Students from Edge Hill University’s Early Years Education programmes were able to attend the SchemaPlay 2019 Annual National Conference and Workshops thanks to funding provided by the Student Opportunity Fund.

The event, held at Walsall FC’s Bescot Stadium, proved beneficial for 25 students from BA (Hons) Working and Teaching in the Early Years, Early Years Practice and FdA Early Years Practice and Leadership courses.

SchemaPlay offers a new approach to the presentation of play in early years teacher education, with the model having been tested in a variety of training contexts and applied in a wide range of settings.

Karen Boardman speaking in a lecture theatre

Dr Karen Boardman

Exposure to expertise and research into how young children acquire knowledge, and how development occurs are just some of the benefits students took from the event believes Dr Karen Boardman, Head of Department of Early Years Education.

“The conference was really important because schemes and schemas are a tried and tested method of how young children learn – how development occurs because of interactions with the environment.

“This offers students the opportunity to hear, learn and share views about school readiness, the curriculum and why a top-down curriculum is not appropriate for under-fives. This then enables the students to take these ideas and put into immediate practice in their settings for future impact.”

Students profited from the input of renowned researchers and professionals in the field, including John Siraj-Blatchford, Lynnette Brock and Cath Arnold contributing to their extended knowledge and understanding of innovative approaches to early years practice.

Their questions to a wide forum of professionals were well received by the audience – and feedback from the day was overwhelmingly positive, with gratitude for the opportunity to attend the overriding message, notes Dr Boardman.

“Comments have ranged from ‘this was a really interesting opportunity to listen and understand some key principles’, to how ‘the conference really made me think about how play is so important’.

“One student has chosen schemas as a topic for her current research project.”

Dr Boardman believes that in the ever-changing landscape of early years education, attendance at such events is imperative in the development of students’ knowledge, and consequent career opportunities.

“Much that has taken place in higher education has supported the promotion of employability – which is why the acquisition of additional experience gained from this Conference is an important element in the process of student learning and the preparation for the world of work.

“The experience and insight will also further enhance the students’ employability in a competitive market.”

Find out you can apply for financial support from the Student Opportunity Fund here: