Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Flo’s Place in Oxford, having last seen it several months ago, when it was just an idea. It is a former children’s centre in a very mixed part of Oxford, which has been transformed into a community centre by its Trustees, who wanted something that really served the local community. The ‘anchor tenant’ of this centre is a children’s nursery, which has been put together with a lot of support from Annie Davy, former Head of Early Years in Oxfordshire. It was fantastic to visit on a sunny day and see people using the nursery, cafe and midwives to give a vibrant and buzzing feeling of purpose. I wished I had something on my doorstep like it, when I was a new Mum. I hope it continues to thrive and becomes part of the community.
Annie also gave me a copy of her latest book, ‘A Sense of Place’, which is a lovely deep dive into ‘mindful practice outdoors’. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an interest in Early Years provision and think it should be on the reading list for all Early Years students. It will certainly be doing the rounds within our company! There are lots of ideas of activities included, but also it prompts you to reflect on why we do what we do. I particularly like the section on risk benefit, so that teams can think about the hazards of working outdoors and how they can manage these risks, as well as teaching children about risk taking and keeping safe. I hope that every OFSTED inspector who visits us has also read Annie’s book!
As Margaret MacMillan so famously said, ‘The best classroom and the richest store cupboard is roofed only by the sky.’ For more details of Annie’s book see: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/a-sense-of-place-9781472953650/