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Article 20/11/2023

EDT attends the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood's ‘Shaping Us’ National Symposium

Education Development Trust was delighted to be invited to the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood's ‘Shaping Us’ National Symposium on Wednesday 15 November 2023, hosted by HRH The Princess of Wales as part of her campaign to raise awareness of early childhood.

EDT’s Early Years Professional Development Programme team were invited to contribute to the work of the foundation and attend the event due to their hard work and dedication in improving the social and emotional wellbeing of the most disadvantaged children between the ages of two and four – some of the most crucial early stages of their lives.

Held at The Design Museum in London, the Symposium brought together cross-disciplinary leaders, child and adult specialists, and global thinkers for the first time to ‘unite thinking’ on how we can develop key foundational skills in early childhood to help establish ‘happy, healthy adult lives’.

The event opened with a keynote speech from the Princess, outlining her long-term campaign aiming to increase awareness of, and action on, the unique importance of early childhood in shaping our future mental and physical wellbeing as adults, as well as the nature of the wider society we build.

An expert panel discussion on the social and emotional skills that matter throughout our lives and which have their foundations in early childhood explored findings of a first-of-its-kind global listening exercise involving experts from 21 countries to catalogue and identify the social and emotional skills that matter most throughout our lives. These skills were identified as those that we develop and nurture during early childhood, but that continue to be enhanced and refined as we grow into adults – and in turn, lay the foundations for our positive future mental health and resilience. They include:

  • Knowing ourselves
  • Managing our emotions
  • Focusing our thoughts
  • Communicating with others
  • Nurturing with others
  • Exploring the world.

The Princess said of the findings, ‘The latest science clearly indicates that early childhood development must focus on more than just the physical and technical skills of our children – we also need to prioritise their inner worlds too.

‘How they manage anxiety, low mood, tantrums, self-loathing or anger; these are the things that will shape their future lives, and without solid foundations in childhood, they may become vulnerabilities later. No matter how outwardly successful they may be.

‘Nurturing skills that enable us to know ourselves, manage our emotions, focus our thoughts, communicate with others, foster positive relationships and explore the world are just as valuable to our long-term success as reading, writing or arithmetic.’

The Princess said that social and emotional skills are ‘the bedrock’ for helping children thrive and for ‘restoring, protecting, and investing in humankind’. But rebalancing and restoring calls for ‘new thinking and action at every level’, she concluded.

Workshops during the symposium looked at what action can be taken at every level to protect and strengthen personal, social, and emotional development skills for current and future generations across disciplines and sectors. These workshops included:

  • Mapping the status of social and emotional development in early childhood in the UK.
  • Identifying and prioritising tangible actions to create the foundations of a happy, healthy society.

Funded by the Department for Education in England and delivered by EDT, the Early Years Professional Development Programme supports early years practitioners to improve their understanding and skills in supporting the development of the most disadvantaged children between two and four years old. Forming part of the UK Government’s Early Years Education Recovery Plan, the programme aims to address the continued effects of the pandemic on young children.

Marian Gould, EDT’s Deputy Director UK, said:

“It is a testament to the extraordinary tenacity and dedication of the Early Years Professional Development Programme team over some four years that Educational Development Trust have been invited to contribute to the work of The Royal Foundation’s Centre for Early Childhood. It was a privilege to be part of such an inspirational event and to engage with a range of thought leaders to understand the scientific, economic and human cases for prioritising early childhood, and our social and emotional development.

“The event workshops presented a rare and valuable opportunity to engage with professionals from across sectors to focus on how we can collectively best support the development of our youngest children.”

The Early Years Professional Development Programme is available to eligible practitioners across all participating local authorities in England. There will be staggered start dates across the 2023-25 period with a total of four cohorts, the next of which is due to start in January 2024. Participants will receive high quality, evidence-based CPD (continuous professional development) to support them to improve outcomes on school readiness, early language, early mathematics and Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED). Find out more or register your interest today.