Achieving EYPS is not the end of training and growth. It is the beginning of an ongoing process of continuing professional development (CPD) as practitioners sharpen their skills and deepen their knowledge, while keeping abreast of best practice and the latest developments in the sector.
The 39 EYPS standards are at the heart of all activity, according to Dorothy Walker, workforce development manager for Surrey.
‘When organising CPD and network days, the EYP standards are looked at and cross-referenced with the learning objectives of each session,' she says. ‘This way we ensure our EYPs have the opportunity to keep up to date with the standards - especially important for EYPs who work in settings with children over the age of two.'
Ms Walker emphasises the importance of dialogue in the sessions. One specific area of focus, for instance, is Early Years Foundation Stage planning. She says that while practitioners believe they have the knowledge and experience they need to implement good planning, they also want the opportunity to discuss and develop ideas with each other.
‘The advisor responsible for developing the EYFS planning workshops across all of Surrey attends these CPD sessions and has gained useful and honest feedback from our EYPs,' she says. ‘Their comments have been noted and led to changes in the training programme for other Surrey practitioners.'
Staff motivation is another subject high on the agenda as Early Years Professionals strive to develop excellent practice and lead others.
‘While EYPs are charged with being agents for change they can sometimes face an uphill struggle to implement new ideas and change practice within the setting,' says Ms Walker.
‘At a recent session we had an inspirational speaker from Chelsesa Open Air Nursery who gave our EYPs tips on how they could go back into their own settings to lead practice and motivate staff.'
To ensure the CPD days have a real impact, at the end of each session attendees reflect on what they have heard and identify three actions from the day that they plan to take forward during the following day, the following week and the following term. These actions are then shared and discussed at the next network meeting.
Surrey is organising a joint conference with West and East Sussex, Portsmouth, Brighton & Hove and Hampshire local authorities, held in Crawley on 12 June. Speakers will include Professor Iram Siraj Blatchford from the University of London, and workshops will span communication, creativity and attachment. Reflective sessions and discussion groups will be led by university lecturers from Brighton, Portsmouth, Kingston, Chichester and Winchester.