Hello, I'm Kym!
I provide consultancy, training, workshops and keynote speeches across the UK and overseas on a number of subjects related to early years.
I'm especially passionate about the impact that positive relationships, quality interactions and play can have on a child's learning and life chances.
I started my career working with young children as a nanny and a pre-school assistant in my home county of Norfolk. I went on to take teaching and senior leadership roles in London schools, before joining the Lewisham Early Years Advisory team in South London.
During this time I co-wrote a number of publications with my colleagues, including the hugely popular "A Place to Learn', which was frequently described at the time as 'a bible for early years practitioners'. As a result of the book's popularity, my colleagues and I were asked to speak at conferences and provide training around the country.
Meanwhile, in Lewisham, I went on to become a School Improvement Adviser and eventually Strategic Lead for Early Years. The advisory aspect of my work enabled me to work closely with many schools and early years settings in a variety of circumstances and over 15 years, I was able to carry out my own informal action research as to what really makes the difference in terms of helping leaders to raise the quailty of their early years provision and improve outcomes for children.
Lewisham gradually moved from being a local authority that was amongst the lowest in terms of outcomes for children at the end of the EYFS, to being consistently one of the highest, with excellent inspection outcomes overall, despite being an area with high levels of disadvantage. I was being asked more and more to speak around the country about what I had learned from working in partnership with these schools and settings and eventually I made the leap to become a freelance consultant.
Watch me in action
My core work
Based in England, I also work in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and am particularly interested in working to improve the learning and life chances of children who might be considered at risk of educational disadvantage.
As well as providing keynote speeches and training sessions, I also spend a lot of time working directly with schools and settings to help them evaluate and improve the quality of their offer.
My extensive work with international schools means that I have also developed a strong understanding of this unique sector and have given speeches and provided consultancy support in many countries, including USA, Shanghai, Singapore, Japan, Dubai, Thailand, The Falkland Islands, Kazakhstan, The Netherlands, France and Switzerland. I've also spent time observing practice in Finland in order to develop my own professional understanding of the education system there.
In response to COVID-19 and the lack of opportunity to deliver training in person, I have created my own online early years professional development site, The Place to Learn, consisting of pre-recorded, on demand training videos covering a wide range of aspects of early years pedagogy and practice.
Abigail Slade, Headteacher, West Hill School, for Children with Learning and Additional Needs, Leatherhead.
“Kym's work with our staff is always engaging and full of energy. They always leave her sessions knowing something more and asking themselves questions. She literally nurtures staff and enables them to flourish. Kym's supportive challenge helps us drive forward for continual improvement and we are always inspired each and every time we work with her”.
Other aspects of my work:
I am one of the admin team and keynote speakers behind the highly regarded Keeping Early Years Unique Facebook group, a support network and campaigning movement with a membership of almost 50,000, created for those wishing to develop child-led, play based learning further in their schools and settings.
I've worked for organisations such as Early Excellence and BEAM (Be A Mathematician) and am now proud to be an associate consultant for Early Education, a national charity supporting early years practitioners with professional development and campaigning for quality education for young children. I also sit on the editorial board of Early Years Educator magazine and am a Trustee for MakeBelieve Arts theatre and education company.
I was commissioned by the Department for Education as an external national moderator for the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile, and also helped to work on materials for the 2012 EYFS profile handbook.
As well as providing workshops for parents in recent years, I've appeared in a variety of short educational and parenting films, for Teachers TV, Ladybird books and Parentchannel.tv.
Eleanor Prestage, Headteacher, Alfred Salter Primary School, London
I have really valued Kym’s advice and support in developing our Early Years Foundation Stage. She is so knowledgeable and has gained the respect of the whole team and has empowered them to make significant changes to our environment and practice. With Kym’s input we have improved the quality of our Early Years provision from being judged as Requires Improvement by Ofsted to being praised by HMI within a 6 month period. I would recommend Kym to any Early Years setting as she is fantastic to work with.