Children’s Centre, Rosie has negotiated, co-curated and exhibited children’s experimental and highly ambitious artworks at museums including the V&A Museum of Childhood, the Horniman Museum and the De La Warr Pavillion, Bexhill-on-Sea. Other creative works by Greenfields Children have been cited in case studies at the World Conference on Arts Education in Seoul, Republic of Korea and featured in the Pre-School Learning Alliance Publication, ‘Green is My Favourite Colour’. The project, ‘Shelter from the Storm’, was shown at the Fukushima Fine Art Biennale in Japan following the devastating tsunami in 2011. Many of these projects have also appeared as illustrated feature articles in Nursery World Magazine. As winners of the 2018 Nursery of the Year Award and Early Years in School Award, the judge described Greenfields as ‘a beacon in a very needy area’ commenting on the ‘visionary’ work and the, ‘vibrant creative and innovative approach to learning’ together with the Children’s, ‘high levels of aesthetic awareness’ and strong ‘commitment to linking creative projects to real-life issues’.

Julie Revels , Early years consultant specialising in SEND and inclusive practice

Julie is a well-established independent consultant, speaker and trainer specialising in inclusion in the early years and understanding the importance of early child development on later outcomes, including supporting young children with neurodevelopmental differences. Julie delivers keynote speeches and facilitates workshops across the country and also works for a range of national organisations, such as National Association of Special Educational Needs (nasen), British Association of Early Education, Council for Disabled Children and Action for Children. Julie is involved in the delivery of a number of national projects to increase access and inclusion of children with SEND in the early years. She is also a lead associate for KCA Training, delivering training in relation to social and emotional well-being, which focuses on understanding the importance of attachment, trauma and resilience throughout a person’s lifetime.

Kym Scott , Freelance Consultant

Before becoming a freelance consultant, Kym Scott was Strategic Lead for Early Years in the London Borough of Lewisham. She worked in this borough as School Improvement Advisor for Early Years for 15 years, following a successful teaching and senior leadership career in London schools. She has a proven track record of helping leaders to raise the quality of their EYFS provision and improve outcomes for children. Lewisham has been named as one of the top places in the country for children's development due to how well children in the borough consistently achieve at the end of the EYFS. Kym is an associate consultant for Early Education and has worked with national training organisations such as Early Excellence. In the past she has been a maths trainer for the BEAM organisation (Be a Mathematician) as well as Strategic Lead for the Communication, Language and Literacy Development programme. Kym is also one of the admin team and keynote speakers behind the highly regarded Keeping Early Years Unique Facebook group, a vastly growing support network with a membership of more than 30,000, created for those wishing to develop child led, play based learning further in their schools and settings. From 2013-15, Kym was commissioned by the Department for Education as an external moderator for the EYFS Profile. As well as contributing articles for professional journals, she co-authored the widely acclaimed Lewisham publication A Place to Learn – Developing a Stimulating Learning Environment. Kym now provides consultancy, training, workshops and keynote speeches on a number of subjects related to early years practice, both in this country and overseas. She is frequently praised for her clear, realistic and highly practical advice, and for the impact she makes on the practice of those she works with.

Alice Sharp , managing director and director , Experiential Play and Wonderbox

Alice Sharp is managing director of training centre Experiential Play and director of resource company, Wonderbox, specialising in interactive products for use with children under three. As a hugely popular and effective trainer, she has undertaken training projects across the UK and abroad, and has produced a variety of training resources, most recently the DVD ‘Learning nuggets with Alice Sharp’. She trained as a primary teacher, was formerly a lecturer in early education and childcare at Glasgow College, and is an associate of the University of Glasgow and London Early Years Foundation, the UK's largest social enterprise for childcare and early education, working to support long-term social change and with 34 nurseries across London.

Kathryn Solly , specialist early childhood consulting, training and authorship

Kathryn Solly started her working life as a secondary school teacher on Voluntary Service Overseas in Papua New Guinea, where she taught for two years. Since then, she has taught across all the phases of education, including a short time in an Albanian kindergarten. After training in secondary education, she realised that to make a real difference she would have to retrain to teach in the early years and has since achieved a special needs qualification and an MA in Early Education and Care. After two nursery school posts outside London – both involving garden development projects, she became the head teacher of Chelsea Open Air Nursery School and Children’s Centre. In her almost 17 years there, Kathryn developed a highly inclusive learning community in cosmopolitan Chelsea, building upon the creative learning ethos started by COA’s founder, Dr Susan Isaacs. She was awarded the Unilever Fellowship researching aspects of early years leadership and management. She has contributed to several journals and books on a variety of aspects of early childhood pedagogy, practices and partnerships. Her first book Adventure, Risk and Challenge in the Early Years was published in 2014. She is currently writing Leading Learning Outdoors from Birth to Seven. Kathryn now concentrates on specialist early childhood consulting, training and authorship. She is a Froebel Trust travelling trainer, an associate for Early Education, vice chair of the Early Childhood Forum, and a leading member of Keeping Early Years Unique. She continues to be fascinated by young children’s learning, the pioneers, nature and the world around us and is continuing to explore it with a variety of practitioners in her daily work and research. She also enjoys ‘hands on’ experiences with her grandchildren.

Daniel Spry , OpenendED Early Years Consultancy

Daniel started his teaching career as a Reception teacher before moving on to work as a local authority early years consultant. Since developing the Blockplay Research Training Course in 2008, Daniel has continued to grow and expand Blockplay across the North West, including Cheshire West and Liverpool Local Authority. As an independent trainer, Daniel has taken Blockplay forward by developing bespoke training courses with the child at the heart of practice. He has worked across the UK from the London Boroughs to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Penny Tassoni MBE , early years consultant

Penny Tassoni is a leading author, trainer and consultant in the early years sector. She is also president of Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY). Amongst her many publications is a wide variety of early education and childcare textbooks and a best-selling series of handbooks, including Penny Tassoni’s Practical EYFS Handbook and Understanding Children's Behaviour: Learning to be with others.

Andrea Vaughan , education consultant for early years

Andrea is a highly experienced, education consultant with significant expertise in developing services and support for babies, children under five and their families. She has worked in special schools, integrated nursery centres and maintained nursery schools. For 15 years, she was a senior leader at a nursery school judged Outstanding at five consecutive inspections. During this time, she held a number of roles including SENCO (for which she won an award for her outstanding work), co-ordinator of an Outstanding children’s centre, and Manager of an Outstanding under-threes nursery. To stay close to practice, Andrea regularly teaches at the nursery school and is a school governor. Andrea is never happier than when developing, researching and helping others to improve practice in the early years. She co-led the recent Sustained Shared Thinking and Emotional Well-Being (SSTEW) Talking Next Steps Project across five local authorities. She is currently leading a new project with schools and private settings about improving children’s oral language. Andrea speaks regularly about early years at international and national conferences and provides training for teachers, early years workers and leaders. Andrea has published three early years DVDs and booklets for professionals and parents, relating to practice with children under three. Insights into her work have been published on the Ofsted website as two case studies of good practice and she has also written articles about her work, including for Nursery World. Her particular areas of interest include improving support for children’s language and thinking, special needs, quality for children under the age of three and school readiness.

Eileen Mulgrew , senior HM inspector

Eileen Mulgrew is one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors. She is a qualified teacher with considerable experience as a head teacher in three primary schools and support in schools causing concern. She holds National Professional Qualification for Headship and completed postgraduate studies in language across the curriculum and advanced study in education. She has assessed schools for Basic Skills Quality Mark and assessed candidates for the National Professional Qualification for Headship. She has extensive experience of leading maintained school, initial teacher education and independent school inspections. Eileen assures the quality of inspections and reports, leads inspector training and mentors inspectors. She is the North West lead for early years and independent schools. Her particular areas of expertise include the primary phase, including early years, leadership and management, and behaviour and bullying.