The speakers are as follows: (in programme order)



Dr David Whitebread

Acting Director (External Relations), Play in Education, Development & Learning (PEDAL) Research Centre, University of Cambridge

Dr David Whitebread is a developmental psychologist and early years specialist. He is acting director (external relations) of the PEDAL (Play in Education, Learning and Development) Research Centre, University of Cambridge. A particular focus of his research has been the development of young children's metacognition and self-regulation, and the role playfulness and oral language in supporting their development.

His latest publications include Quality in Early Childhood Education – an International Review and Guide for Policy Makers (WISE, 2015), Teaching and Learning in the Early Years (Routledge, 4th Ed., 2015), Developmental Psychology & Early Childhood Education (Sage, 2012) and The importance of play: a report on the value of children’s play with a series of policy recommendations (Toys Industries for Europe, 2012).


Elisabeth Thorburn

Consultant and founder of education consultancy Sweducare

Elisabeth Thorburn, founder, coordinator and operative at Sweducare an NGO that works with strategies for internationalisation of Swedish welfare services and products related to childcare and preschools. Elisabeth has worked closely with questions related to preschool management and organisation for several years, as the head of a regional preschool organisation SEFIF that organises more than one hundred preschools. Elisabeth has extensive experience in organising training, seminars, conferences and technical visits to Sweden within the fields of child care and preschools for international groups from all around the world.


Catrin Mattsson

Consultant and founder of education consultancy Sweducare

Catrin Mattsson, founder, coordinator and operative at Sweducare, an NGO that works with strategies for internationalisation of Swedish welfare services and products related to childcare and preschools. Catrin has great knowledge in management issues and has also served as Political Advisor to former Deputy Prime Minister in Sweden. She has worked with policy development for the progress of the welfare sector and companies, gender equality and sustainability. Catrin has provided consultancy services for research, analysis and investigations regarding welfare systems and other societal challenges and needs, for various stakeholders.


Marita Andersson

Managing Director, Inspira Preschools & Schools Ltd

Managing Director, founder and majority owner of Inspira Preschools & Schools Ltd since 2001.

Inspira is owner-managed and one of Sweden’s leading companies within its trade. Marita is, in addition to other educations, a graduate preschool teacher with previous extensive experience from senior positions in municipal preschools and schools in Sweden. She has participated at several conferences focusing on early childhood education, leadership and quality of education in and outside Sweden. Marita is a board member of ALMEGA Service Companies. She is also a board member of the Swedish Association of independent Schools, a union for independent preschools and schools.


Carmen Dalli

Director, Institute for Early Childhood Studies, School of Education, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Carmen Dalli is Professor of Early Childhood Education and Director of the Institute for Early Childhood Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Her research focuses on early childhood policy, teacher professionalism, and group-based early childhood education and care settings for children aged under three years. Recent publications include Research, Policy and Advocacy for Young Children (2016, co-edited with A. Meade, NZCER) and Under-three year olds in policy and practice (2017, co-edited with E.J.White, Springer). She is co-editor (with E. J. White) of a new book series by Springer: Policy and Pedagogy with Under-three Year Olds: Cross-disciplinary Insights and Innovations.


Jane Dyke

Founder and owner of Yellow Dot Nurseries, Hampshire

In 1987 I was introduced to Froebel by reading Tina Bruce’s book Early Childhood Education. I taught in a maintained school until 1997, I left to start my own Kindergarten based on Froebel’s principles. Feeling I had lost my way, in 2014 I embarked on a study tour in Scandinavia where I met 2 Froebelians who helped me realise I had strayed from my Froebelian roots. In 2015 30 of my team and I embarked on a Froebel Pilot course led by Tina Bruce. In 2017 we are a Group of 12 Froebelian principled Nurseries.


Paula Phillips

Group Manager, Yellow Dot Nurseries, Hampshire

Although an experienced Early Years practitioner and Manager, I only realised my natural ethos and pedagogy were based on Frobelian philosophies while working with Tina Bruce and her team during a course pilot aiming to widely communicate Froebelian principles. I was inspired while working with Tina to begin an Early Childhood MA at Roehampton University. On a learning journey myself, I am enjoying coaching team members in the ‘why’ behind Froebel practices. Although not a huge jump from what we were doing previously, we are seeing the benefits of embedding this approach – a little knowledge goes a long way! 


Dorothy Marlen

Freelance early childhood trainer and consultant, trained in the Pikler approach, and co-founder and chair of the Pikler UK Association

Dorothy Marlen is the course leader of the Level 3 Holistic Baby and Child Care (EYE). She originally trained as a Steiner Early Years teacher and a counsellor, and more recently at the Pikler Institute in Budapest. She has over 20 years’ experience of working with parents and carers of very young children.

She has organised European Pikler Association accredited Pikler Basic and advanced practice guidances courses in the UK and has co-founded the Pikler UK Association of which she is chair person. She is also the national Birth to Three representative on the Steiner Waldorf Early Years Steering group.

She offers consultancy and workshops in the Pikler approach and aspects of Steiner early childhood pedagogy, puppetry and crafts to mainstream and Steiner/Waldorf birth to three care settings.


Martin Pace

Director and author, Reflections Nursery & Forest School, Worthing

Martin has worked in the childcare sector for 25 years. He is Director of Reflections Nursery & Forest School which operates a 170-place setting in Worthing. The nursery won Nursery World UK Nursery of the Year 2009/10 (the only time they entered), and has been awarded ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted at the last three inspections.

Martin has attended ten study tours of the pre-schools of Reggio Emilia since 2003 and is part-way through an MA in Early Childhood Studies. He is jointly responsible for overseeing pedagogy at Reflections.

Martin is author of I Love Forest School: Transforming early years practice through woodland experiences, published by Bloomsbury in 2014. He is a regular conference speaker on topics including: Reflections’ project work; drawing inspiration from the Reggio Approach; Forest School & risk in children’s play; and children’s creativity.

Since 2011, Reflections has offered two Professional Development Days each year for early years and primary educators which have been attended by over 3000 delegates from 15 countries.

Reflections publishes works by educators and children at the nursery, with titles including: Crocodiles; Light Everywhere; 3D Work; The Fire Monster - A story for children by children; Storying; The Revolutionary Baby; Homely; From Bacteria to Galaxies; and The Line Creature.


Laura Magnavacchi

Atelierista, Reflections Nursery & Forest School, Worthing

Laura Magnavacchi is an artist, atelierista, educator and graphic designer from Reggio Emilia (Italy).

After having experienced pre-schools and infant toddlers centres in Reggio Emilia, she is currently working as atelierista at Reflections Nursery and Forest School in the UK, where her passion lies in outdoor learning and the relationship between art, nature and education.

She has a degree in Education, a degree in Fine Art and a qualification as a Forest School Leader.

Her current research interest is in how early education is developing, especially through creative languages, in different contexts around the world.

She has worked in Ateliers in Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and England.

Laura is author/graphic designer of Storying (with Teresa Grimaldi), The Fire Monster (With Mandy Jenkins & Deb Wilenski), The Revolutionary Baby (With Deb Wilenski), Homely (With Teresa Grimaldi & Deb Wilenski), From Bacteria to Galaxies (With Deb Wilenski).

Her personal art practice includes photography, etching, mixed media painting. Her interest lies in the relationship between opposite but connected concepts and materials. Her own art work has been selected for exhibitions and publications in Italy.


Maria Ekeberg

Owner and Preschool Manager, Hälsoförskolan Friskus preschool

Owner, preschool manager and Montessori specialist (3-6 year) at Hälsoförskolan Friskus, a private preschool in Sweden with a focus on health and outdoor learning. Our preschool works with inspiration from the Montessori pedagogy and works a lot with outdoor activities.


Annica Vedin

Preschool Teacher, Hälsoförskolan Friskus preschool

I have worked as a preschool teacher for 20 years. Since 2009 I have been responsible for the pedagogic work at Hälsoförskolan Friskus. We develop sustainable habits regarding health in the children's every day life. Our mission is to develop the children to a consciousness about what a sustainable and healthy life depends on so they learn how to impact, take responsibility and care of themselves in a health perspective.

In our daily pedagogic work according to the national curriculum we include:

Language, Mathematics and Science - Creation - Full Day Excursions - Forest Activities - Skiing - Skates - Swimming School - Children Gymnastics - Massage - Yoga Relaxation

Outdoor activities is one of the cornerstones in our service. 


Dr Jo Warin

Senior lecturer, Educational Research, Lancaster University

Dr Jo Warin is a senior lecturer in Educational Research at Lancaster University and Co-Director of the Centre for Social Justice and Wellbeing in Education. Jo’s research is currently focused on Men in Childcare, in the UK and overseas, with several relevant journal articles, a co-authored book, Men, masculinities and teaching in early childhood education, and a forthcoming book (Jan 2018) Men in Early Childhood Education and Care - Gender Balance and Flexibility. Her broader research interests are in gender, education and identity. She teaches on the online Doctoral Programme in Education and Social Justice and supervises many PhD students.