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The FSF Podcast

The Foundation Stage Forum (FSF) podcast is our weekly show where the education team discuss early years and primary education. All ex-teachers, members of the team have many years of experience in early years, primary and special education, senior leadership, local authority advice and inspections. Helen, Jules, Ben, Jack and Stephen discuss issues in-house for the podcasts, or, more often, invite guests with specific expertise to join them. You can find our most recent episodes below as well as subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts.


Reflecting on identity, diversity and inclusion

Jules is joined by Dr Chandrika Devarakonda, author of Promoting Inclusion and Diversity in Early Years Settings. They discuss layers of identity, visible and invisible diversity, intersectionality, and seeing the strengths in every child.


How we can support young children through transitions and change

Anya and Jules talked with Sonia Mainstone-Cotton about everyday transitions, how educators and families can help very young children build resources to manage change, and why adults need to consider their own wellbeing and experiences and the impact they can have on children. They also discuss how much information to share with children at times of greater change, such as bereavement or changes in family life.


Building communities of practice

Jules is joined by Angelica Celinska, editor of EYE to talk about what it means to be a critical consumer of research, how we access CPD, and building communities of practice to support our learning.


Working with SLT to build a deeper understanding about Early Years

Ben and Jules chat with Varinder Kaur Johal, who has taught across Early Years to Key Stage 2. They discuss why it is important for SLT to understand Early Years teaching and learning, how early years educators can share their expertise with senior leaders, the value of having conversations, and the role of CPD.


CPD – A look back at what our guests have discussed

Ben and Jack look back at some previous podcasts and reflect on some valuable conversations around CPD.


Why do we need to expand our definition of CPD?

Stephen and Jules chat with Kerry Payne about how we consume CPD, how educators can take responsibility for their own professional development and build their own personal pedagogy and the importance of curious conversations with our colleagues.


A conversation with Ofsted on the revised EYFS

This week Helen speaks with HMI Phil Minns and HMI Wendy Ratcliff. With the revised EYFS becoming statutory from September 2021, we wanted to clarify some questions raised in the Early Years community around curriculum design and documentation, observations and monitoring, and what inspectors are likely to focus on. We also discussed progression skills and how we can ensure all children make good progress in their learning and development.


Challenging gender stereotypes

Jack and Jules chat with Bilkis Miah, founder and CEO of You Be You, an organisation working with schools and parents to break down gender stereotypes. Bilkis tells us about the work done by You Be You, the importance of training and support for educators, and explains why we need to start challenging gender stereotypes with children at a young age.


The other side of the door

This week Jules talks with Suma Din. Suma is the author of the book Muslim mothers and their children’s schooling, and was a speaker at the Tapestry Education Conference: Reflecting on Parental Engagement. For her presentation, Suma spoke to three minority mums about their experience, and in this conversation Jules and Suma reflect on one of the mum’s narratives.


The Importance of Connection

Joss Cambridge-Simmons talks to Jules and Stephen about his work with babies, and the importance of being ‘in tune’. He also discusses the barriers he has faced as a male nanny and provides advice for those interested in working with very young children.


Reflective leadership in action

Stephen and Jules chat with Adam Marycz, manager of an early years setting and wraparound care, about what you can learn from being a manager who also works in ratio, the importance of seeking out accessible CPD in different ways, and reflecting on the changes in the EYFS as September approaches.


Supporting parents and carers to engage with their children’s learning

Jack and Jules chat with Tom Harbour, CEO of Learning with Parents. They discuss why parental engagement is so important, how educators can reduce barriers to engagement for families, and why we need to see education as something that happens everywhere, not just in schools and settings.


The Intersection of Anti-Racism and SEND

Stephen is joined by Catherine McLeod and Liz Pemberton to discuss the differences between ‘inclusion’ and ‘belonging’, how excluded children from minoritised ethnic groups with SEND can become in the Early Years and the importance of high quality training for Early Years Professionals on the subject of anti-racism.


Why we all need to learn Makaton

Jules and Ben chat with Jannah Hayah about learning Makaton with her son, Musa, how communication is not just about words, and what adults need to remember when working with children with Downs Syndrome.


Gender Friendly Practice

Stephen and Jules chat to Barbara Adzajlic and Susie Heywood, who established the organisation Gender Friendly Scotland. They believe in a whole nursery approach to gender stereotyping which aims to ensure that children and staff in early years settings are not in any way limited because of their gender.


Reflecting on our Learning Environment

Stephen chats to Laura England who is an Early Years teacher, award winning author and podcast host. Laura discusses high quality environments, how environment and pedagogy link and gives her thoughts on how social media has impacted the way we set up our spaces.


How a trauma informed approach can support children

Anya and Jules chat with Simmone Boyce, who is currently in her third year studying psychotherapeutic counselling. Simmone discusses how using a trauma informed approach can enable adults to connect with children, reframing our responses, being curious, having empathy, and allowing the child to feel seen and listened to.


A closer look at curriculum development

Helen and Jules chat with LA Advisor, trainer and consultant Ruth Swailes about developing a curriculum, evolving and using your child development knowledge to support this, and starting from what works well in your setting and practice.


Creating a gender inclusive environment in your setting

Stephen and Jules chat with early years educator and SENCO Fifi Benham about the importance of reflection as you work towards creating a gender inclusive environment in your setting, looking closely at the story content of children’s books, having discussions about gender-based statements with children, and thinking about the language that we use.


Creating a supportive community of educators with Black Teachers Connect

Rhia Gibbs is Founder and CEO of Black Teachers Connect. They discussed why community and connection is so important for Black educators, and for all educators. Why it is vital that Black children see themselves represented in those who teach them, and why it is important for white children to have Black teachers as we reflect on the society we hope for our children’s future. Rhia also talked about how Diversity and Excellence come together.


Movement and Active Play in the Early Years

Tania Swift, physical development expert and founder of b inspired, discusses the impact of physical activity on children’s development. She offers advice on incorporating inclusive physical activities into all areas of the EYFS, and outlines what children need to become proficient in the physical skills of balance, coordination and spatial awareness.


Recover with MOVE

Stephen and Jack are joined by Charlotte Peck who is the director of MOVE Europe and Simon Wright who is the MOVE coordinator at Cherry Garden School. Charlotte and Simon tell us about the benefits of the MOVE programme which enables disabled children and young adults to gain independent movement. They also discuss the additional challenges that disabled children have faced over the last 12 months and how the new initiative ‘Recover with MOVE’ aims to help.


Supporting engagement with families and communities with Maslaha

Jack and Jules chat with Latifa Akay and Emily Mason about Maslaha’s Schools with Roots Project. They discuss the impact of our Eurocentric Curriculum, the need for sustainable anti-racist practice in schools, the different ways schools can engage with their families and communities and the benefits of that engagement for families, staff and children.


Combining knowledge and creativity to make effective sensory resources

Joanna Grace, founder of The Sensory Projects, talks about the importance of knowing how to use the sensory resources you have, being reflective in your practice, how to listen with all your senses, and why the best sensory resources are tailored to the individual child.


Inclusion and diverse teaching in early years

Ben and Jack chat with Aaron Bradbury Coffey, chair of the LGBTQIA+ Early Years Working group. They discuss the launch of the magazine and the importance and reasons for ensuring that our teaching in early years is as inclusive and diverse as possible.


The Importance of mentoring

Listen to primary school teacher and special educational needs coordinator, Manny Awoyelu as we talk about his work as a primary school teacher, SEND coordinator and Director of The Reach Out Project, working with young people living in inner-city London.


How to get your practice and provision right for every child

Jo Caswell is an early years consultant with almost 30 years in the sector as a teacher, day nursery manager, local authority advisor, and Ofsted inspector. She now runs her own consultancy ‘JLC Early Years Consultancy’, hoping to drive improvement in the early years settings she visits. Today we spoke about how to get your practice and provision right for every child, as well as the qualities and approaches of the most effective leaders.


The importance of self-belief and leaving a heart print on those around you

Let your day be filled with sunshine as you listen to Action Jackson talk about the importance of self-belief and leaving a heart print on those around you.


Bring your whole self to work

Jules and Jack speak to Gareth who shares his experience on adopting a “bring your whole self to work” ethos. We discuss the possible barriers and numerous benefits of being a more authentic version of yourself at work. As well as some sage advice for anyone thinking about pursuing a similar journey.


Understanding children’s language and communication development

Stephen and Jules spoke with Kirstie Page, founder of Launchpad for Literacy. Kirstie explains why it is so important for educators to have a knowledge of language and communication development as well as an understanding of each child, and the value of embedding interventions to make them part of your daily practice.


Encouraging early writing

Ben and Jack chat with Martin Williams (@EarlyImpact1), an early years teacher and founder of Early Impact . Taking a look at different ways to encourage children to become confident writers from an early age, Martin shares some simple but effective ways to keep mark making fun. Find out more about Martin’s work here:


Embracing children’s rough and tumble play

Stephen and Jules chat with teachers Rachna Joshi and Carla Jones about the approach to rough and tumble play adopted in their school, prompted by their action research project. They explain why rough and tumble play is so important for children, how they teach it in their PE sessions, and the positive impact this has had on children’s physical and social literacy.


Early Adopters discuss their first term of the new EYFS

Helen and Ben are joined by admins Vic, Helen and Sharon as well as moderators Corrie, Anna and Kathryn. Together they manage the hugely popular Early Adopters Facebook group. Vic set up the group to support Early Adopters and it has quickly grown to 8000 members, all benefiting from the expertise provided by this enthusiastic bunch of teachers. We spoke about how they managed to adjust to the new framework, and how first term under the new EYFS has been.


How Tapestry’s Child Login feature is being used at school

Ben and Jules chat with Olivia Dicker, Year 5 teacher at Arundel CofE School to hear how they use Tapestry’s Child Login feature to support independent learning, parental engagement, and the celebration of children’s work throughout the school community.


Teaching with soul – wellbeing and belonging in a school community

Ben and Jules talk with experienced Head Teacher and Independent Education Consultant Alison Kriel about wellbeing, recognising what is enough, and the importance of belonging.


Language and labels and how they impact children

Stephen and Jules talk with early years consultant Leslie Patterson about the language and labels we use with or about children and the impact this has on them. The conversation covers the measures we use to assess children and ways to explore CPD in settings.


The Early Years Sector and Higher Education

Annie Richardson is a university lecturer with over 20 years experience in the early years sector. We discuss with Annie her journey, how qualifications in the early years have changed, some of the current challenges in the sector and what needs to change in the future.


Working with the revised Early Years Foundation Stage: Principles into Practice

The education team discuss the newly published book ‘Working with the revised Early Years Foundation Stage: Principles into Practice’ by Dr Julian Grenier.


The new Development Matters on Tapestry

The Education Team chat about the new Development Matters guidance, what it looks like on Tapestry, and the thought process that led to this opportunity for change.


The Early Years is the jewel in our community’s crown – Jamel Carly-Campbell

Jules and Ben chat with early years ambassador Jamel Carly-Campbell. Jamel shares his own journey into the early years, the importance of having mentors, what needs to change to encourage more black men into the sector and the impact early years educators have on the children they work with.


Why CPD Is More Important Than Ever

Ben and Jack talk with Jenny Barber – an early years trainer, consultant, and author with over 30 years experience. We discuss the importance of CPD, how things have changed in the current climate, and some top tips on how you can access quality CPD at your setting.


One childminder’s journey, ethos and advice

Stephen and Jules catch up with Doreen Barton from Sounique Child. Doreen shares her experience of running a childminding business and opening a pre-school nursery, encouraging independence in children and connecting with families – listen out for lots of advice for childminders.


Transforming lives through early years teaching and learning

Jules and Helen are in conversation with Wendy Scott, President of TACTYC and early years representative on the board of NAPE. They discuss Froebel and how his philosophy has influenced Wendy’s work in early education, building relationships with families, starting with the child, and how the early years can transform lives.


EYFS Early Adopters – your questions answered

Helen and Jules host a Q&A with Dr Julian Grenier, author of the new Development Matters, Gill Jones, HMI and Deputy Director of Schools and Early Education, and Wendy Ratcliff, HMI and Principal Officer for Early Education. They ask questions gathered from teachers about evidencing children’s learning, the role of assessment, and what to say to your SLT.


Challenging male stereotypes in the childcare sector and putting love at the centre of your practice

Stephen and Jules chat with Joss Cambridge-Simmons, founder of Jossy Care and known as the UK’s leading ‘super manny’. They discuss how to talk to children about love, building relationships with families and reaching out to Dads, and challenging male stereotypes in the childcare sector.


Looking at what’s at the heart of the new Development Matters and busting some data myths

We are joined by Julian Grenier, author of the new Development Matters, Gill Jones, HMI and Deputy Director of Schools and Early Education, and Wendy Ratcliff, HMI and Principal Officer for Early Education. Julian talks us through some of the principles underlying the new DMs and busted the myths around assessment. Gill and Wendy talk about what Ofsted is doing this term and how myth-busting on the use of assessment data continues.