NW Equipment & Resources Awards 2019: Staff Resources
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Two gold, four silver and eight bronze medals were awarded.
Early Years TV
Company: Kathy Brodie Early Years Training
Price: Free or £10 a month subscription
These weekly CPD videos can be watched online wherever convenient. They offer a wide range of topics, from schemas to woodwork, storytelling, resilience, management, physical development and more – all from top early years experts around the world.
The membership subscription, at £10 a month, includes CPD certificates, and the content is updated frequently. One practitioner, who regularly uses the service, said the videos have provided ‘a wealth of inspiration’ for her practice and she urges ‘everyone in early years’ to sign up.
She added, ‘I feel this product fills a gap in CPD in a time of budget cuts and austerity and is very innovative. With a massive range of guest speakers there is something for everyone – it doesn't champion one kind of practice, the speakers represent a wide range of views and early years ethos.’
Price: From £49 per year
ReallySchool is an app for primary school teachers and TAs to capture, record and assess EYFS/KS1 pupils' learning experiences. Staff can photograph skills acquisition via a tablet, carry out observations and directly assess against curriculum objectives. ReallySchool stores a timeline of progress and shows the areas to be worked on. A ‘very visual’ product with ‘clear class information’ and colours, which made it ‘particularly easy to use’, one tester revealed.
The heat map was also a favourite, as it made it very easy to see the data quickly and observe where the gaps were for assessments and tracking. Testers were also impressed with the features such as the badge awards, to reward good work, and the ability for other adults to comment. The facility for adding both video and audio was also commended.
Schemas: A Practical Handbook
Company: Bloomsbury Publishing
Each chapter of this insightful book by Laura England revolves around a particular schema and features case studies to discuss how that schema can be used to help children progress within the seven areas of learning, as outlined in the EYFS. An ‘interesting, accessible’ book with a ‘good design’ and ‘great source of information’ are the comments made by testers.
One practitioner said that while she has seen similar resources in the past, she considers this to be a useful resource that aids staff in identifying and then creating activities around a variety of schemas. ‘It demonstrates a good knowledge of the EYFS and gives practitioners a lot of ideas for how to encourage child development within the context,’ she added.
Self-regulation in Early Years
Company: Mine Conkbayir Consultancy
Early years author, consultant, researcher and educator Mine Conkbayir has devised this online training course to teach staff about how children develop self-regulation. The programme consists of three journeys which encourage practitioners to reflect on and question their practice. There is a strong emphasis on building understanding of the importance of the practitioner's role in nurturing self-regulation through co-regulating children's emotional responses, which consequently builds children's resilience.
One setting commented, ‘Self-regulation has become a recent buzz word but this training is totally relevant to early years staff and supports child development knowledge and therefore will stand the test of time.’ The practitioner went on to say that it not only teaches practitioners what self-regulation is, but it also leads on to reflection of one's own practice and policy, which means that it ‘could make a real impact’ on a setting's practice.
Company: Siren Films
Described by testers as an ‘excellent’ resource for staff, these video clips are of ‘greater interest to staff than reading material’, one setting observed. One manager testing the resource said, ‘The clips are short and specific, which means that you can tailor a training session around a series of clips rather than trawling through clips to find relevant bits.’ Another tester commented on the website's easy navigation and links to further reading and questions. She said, ‘It's a great tool to use with new members of staff and those new to the industry, and also as a refresher.’
The library was developed to help nursery owners, managers, practitioners and apprentices find just what's needed for early years training. It's thought of as ‘excellent value for money’ as Siren Films can update the clips in the library. Overall, settings considered this to be a ‘very valuable’ resource.
Company: Herts for Learning
Price: £8-£24 for individual resources/bundles
Supersonic Phonics is a series of lively teaching aids which aim to assist early years settings to plan activities involving phonics. The introductory pack contains six activity cards to support the phased delivery of active phonics sessions and a range of planning documents to support with the delivery of phonics activities.
The activity cards, which are available digitally to download and print, are based on elements of the ‘letters and sounds’ phased developmental approach to teaching phonics. Samples of the activities can be found on the video on the Herts for Learning website, including ideas for how to develop fun activities using low-cost resources such as ‘tricky word fly swot’ and ‘stamp on the cup’. Testers found the Top Tips helpful and liked the ‘user-friendly’ activity cards and the fact that the packs are separated into different phases for ease of use. They also commented on the ‘well-thought-out’ planning formats which are ‘easy to use and adapt’.
This online membership network provides news updates, topical articles, legislation support and career information for professionals working in early years and childcare. Settings were impressed with the quality and quantity of tools available for personal development, such as CV help, careers support and views from subject specialists.
They also found the job feeds and information on courses useful for staff looking for work or for further professional qualifications. The service is free and open to everyone who wishes to use it, so it's ‘clearly value for money’, one setting reported. The news section, which gives updates about what's going on in the sector, was a highlight for another setting that tested the resource.
Essential Foundations for Counting
Company: Herts for Learning
Primary maths and EYFS experts at Herts for Learning have created a set of booklets to support children's mathematical thinking and learning using four aspects of pre-counting: pattern, classification, comparison and group recognition or subitising.
Each booklet outlines ideas for practitioners with the aim of helping them identify these mathematical skills across the learning environment. With photographic evidence and dialogue from children and adults who successfully piloted the resources, this resource has been praised for the ‘simple-to-use’ concepts and ‘useful activities’ involving everyday items such as shells and bottle tops, which are useful for pre-counting.
Just Quality Adding Impact Accreditation
Company: Jigsaw Early Years Consultancy
Early years settings can show their unique way of providing an excellent provision to children and their parents with this accreditation. Through ongoing assessment of the six Impacts – reflection; protection; interaction; inspiration; progression; and collaboration – settings get the opportunity to demonstrate how they are making a difference to children's lives through their learning and development alongside their effective teaching and facilitating.
This year-long process involves observations and recordings, as well as termly video mentoring calls by one of the Jigsaw Early Years consultants. The resource is ‘particularly useful’ for relatively new settings that might benefit from guidance to ensure they have enough evidence for their Ofsted inspection, one setting observed. One practitioner enjoyed reading through Impacts covered in this resource and ‘mentally ticking each box’ knowing that her team are carrying out all the items covered. She said, ‘It's an excellent resource for a single-site setting who perhaps don't receive much help from the local authority.’
Price: From £6 per month for an individual user
Kinderly Learn is an online learning platform designed to support early years practitioners to do more CPD. It provides short ‘learning bites’ in a variety of formats: animations, quizzes, videos, fact sheets and interactive activities. Subscribers can participate in monthly webinars and ‘ask an expert’ for trusted advice. One of the product testers described himself as a ‘big fan’ of the content and the ‘bitesize learning chunks that can be completed quickly’. He also liked accessing it via a tablet, which means a computer is not necessarily needed.
Although it is ‘not cheap’, he believes it is worth the money for the content available, particularly when considering the cost of some training courses. Another provider who tested the resource liked the idea of the ‘soundbites’ giving small bits of information often, and was impressed with the range of videos and fact sheets.
Price: From £10 per month
Nursery management software Kinderly Together incorporates an online learning journal, invoicing and accounting package, enabling childcare professionals to securely record EYFS observations, developmental progress and daily diaries without paperwork.
Testers were impressed with the ‘simplicity of the software’ and the ‘number of extras’ that have been incorporated. One provider said, ‘Being able to do the register, generate and send invoices and send policies and procedures for parents to sign from one app not only saves paper but is incredibly convenient. This software is easy to navigate and is affordable for all nursery settings.’
Another provider liked the postcards tab. She said, ‘It's a lovely thing to be able to upload a picture of the child from home.’
Company: Connect Childcare
Price: £50 monthly
In an ideal world, every parent and practitioner would have time to have a chat about their children each day at pick-up, but this is not always possible. Through ParentZone, an online portal and app, busy parents can log in and view their child's daily activities when most convenient for them. Parents can contribute to their child's learning journey, make notes for their key person and strengthen their bond with the staff and setting.
Highlights of the resources from our testers include the ‘design’ of the website and app; the ‘ease’ of being able to upload photos and comments; and the ‘accessibility’ of information. ‘It would be incredibly useful for settings that are set up with the additional software for parents to pay for sessions through the app,’ one setting commented. It is also a good place to ‘keep in touch with hard-to-reach parents’, another observed.
Workforce Development Toolkit
Company: The Education People
Price: Recruitment Handbook £40, Recruitment Hub currently Free of Charge
This resource consists of two e-platforms: the Recruitment Hub and the Recruitment Toolkit.
The hub advertises early years vacancies and provides advice and guidance to employers and prospective employees. And the toolkit supports safe and effective recruitment and retention, with guidance on all aspects of the process and easy-to-use templates; for example, for staff interviews.
The toolkit is described by testers as ‘clear and simple to understand’ and an ‘excellent resource’ for new companies starting out.
Tree Top Toddlers
Company: Tree Top Toddlers
Price: £350 initial licence fee and £35 per month, two-year subscription
ntroducing sport to children at a young age has many benefits to their health and sporting abilities later on in life. Children should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. These books are designed to be read and enjoyed with core sporting actions at the heart of the experience. The stories capture children's imagination as well as taking them on a journey, building physical and social attributes that will be transferable to any sport as they grow older.
One team which tested the product said that it is a ‘great idea’ slightly let down by the fact that some of the equipment provided – for example, the rackets – were too big. The weekly stories were ‘easy-to-follow’ and providers found that children who were particularly interested in football were ‘really excited’ by the activities. The soft balls were ‘good’ for children to play sharing games and to roll to each other, and they really engaged with some of the characters in the story, such as Alfie the gorilla and Mikey Monkey.