Takeaway ideas tantalise childcarers

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Hundreds of early years practitioners in Luton, Bedfordshire, exchanged ideas on best practice and showcased early learning initiatives at a networking day organised by the council.

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The third annual 'Celebrating Early Years in Luton - Great Ideas Takeaway' exhibition on 9 June was attended by childminders, practitioners and teachers, who could visit 35 stalls. Each stall was manned by practitioners who demonstrated practical activity ideas and gave out idea sheets for visitors to try in their own settings.

Some practitioners bought photos and DVD footage of children so that others could see the ideas in action, while others brought materials so people could try out the ideas themselves.

The topics included how to set up a wildlife week, messy play with babies, storytelling in the outside area, investigations using guttering pipes, cooking activities, road safety and ideas to encourage early writing skills.

Sue Thomas, senior consultant for early years and childcare at Luton Borough Council, who organised the event, said, 'The idea for the Great Ideas Takeaway came from a conversation I had with a headteacher about some interesting things that practitioners were doing in another setting. The headteacher said it was a shame that they did not get the chance to go out and see what other settings were doing. So we set up the event so all those working in the early years could share good or outstanding practice.

'It is much better for practitioners to share ideas with others than for us to come along as a local authority and try to tell people what to do. Also, because of the current political focus on budget cuts, it is more important now than ever for the early years workforce to be shouting from the rooftops about all the good practice that is taking place.'

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