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Tapestry Education Conference (TEC): Reflecting on CPD in the Early Years

We were delighted to hold the free online Tapestry Education Conference

on 4th November 2021, 6-8pm

The theme for this event was Reflecting on CPD in the Early Years


Continuing Professional Development should always be at the forefront of being an early years educator, whether we are just starting out, or have many years of experience in the sector. We engage in CPD to have a positive impact on children’s learning. With the new EYFS Framework and guidance documents, and their emphasis on child development, CPD is currently in the limelight. It requires self-reflection, curiosity and critical inquiry; it can be carried out as an individual or as part of a team; it builds and refreshes our pedagogy.

This conference has been designed to help you reflect on your own CPD and the learning opportunities within your team.


Event Description

After an introduction by Helen Edwards, co-founder of the Foundation Stage Forum and Tapestry, hosts Juliet Mickelburgh and Stephen Kilgour from our education team opened with a conversation reflecting on CPD. Our speakers, Iram Siraj OBE, Annie Richardson, and Emily Lees then shared their presentations, each followed by a short Q&A. Helen closed the event.

You will find Iram, Annie and Emily’s bio, talk description and downloadable presentations below:

Iram Siraj OBE

Annie Richardson

Emily Lees


Event Recording

We are so glad to be able to share the conference recording with you. Whether you attended the event and want to revisit and reflect on it, or you are watching it for the first time, we hope this video will enable you to start, and continue, important conversations about professional development.

Below you will find the BSL and original versions of the recording.


Meet the Speakers

Iram Siraj OBE

About Iram

Iram has held positions (1989-2021 cont’d) at the Universities of Warwick, London and Oxford. She gained her doctorate in 1995 from Warwick University. She is currently Professor of Child Development and Education, University of Oxford.

Iram has an international reputation and expertise for longitudinal research and policy. She has co-directed a number of world-first influential studies, including the Effective Provision of Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE, DfE, 1997-2015), the transformative Researching Effective Pedagogy in the Early Years (REPEY, DfE, 2002), and the Effective Leadership in the Early Years Sector (ELEYS) studies. She has also co-investigated Effective Early Educational Experiences in Australia (E4Kids, Australian Research Council and Victoria and Queensland Governments. 2009-2015).

Her recent studies focus on professional development (PD) interventions looking at the impact of evidence-based PD e.g. in 90 centres in New South Wales Fostering Effective Early Learning (FEEL, 2018); Researching Effective Environments for Learning in 70 centres in Victoria (REEL, 2019); and Using Research tools to Promote Language in the Early Years in 120 primary schools in England (2020). Recent studies include leadership in early education in low/middle income countries (World Bank); an RCT using MOVERS (40 centres, Victorian Govt), Adult-child Interactions using IT apps (ARC); a British Academy Grant to study the development of refugee pre-schoolers in Malaysia (2019-2021) and an EEF maths intervention in 106 primary schools to improve maths for 4-6 year olds.

She has over 250 publications including three widely-used quality rating scales in the cognitive (ECERS-E 4th Ed. 2010), social-emotional (SSTEW, 2015) and physical (MOVERS, 2017) domains, they’re currently being used in many countries to enhance PD of staff. Her most recent book (Siraj et al 2019) is Teaching in Effective Primary Schools: Research into Pedagogy and Children’s Learning by UCL-IOE Press.

Follow and contact Iram on:

Twitter: @SirajIram

University of Oxford profile

About Iram’s Talk

CPD which democratises self-assessment for practice uplift and improving children’s learning

In this session Iram looked at how some of her professional development studies have been influential in improving educator practice while also enhancing child learning. She drew on the Fostering Effective Early Learning (FEEL) study to demonstrate how evidence-based CPD can support educators to enhance quality and improve outcomes while developing a systematic way of improving their own practice at their own pace. During the session, she identified some important characteristics of effective CPD.

Download Iram's Presentation

Annie Richardson


About Annie

Annie has been involved in the early years sector for over 30 years. She started by volunteering at her daughter’s pre-school and found she was inspired by the cleverness of young children. She went on to work as a crèche worker, before becoming an assistant and later a supervisor of a committee managed pack-away playgroup.  She helped set up a daycare nursery and managed it for 2 years. She describes her most enjoyable and informative position in her career as her work for a Local Authority as a support worker for pre-school children with complex special educational needs and their families: supporting them in their home, pre-school and Reception Class. After 10 years in this role, she became an Early Years Consultant for the same Local Authority. Her last remit in this role was to embed the first edition of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) within all early years provision across the county, and to support a new network of practitioners with Early Years Professional Status (EYPS), as she was one of the first EYPs in the county. Her current role is as a senior lecturer in early childhood education and care at the University of Brighton, where she has been delivering the topic she is passionate about for over 11 years.

Follow Annie on:

Twitter: @anniearlyyrs



About Annie’s Talk

Putting the C into CPD

Annie discussed with the audience the importance of looking critically when engaging in CPD. She encouraged participants to reflect on their own pedagogy, philosophy, views and beliefs of early childhood education and care and the importance of holding this in mind when adopting new ideas through CPD.

Download Annie's Presentation

Emily Lees

About Emily

Emily is a proudly autistic Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) based in Manchester, UK. She works in a specialist setting supporting autistic children and teenagers. Emily advocates and campaigns for Autism Acceptance through public speaking, training, and education in order to transform the way professionals assess and support autistic children and young people.

Emily is a professional speaker and founder of Emily does not provide behaviourist interventions that assume autistic children have social impairments e.g. Social Skills Training, PECS, Lego Therapy, Social Thinking. Emily provides a consultancy service where she offers accessible information, signposting, and bespoke training. Through her lived experience and Speech & Language Therapy expertise, she campaigns for radical changes in therapy practices.

Follow and contact Emily on:


Twitter: @EmilioLees


About Emily’s Talk

Understanding Neurodiversity: Combating ableism in CPD

What is neurodiversity and why is it becoming an increasingly recognised term in education? Educators play a crucial role in supporting neurodivergent children and need to bring critical enquiry to their own practice and approaches to ensure they are providing appropriate support for each child.


Download Emily's Presentation

Yes! You will be able to watch (or rewatch) any conferences we host directly from our YouTube channel or by visiting the corresponding TEC page directly from here.

Absolutely, the more questions the audience asks, the richer the conference will be. You will be able to ask questions from the Q&A section in Zoom during and at the end of each speaker presentation. We will be curating the questions ready to ask each speaker after their talk.

Yes, of course!  The Tapestry Education Conference was created to enable educators, researchers and decision-makers within the sector to connect and reflect together on important themes to support children’s learning and development. Whilst we organise and host the conference, it is not Tapestry-focused.