Nursery World Awards 15: Individuals - LIfetime Achievement

Lesley Curtis
Sunday, September 27, 2015

Winner - Marion Dowling, independent educational consultant and early years specialist. By Lesley Curtis, headteacher of Everton Nursery School and Family Centre

Marion Dowling is a leading figure in early years education and development, and has set the standard across local, regional, national and international platforms.
When Marion was head teacher of Highfield Nursery School in Ipswich, children made an exceptional start to their life because the standard of teaching in the setting was outstanding.

Under her guidance, strong links and partnerships were made with many local families and the wider community, and her school became a hub of community activity. This is something I certainly learnt from Marion.

In the years to follow, Marion worked as an educational adviser before becoming an Ofsted inspector, taking on the role of registered lead inspector for 42 primary and nursery inspections from 2000 to 2007. Her work took her overseas where she carried out inspections and self-reviews in Hong Kong, Singapore, Brunei and the Channel Islands.
Marion has been able to share her outstanding work through her books, from the renowned Young Children’s Personal, Social and Emotional Development, which has been
reprinted and updated four times (2014, 2009, 2005 and 2000), to her most recent title Young Children’s Thinking (2012).

For those of you who are old enough to remember Marion’s book Education 3-5 (published in 1988 and 1992), this gave an insight into the education of three-to five-year-olds and is still relevant today, as is her 1976 book The Modern Nursery and Starting School at Four, which was published in 1995.

Marion has also written many articles for various publications including Nursery World, and has taken on an editorial role as a member of Early Years Educator (EYE) magazine’s advisory board.

I have always found Marion’s writing an excellent resource, providing rich links between theoretical insights and practical application.

Her underpinning commitment to practitioners’ continuous professional development, running exceptional courses, being part of conferences and producing training materials, has enabled her to promote high-quality at all times for young children.

Through the many positions she has held, as well as her work with the Department for Education advising the minister of education, her current role as an independent educational consultant/early years specialist, vice-president of Early Education and critical friend and evaluator to three Early Excellence Centres and children’s centres including Everton Nursery School and Family Centre in Liverpool, Marion has been able to share her passion and belief that professional development and growth should be from the bottom up rather than top down, creating a non-hierarchical environment where a shared ownership approach is nurtured.

She promotes her belief that everyone involved has a true sense of ownership, responsibility and a shared passion for the sustained success of their school or early years setting.

It is an honour knowing Marion and being able to learn from her. Her recognition of early years leaders, their teams and quality learning environments, both indoors and out, have been my mantra.

I am indebted to her knowledge that she has kindly shared with me over the years, and am delighted to present Marion with the very well deserved Lifetime Achievement award.

Marion Dowling is an independent educational consultant and early years specialist.
Marion has spent all of her career working in the early years sector.
She started out as a teacher of a pre-school, before becoming head teacher of a maintained nursery school.
Marion went on to work as an educational adviser for Suffolk County Council, and a senior early years adviser for Dorset County Council.
In 1989, she became an Ofsted inspector. Following this, she worked with the National Audit Commission on its early years project and co-authored the training pack for the Foundation Stage.
In 1995, Marion started her own early years consultancy, providing guidance and training to settings in the UK and abroad.
She is also vice-president of Early Education.

Recent books
Young Children’s Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Paul Chapman (4th ed 2014)
Young Children’s Thinking, Sage (2012)
Starting School at Four, Paul Chapman (1995)
Education 3-5, Paul Chapman (2nd ed 1992)
The Modern Nursery, Longman Group (1976)

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