Blog and Social Media

Here you will find my blog and social media posts. Find me on Twitter @SwailesRuth.

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Take me there


The impact of the last 20 months has been huge, I speak to teachers and leaders every day who tell me of the challenges many families are facing as a result of covid, loss, grief, stress, poverty, and that’s before we get to the gaps in their learning as a result of 3 National lockdowns.

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Magpie Mornings

Observations can be quite controversial in education. When carried out effectively they can be great for professional development, but I don’t think there’s a teacher alive who hasn’t had a negative experience relating to an observation. How can we change the culture around having other teachers in our classroom so that it's viewed as a positive experience? Here's one approach...


Every day is a school day

It’s something I say all the time, “always learning”, it’s one of life’s great joys to be constantly discovering new things. Sometimes the lessons aren’t always easy though.

Here’s what I’ve learned in the past 4 weeks since Pete received his terminal diagnosis:


A very personal blog

Yesterday I read an article which asked “what would your obituary say about you?”

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That was the year, that was.

Inspired by my friend Jo Gilks @freerangeplay, I thought I’d reflect on the year that has just passed and what a year it’s been.


What about Reception?

Whilst having a clear out recently, I found this book. I remember my Headteacher at the time coming back from a conference in about 2000 and giving me this as a present. It struck me that it's a question we're still asking ourselves in schools. "What about Reception?"


A Valediction: So long, and thanks for all the fun.

In the last week one of the people who had joined in at the beginning and had to go back to school popped in to see us. She said she wanted to end the term where she’d started it, and this prompted me to think of a quote from John Donne (because that’s the way my mind works).

“Thy firmness makes my circle just, 

And makes me end where I begun.”

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Possiblity thinking

This blog is really me playing around with ideas, “thinking out loud”. I know this is not something which is likely to happen, but I do think a conversation from different parts of the education sector about how it might or might not work would be really interesting.

I’d like to start a conversation. Tell me where I’m getting this wrong, and where it might be right (kindly of course). But let’s have a conversation. I’m sure lots of people will tell me of all sorts of issues that I haven’t even considered. I know that some of the schools I work with would be able to do this with relative  ease and for others it would pose a HUGE challenge


Finding the child - Written with Jan Dubiel

At the heart of all the difficult decisions that EYFS educators and managers will need to take is reconciling the need to keep children safe with ensuring that they have access to a responsive, supportive and appropriate curriculum.


Whatever next?

The last three weeks have passed by in a blur of phone calls, emails, zoom chats, webinars, interviews, articles, writing letters, draft documentation and reviews, risk assessments, recovery plans.


A safe space for learning; written with Jan Dubiel

A central consideration for an effective and responsible retransition in EYFS provision will be how the learning environment is structured and how leaders will strike the balance between the safety of children, their families and staff and the opportunities for learning and teaching. We need to be clear that under the current conditions it will not possible – nor responsible – to maintain a typical EYFS learning environment with multiple Areas of Provision all carefully equipped with a wide range of resources, tools and materials.


I don't want to burst your bubble....

There seems to have been a lot of confusion caused by various politicians and health advisors who have referred to social distancing in briefings and in interviews. Last weekend Jenny Harries spoke about children sitting at “work desks” and Michael Gove seemed to indicate that he expected young children to be sitting at tables and staying away from each other. However, the guidance from the DFE states

“We know that, unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff. In deciding to bring more children back to early years and schools, we are taking this into account.


It's a bit more complicated than you think...

One would hope that in an effort to support schools and settings to keep safe in a global pandemic, the government would ensure that the guidance for those working with the most complex sector would be clear and extensive. On Friday 15th May, the guidance which came out late in the evening stated that further detailed guidance would follow shortly. We are still waiting.

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Language Matters

What a week it’s been. This morning I woke up to the news that the children’s commissioner had said on the BBC that unions need to “stop squabbling” about opening schools on the 1st of June.

The choice of words was interesting, and no doubt deliberate. Squabbling implies that this is something trivial and childish. The underlying narrative is “look at these people, they work with children and now they’re behaving like them”.


Tales from the staffroom!

I have been asked on several occasions about the virtual staffroom. Is it an Early Years thing? Who can join? Is there an agenda? So I thought I’d share some information about it, in case you were thinking of joining but were too afraid to ask! 


Thoughts on a BrewEd in Lockdown

Anyone who knows me well will know how much I love a BrewEd, so my initial response to BrewEdIsolation was, “Fantastic, I’m up for that!” quickly followed by, “How will that work?” and then, “Will that work?” As Ed said so eloquently in his opening talk, “The important people in the room aren’t the speakers, the important people are the audience.” BrewEd is all about connections! How would that work in the virtual world?


What do you notice?

There are no right or wrong answers to this question, which is instantly liberating for the child. The Early Years teacher will not be unduly surprised by potentially random responses, they are after all part and parcel of working with young children. “I notice that you smell different today.” Or, “You’ve got nice hair, lady.” are answers I’ve been given to this question!


Upper Body and Shoulder Girdle Strength

In this blog I want to explore one of the areas which I find is often overlooked in the early years classroom. The development of upper body strength and the development of the shoulder girdle.



In this blog I will explore proprioception - what it is, why it's important and what teachers and parents can do to help develop it in young children.

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