I set out with such grand ideas, telling the Secretary of State for Children and Families Nadhim Zahawi (who was opening the show and making a keynote speech) exactly what I thought of his £4.00 per hour funded ‘free’ hours. Unfortunately I hadn’t factored in the unreliability of public transport. I finally arrived at the Childcare Expo at Olympia, London, 50 minutes late and livid that I had missed such an important opportunity to discuss current issues concerning the Early Years sector which such an influential person.
Trying not to be disheartened, I had two seminars booked for the afternoon so I began by wandering around the various stalls.
On the train on the way to Olympia, I overheard a lady say to her colleague that she was going to ‘get some inspiration to take back home’, I decided that this would be my theme for the day. I took lots of photos of ideas, courses, training, resources and tips I could practically use in my setting. It was really useful to be able to handle so many resources instead of leafing through catalgues, we do afterall, learn best through firsthand experiences. I talked to lots of suppliers about the funding crisis and the lack of spending power they had experienced by so many settings.
When I was tired, I painted a rock for ChildcareExpoRocks, a really lovely new feature of the Expo which enabled me to make friends with some practitioners from across the country whilst we painted together. We talked about funding and the problems we are facing as a sector. It seems we are all struggling to keep our heads above water and not sink like the very rocks we were painting.
The first seminar I attended was inspirational, here lies the true magic of the Childcare Expo, a wonderful, passionate speaker who clearly knows what they are talking about. The second seminar was more general and less focussed on Early Years but still very helpful and pretty enjoyable too.
As always, the thing I really love about the Childcare Expo is how it makes me feel part of something bigger and more important than the setting I’m in. It reminds me that I am a small leaf in a wider canopy spreading across the whole world ready to fight our corner.