Our Early Years Connect project is driven by a vision to work with strategic partners to build and embed an improvement strategy, ensuring high quality outcomes for all children and families, particularly the most disadvantaged.

Building on local collaborative primary and secondary practices, we are working together to establish and maintain local, information-sharing protocols, which will allow us to identify and target priority settings.

We regard the role of the Early Years Practice Development Partner (EYPDP) as pivotal in facilitating Early Years improvement, providing leadership capacity and facilitation of Joint Practice Development (JPD) in response to sector needs.

EYPDPs representing the Early Years sector (childminders, private, voluntary and independent nurseries, children’s centres, nursery classes and Reception Year) support and challenge practice.

Initially, the programme focused on raising standards in Communication, Language and Literacy (CLL)  and high quality provision for two year olds. This necessitated co-construction with the health sector, including speech and language therapists and health visitors. As the project is now expanding into its third year, other specialisms are being developed, requiring the strengthening of existing and forging of new partnerships.

The Early Years Practice Development Partners  (EYPDPs)

Melanie Halliday

Pre School Leader – Winsley Acorns Preschool

I have worked in early years for the past 12 years and I am very passionate about supporting all children to reach their full potential. I started as an unqualified nursery assistant in a full day care nursery.  Over the years I have completed various qualifications including my BA Hons degree in Early Years and most recently my Early Years Teacher Status.

I have mostly worked in large all day nurseries where I have been able to develop my career and gain experiences across ages 3 months to 5 years. I progressed from a nursery nurse role to a deputy leader.  I am now the manager of Winsley Acorns Preschool where I have been able to work closely with a number of agencies to support the families who attend my setting.   I work with the local children’s centres, schools and speech and language therapists which assists my learning about how we can support each other to ensure the best outcomes for children.

I am particularly interested in supporting children who have speech and language needs as I have observed the frustrations young children have when they are unable to communicate. I have attended a foundation Makaton course which has been very supportive in my setting.

I also have a passion for outdoor learning and tuning into how children learn. I recognise that children benefit from learning in many environments and for some children being outside is the key to them achieving their goals.

Rachael Hill

Manager – The Willows Pre School

My name is Rachael Hill. I have been manager at The Willows Preschool for almost five years, and involved there for over ten years.  In that time I have seen a great deal of changes within the early years sector and have become passionate about the expectations on both children and staff.

My particular interests and enthusiasms reside in the importance of giving all children a brilliant start to their years in education, be this as a child at a preschool, or a child at home with their parents. I have a deeper interest in early language and literacy, alongside an understanding of the necessity of sound emotional wellbeing for children. The latter is imperative in good development into children, teenagers and adults.

I hope that this role will initiate closer networking and understanding between all early years providers who have come into the role in order to give children excellent foundations in their early lives.

Julia Honeywell

Manager at YMCA King’s Malmesbury

I have worked in early years for 14 years and am passionate about providing and delivering outstanding care to children in this sector. I am particularly interested in identifying and supporting children with speech and language delay as I recognise how vital it is to embed these early skills for the best learning outcome for each child.

I am the Curriculum Lead, EYFS Coordinator and underpin E.C.a.T in other YMCA settings. I recognise the benefit of providing varied and stimulating environments in which children can learn and am particularly passionate about the benefits of learning outside

Stephanie Witham

Manager at Longscroft Children’s Nursery School

My name is Steph Whitham. I have been in childcare for over 7 years. I am currently the manager of Longscroft Children’s Nursery School in Trowbridge and have achieved my degree in Early years, EYP status and Level 5 management award.

I have a particular interest in meeting the needs for vulnerable children and ensuring they receive the best possible start in their early years and reaching their own potential. I am open to change and giving/receiving support to other settings. I hope this role provides a greater source of networking between Early Years providers to ensure children are given the possibly to achieve at their highest standards.

Joanne Clarke (Jo)

Manager, Rainbow Early Years

I am a proud mother of four wonderful sons, who set me on my journey in realising what a rewarding role nurturing children is. From this interest, I became a childminder adding a few more children to my brood! Then an opportunity arose to be employed as a teaching assistant in a reception class, followed by becoming a pre-school assistant. Eventually I was appointed the Manager of the preschool setting on site, where I still work. More recently, I have become a very proud grandmother for the first time and it’s very exciting! Over many years, I have embarked on my own learning journey to gain knowledge to better support young children. I started with a Level 2 in childcare then continued learning while managing my setting and gained a BA (Hons) in Early Years & childcare, then achieving Early Years Professional Status (EYPS). I was also asked to become a Bristol Standard (quality improvement framework) validator, a role which I really enjoy. My particular interests and enthusiasms are with ensuring all children have opportunities to develop and learn from their unique starting points, by providing rich learning environments. I particularly enjoy providing children with many natural play materials that can be used in open ended ways. Alongside this, I have a great interest in ensuring children are able to access outdoor play opportunities on a daily basis and explore the world through their senses. I am presently, completing the Forest School Level 3 qualification to support this in my own setting. Through this role, I hope that Early Years providers will get the opportunity to build closer relationships and support from each other and share a wealth of knowledge and ideas. Also building a network practitioners which will benefit Early Years children and families in Wiltshire. It is a privilege to have been appointed as a EYPDP and I’m looking forward to having this opportunity.