Delegates were impressed by her early arrival, her enthusiasm for meeting people, her willingness to take questions and her friendly approach (not all of which have always been apparent with some of her predecessors!).
It helped, of course, that she had a positive announcement to talk about – the new consultation on the literacy and numeracy requirements for the Level 3 Early Years Educator qualifications.
The review of the rule that EYEs must have at least grade C in maths and English GCSE to count in workforce ratios has been anticipated and desperately needed for such a long time that the early years sector has given a huge collective sigh of relief at change being finally underway.
However, such damage has already been done to recruitment at colleges and nurseries that it will take quite a while for it to be undone. The consultation period may be brief (three weeks) but no-one is complaining this time, and 1,500 responses had been received after three days. Ms Dinenage said that there were mixed opinions about what should happen, but it is hard to imagine an overwhelming call for the GCSE rule to be retained.
It is imperative that everyone takes the time to respond.
What might not go over so well is the forthcoming response to the early years national funding formula. Ms Dinenage said that final figures had not been decided, but it seems unlikely that much more money will miraculously appear.