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Date: September 6, 2022

New Beginnings: Picturing Possibilities

Whenever I am asked about why I chose to focus on Early Childhood Education I talk about my fascination with beginnings; those first steps that we take on our personal learning journey. How we first learn to talk, to walk, to build relationships with others, develop an understanding of ourselves and the world around us. 

At this time of year so many of us are embarking on first steps, stepping into an unfamiliar, exciting, sometimes scary world for the first time. Whether it be starting primary school or nursery for the first time or joining a new team as an adult; for me what is key to success is the combination of the relationships with those that we meet through those early days and those who know us well, that is critical to creating the physical and emotional ‘handholding’ we all need during transitions in our lives. These people invest in us, believe in us, help us see the exciting possibilities of the present and future, open doors and our eyes to help us see who we can be.

We know that the months ahead are going to be extremely challenging at multiple levels, creating anxiety and uncertainty. As the UK government goes through its own transition, the education community is left asking many unanswered questions, often feeling undervalued and having to deal with an ever-changing raft of changing documentation, legislation, and expectation. So, who is helping us through this? Who is painting a picture of possibilities?

For me, relationships have always been at the core of my educational experiences.  Whether it be the first teacher I had in infant school, my mentor when I first started teaching, to colleagues in the inspiring schools that I am now privileged to work with; each has shown me with true passion, how they valued education and how important getting the beginning right is. They have shown and continue to do so – fantastic possibilities! The early years community is packed with expertise and inspiring voices that are invaluable throughout our personal and professional lives. Being the only early years teacher in a school can feel a daunting and lonely place, but we must not forget that we are part of a powerful community and actively seek ways to feel more connected.

Over the last couple of years, we have learnt, if nothing, that life can change dramatically and beyond all recognition overnight. This impacted significantly on beginnings and transition for so many children and adults. 

So, as we begin this new academic year, it has never been more essential that not only do we seek ways to build and strengthen our relationships at all levels, but that we also cherish these wonderful early memories and celebrate the joy of working within the amazingly rich, diverse, and passionate sector that is the Early Years.

Phil Armstrong – Head of Regional & International Development


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