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 www.abcdoes.com 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