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Take one small rug, introduce the idea of a magic carpet and watch the children take off on a journey of discovery, says Diana Lawton Like many early years practitioners, I'm always on the lookout for resources to enhance our basic provision. So when I spotted a rug at a car boot sale one day, I thought it would be a good item to add our basket of outdoor play materials.

With nut allergies increasing among children, early years practitioners need to take precautions. Suzannah Olivier offers advice in the latest of our series on special diets It is estimated that one in 100 children have nut allergies, which creates catering and logistical problems for all nurseries.

Childcare groups in Scotland have called for greater professional recognition of the workforce in their New Year wish list. The Scottish Executive has set out a busy agenda for the early years sector in 2004, including the Integrated Early Years Strategy, assessment and testing for three- to 14-year-olds and a consultation on child health.

Young children struggling to relate to a world that depends on language are given a lifeline by a unique programme. Karen Faux reports Before three-year-old Aimee Stoppard gained a place at an I CAN early years centre, her notes were full of incidents of disruptive behaviour. Since then, Aimee has blossomed into a different child and is now described by her teacher as warm and outgoing, with a lovely personality.

Teachers in the largest teaching union have shown their displeasure about SATs for children at seven and 11, while rejecting a proposed boycott of this spring's tests in England. The National Union of Teachers balloted its 103,729 members in infant, junior, primary and special schools on industrial action against Key Stage 1 and 2 SATs, but failed to win enough support.

Singer Kylie Minogue has been named as the NSPCC's first ambassador to promote the charity's campaigns and child protection helpline. Her work for the NSPCC will include supporting the charity's Full Stop campaign to end child cruelty and providing auction items for fundraising events. Mary Marsh, NSPCC chief executive, said, 'With Kylie as an advocate we hope to reach even more children and young people who need our help and offer them someone to turn to.'

By Joan Norris, director of High/Scope UK Over the past months I have read of a number of initiatives concerned with listening to and consulting with children. Although this important aspect of the work of early years practitioners has been given the...

Massage, singing and shopping are all part of the job of Claire Bowles, who works for Sure Start Parr in St Helens, Merseyside Monday

Dr David Weikart, founder and president-emeritus of the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, died on 9 December at the age of 72 after a long struggle with leukaemia. From the early 1960s until he retired in 2000, he worked to better the lives...

Hopes have been raised for progress towards a settlement in the long-running dispute between Scotland's public sector nursery nurses and their council employers. The Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) has invited representatives of the unions Unison, the CMT and the T&G, to a meeting to seek ways forward in the dispute after a year of industrial action by nursery nurses and a refusal to implement the Scottish Executive's early years strategies.

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