Interview - Hilary Preece

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Herts-based Ms Preece is the first NEyTCO (National Early Years Trainers and Consultants) member to complete the organisation’s new level 5 award in professional consulting skills


Hilary Preece

What’s your background?

I have worked in the early years sector for 20 years. For the last four years I’ve worked as a consultant; I also worked as an early years inspector for ten years prior to this. I also have an early childhood studies degree and am an NVQ assessor.

Why did you go on the course?

As a consultant you are working on your own – there is no-one to mentor you or do your appraisal. I now work with day nurseries and pre-schools that deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage to improve quality and help them prepare for inspection, and I wanted affirmation that my approach to consultancy is correct. It was also about professional development. I already have a range of qualifications in early years but felt it important to gain professional recognition as a consultant in the sector and believed that achieving this award would endorse what I do.

What did you learn?

The course helped me reflect on the role of the consultant and understand the consultancy cycle [from developing and nurturing a relationship with a client to identifying and acting on client needs]. It gave me a selection of diagnostic tools to use with clients depending on individual situations and preferences. Sometimes a setting doesn’t know what the precise problem is and a diagnostic SWOT analysis, for example, may help identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. I also learned about business and leadership models and frameworks.

Being part of NEyTCO means I now have links with people up and down the country. To me the networking support and being able to share experiences is as important as the award itself.

Tell us about the award.

The level 5 award, offered by NEyTCO, has been developed for early years consultants and is awarded by the chartered management institute. It’s delivered by early years training consultancy Flourishing People, and Silver Pebble, a Chartered Management Institute-approved management consultancy.

The course involved three full workshop days between October and January, with the expectation that we put into practice what we had learned in between the workshops, and written assignments at the end of the programme which are independently marked by CMI. We also had one-to-one mentoring and NEyTCo support throughout the programme.

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