Thursday, 29 November 2018

Latest Blog - Pupil Inclusion Network Scotland (PINS)

Delighted to contribute this blog entry to the PINS Blog to support their discussion about love in education.

Please have a read.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Te aroha

I received a lovely email back from Diana who I met in Budapest, from New Zealand. Her colleagues sung the most beautiful Maori song after her PED talk and I had emailed her to ask what it was. She sent me a lovely email back and links to two songs, she couldn't quite remember which it was. Both are beautiful. The second one is about love. They are Maori songs to sing with children:

E tu Kahikatea:

 Te Aroha

Te aroha - love
Te whakapono - Faith
Me te Rangimarie - Peace
Tatou tatou e - For us all.

Beautiful words. Have a listen.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Why do we find love so difficult in Education? - TES blog.

Here is the link to one of my latest guest blogs. The focus as always for me is on Early Education and Childcare, although some of the wording has been changed to suit the readership of

Thanks as always for your interest.


Saturday, 6 October 2018

PED talk EECERA Budapest 2018 - Youtube video!

Here is my first attempt at filming one of my talks. I keep forgetting my words, which is quite funny but you get the picture. Next time will be better!!!

You might also notice that the words in this don't quite match the words on the transcript - it changes every time that I present it!!!!

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

EECERA 2018 - PED talk - Managing Love-Led Practice

Transcript of PED talk – Budapest EECERA – August 2018

Jane Malcolm – Managing Love-Led Practice

Hello my name is Jane Malcolm and I have come all the way from The University of Edinburgh in Scotland, to say “I love you”.
I’d like you to pause for a second and take note of how that made you feel? 
I am going to guess some of you thought that was a lovely thing to say, others felt uncomfortable. We have all experienced love in very different ways. 
Children have the right to be loved, their health and wellbeing depends upon it. For the next 10 minutes I am going to take you on a journey that will challenge you to consider how you feel about love-led practice in early learning and childcare.
For everyone love means many different things. Our own personal experience of love impacts upon the way we feel about loving the children we are working with. Whether you are a lead practitioner managing a setting, an academic or a Government Policy Maker your experience of love drives your understanding of it.
I want to thank you for allowing me to share my personal experience of love with you. I am going to tell you a story. 
20 years ago I was the manager of a pre-school nursery. I worked with a four-year-old girl, called Rosy. She had a mane of blond frizzy hair, a bit of a lisp when she spoke and a smile that would melt the stoniest of hearts. BUT she had a wild temper. She struggled to cope with the big emotions she was feeling. This would often present as anger, tears, frustration and hitting out at staff and children however she could also be very loving and kind. One day her Mum asked us if we had worked out the hair clue? We all laughed and asked what that was. Her Mum explained that if Rosy came into nursery with her hair all neat and tidy then we would have a good day with her, however if she came in with her hair wild and tangled then we knew that her Mum had not been able to get her to sit to tidy her hair and we would have angry Rosy that day. She was definitely a handful. However, one day Rosy ran into nursery, her hair as wild as we had ever seen, we all sighed knowing what was to come. But this day she ran to me, wrapped her arms around me and said “I love you Jane”. While she could test my patience, my response to her was real, it was natural, I hugged her back and said “I love you too Rosy”. Then she ran screaming, pushed another child and ran off with their bike!
My point being I believe that every child deserves to know they are loved. No matter what challenges we have with them. We all need love to develop and grow.
Ten years ago I used this same story to illustrate the importance of love and attachment to childhood practice students I was teaching when I was a lecturer. 
My students were eager to learn, enthusiastic to put into practice the new and exciting ideas and theories they had learned in class. One day in class, a very competent and thoughtful student Alex appeared troubled.  Alex was  a vibrant student who was well known for his many tattoos. If you looked closely many of his tattoos were of his son, who had autism, and represented the struggles and challenges Alex had faced as a father. One tattoo was of a human heart, representing his love for his son and family. He was a great guy. I asked why he looked troubled. He said he had taken what he had learned in class, and knowing the power of love with his son, he had hugged a child in his placement, who had fallen and was upset. Afterwards, he was taken aside by his placement supervisor and was told that this was not allowed. He was not allowed to hug the children. This was sadly not the first time I had heard this. Struggling to find an answer for him, I spoke with other students of mine who were managers of early years’ settings. They all agreed with what Alex had been told. Frustrated, I asked why when they know the importance of love to children? The answer was simple, because the policies don’t allow it!
Kathleen Marshall, one of the previous Commissioners for Children and Young People in Scotland shared her concern for manager’s reliance on policy when she said “Lead Professionals cling to rules, like safety ropes on a stormy deck”.
My research grew out of this frustration. 
A year ago, I became the Policy Manager for the Scotland office of the National Day Nurseries Association. This role gave me the opportunity to explore, first hand policy development within the Scottish Government. 
There were several things I discovered however two struck me as having an impact on the way early learning and childcare policies are developed. Firstly, the language used in the key policy documents.
Out of 13 key policy documents in Scotland only 7 briefly mention love, with 4 only mentioning the word once. None of the policy documents explicitly forbid love-led practice however none of them encouraged it either. There was a lack of clarity in the documents, referring to components of love rather than love itself, for example compassion, care. With so little guidance it is no wonder that Managers are uncertain about delivering love-led practice.
The second issue was the complex nature of developing policies to suit everyone’s agenda. 
We, the policy advisers, academics, experienced experts may well be part of the problem. We all bring different agendas. My job is to lobby on behalf of our members, I am also advocating on behalf of children as an academic. Politicians not only have to contend all of us but they must also balance the needs of their constituents, and their own experiences and beliefs. Policy development is complicated. What starts out as a great idea, is pushed in pulled in so many different directions, we lose sight of the original goal.
I’d like to pause for a moment and ask you to imagine a world without love. (Pause) 
The human race faces many problems and challenges but without love there would be no one there to help, support and guide.
For children like Rosy and students like Alex to experience love-led practice, Managers need to have the freedom to manage that practice with integrity and professionalism. The policies need to start and finish with love. Children need love, we all need love. 
Those of us who advise on early years’ policy need to be brave, we need to set aside our fears, embrace our own experiences of love and use them to imagine a utopian model of childcare where love is at the heart of policy and practice and not something we tread carefully around. 
The challenge is to lead with love. 

Taking Love to Budapest - EECERA 2018

Earlier this year I submitted an abstract for a short talk at the EECERA 2018 conference in Budapest. I did it on a bit of whim and not really thinking I would be accepted. Blow me though, did I not get picked and my trip to Budapest was being booked!

The Conference organisers were introducing a brand new  type of presentation for 2018 called PED talks.  The “PED”(agogical) talk, was to be a 10 minute long address that was to be delivered without notes or slides and is based on the concept of the TED-style presentation approach.  The presentation was to be concise and simple,  to pitch a new, personal, thought provoking idea, issue or approach.  This was my abstract from the official Book of Abstracts.

Managing love-led practice, Jane Malcolm, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
I have chosen to talk about Professionalism in Early Childhood Education and Care. The current political agenda in Scotland is to increase funded childcare from 600 hours to 1140 hours by 2020. This means that some children will potentially be in childcare for more time than they spend with their parents. My research is looking at how Lead Professionals manage love-led practice in their childcare settings. I studied the language used by professionals and also that used in policies and guidelines in order to build an understanding of love in early year’s practice. Professionals were guided primarily by the policies and guidelines to ensure they were acting professionally. However, I found a distinct lack of any mention of love in most of these documents (Page, 2017). Personal experiences also helped shape moral boundaries which undoubtedly had an impact on the way that Lead Professionals managed love-led practice (Noddings, 2013; Tronto, 2009). As an alternative way of describing love participants suggested some staff just had “it” (Tronto, 2009; Moyles, 2010; Page, 2017). “It” described a skills set, which contrary to belief (Gerhardt, 2013), meant that love could in fact be applied, measured and evaluated making it professional. To inform policy and practice, I have developed an Early Years Love Skills Set which will give Lead Professionals the permission and freedom to manage practice with love and professional integrity. 

I set off on Tuesday 28th  August for Budapest, arriving just after 6pm. A quick change at my apartment on Bathory Utca and off to find the Hungarian National Museum (what did we do before smart phones and Google maps?). Arrived to find the opening event in full swing. We were treated to traditional Hungarian folk music and some wonderful dancing. Then we had the opportunity to sample a delicious Hungarian dinner.

Met loads of new lovely people and some I already knew from the University of Aberdeen! More about them later!! 

The following morning after a beautiful run along the banks of the Danube, I set off for the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. A day of interesting key note speakers and symposia followed. Lots of interesting chats with delegates from all over the world. It was really a fascinating experience, with lots of learning taking place, and thoughts being challenged. Whilst I was waiting I was talking to a woman from Queensland University of Technology in Australia, called Ann Farrell. We had a great chat about the different policy landscape within Scotland and Australia and also some of the similarities. She then introduced me to Greg Antcliff from Goodstart Early Learning in Australia.

Greg and I ended up having a lot of conversations throughout the week. The work he does in Australia looking at improving pedagogical quality was fascinating. It turned out Greg also knew Linda Harrison, from Charles Sturt University, Australia who I was looking out for as we are going to do some work together.

After an interesting day I headed out into Budapest to do some sightseeing and was bowled over with the beauty of the city of Budapest.

Thursday morning brought more presentations. So I headed off to listen to the Symposium chaired by Linda Harrison.
Three fascinating papers:

Co-development of an educator reflection and assessment tool for children under-3 
Linda Harrison, Gerardine Mulhearn, Magdalena Janus, Kate Williams, Sheena Elwick, Wendy Alexander, Jennifer Sumsion, Sharynne McLeod.
 Charles Sturt University, Australia; (2) McMaster University, Canada; (3) Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Assessing and improving pedagogical quality: An implementation science approach 
Greg Antcliff, Sandie Wong and Kate Liley, Goodstart Early Learning, Australia 
Supporting early childhood educators to work in evidence-based transdisciplinary ways: The Goodstart Early Childhood Educator Occupational Therapy Champion Approach 
Sally Galloway, Goodstart Early Learning, Australia

More sightseeing and then off to the Gala Dinner on board The Europa and sailing on the Danube. The entertainment was wonderful with a Hungarian Folk band. I had a quiet moment to myself because at one point they gave a beautiful rendition of Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong, I took myself off to look at the beautiful lit up buildings on the Duna and reflected upon the sad events that have brought me to this point. I felt very brave having got all the way to Budapest without Alistair but knowing that somewhere he is seeing me doing okay without him. I did have a little bit of a cry and raised a glass to him, whilst listening to our wedding song.

But that little quiet moment apart, the love was flowing on board The Europa. I spoke to many people from all over the world and even talked some of them into sharing the love with me on the Duna.  It was an amazing evening. I was careful not to partake too much of the free flowing wine because I had to be up early tomorrow to do my PED talk!

Back to who I met at the opening event! When I first arrived at the open event I was standing a little dazed with a glass of wine, having literally just landed. When who should come up to me but Catriona McDonald from the University of Aberdeen. Catriona had been one of my lecturers at Jewel and Esk Valley College way back in early 2000! Catriona and her colleagues, Sheila Nutkins and Katrina Foy, were kind enough to let me tag along with them throughout the weekend. I didn't even have to talk them into the photo either, quite keen to join in the fun!!! As the Gala evening came to a close we had an interesting discussion around whether it was bats or birds we could see circling the spires of the Parliament, I can confirm, having walked back to my apartment that way, they were seagulls! And after a little google research it would seem this is a regular sight, the spotlights at night drawing them in.

I woke really early the following morning, wanting to take my time and walk along the banks of the Duna to think about my presentation. It was such a beautiful morning to have an early walk. Got to the University, found the room we were presenting in. It was a lovely old looking lecture theatre, with fantastic acoustics. The windows were facing the Duna with views of the beautiful buildings on the other side, I would definitely be a distracted student in that room! As I was waiting one of my fellow presenters came in. She said she was very nervous. She was a lovely, warm and friendly person. Her name was Diana Cruse and she was from New Zealand.

We swapped contact cards and hers bore a maori design on it and the words He Pounamu - not sure what this meant so I googled it and found this beautiful proverb -

Akakoa he iti he pounamu - Despite being small you are of great value. 

Which is the most wonderful way to think of our youngest children.

There were 6 of us in our PED group and we only had an hour to talk so things were kept very much to time. The titles in our group were really interesting talks -
  • The future is in our hands Elsa Chahin, Pikler/Loczy USA, United States of America 
  • Hands-on nature: rocks, shells, and other fascinating items that children collect Kristi Lekies, The Ohio State University, United States of America 
  • Early years media education – a must for the 21st century Saara Salomaa, National Audiovisual Institute, Finland
  • Don't be afraid to use children's literature to teach about diversity in the classroom Kerekes Zsuzsa, Ochanomizu University, Japan 
  • Managing love-led practice, Jane Malcolm, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom 
  • Whānau stories: creating meaningful engagement and an increased wellbeing for the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand Diana Cruse, University of Waikato, New Zealand.
A huge thanks to Chris Pascal for her encouragement and being a great chair and keeping us to time! That "2 min to go" card came upon me very quickly!!! The room was quite full and everyone seemed engaged with what we were all saying. The room was also absolutely boiling, with the sun streaming in. I could barely talk because my mouth was so dry. After the presentations were over, we all got together for a group photograph.

I felt my PED talk went well as I had a lot of people come up to me afterwards to share their enjoyment and thoughts about it. I was really happy with how it went. I was even approached by a woman who worked for the Australian Government and asked if I would consider filming my talk and posting it on the internet as she felt it would get a lot of interest (so I am now trying to work out how to upload a video to YouTube - watch this space).

A beautiful moment happened after Diana's talk where some colleagues and friends from New Zealand stood and sang a wonderfully enchanting song, which was in their native tongue. I have no idea what it was about but it moved Diana, so I am guessing it was something really nice. Then one of the women who had sang this song, approached me and shared her experience of the curriculum in New Zealand which is underpinned and has always been by love, she said when she speaks to children in her care she talks to them about Aroha Nui which is Maori for Big Love. How beautiful.

Chris said she felt that we had all taken the brief for the PED talk and really gotten the essence of what they were to be about. I have to say, whilst it was all very fast paced, and we had no notes or power-point, I really enjoyed the experience. I would definitely like to do more of these sort of presentation.

My first experience of an international conference was amazing, and Budapest was just stunning. I will definitely return. My next conference is in Glasgow, so maybe not so glamourous but looking forward to presenting again. However, now I am back I need to get on with completing the draft of my last data chapter, which is now past the deadline I set myself!!! Will get it finished this week.

So a last round of sightseeing and some quiet time on the beautiful Margaret Island, an oasis of calm in the middle of a busy city and river, and my time in Budapest was coming to a close.

I know I only scraped the surface of this beautiful, loving city. For somewhere with a past that has faced terrible sadness and terror, it was a warm, friendly, safe feeling city. I laughed, I cried and I felt tremendous sadness and shock at some of the stories and monuments I visited (in particular the shoes by the Danube sculpture, which was so sad and horrific but an important reminder of terrible atrocities of the war. I cannot wait to return.

I will post my talk as the next blog and will post the video, if and when I get around to filming it.

Budapest, I love you. x

Friday, 8 June 2018

Sharing love with practitioners in Falkirk

Yesterday I had the pleasure to meet a group of enthusiastic, kind, loving practitioners who work in Falkirk in Early Learning and Childcare. They were attending a training session entitled "The Image of the Child".

Lisa, Education Team Manager, was challenging the group to think beyond procedures and policies and remember the child. She asked them what influenced their image of the child. There were some lively discussions about the different external influences that impacted upon their understanding of the child in the setting.

She then asked them to consider love. She spoke about a care inspector who fought vehemently to include love in her formal inspection report because she felt that was what she had witnessed. There then followed a great discussion around what love might look like, what did the inspector see that made her fight so strongly to have it included in her report.

I was then asked to share my research. As I always find there is general interest in this subject and then the real interest kicks in when I ask the question "what do you say when a child says 'I love you'?". This really gets the room chattering, often to the point I end up having to shout over the top of everyone to reign everyone back into a group discussion. What I found really interesting about this group was they were all sold on love already. There were a few were unsure of what they might say as they felt uncomfortable with the words 'I love you' but all confidently said they definitely loved all of the child in their care. This is a huge change from when I began my research 4 years ago, which is brilliant, it means people are getting on board and challenging the notion that it is somehow wrong to love the children we work with.

We spoke about how love fits in with professionalism and also how things have changed over the years, with different policy trends impacting upon practice. There were some really good discussions around the issue of 'touch', 'cuddles' etc. With most feeling that they would cuddle no matter whether they were told not to. There was also discussion around feeling that when inspected love might be frowned upon.

I have absolutely no doubt that this group were totally on board and ready to join me on my quest to 'bring love back into childcare'. It was a brilliant training session and I just want to thank Lisa McCabe and Sue Palmer (for putting me in touch with Lisa) for the opportunity to share love with these amazing practitioners in Falkirk.

As one practitioner said to me "I don't see what is wrong with saying you love a child, there is nothing wrong with it". Music to my ears!