Below, is a Q&A with our early years practitioner, Tara

Q: What do you currently do?

I am currently working for the London School of Childcare Studies as an Early Years Advisor and Trainer. My role includes writing and delivering online training workshops, supporting new learners with advice on training, and writing engaging blogs.

At the moment, I am living on an overseas military base with my husband and two children. Here, alongside other health professionals, I run a successful bump and baby coffee morning supporting new parents from pregnancy through to the child’s first year. I also run Baby Massage and Baby Sensory classes and Rhyme Time for under 5’s.

Tara Sutton

Q: How long have you been involved in early years education and how did you get into this field?

I have been working within the early years education sector for 20 years. To get into the field, I enrolled in a BTEC National Diploma in Childhood Studies and started volunteering at a private nursery. Throughout my 20-year career I have worked in a variety of settings including a nursery for children with complex needs and disabilities, as a manager in a school-based nursery, and leading a school breakfast, after school and holiday club. I have also been a Sure Start children’s centre co-ordinator as well as working in the MASH team in children’s social care.

More recently, I have worked for a local authority’s early years’ service, co-ordinating and delivering training to the city’s early years workforce and, before moving overseas, I was an EYFS Lead and Area Manager for a group of nurseries based in the southeast of England.

In parallel, I have also progressed through my own training and qualifications including achieving a Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for the Children’s and Young People’s Workforce and achieving a first in my BA (Hons) degree in Early Childhood.

Q: Why early years? What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of working in this field?

I have always been interested in how children learn and develop. Early life is the best time to make a positive impact. I have found it extremely rewarding seeing children develop and thrive and being able to support parents and ignite passion in practitioners.

Q: What are some of the challenges you face?

The main challenge is the ever-changing landscape of the sector. It requires hard work to stay current and be able to ensure that the children and families that I work with have the best of what I can offer. Having a passion for Early Years makes this interesting and rewarding.

Q: Have you come across much change in the industry over the time you have been an early years practitioner?

Over the past 20 years I have seen and experienced many changes, particularly changes in government. This has led to constant changes in the early years’ curriculum and overall agenda for children. Obesity, speech and language and more recently sustainability and the environment within early years have been high on the political agenda.

Q. What are some personal characteristics and traits that make someone suitable for this kind of career?

Kind, compassionate, patient, caring and hard working.

Q: What steps would you recommend to anyone thinking about starting a career in the early years?

Gain qualifications and take up every opportunity to build your experience. Be prepared to volunteer in a variety of children’s settings and think creatively. My early career included babysitting, respite care and volunteering in a hospital children’s ward working alongside the play therapist. In recent times I have volunteered in a Year R class as this is something I am less experienced in. This varied experience has helped me achieve my qualifications, such as with my degree, where I was able to look back at my experiences and relate these to the theory.

Q: Do you have any insider tips for new and upcoming early years professionals?

Invest in yourself. Track your own development and always reflect on your practice. This approach will enable you to become a competent and successful early years professional.