Edinburgh Froebel Network Conference: Gifts for Our Future 11: Looking Inwards, Looking Outwards, Looking Forwards

Saturday 21st September 2019, 9am-3:30pm

We are delighted to announce details of our 11th conference which will take place at the John McIntyre Centre,The University of Edinburgh, Pollock Halls.

‘If only the seed be cast abroad, the springing up will not fail nor will the fruit be wanting’ (Froebel)


Professor Sacha Powell

Director of Education, Research and Strategy, The Froebel Trust

Assimilating Disparate Information to Generate Relational Knowledge

Dr Lynn J McNair OBE and Luke Addison

Head of Cowgate Under Fives Centre, Edinburgh and Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Edinburgh and PhD student at University of Edinburgh

Telling Lived Stories: Developing a Froebelian Approach to Documenting Children’s Experiences

A choice of two Seminars by Graduates of Childhood Practice Courses across Scotland

Gifts and Occupations

Power of Partnership across four settings

Play across the early level and beyond 

Learning in nature

Working with parents

Please download our flyer for further information and booking form.

Seminars – Clay, A Froebelian Occupation

Tuesday May 7th 2019 – The Edinburgh Froebel Network Seminars – Clay, A Froebelian Occupation led by Thelma Miller.

The seminars will take place at Greengables Nursery School & Family Centre in Edinburgh from 9am-12pm and from 1pm-4pm (participants should indicate which seminar they wish to attend when booking).

Thelma Miller is an independent early years consultant, supporting both high quality play based learning environments and high standards of teaching and learning in Early Years.  

She is an accredited Froebel Travelling Tutor and finds it inspiring to revisit Froebel’s principles that are so comprehensive, practical, creative and relevant for our work with children today, whatever their circumstances.

Thelma was part of the team completing a 5 year project in Kolkata, India, for the Froebel Trust.

Participants will have hands on experience of working with clay as well as learning about the benefits for children, suitable equipment, health and safety and risk assessment.

The seminar costs £40 and includes refreshments and all materials. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

Please see attached form for booking details.

Congratulations to Jane Whinnett MBE.

We are absolutely delighted that Jane Whinnett, one of the founding members of the Edinburgh Froebel Network, was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List.

This award recognises Jane’s outstanding contribution to Early Childhood education in her many roles of teacher, head teacher, tutor, author and trustee of the Froebel Trust. Jane’s work has had a positive impact on thousands of children and families, not only those she has directly taught, but also through her involvement in the training of hundreds of practitioners and through the many presentations she has given. Jane’s chapter in Early Childhood Practice: Froebel Today is widely disseminated and also referenced in the Care Inspectorate publication, Our Creative Journey.

The members of the Edinburgh Froebel Network Masterclass Players & Storytellers group, raised a glass (or two) to celebrate her achievement.

New MSc Education (Early Childhood Practice and Froebel) at the University of Edinburgh

We are delighted to announce that two information sessions will take place on the 13th and 15th March 2019, providing information about the University of Edinburgh’s new MSc Education, Froebel Pathway programme.

These sessions will be a chance to speak with Dr. Lynn McNair, the Pathway Coordinator, and Dr. Marlies Kustatscher, a Lecturer on it. They will share why the University is offering this pathway and who it is for. Lynn will talk about the philosophy of Friedrich Froebel and his contributions to early childhood education. They will also introduce the core modules and optional modules that can be taken.  The session will be a chance to ask any questions about the pathway, for example about when courses take place, full-time and part-time study options, who you will be working with, and what scholarship opportunities exist.

FACE-TO-FACE INFORMATION SESSION: Wednesday 13th March, 16:30-17:30 (GMT).  

This session takes place at the Moray House School of Education, Patersons Land G43. 

Please book your place for the face-to-face session via the Eventbrite link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/face-to-face-information-event-msc-education-early-childhood-practice-and-froebel-tickets-57711861732

ONLINE INFORMATION SESSION:  Friday 15th March, 12:00-13:00 (GMT)

Please book your place on the online session via this link: https://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/open-days-events-visits/open-days/postgraduate-virtual-open-week/programme-of-events/education 

Conference memories

It’s been a while since our conference in September, so we’re delighted to share the graphic record of the day, created by the wonderful artist Albi Taylor, reminding us of the wise words and excellent presentations from our speakers.

It’s a very large image, so if you right click on it and ‘open image in new tab’, you should be able to enlarge it to full size to read it.


January 2019 Seminars: Pete Moorhouse – Woodwork a Froebelian Occupation

UPDATE – 18/12/18 – These seminars are now SOLD OUT!

on Thursday 10th January 2019 (1.00pm – 4.00pm) or Friday 11th January 2019 (9.00am – 12 noon) 

Pete Moorhouse is an Artist Educator and Early Years Consultant

My practice had been very much influenced by Froebel’s principles which I believe were well ahead of his time. I am passionate about our hands and minds working together and encouraging creativity. I have just been trying to get schools all over the country to reintroduce woodwork – just as it was so commonplace in Kindergarten. I am always looking for opportunities to spread the word about the wonders of creative woodwork for early years children.

Participants will have hands on experience of woodwork as well as information about Woodwork and the Curriculum, suitable equipment, health and safety and risk assessment.

This seminar costs £40 and includes refreshments and all materials.  Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

Please see attached pdf for booking details.

Guest Blog by Alison Hawkins on our Conference; Gifts for our Future 10: Perspectives on Play

On 22nd September the Edinburgh Froebel Network held its 10th annual conference at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. Thank you to Alison Hawkins for her guest blog.

In societies and communities birthdays are special: they unite family and friends and give cause for celebration, frequently demonstrated by gatherings to share quality time.
How fortunate was it therefore for the 550 delegates who descended on the sumptuous surroundings of the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh that the Edinburgh Froebel Network chose to celebrate their tenth year of conference-holding in such a style?
On a crisp September Saturday morning, interested ‘educators’ from diverse national and international backgrounds were greeted with welcoming smiles, a Froebelian goodie bag and the aromatic smell of coffee, as they anticipated a day of growth and camaraderie.

Before I report on the content and success of the day, it is fitting to reflect for a moment on the stature of this ambitious enterprise. Conferences, in common with birthday parties, do not ‘just happen’ and an occasion such as this took much planning, imagination, organisation and sheer hard graft – proffered by the ‘team’ of nursery headteachers responsible for the setting up, ten years ago, of the aforementioned Edinburgh Froebel Network. Their dedication and endeavour over the decade has enthused, trained and inspired so many that a Froebelian ethos and approach is very visibly present in current settings and schools, and the interest and demand for further knowledge and understanding of principles reflects this.

From the outset of the morning, with an almost military precision – married with eager and considerate attendees – the day unfolded and progressed like clockwork.
Scores of people interacted and exchanged greetings as they wandered around imbibing the rich and informative wisdom of the academic posters, which served to explain practice and theory, ways forward and controversies.

The first speaker – greatly anticipated by those who have heard her talk previously, and by those who have enjoyed and learned from her many books – was Professor Tina Bruce who, in her inimitable manner explored play, touching on its numerous interpretations but cleverly guiding our thoughts to Froebelian play. By concentrating on the fundamental benefits of deep engagement, she led us to understand how first hand meaningful experiences build up a reservoir of ‘character’, knowledge, enterprise and creative thinking from which a person will draw in adult life.

Linked seamlessly to this, participants were next treated to a lecture delivered by Dr Sue Robson of The University of Roehampton, England, entitled ‘Play, Creativity and Creative Thinking’. Sue outlined her research which evidenced how when a child chooses and directs their own play, their involvement, articulation (of their learning) and sophistication of thought are all greater. She described how self-activity leads to self-regulation and allows a child to feel in control, to be flexible and forward moving in their ideas, to socialise, negotiate and interact with others and become creative problem-solvers. She challenged us to link our practice to these findings.

Once more, nourished by pastries and networking, the large audience settled to listen – this time to Dr Marjatta Kalliala from the University of Helsinki, Finland. Kept on the edge of our seats by awe at this delivery in a language not her first, and by the content, we visited (through the findings of her research) the hows and whys of changing culture and the decline of superior, engaging play. She reported on variation in cultural norms, and outlined how what is ‘acceptable’ has changed. She talked about the plethora of ‘play policies’ worldwide which would suggest play is seen as important, but questioned the depth of quality of some policies. She provided some interesting statistics about the positivity of rough and tumble and outdoor play, and reminded us ‘that a child does not distinguish between care and education’.

A delicious vegetarian lunch break afforded more time to meet and talk with ‘kent’ faces and people anew, or browse the quality products of Community Playthings, Froebel’s Gifts and the well-stocked book shop.

First slot after lunch always requires talented orators to keep an audience on track as the temptation to relax a little and let concentration drift can be high – replete as one is with food, knowledge and adrenaline.

We were not let down!
Tina gave a brief outline of the content and importance of the recently published “Routledge International Handbook of Froebel and Early Childhood Practice” and following that Dr Suzanne Flannery Quinn from Froebel College, the University of Roehampton explored ‘Locating Play Today’, advocating that if we wish to locate play we must first understand its complexity. She revisited play versus activity and addressed Froebel practice today with an interpretation of Froebel’s ‘Come let us live with our children…’ quote, unpicking our role as pedagogues in the capacity of companions, guides, guardians, placemakers and humans. She illustrated a journey of Frobelian thought and developing practice through a fascinating historic timeline.

Thanks all round, and a standing ovation to the organisers – marking not just a successful, thought-provoking conference but attributing this strengthening movement – concluded the day. As an interesting aside, for some hours post conference around the centre of town, people were to be seen sporting smart jute bags emblazoned with our Froebel lily – a fitting advert!

Now Froebelians do not rest on their laurels; building on last year’s conference workshop-sharing of practical experiences, complemented by this year’s academic insight to the relevance of Froebel’s principles today, plans are afoot for future delivery… and in addition Edinburgh looks forward to hosting the 2020 Froebel International Conference.

As they say from little acorns strong oak trees grow.

Alison J Hawkins
Wester Coates Nursery School

Conference Reminder – Perspectives on Play

Our 10th conference will be taking place on Saturday 22nd September 2018, from 10am-4pm at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh’s George Street.

90% of tickets have now been sold and ticket sales close on the 8th of September.
If you are planning to come and have not yet purchased your ticket, please do so soon as it looks like we might sell out.

Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite.

Eventbrite - Edinburgh Froebel Conference: Gifts for our Future 10: Perspectives on Play 

For more information on the conference speakers, see the post below.

Edinburgh Froebel Network Conference: Gifts for Our Future 10: Perspectives on Play

Saturday 22nd September 2018, 10am-4pm

We are excited to announce details of our tenth conference which will take place at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh’s George Street.

Perspectives on Play

‘At this age play is never trivial; it is serious and deeply significant.It needs to be cherished and encouraged by the parents for in his free choice of play a child reveals the future life of his mind to anyone who has insight into human nature’  Froebel in Lilley 1967:84

Conference welcome from Professor Tina Bruce CBE, Author and Early Years Specialist

Keynote speakers;

Creativity and Creative Thinking – Dr Sue Robson, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Roehampton Play

Play Culture in a Changing World re-visited – Marjatta Kalliala, Professor, University of Helsinki, Finland

Locating Play Today – Suzanne Flannery Quinn, Senior Lecturer of Early Childhood Studies, University of Roehampton, Froebel College

Eventbrite - Edinburgh Froebel Conference: Gifts for our Future 10: Perspectives on Play 

Calling all previous students of the Edinburgh Froebel Course

Dear Froebelians

As you may know, Jane (Whinnett) and I are involved in developing a Froebel Masters. We are currently putting the paperwork together for the University board; we wondered if you would be interested in writing a testimonial (you can decide on the word length) on the impact the Froebel Course has had on your practice and whether or not you would see any value in the development of a Froebel Masters.  Unfortunately time is of the essence as the University board sits quite soon -at this board (scheduled for the first week in March) they will decide whether to pursue the Froebel Masters or not.

Please send your testimonial to lynnjmcnair@hotmail.co.uk
Hope you can help

Lynn McNair (and Jane)