Clubhouse Chronicles – Use of Technology in an Early Years Setting

It has become increasingly apparent that young children use technologies in their daily lives and this is something that they are really good at, sometimes better than adults!

Young children still use books, blocks and other traditional toys very effectively and it is obviously really important that they continue to do so.

When we think about where I believe children learn most through their play, socio dramatic play or imaginative play, we see children making references to technology and making what is called symbolic representation – the book is a phone and the wooden desk is a computer.

The strong influences of technology are evident.

We even have a ‘scheme’ – dabbing and swiping are clear repeated patterns of behaviour that children do.

Piaget and Vygotsky both saw symbolic play as important stages, from the ability to substitute one object for another using the knowledge already gained of objects (Piaget). To Vygotsky who saw symbolic play as an essential step that facilitates cognitive development.

From a pedological perspective the use of technology closely fits with Reggio Emilia the importance of allowing children to document their own learning as they take photos of their play.

There is increasing acknowledgement of the benefits of ‘multimodal’ learning, particularly around literacy where we add to the learning through sounds, visuals and a variety of other media and resources.

We need children to have a strong sense of identity – when we think about the social media profile that we have and the potential of false profiles or lives surely we have a duty to support children with this?

We are all connected using technology and children must be able to be part of this too and contribute to their world, many children now having Zooms with relatives or friends.

Children have a strong sense of wellbeing so surely we have a duty to support them with being safe online?

The new EYFS and Development Matters makes little or no reference to technology. We all have differing perspectives for the use of tech. in our settings, our discussion on Clubhouse providing lots of thought about this. Of course it is really important that children

Take a look at this document Education for a Connected World – 2020 edition. It will help you support your curriculum.

Children are confident and involved learners the multimodal approach we have been using for years not only is this important but we need children to respect the technology look after it and appreciate it

Children are effective communicators and technology really supports this from children who aren’t able to convey their needs and wants to the use of walkie talkies to build confidence.

We do need to talk to parents to find our how much tech. is being used at home and help them with online safety. Help them with the wide range of resources available, one is here

Pre-school (0-5) Online safety advice

Children use information and communication technologies to access information, investigate ideas and represent their thinking

This is evident, for example, when children:

  • use technologies in everyday life and use real or imaginary technologies as props in their play
  • use technologies to access images and information, explore diverse perspectives and make sense of their world
  • use technologies as tools for designing, drawing, editing, reflecting and composing
  • engage with technology for fun for play and projects


I do believe that we need to provide children with access to a range of technologies but we must always remember that children learn through real and interactive play, through nature and positive relationships with real people!

Make sure you online safety policy is updated regularly. The NEW EYFS contains a link that has been out since 2019 Safeguarding Children and Protecting Professionals in Early Years Settings Online Safety Guidance for Practitioners

Guidance Safeguarding children and protecting professionals in early years settings: online safety considerations for managers

We had a very interesting discussion and some fantastic contributors this week!

For more information about our responsibilities and training for your team, get in touch.

Join in every Wednesday at 8pm UK time on Clubhouse.

My training Building a Culture of Being Safe Online in an Early Years Setting is available now.


Are you on Clubhouse yet? I have been on it since January and I wish there were more Early Years clubs and rooms! Every Wednesday I am joined on stage by the audience  in the room and club that I have created Early Years (EYFS) Q &A, to have a discussion and to provide insight, inspiration and information for everyone working in the Early Years Sector. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Q&A has a different focus each week. My aim is to write a short ‘latest news’ with all the links on and a bit about what we debated.

We had a thoughtful discussion on policies and procedures, starting with how we feel about them and how useful they are! I have shared a bit of our discussion here.

Policies are separate from procedures and go alongside visuals and forms to support the information.  They are all linked, so always have a – ‘this policy needs to be read in conjunction with’….They are hardly ever isolated documents.

An important part of your policies and procedures is keeping them succinct, too often I see overwhelming documents, that don’t really help anybody!

Make sure you have all the ‘core policies’, these are the ones linked to the EYFS. For each policy you have ask yourself ‘why’, why are they in place, this will help to frame them.

Link your policies to your ethos and values, this means you are providing a consistent approach and keep them positive! If they are full of don’t do this, do it this way staff find them negative when actually they are supposed to be supportive!

Find a good format and stick to it, an intention at the beginning (your policy) and concise bullet points for your procedure, works well.

Keep them safe on a stick or on the cloud!

Keep updated by signing up to updates from Foundation Years and Ofsted Latest , that way you can update your policies when you receive new information.

Review based on a breach in procedure, find a good way to communicate changes and to let your team know. Maybe a newsletter or team meeting.

Keep staff aware of the policies by referring to one every staff meeting, this way you can iron out any confusion and adapt if needed. Provide a quiz on the policy, these are always fun!

Find a way to get information from parents so that they can contribute to a review.

Use induction to slowly introduce new staff to your policies, don’t overwhelm!

Risk assessments play an important part as we base our procedures on these. I have a risk assessment training and format, so if you would like help with these, do let me know.

For a policy review with me, do get in touch.

This NEW room on Clubhouse will be here every Wednesday at 8 pm UK time for an hour We will have a EYFS Q&A and a related topic to discuss. We aim to have an authentic and respectful conversation so that we can, together build empathy and understanding. All most welcome.

See you there, raise your hand, the stage is yours.


There are some changes to the safeguarding and welfare requirements in the new EYFS for implementation in September 2021, a new requirement to promote the good oral health of children!

This focus could be around talking to children about the effects of eating too many sweet things, the importance of brushing their teeth or just simply about taking care of yourself and knowing your body.

This requirement certainly doesn’t mean that providers of the EYFS must carry out supervised toothbrushing. Don’t worry you will not be required to assess children’s oral health adding ‘dentist’ to the list of jobs that you do! But you must decide how you are going to meet this requirement. One great way to start to do this is to get on board like this setting already has!

Last year they won a national Dental Award, take a look here – Dental Awards 2020.

This year they have challenged themselves even further! They want to highlight the importance of oral health, especially as during Covid-19 lockdowns access to dentists has been restricted. The team from Little Darlings wants to educate people on the importance of oral health and encourage people to take better care of their teeth.

They have also decided to go for a Guinness World Record! Anyone can participate from all over the world! Little Darling Childcare has a challenge on Saturday 20th March, get involved and register using the links on the bottom of any of the pages. You can find out more about Little Darling Childcare via their nursery page See it in action Website,  FaceBook,  Little Darling YouTube channel and Twitter!

Congratulation to Sanjay and his team, I have met him a number of times and have always been inspired by what he does and my very good friend Amanda Frolich has got her team involved too! You can purchase the single ‘Brush your Teeth’ –   your children will love this catchy song featuring Alison Wheeler

If supervised toothbrushing is something you decide to introduce, you should also read the guidance on supervised toothbrushing during coronavirus (COVID-19).

For more guidance on the new EYFS contact join my mailing list to be the first to know about EYFS 2021 Virtual Zoom Briefings coming soon

I have been on Clubhouse since January, sent an invite by my good friend Amanda Frolich and she was right, it is the next big thing! I was a bit unsure at first, but as I worked my way around and jumped in and out of rooms, I began to listen to amazingly inspiring people and learn so much! As I grew in confidence about being in the audience and waving my hand to ask a question on ‘stage’, the more I thought I wish there were more Early Years clubs and rooms! So I started one! Every Wednesday I hope to be joined on stage by the audience to have a discussion and to provide insight, inspiration and information for everyone working in the Early Years Sector. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Q&A is the title of the room, with a different focus each week. My aim is to write a short ‘latest news’ with all the links on and a bit about what we debated. We talked about the draft EYFS, see below for links and a fragment of what we chatted about. Join in, the stage is yours.

If you are in England UK, we have Draft EYFS  ready for a September 2021. The EYFS sets the standards for EYFS providers for learning, development and care for babies and children aged 0-5 years. It’s the legal basis for this, we are inspected by Ofsted against the EYFS and in line with the Ofted Education Inspection Framework.  Development Matters – the non- statutory guidance helps us to deliver the EYFS areas of learning, reminds us of our responsibilities to assess and states the safeguarding and welfare requirements.

The EYFS is divided up into 3 sections, the learning and development, assessment and safeguarding and welfare.

The red writing is where we need to focus our attention and here

Draft version – statutory instruments 2021 No. CHILDREN AND YOUNG PERSONS, ENGLAND The Early Years Foundation Stage (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2021

is what we need to feedback about and by 18th March,  Please send your comments to

The majority of the changes to the ELG’s in section 1 have already been agreed. The reception bassline assessment (RBA) agreed and now in Section 2 and slight amendments to section 3 with updated links and added a bit about Oral Health.

The government are not seeking changes to the ELG’s, or the RBA these have already been (and I’ll use this word loosely)  ‘agreed’. The RBA was subject to a separate consultation process.

You can find out more here –

Early Years Foundation Stage Reforms Government consultation response July 2020

The EYFS will be published as a final version for a start date of 1st September 2021.

If you are interested in the legislation you can find out more here

The Early Years Foundation Stage (Learning and Development Requirements) Order 2007

We had a great chat in the room this week, here’s what we learnt.

There is a link to the NEW Development Matters on page 6, this guidance is non- statutory. Presuming there will be another link to Birth to Five Matters when the final version is out ….

The RBA is a contentious issue – follow this link for more information More than a Score

Don’t forget to update your policy with any new numbers from your Local Safeguarding Partnership.

Given our lives are now mainly online, it is good to see the link to a document that has been out for some time (I have training on this) so that we safeguard children and practitioners online Safeguarding children and protecting professionals in early years settings: online safety considerations – add this to your policy on safeguarding or have a sperate one –  title  ‘Acceptable Use’. More info on this in my training.

A reminder that in the EYFS we don’t have to follow Keeping Children Safe in Education, but it is good practice to do so, there is some great info on safer recruitment for example, update your policies.

This is a useful link, review your policy Prescribing over-the-counter medicines in nurseries and schools

Couple of the links in the footnotes don’t work – I have contacted the DfE about this

Updating your menus? There are some important guidance notes here]

Sign up for updates from the Foundation Years Website

We also talked about this NEW document published in December 2020, designed to support everyone with early identification of language delay or disorder. Some helpful ways to support parents too.

This NEW room on Clubhouse will be here every Wednesday at 8 pm UK time for an hour We will have a EYFS Q&A and a related topic to discuss. We aim to have an authentic and respectful conversation so that we can, together build empathy and understanding. All most welcome.

See you there, raise your hand, the stage is yours.













These last few months have forced a rethink on many levels. One thing is for sure the traditional ‘care’ element of our role has returned. We have taken great care to provide an environment that meets the needs of all children and staff, to ensure their safety and wellbeing. We have shifted the focus from Ofsted requirements and the EYFS Areas of Learning to care practices.  Prioritising care has meant that we are protectors of health for our staff, families and communities who are heavily dependent on us. We are essential to the economic recovery and play an important part in children’s holistic development.  The EYFS disapplications have allowed a focus on children being cared for in their setting, as we make ‘reasonable endeavours’ to meet the learning and development requirements. We have embraced care practices through transition, wellbeing, safeguarding, increasing self-help skills alongside increased cleaning and awareness. All of these have proved to be rich ‘educational opportunities’ and if we look a little deeper all fit into the Areas of Learning. Children have love being with other children once more, less resources has meant more imaginative play and parents dropping off has been so much easier. Our caring nature has recognised the educational benefits of these changes, therefore care and education are closely intertwined.

Care has, for some time been absent from role profiles, responsibilities, book titles, blogs etc. in an effort to raise our self-esteem as educators and teachers as we strive to portray a professional identity. This hasn’t had the desired effect though, we are still undervalued, underfunded and underpaid. We need to celebrate the importance of care, place a value on the care elements of our role and be proud of a professional identity that places care at the centre of what we do.

Staying healthy and safe inevitably leads to learning and developing. It’s because we care that we are worried about pressures from baseline and EYFS reforms. Caring is precisely why we stay in our jobs that are poorly paid and underfunded. That caring relationship is what makes parents ready to connect and children ready for school. We are caring role models for children, demonstrating care means that they grow up to care too, about themselves, about their environment and about each other and this time has proved that we need children to care more than ever. So, let’s celebrate care and give it the credibility that it deserves.

I have been privileged to talk to Kathy Brodie a few times, I always sign post everyone to this great form of Continued Professional Development. Kathy asks the questions we all want answers to and interviews a wide variety of people to give us an informed perspective of everything to do with our sector. My interview with Kathy focused on the positives of these past few months. It will go live on 17th July 2020!

I have had a long career in Early Years and many varied roles within that. I came to further studies just over 13 years ago, with a secure knowledge in child development I was not sure what more I could learn! How wrong I was! Theory and research held all the answers for me, explained why I interreacted as I did, why I provided opportunities for children to explore and why I enjoyed observing children as they found out things for themselves. This whole new world gave me a new zest for my chosen profession and this is where I first found out about Schema. Patterns of repeated behaviour were referred to as Schemas then, we now know that what we traditionally referred to a Schemas are in fact Schemes, this was because Piaget?s work was misinterpreted through translation, the training explores the meaning of Schemes and Schemas in much more detail and these are both very relevant to children learning through play.

My Early Years Teacher Status led me to being an Early Years Development Officer for my local authority. The role allowed me to share my knowledge and experience and train EYFS providers. Six years ago I was made redundant and I started up my own independent consultancy Orange Caterpillar. I support providers across the South East and into London with all aspects of the EYFS. I have always been interested in the way that children learn, how adults plan and guide the learning and the way that ?a whole setting approach? nurtures and centres around the child. So for me, the opportunity to find out more about Schemes and Schema and the SchemaPlay pedagogy allowed me to deepen my understanding as well as widen my training offer and this felt the natural thing to do. Thinking I?d have enough knowledge to work my way easily through the training, yes, you?ve guessed it, I was blown away again! We learnt so much more about being in ?flow?, the wide range of schemes that children displayed and some new ones such as ?dabbing? and ?swiping?. We looked closely at how children learn through play with the help of a simple and easy to understand info graphic that now forms the basis of all the other trainings that I deliver. I?ve now recognised that I am in ?flow? too when I deliver!

Play is a much talked about and contentious issue but actually it?s simple. Children need to explore freely, be given opportunities, experiences and resources to inspire them, feel happy, safe and be given the time to be ?in the zone?. They also need adults who are willing to learn from their observations to seed, interact and provide critical thinking and of course other children to connect with, learn from and teach too. The SchemaPlay pedagogy really does deepen this, practitioners experience ?a real moment of ?I get play now?, and leaders delight in the reignited environment where wellbeing and involvement is at its highest and leaps in outcomes quickly emerge.

Being an accredited trainer for SchemaPlay also tapped into my skills as an external mentor for Early Years Teacher students at the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton. As a SchemaPlay accredited trainer I quickly establish what?s working well and build on the learning and go on a journey with providers and practitioners. This means that we, together, tap into current knowledge and build the understanding in the SchemaPlay pedagogy until, quite honestly, it reaches a crescendo! ?Practitioners are inspired and intrigued to know more, observations become richer and connections with children grow deeper. Of course it?s children who benefit most and observing this is like watching a little bit of magic happen and honestly makes you feel all warm inside! Children never forget the way that they learn and will, in turn, make great teachers themselves.

I have been very interested in sustainability for some time, on my own journey to saving more energy, being eco friendly and eating a plant based diet, but it?s only recently that I have linked this with my training and consultancy. SchemaPlay and the OMEP UK Early Childhood Sustainable Citizenship Award are intertwined. The Bronze award really focuses on ?children as sustainable citizens and links their learning through SchemaPlay pedagogy to caring for each other, the community and the planet. Parents play an important part in the setting achieving this award and when? we think back to learning through play the role of the parent is crucial to the developing child. Children become really animated about the things that they care about and a nature based curriculum really lends itself to connecting with living things and children come to their own conclusions about saving water, recycling and thinking about each other.

So, two separate but closely linked objectives for you, your team, parents and children. Be prepared to be ?blown away?! I am currently training to deliver the Silver OMEP award ? so much more to learn!

Delivering advice, consultancy, support and training at this time virtually. I am currently adapting the accreditation for SchemaPlay and the OMEP award to support you at this time.

Alison Featherbe

SchemaPlay Licensed Trainer



Interviewing for a new role can be stressful experience at the best of times, without the added complication of our roles and responsibilities due to COVID-19. Being interviewed whilst social distancing just takes a little bit of thought and preparation.


Advertising for a post needs to be right, it is an important part of the process,


It is very important that you follow these guidelines when advertising a post. You must not state or imply in a job advert that you’ll discriminate against anyone. This includes saying that you are not able to cater for an employee with a disability.


You want to attract the best applicants and if you follow these recommendations you will provide a very professional advert that contains all the right information for your prospective applicants.


✓  Name of your setting – you can add your full address too

✓  Where you are based (not everyone knows all the villages / towns, please add ‘near’ .….. (major town)

✓  Title of the role – there are many variations –  use the job title that you use in your setting.

✓  Qualification level you require – very important in adhering to ratio requirements, you can add number of years’ experience required at this level you require too if you wish or simply say ‘experienced’ / ‘newly qualified’ / working towards.

✓  Additional phrases  only use phrases like ‘recent graduate’ or ‘highly experienced’ when these are actual requirements of the job. Otherwise you could discriminate against younger or older people who might not have had the opportunity to get qualifications.

✓  The hours – days of the week, start time / finish time, is the post term time only? Shift pattern.

 Salary – be transparent, provide a range or state ‘negotiable’, competitive or attractive

✓  Some information about what skills and knowledge you require. You will have a more complex list of skills and knowledge ready to send out in your job application packs

✓  What else do you offer that would attract applicants? Holiday, don’t forget further training – place a high importance on continued professional development that you offer, a lack of training opportunities will increase turnover

✓  Sell yourself! You want to attract the best people. Your advert needs to be professional and demonstrate your commitment to finding the right people. Include your vision, what your staff say about working with you, what families say, your last Ofsted comments, Ofsted judgment, sum up your values, have you any accreditation, awards you have won?

✓  Do you invite potential applicants to visit your setting? Informal visits can be a good opportunity to see your applicants. Do not ask people to attend for a session unpaid or volunteer for the day, this is NOT good practice. It’s a chance for you to see this person and how they present themselves

✓  Interview date or dates and other activities you use as part of the recruitment process. For example ‘candidates shortlisted for the post will be expected to provide an story / activity for a small group of children or / and  complete a written activity or / and undertake a joint observation etc

✓  A safer recruitment statement E.g. ‘We follow all aspects of safer recruitment’. ‘You will be required to have an enhanced DBS’, ‘all references will be taken up’ etc.

✓ Please ensure that your recruitment advert states positively that you actively and positively welcome people from diverse backgrounds and with disabilities

✓  How to apply. NB NO REQUEST JUST FOR CV’s invite people to apply for an application form and have ‘job application packs’ ready to send by email or hard copy. People can send a CV alongside a formal application if you wish

✓  Full contact details Your – Name, Email, Phone

✓  Add a link to your website or social media pages

✓  The closing date for applications – this is really important and in line with safer recruitment and also enables us to keep sharing.


Please be aware of the following


‘SAFERjobs’  and the ‘Principles of Good Practice’  Any ‘job related fraud’, fake jobs or illegal working will be investigated and information passed onto the relevant authority.



Once you have cracked the advert, make sure you also describe the selection process at this time. A closing date is a must and set yourself an interview date so applicants can see your timeline.


If you can, make sure your process of applying can be done remotely. Sending the application form on an email, so that it can be typed on and sent back. Make sure your form does this easily as forms that shift around are hard to manage. Look into google forms, these work well.


Invite people to an interview via Skype, Teams or Zoom (other virtual platforms are available). This will take some preparing and make sure you explain the process in your emails, so that everyone feels confident. Not everyone is familiar with Skype or Zoom, you will also need to make sure they have the latest compatible versions. Be mindful that some computers may not upgrade to latest versions.

Explain about the process of an interview or selection virtually, what time will you contact them, they will need to make sure there is no interruptions and have a how are you? Question on arrival to make people feel relaxed. It may be that you provide some questions in advance so that people can make some notes. Tell people if you are recording the session and if anyone else is in the room either listening and taking notes or working on other things.

Preparation is key, have all of their information to hand. Not being able to visit you in person may mean that you have a physical show round opportunity as part of the process. You can organise this at the end of the day when no children are around. It is also a good idea to tell people to research you. This means looking at your website and social media or Ofsted inspection. Applicants will understand your vision, aims and future plans and you can talk to them about that.

It is possible to get an idea about a setting from research and so the applicant can decide if they would be a good fit for you and be able to demonstrate this in their interview.

Applicants biggest concern will be how they come across virtually. Help them to feel relaxed by sending some top tips. These could include

Make sure the background is uncluttered

Keep the interview family-free

Lighting is important for virtual discussions

It is also still important to present well and dress like it was a face to face interview

Giving eye contact is hard virtually, some computers cameras are better than others, whilst this is important you will have to make allowances

Technical difficulties –  have phone numbers to hand to carry on the conversation

Be yourself and relax!


Consider how you are going to make sure the usual elements of an interview still take place. Formally welcoming and thanking for the application, certificate and qualification information and checking, as well as a discussion about references and DBS information at this time. You will still need to see original documentation, get it sent recorded delivery and get it sent back recorded asap. Or the applicant can scan ID in and hold it up via Zoom for checking.


Here are some other preparation considerations


Contact the applicant well in advance and provide instructions and a time line

Gather all the information you need including phone number in case anything goes wrong

Send a reminder the day before and an hour before with joining instructions

Think about any necessary adjustments that need to be made to accommodate any special needs

Choose a well-lit space for your interview with a clean background and wall

Limit background noise and distractions during your interview time

Dress as you would for a formal face-to-face interview

Focus on positive body language – sit up straight, smile, maintain eye contact and make sure you look at the webcam and not the computer screen. Try not to fill the whole screen with your face!

Prepare links and documents to send via the chat.

Prepare your emails in advance and personalise them when sending out

Follow up the interview with a thank you message and invite any additional questions that might not have been covered on the interview

Make sure your access to the software that you are going to be used is working well

Test your connection and internet speed

Run a mock interview with a colleague to check your position on camera


Ready to take the next step in virtual safer recruitment? If you need formats, emails responses, further training, support and advice, do get in touch. Join my VIP group for free training, formats and much more!


Alison Featherbe

Virtual EYFS Support

Orange Caterpillar



It’s that time of year when students are finalising their studies. I am extremely fortunate to be an external mentor for students every year. As part of my reflections on my support I send out a questionnaire. If you have secured a place on the EYTS at the University of Sussex, I am available for September 2021. I will only be able to support 3 students for this school year (2021-2022).

I am starting a Membership Group to support my students and students across England undertaking EYT 2021 – 2022, initially I am supporting with applications via this Mailchimp list.

Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT) – Virtual ‘VIP’ Mentoring and Support

The Membership Group will not replace external or internal mentoring, it will enhance it. It will have lots of training, support, research discussions and networking and so much more! If you are on the Mailchimp list you will be able to benefit from becoming a ‘founding member’ (£45.00 per month for founding members joining before September 2021). Level 1 membership will be £55.00 per month.

Here is some lovely feedback from past students –

Q Did I provide appropriate challenge to enable you to reflect on your practice?

Yes, you inspired us all, and opened up lots of interesting avenues for me to explore, that I am still exploring, and guided me expertly in my ‘learning journey’.

Q Did I provide you with support and / or model practice in planning, teaching, understanding behaviour and assessment? If so what was most helpful in developing your practice?

Yes, the most helpful was your advice and help around managing conflict.

Q Were my observations accurate and did they provide constructive feedback to deepen your pedagogical knowledge?

Yes. My pedagogy has developed beyond my imaginings with your help and support. The general trajectory’s been from a very individualised understanding, to an increasingly relational perspective, and I continue learn and deepen my understanding.

Thank you so much

Sarah ? University of Sussex MA in Early Years Education with EYTS

It’s a honour and a privilege to provide external mentoring and allows me to continue to learn too!

Available now an – Ask the Expert – Power Hour!

? Book your Live Q&A with Alison Featherbe from Orange Caterpillar. Virtual EYFS Support for you and your team.

?? It can be a bespoke session guided by you. You could use this time for

  • Parent Session
  • Staff team support
  • Senior team advice
  • Or as external supervision and support

‘Alison has been a real rock at this challenging time. Its not been easy making huge decisions on your own! With Alison’s guidance and ongoing support I feel confident that I have made informed decisions and thankful that I have had someone to turn to.’ L.Evans Hove Sussex

Get the help you need: Book ?99 Power hour Here