Early Years trainees talk about lockdown placements

Date 25.09.2020

Lockdown impacted on many aspects of life for most of us, but what did Early Years students do when lockdown called a halt to physical work placements, a core part of their degrees?

Two Early Years students turned the prospect of their studies being derailed to their advantage, by putting their brains into action to develop interesting ways to ensure they were on track for a summer finish.

Charlotte Peacock has just completed her Early Years Teacher Status course. She found herself having to think fast about how to complete her remaining placement hours, with some innovative ideas using participants who were close to home: “I was halfway through a pre-school placement, so all of it had to be adapted. Thankfully, I have two children (pictured top left), one in pre-school and one in reception, so I thought about working with them.

“Using your own children is not the best set up. As all parents know, your children can behave better for other people! But it worked out quite well. For one session, I took their learning outside with a mini obstacle course that led them to a Jack and the Beanstalk story.

“At points there were different visual cues so my daughter, who is younger than my son, could understand what part in the story she had reached and we planted beans to work in some ecology. I also roped in my husband to play the giant and the children got really involved – they forgot the giant was their poor Dad!

“There were other projects but now I am pretty much at the end of my studies as a RQEYT (recently qualified Early Years teacher). It feels good to be near the end but also to be back at my school in Rugby, Tiny Toes Pre-School, supporting parents and young children. We are the first educators of children and sometimes this gets forgotten; it’s why I feel Early Years professionals are so important.”

Early Years assault course

The assault course Charlotte created for her children.

Kate Smith (pictured top left with her daughters) also finished her Early Years Teacher Status course this July, switching careers from something very different. She adds: “This is a complete change for me as I used to work as a set designer and installation artist, but when I had my own children I became fascinated by how they learn and made sense of the world around them.

“The tutors were really skilled at drawing out knowledge you have innately but might not know consciously you have. Personally, I didn’t have a vocabulary for these things. During lockdown, I was looking at social change in Early Years and the team drew this out and helped me to do things virtually because I couldn’t gather evidence physically.

“I did a series of videos for parents, using theory I learned from the course and my own parenting experiences that cut through some of advice parents have been being given to use at home with their children during the pandemic. There’s been a lot of advice that has exerted pressure on parents when they were already managing with a lot, such as their children’s emotions and reactions to being separated from friends and other family members, as well as their own emotions. I wanted to cut through some of this.

“I’m finishing the course knowing all of the theory, and having more confidence in myself, knowing I can contribute to sector more than I previously thought.”

Michelle Bugby, Senior Lecturer in Education (Early Years), said: “All of our Early Years trainees have worked fantastically during very a trying period in their lives, let alone their academic work. As we would expect, they thought outside of several boxes and used their knowledge base to continue with their placement objectives. The team and I applaud all of them.

“We have good reason to celebrate elsewhere in Early Years here. Our Foundation programme was given a 100% overall student satisfaction rating in the most recent National Student Survey, so I’d also like to say thank you to the team for their hard work and energies.”

For more about the University’s Early Years Teacher Status, see our course page.