ABC does interview

Over the last several months I have been collaborating with other early years professionals to find out their story and journey to where they are today.

I was extremely excited and lucky to have the opportunity to discuss and interview Mr Alistair Bryce-Clegg (abcdoes) on his own journey and what his plans are for the future .

I hope you enjoy the article and I look forward to many more interviews.

I was really thrilled to be asked by Duncan to write something for his blog. Apart from the fact that I like writing, it is great to have access to blogs like Early Years Man that promote quality Early Years Practice.


Duncan asked me to write about how I got into Early Years and eventually became an Early Years Consultant. Well, as someone fast approaching 50, that is quite a long story! I will do my best to keep it brief!


I suppose it all starts with the fact that I am the child of a teacher, so education has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mum was a Year 6 (or top junior) teacher for most of her career so didn’t venture down into the world that I inhabit very often. I would even go so far as to say that there was a certain culture back then that regarded Nursery and Reception teachers as having an easier job as all you did was ‘play’.


I didn’t think that I would always be a teacher. When I was 8 years old, I wrote to Blue Peter and asked how you became a Blue Peter presenter. I got a lovely letter back from the programme which I have still got  – just in case it still happens!


I spent most of my school holidays working at children’s holiday groups, helping my mum out at school and working as what you would refer to now as a ‘manny’. I knew that I really enjoyed working with children.


When it came time for me to go to University the National Curriculum had just been produced and my mum and all of her teaching colleagues said that it had ‘killed creativity and teaching’ and I was encouraged not to study for a BEd, but get a broader based degree to give me more options. That is what I did.


I finished my degree and for a year worked evenings in MacDonald’s whilst volunteering during the day at a local Primary School. During this year I also applied for my PGCE to teach Primary aged children.


When I started my PGCE I made it clear to my tutor that I did NOT under ANY circumstances want to work with ‘infants’. I was a ‘juniors only’ kind of guy. She promptly placed me in Reception! I was literally horrified at the thought. After a few weeks, I was hooked and never looked back. 


I then specialised in Early Childhood and my first job was as a Reception teacher in a two-form entry Infant School. I then taught in an inner city Primary School and eventually became Deputy Head of a three-form entry Infant School and Nurserywhere I eventually became Head.


During my ten-year Headship the Early Years Foundation Stage was launched and around that time my school was given £500,000 to replace 3 temporary Year One Classrooms that were on our school field. 


I asked if we could use the money to remodel our existing Nursery into an Early Years unit for 52 Nursery children and 90 Reception children -I was thrilled when the answer was ‘yes’.


Even though we were an Infant School full of staff who had trained specifically in Early Years the move from 3 Reception classes with 5 tables, 30 chairs, playtime and a topic basedapproach to open plan, continuous indoor and outdoor access, child lead approach was a steep learning curve – to say the least!

Once we established our approach to play based learning (and that is a whole blog post/book on its own) we started to see wellbeing of children and staff improve and the knock oneffect to that was that out attainment improved.


So much so that as a team we turned the National Curriculum into our own skills-based curriculum and created outdoor learning spaces for our Year One and Year Two children.


The work of our unit began to attract some attention I got asked to write and speak about what we had done. That is where my role as a consultant began.


After 10 years of Headship in December 2008, I left my school to work as a consultant and established ABC Does Ltd.


Now I have the HUGE privilege of being able to travel all over the world and work alongside Early Years practitioners and Senior Leaders supporting them with their practice. The thing that I love most of all is that I am still learning every day from the adults and the children that I work with.


When I am not working with practitioners in their settings I am usually delivering conferences, training and Key Notes. 


Of course, I also have my own blog and that keeps me busy in any spare moments I might have.


I feel truly lucky to have worked my entire life in a profession that I have absolutely loved. I look forward to continuing on my journey and if I can inspire other people to join me then that is even better!

Twitter – @tweetmeduncan



Hi guys ,

If anyone would like me to cover a certain topic on my site then please feel free to message me and I will do my very best to get back to you.

Thank you ,


Twitter- @tweetmeduncan

Screen time in nursery

In todays society, Technology is everywhere and our children are exposed to it daily. I believe that with the correct balance of outdoor play and technology we would see the benefits of technology rather than having the stigma of it rotting our children’s minds.

In many establishments technology has been seen has a gap to fill between daily transitions for example – screen time after lunch or iPad opportunities later in the nursery day and many parents and practitioners disagree with this. I am however a professional who likes to see the benefit of offering these opportunities to children.

In recent years nursery establishments have implemented many strategies to decrease the amount of screen time there is in the settings and have written several policies about the procedure.

Offering screen time isn’t just about children sitting down and watching cartoons whilst staff tidy up or set up an area , it can be a time for children to relax after a busy morning and un wind with their peers with comfy pillows and teddies and have a recharge for the afternoon.

Many children in nursery settings are actually in from 7am to 6pm and I personally think its healthy and beneficial to offer children a 15 minute break from outdoor play and any other type of play to just sit and relax and to be honest ”switch off” from the world around them.Image result for screen time

I would love to know your thoughts on screen time ;

P.S I am not suggesting to sit children down, all day, everyday. I am merely offering a topic of discussion.

I shall leave with a quote :  “Teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought, or an event.” – Heidi-Hayes Jacobs

Twitter : @tweetmeduncan



Playdough station!

So whilst in work , I have been developing our playdough station to encourage the children to be more independent and eventually become confident enough to make their own playdough.

We have used a more natural approach in terms of resources and I think it looks fantastic. Already they children were intrigued with the new set up and I am looking forward to the new term so we can see it in full glory!

Death – What do we say ?

This week in my setting, I have been asked the dreaded question that turns professionals in early years into babbling , stuttering monkeys.

” What does it mean to die ?”

At first the question had me slammed and panic bells where ringing in my ears and I felt faint. Then all of a sudden courage came forward and said ” You can do this Duncan”. Help them understand ( or try )

I sat with the individual and asked what she thought it means to die and her answer was perfect, what she said was ” when your body is tired and it stops working”.

on reflection I realised that I am rubbish at explaining what it means to die and I’m not sure if I am the right person to tell other peoples children my own interpretation of what it actually means to die.

My question is this – How do others explain this part of life? and do you actually feel comfortable talking about it to the children that you care for ?

I look forward to you views on the subject

Thanks you for reading ,

Earlyyears man


twitter – @tweetmeduncan


Less is more

Recently I have been thinking about my own practice , particularly how I set up children’s experiences. I am a big advocate of adults being facilitators in early years settings however, I often enjoy setting up an experience to observe how children play , problem solve and overall interact.

This past week I have set up 2 main ” experiences”

the first was lots of wooden blocks , paper , scissors , cardboard and glue. What I observed was a lot of solitary play or parallel play going on in those areas. there was little to no communication and children were quite content drawing and cutting and basically bypassing  the other resources that were out.

The second experience was a lot simpler and consisted of two things these where wooden blocks and magnets ( yes I was aware that wooden blocks and magnets don’t go). This experience had the children communicating with each other and questions were being asked. one particular child actually said ” Duncan we need to teach you about magnets”. To me this was amazing , they were problem solving and questioning why I put out those resources.

Eventually the experience had expanded and children where coming in to the area with pieces of material to test if the magnets would work on them – this was after we had a discussion about why the wooden blocks were not effective.

This experience went on for a long period of time and the children where learning so much and engaging throughout the experience and by the end of it we ended up with some many different types of materials, toys , utensils and many more objects than what we started with.

I think my over all point is , its OK to have more simple things displayed out for children to explore instead of bombarding them with all these resources and equipment, as more often than not they will always potentially get more out of a simpler experience rather than a experience that has 1000s of resources and no imagination to discover and investigate.

As usual  I will leave with a quote :

Image result for less is more quotes


Early years man

Twitter – @tweetmeduncan


Grow my pretty…GROW!

I came across an amazing buy today in B&M, it is a “grow your own veg” kit. I shall keep you updated on how the process goes in the next couple of weeks , but safe to say I will have great fun with this little gem !

Early years man x

Competition time !

Hello lovely educators and happy Monday !

Today I am feeling fantastic and decided to have a small competition.

All you have to do is share my blog site on all social media and send me a screenshot as your evidence !

The prize I hear you ask … well it is one of my favourite books called “hector Sylvester”

So get sharing everyone !

And send your screenshots to

Twitter – @tweetmeduncan

Good luck !!!