Early Years Conference 2019

Let's Talk... Narrowing the word gap in the early years

Let's Talk...

Narrowing the word gap in the early years

Date and venue

Thursday 7 March 2019 OR Friday 8 March 2019

Marriott Hotel, Kingfisher Way, Huntingdon PE29 6FL

Why is this so important?

Our 2019 conference will focus on enriching children’s communication language and literacy to enhance approaches for teachers and practitioners to underpin their future success across the Early Learning Goals.

The development of communication, language and literacy in the Early Years Foundation Stage underpins the future success for all children in Cambridgeshire.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough together represent a large and diverse area, and within our region, many children’s communication, language and literacy levels are significantly lower than the expected level for their age when they reach the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). 

A key priority for us all is to ‘Accelerate the progress of disadvantaged children and young people in the acquisition and development of communication, language and reading….. For those children who are behind during the early years, many remain behind during their primary and secondary education’ (DfE Social Mobility Report, 2017-2020).

Keynote speakers

Di Chilvers is an advisory consultant in early childhood education having worked in the early year’s sector for over 40 years as a Nursery Nurse, Teacher, Senior Lecturer, Adviser and National Strategies Regional Adviser. For more information about Di please see her website at www. watchmegrow.uk

Di Chilvers' keynote: Serve and Return Conversations - Making the link between talking and thinking: Di's keynote will unpick the crucial process of serve and return conversations with babies, toddlers and young children and how they underpin the development of communication, language and understanding. Di uses Learning Stories and examples from practice to show how this all leads to Sustained Shared Thinking.  

Professor Kathy Sylva, University of Oxford, Professor of Educational Psychology. Professor Sylva’s research interests include early childhood curriculum and  assessment; the 'effectiveness' of education in the pre-school and primary phases; the contribution of parents to children’s learning; the primary curriculum; supporting parents in child management and learning; Reading Recovery and other literacy interventions


Professor Kathy Sylva, Department of Education, University of Oxford

Keynote Abstract

There is a rich tradition in Europe of child-centred Early Childhood Education (ECE) which is based firmly on play. This tradition has been challenged by recent research studies showing large discrepancies in school-entry profiles of children from different social and cultural backgrounds. Despite widening participation of poor and marginalised children in ECE, there remains a disturbing gap in pre-literacy and pre-numeracy skills at entry to primary school. Why has a decade of funded ECE failed to narrow the social gap?   What is the role of quality in supporting child development, especially in literacy for children from disadvantaged backgrounds? Using data from the UK Effective Preschool, Primary and Secondary Education Study (EPPSE), this presentation will demonstrate the contribution of process quality to the development of ‘pre-academic’ skills such as phonological and letter recognition skills, alongside ‘executive function’ skills such as self-regulation. First, the EPPE/EPPSE study found that children who attended higher quality settings had better academic and self-regulation outcomes at ages 7, 11, and 16. Second, children  whose mothers had low levels of education benefitted more from preschool attendance than children of well-educated mothers, making a powerful case for the importance of high quality ECE in arrowing the social gap at entry to school. In this second decade of the century, we have learned how hard it is to narrow the gap between children from different social and cultural backgrounds. We need to find more effective ways to support emergent literacy — all the more reason to concentrate on a broad range of ‘foundational’ knowledge and skills that include rich vocabulary, narrative skills and self-regulation – alongside phonological skills.

‘Teaching young children is not rocket science, no, it’s much harder’. (Naomi Eisenstadt)

By Fitzwilliam Museum

Introductions to how we have used the Creative Families Award to work towards some of the aims of the Talking Together project, and then to think more generally about how broadening horizons (ie taking children out of settings and into the community) can narrow gaps and tackle inequality. I'd include some descriptive presentation (lots of images mainly) to let people know about how you might go about bringing young children to a museum and what the possibilities might be, and then a practical element as well during the session such as a 'art all around' walk or making activity with loose parts.

By Di Chilvers

Di's workshop will share examples of how adults can become more aware of children's talking and thinking in action through their child-led play. Sharing examples from the Talk for Maths Mastery professional development initiative which narrowed the mathematical gap for young children in Sheffield.

By Anne Hopkin

This Seminar will explore how the preschool and reception practitioners at Millfield Academy in Littleport enrich and extend children’s interests, experiences and vocabulary through the power of books

By Cambridgeshire Environmental Education Service

‘Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the mountains and the stars above. Let them look at the beauty of the waters and the trees and flowers on earth. They will then begin to think, and to think is the beginning of real education.’  (David Polis)

This workshop will explore a range of practical activities aimed to encourage and develop children’s language and communication skills using the outdoor learning environment.

By SALT (Speech and Language Therapy)

Wonderful Words: a structured vocabulary teaching approach for early years settings based on Word Aware 2 - Early Years.

Many children will start school with a limited number of spoken words. It is increasingly recognised that closing this word gap matters and the early years curriculum provides a wonderful opportunity to learn vocabulary. This session will provide a brief introduction to vocabulary teaching based on the Word Aware 2 approach. Participants will learn practical skills and explore fun activities for use straight away in their settings. They will also hear more about the outstanding Word Aware 2 (Early Years) course and how this tried and tested approach can be used effectively within early years.

By Carol Grooms

An insight into two Fenland community-based literacy projects funded by Talking Together in Cambridgeshire. Presentation includes the different areas of the project including ways to get the community talking and family involvement using ‘Peeping Pebbles’ and ‘Walk and Talk’ maps. Also, an innovative way to engage young story tellers via ‘Helicopter Stories’ (training by Make Believe Arts was undertaken) and to share successes following the Early Talk Boost intervention training. ETB supports children’s language skills around attention and listening, learning and using new words and building sentences. ‘Bottle Books’ demonstrates an inventive way to engage young children’s initial interest in books; inspiring them to talk about them and gain listening and attention skills. There will be a Power Point presentation supported by a display of project resources.

By Paula Durrant

‘Learning to read and write are key milestones for young children living in a literate society. It is widely recognised that a strong foundation in early literacy is critical for academic success as it allows children to access the curriculum to their full potential. Literate adults benefit from a higher quality of life, financial security, positive self-image and an ability to access knowledge and function in the workplace (Bialystok, 2001)’

This workshop will explore the importance of;

  • Early literacy development
  • The value of parents and carers as first educators in scaffolding effective foundations
  • Collaborative working between, Childminders, Early Years Practitioners, and Foundation Stage Leads and School
  • Recognising barriers and seeking solutions


Private, voluntary/community sector and childminders

  • Members £75
  • Non-member £110

Children's Centres £110

Maintained schools

  • Member £155
  • Non-member £175

Academy and independent schools

  • Member £165
  • Non-member £190

Refreshments and lunch will be provided.

Members who have purchased the Training and Support bundle can book two conference places of their choice (subject to availability).


Early Years Training Centre

Email: eyctraining@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Tel: 01223 706349