Sightlines Initiative

promoting creative and reflective practice in early childhood education


Conferences & Seminars

(including Reggio Study visits)

Reggio Approach E-Learning

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Digital Learning Toolbox: 15% discounts for Network Members & Newslist subscribers

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Events Archive


                    ... to our programme for 2022 - 2023.

Centres are showing great enthusiasm to connect and grow, and we will be offering seminars, events and exchanges to maximise the potential of these times.

If you are interested in discussing bespoke professional development possibilities for your centre please get in touch.

Go HERE if you want to read about past events, presentations seminars.


 ~ identifying and maximising the scope in the DfE 2020 ‘Development Matters’ for renewing professionalism and pedagogical culture ~

An online conversation between Sightlines Initiative Network members representing centres in the private, maintained and voluntary sectors, FE/HE colleges, plus early years colleague Jan Dubiel, who played a significant part in creating the new guidance document.

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The new Development Matters is ‘thinner’ than previous documents which have constrained professionalism by over-programmatization. Our premiss is that there is an opportunity to seize in the thinness, in that the spaces give room for developing a new depth of pedagogical culture by individual settings that are researchful and motivated. Our aim is to identify where there are breathing spaces to work professionally and researchfully, without defending against hidebound strictures.

There is equal need and scope for FE and HE colleges to provide course experiences which nurture professionalism in educators – especially in being researchful. We recognise that currently much recent initial professional formation has been competency-based, matching the recent highly structured ‘programmes of learning’ which have been produced by government departments. As a result many educators (practitioners) and managers are not geared up to inhabit these ‘spaces for growth’ - they may feel empty and unnerving, creating a yearning for ‘old certainties’ and comprehensive manuals.

Undoubtedly there are criticisms and concerns about languages or aspects of the document, and we can recognise and note these at the outset without dwelling on them unduly,  unless they present fundamental challenges. The main point is to articulate the ways in which so-inclined centres can wholeheartedly move into evolving researchful pedagogy, and the opportunities for FE/HE course leaders to produce formative courses which support this professionalism.

This first conversation is  open to attendance online by others, who will also have opportunities to contribute thoughts and comments.

Date Thursday 3rd December 2020
Price £20
Member Discount Free to members, but it is open to all.


Jan Dubiel, EY educator & consultant, DfE/QCA lead

Chris Merrick –past EY advisor &  inspector, chair of governors, SI consultant, past early years centre lead

Louise Lowings – past EY advisor, current head of Madeley Nursery School, Telford

Jackie Warren – CEO, Growing Places nursery centres, Portsmouth

Rebecca Webb – education lecturer, University of Sussex

Diane Gregory, Manager, Childsplay Nursery, Newcastle

Robin Duckett, early years educator, founder/director, Sightlines Initiative

Caroline El-Semman, director, Little Jungle School of Early Childhood

Times 4 - 5.30pm

We are no longer accepting registration for this event

Online Conference set:  narratives of the real and possible in shaping education

2016 project 1These are times of possibility. Amidst calls and demands to ‘return to normal’ there are also many who have lost patience with the ‘old normal’ or have seen that other ways of living and learning are indeed preferable. Multitudes of educators, head teachers, parents and advocates are striving to protect and also develop possibilities for educational experiences with children’s rights, wellbeing and proclivities for natural enquiry at the heart.  

This online conference set of seminars is designed to nourish all those who are actively promoting and creating these ‘visions of the possible.'

The core frame of reference in these seminars is work of the preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy.   2020 is the centenary of Loris Malaguzzi’s birthday, the pedagogical teacher, psychologist and civic campaigner who worked closely throughout his life with Reggio Emilia’s emerging preschool services between 1945 - 95. Reggio’s preschools continue to be a tirelessly evolving example of an embodied vision for the future. 

We are also showcasing selected innovative educational experiences from other countries. We will consider these alternatives, in order to learn and ally with their experiences as we forge a new education for our children. 

The series culminates in a panel discussion with Peter Moss and others to consider the questions and possibilities that these generate, and the principles and directions which they imply for us. "

women's resistance 1944
building the preschool 1946 2

" It is the spring of 1945.
I hear that in a small village called Villa Cella, a few miles away from the town of Reggio Emilia, people decided to build and run a school for young children. That idea seems incredible to me! I rush there on my bike – I find women intent upon salvaging and washing pieces of brick …you have to agree that seeing an army tank, six horses and three trucks generating a school for young children is extra-ordinary. … [Reggio Emilia's] valuable (and continuing) history confirms that a new educational experience can emerge from the least expected circumstances. "
Loris Malaguzzi

the truck of the people LM summer fresco
Communicate with presenters prior to the presentations: When you register you will be given a link to write about your interests, foci, wishes, questions.

If you register before Friday 16th October these will be submitted to the various presenters. This will be helpful to them in honing their presentations and give them a sense of connection with you and your interests.

Date Monday 26th October 2020
End Date Friday 30th October 2020
Available places 9
Price £150
Member Discount 10% (If you are not a member, you can go to Our Work/Network Membership for more info.)

Monday 26th October 10a.m. 'Loris Malaguzzi's pedagogical influence and contemporary importance.' Professor Peter Moss, University College London

Monday 26th October 2p.m. 'Walking on Threads of Silk.' Marina Castagnetti, Reggio Children, Italy

Wednesday 28th October 10a.m. 'The Women and the Schools of Reggio Emilia.' Professor Sabine Lingenauber & Janina L. von Niebelschütz, University of Fulda, Germany

Wednesday 28th October 2p.m. 'How Does Learning Happen? - Ontario's vision for education’ Karyn Callaghan & Kelly Massaro-Joblin, Ontario Reggio Association, Canada

Friday 30th October 10a.m. 'Democratic alternatives in education: Provocations from the Portuguese Modern School Movement.' Dr. Diana Sousa, University College London

Friday 30th October 2p.m. 'Truths and Transformation – where now and how?' Panel and Discussion with Peter Moss, Karyn Callaghan and others.

Please Note:

  • The cost is inclusive for all seminars.
  • Your ticket is transferable to another in the case that you can't participate in a particular session.
  • Video links will be issued on the previous working day.
  • Recorded sessions: to support the participation of registrants in other time zones, we will be making recordings of the sessions available to registrants for a period of four days subsequent to the presentation.
  • We are no longer accepting registration for this event

    Madely LoE edit 3'Making the Parts Whole' Madeley Nursery 2019This session will explore the concept of ‘languages of evaluation’ – the idea that there are many different ways of understanding and conducting evaluation, and not just evaluation as ‘performance management’, a language that is very dominant today.
    In particular, we will consider what language of evaluation can do justice to a complex and distinct pedagogical project, for example, that of the municipal schools of Reggio Emilia or many of the Children’s Centres in England, in a way that embodies the value of participatory democracy, and supports researchful education.
    Peter Moss, from UCL Institute of Education, will share some of his preliminary thinking about this challenge; while Louise Lowings, from Madeley Nursery School, will share some examples from current practice that have evolved from a two year international research project in early childhood centres.
    There will be time for questions and discussion about this vital subject.

    Documentation as a tool for assessment/evaluation gives us an extremely strong 'antibody' to a proliferation of assessment/evaluation tools which are more and more anonymous, decontextualised and only apparently objective and democratic.

    Carla Rinaldi, President of Reggio Children Foundation


    Date Wednesday 21st October 2020
    Price £35
    Member Discount £5

    Professor Peter Moss

    Louise Lowings

    Times 4 - 5.30pm
    Location/Map online

    We are no longer accepting registration for this event

    Viburnum thicker Dark Green Outline.fwThis online session is for Sightlines Initiative Network members and settings to reconnect, share journeys, and current planning in this ongoing time of global health crisis.  

    What a strange time this has been and is!  

    There have been so many challenges to the early years sector both financial and emotional big decisions had to be made. Was it safe to open? How could we keep safe but also still be here at the end of all this? How could we support our children at home?  How could we stay connected? 

    Log in first in order to register - see 'Community Login' at the left of the webpage.

    Date Wednesday 7th October 2020
    Please Note: This is a free session for Sightlines Initiative Network members
    Times 1.30pm - 3pm

    Please login as a subscriber first in order to register

    3 ways

    In this session we will considering our ideas of play – what is it? what is it for? who determines this? – to focus on playfulness. The basis for this will be an exploration of children’s naturally playful learning and how this compares with adults’ constructs about play.

    Adults who begin by closely considering children’s feelings associated with playfulness are far better placed to be insightful in their provision of dynamic learning environments.

    We will

    • look at how we can foster playfulness and creativity through our relationships and ways of being with children
    • explore playful possibilities within the learning environments we create, and
    • discuss the value of developing our own playfulness to work in reciprocal, playful ways with children.

    This seminar is organised in collaboration with House of Imagination, of which our guest presenter Dr. Karen McInnes is an associate.

    Dr Karen McInnes has a background in working with children as a speech and language therapist, early years teacher, play therapist. Her PhD focused on play and playfulness in young children, and she continues to research, write and present on play and playfulness.

    Date Tuesday 6th October 2020
    Price £35
    Member Discount £5
    Presenters Dr. Karen McInnes
    Times 4 - 5.30pm
    Location/Map online

    We are no longer accepting registration for this event

    Our profession needs to be researchful, and connected with its libraries of evolving thinking, research and knowledge.on gaints collected1

    The last 33 years or so (in the UK), exemplify the blank slate model of teacher and educator development.
    The trouble started in 1987. In the years before the (UK) Education Act of 1987, by and large, teachers did their own thinking, turning to a variety of sources to enrich their understanding and help them make a case for their principled pedagogical decisions. But soon after the arrival of the DES National Curriculum document, the first signs of professional amnesia appeared in our midst. Slowly but surely teachers began to act as if professional knowledge were only to be found in glossy ring folders, training packs and videos and all manner of other pronouncements from politically-led authorities.

    [from Mary Jane Drummond, Professional Amnesia, Refocus Journal 2008]

    Transformative change requires attention to pedagogical as well as structural principles….we have the good fortune, in evolving pedagogical principles and educational action, of a rich tradition of educational thought and experience. We must take full advantage of the invaluable cultural heritage represented by the thought and work of past pedagogues such as Froebel, Dewey, McMillan, Isaacs, Freinet, Freire and Malaguzzi.
    Drawing on these cultural reserves, as well as the intelligence and expertise of today’s practitioners, a pedagogical transformation can be embarked upon, turning away from a culture of targets [and] measurement.

    [from Peter Moss, Transforming Early Childhood in England 2020]

    In this session we will be reflecting on the contributions of some of the recent giants of educational thinking so that we can better articulate and explain the beliefs and understandings that can and ought to underpin our practice. We will examine a range of perspectives developed through the last century, so that we can draw on these in the choices we make for children and to tell a better story about the nature of education, based on the way young children learn rather than on the target-driven instincts of politics.

    We will provide participants with further reading and references, to continue your encounters ....

    Date Tuesday 29th September 2020
    Price £35
    Member Discount £5
    Speaker Dr. Christine Merrick
    Times 4 - 5.30 pm
    Location/Map online

    We are no longer accepting registration for this event

    learning to learn in nature cover image

    A one-hour online session to introduce the principles of 'Learning to Learn in Nature'. It is for all early years and primary educators who want to engage in creating investigative learning opportunities and develop thier reflective. creative pedagogy.

    Learning to Learn in Nature is about young children learning in wild places, and educators learning with them. It is about being in connection with nature and bringing that connection back to the classroom. But it is also about something more, something that is seen very clearly when children are given the freedom to explore the wild outdoors on their own terms, with daring and imagination.

    It is about learning as a process of continuous enquiry: an expression of insatiable fascination with the world, in which children learn together and individually, and educators and children work together to discover and make meaning. School life is part of human life, connected to its cycles, desires, dreams, wonderings. Educators best meet the interests of children when fundamental human values inform and shape their pedagogical practice.

    During October 2020 - March 2021 we will be offerring a five-session online course - this September session will introduce the contents.

    Date Thursday 17th September 2020
    Price £35
    Member Discount £5
    Presenters Robin Duckett, Catherine Reding, Elizabeth Elders
    Times 4 - 5pm
    Location/Map online

    We are no longer accepting registration for this event

    Clay Forest 2018 Photo Paolo Ferla smClay Forest 2018: House of Imagination

    An invitation to explore an education of co-enquiry, humanity and relationship, from Directors of Sightlines Initiative, Robin Duckett and Liz Elders alongside Dr Penny Hay, Director of Research, House of Imagination, Research Fellow and Reader in Creative Teaching and Learning at Bath Spa University.

    Our organisations are grounded in the awareness of the potentials of all children as innately creative, ready and eager to explore and make sense of the world. They have the right to expect an education which recognises that.

    In the spirit of opening doorways for interest, we will be presenting examples from our portfolios which illustrate how we are working to demonstrate ‘environments of enquiry’ and how we can co-construct an education based on these principles, rather than from the dominant performance-led agenda of treating children as empty vessels to be instructed and tested.

    There will be opportunities for reflection and discussion as part of the one-hour session.

    Date Thursday 9th July 2020
    Cut off date Thursday 9th July 2020
    Price £35
    Presenters Robin Duckett, Dr Penny Hay, Elizabeth Elders
    Times 4 - 5pm
    Location/Map online

    We are no longer accepting registration for this event