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June O'Sullivan, LEYF CEO

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Discovering Eva Hart and Ashley Banjo while doing Action Research in Chadwell Heath

Action research at LEYF is a key aspect of how we ensure quality. It’s all about asking questions of ourselves and checking how we can do things better to give children the best service.

One way of doing action research LEYF style is through our Sounding Boards, a phrase coined by our HR Director Neil King some years ago to better describe my ‘ideas dinners’ with staff. In essence, staff are invited to join us to discuss how we can improve or develop new ideas, and in return they get their dinner! In this, LEYF staff are to be congratulated for their generosity – both with their time and how far they will go for a free meal (or indeed simple Curly Wurly).

Male staff with children at the Angekl nursery

This week’s Sounding Board was all about men in childcare, and so I had specifically invited male staff. Richard from Furze hosted the meeting at his nursery in Chadwell Heath, on what turned out to be the wettest and stormiest night of the month (later we discovered another watery connection).

Our goal for the night was to agree how we might best establish children’s views in this area, both as part of our continuing exploration of the distinct role men play in Early Years provision and our plan to launch the London Men in Childcare Network on the 19 November. Unlike in Europe where Männer in Kitas received 14 million euros for theory based research into the benefit of men in childcare, we are doing our research using the LEYF model – namely by accessing our own considerable in-house talent! Amid great chat, crack and comments such as “OMG, it’s like doing a dissertation”, we put together a research plan with a really clever child-focused methodology. Such is the joy of having great practitioners in the room.

By eight o’clock I was desperate for my dinner, and so dragged the team to the most recommended restaurant in wind-swept Chadwell Heath: Weatherspoons Eva Hart, named after local resident Eva Hart MBE, survivor of the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912. Despite a number of images of the famous vessel on display around the restaurant, there was sadly no sign of Leo di Caprio to help complete the experience. However, all was not lost during our rather lively Curry Night, since Rachel introduced us to a new heart throb: the rather dapper Ashley Banjo, leader of now famous dance troupe Diversity.

Action research LEYF style is to be recommended: a combination of intelligence, conversation and company… you could say, a better and more child-friendly version of Come Dine with Me.

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