LGBTQ Separator 2

OUR AIMS

  • To promote inclusivity of LGBTQIA+ within all Early Years settings (childminders, nannies, schools, nurseries, preschools and play groups)
  • To showcase best practice and share positive examples of great work to date
  • To ensure that practitioners have the confidence to talk about LGBTQIA+ issues with children, their families and staff (creating safe spaces)
  • To create a platform for settings to access supportive and meaningful resources
  • To use research informed practice to ensure that every child feels valued and included within their setting
LGBTQ Separator 2

LGBTQIA WORKING GROUP MEMBERS

Aaron Bradbury
Web - Aaron B

Aaron is a Principal Lecturer in Early Childhood at Nottingham Trent University with a specialism in Early Help, Child Development and Child Protection.

Aaron has been working in the Early Years / Childhood sector since graduating he has been heavily involved in the Early Years and has worked in this sector for the majority of his career; he has also taught Early Years and Care in Further Education.

His current roles cover many areas within the Early Childhood Arena including being a member of the Executive Committee of the ECSDN (Early Childhood Studies Degree Network),and he has recently become the joint Co-Founder and Co-Chair of The Early Years Academy which allows Early Years professionals to gain professional Recognition through Fellowship Awards.

Aaron is an active member of the Early Years community and positions his work within practice, still working closely with the PVI and Maintained sector, providing an online platform for practioners and all Early Years professionals via his app and website, Early Years Reviews by Aaron which includes a blog which is well situated in the workforce, with many researchers and practitioners discussing contemporary topics.

Aaron, via his website, has recently launched TeamEarlyChildhood podcasts where he interviews professionals from across the sector and also launched the first of his booklets to support Practitioners and is also planning to launch an online training platform, providing quality and robust CPD to further support the Early Childhood workforce.

Claire is an experienced Early Years Practitioner working at a preschool in Wiltshire, in the town she grew up. She has worked in early years for 10 years, and previously before that spent several years at an after school and holiday club with children aged between 5-15.

In July 2020, Claire completed her foundation degree in early years and will now be studying towards her BA(hons). Claire has begun branching out from her comfort zone to participate in new projects and widen her horizons and connections within the Early Years sector, particularly focusing on inclusion and diversity.

In December 2012 Claire was diagnosed with cancer and received treatment in 2013. Following this in 2014, despite the long term health effects of her treatment, Claire took part and completed Ride the Night, a 100km cycle ride across London to raise money for women’s cancers. In that same year she met her partner with whom she currently resides along with their children, dogs and a dragon.

Claire Francis
Web - Claire F
Eris Varga
Web - Eris V

Eris was a little girl who is now a grown-up ‘Whatever’. 

She's worked as a researcher for BBC Bitesize, writing articles and quizzes for a living. In her free time she loved to draw and make stories. 

She always dreamed of being a circus performer, an author or illustrator - so far, she’s on two out of three.

She believes you can be whatever you want to be, and that change starts with education.

Fifi currently works at Millies Pre-School in South London as an Early Years Educator and SENCO.

She has been working in Pre-Schools for four years now, having completed her level 3 after sixth form. She has been SENCO for almost two years during which she has attended various training surrounding social and communication difficulties and different behaviour linked to SEND. During secondary school she was an assistant dance teacher mostly working one on one with children with SEND to help build their confidence and find alternative ways to teach that work best for them. She has qualifications in makaton and BSL following her own interests which have both proved useful in inclusive practice.

She is involved with theatre alongside her main work including stage managing for children's shows and choreography as well as acting herself. She has been in productions with the queer collective which have given her wonderful friends, all sorts of performance opportunities, and great connections in queer activism. As a queer early years practitioner, she hopes to bring that energy into this project and continue to advocate for better education regarding the history and celebration of different communities.

Fifi Benham
Web - Fifi B
Frances Towers
Web - Frances T

Frances is an experienced Catholic teacher living and working in Wiltshire. She's been married to Neil for 11 years and they have 2 children together.

Frances studied at Plymouth University for a Bachelor in Education combined with Art and Design and graduated with Qualified Teachers Status in 2009. In 2016, she studied for a Post Graduate Certificate in Education specialising in Early Years at Bath Spa University. She has experience in teaching KS1, KS2, and has previously worked to lead and open a FS1 nursery within a primary school. She now teaches Reception in the community she grew up in.

Frances is passionate about strengthening links between schools and the wider community. She loves to spend time outdoors and follow children's interests to enhance learning opportunities. Frances believes that we can always improve on supporting minority groups in education, to create spaces where all are truly accepted for who they are.

Gary is the Headteacher of a special school in Derby and has over 12 years' experience within teaching and school leadership. He lives with his husband in Birmingham and has worked in many different settings, including Early Years and primary schools (both mainstream and SEND).

Gary is passionate about ensuring that every child has an inclusive education and is provided with the opportunity to flourish, so that they may reach their potential.

Gary introduced and hosts the fortnightly SENDVoices Twitter chat held on a Saturday morning and plans to host a special online BrewEd focusing on SEND.

Gary has joined the LGBTQIA+ working group in order to support and promote equality for all. He is particularly interested in working alongside families to address inequalities within the community and find ways to work collaboratively to reduce potential barriers.

Gary Coffey
Web - Gary C 1
James Butler
Web - James B

James is an experienced educator based in Southampton. He has worked in education for nearly 15 years and specialises in Early Childhood Education, Leadership, SEND and Wellbeing. James lives with his long-suffering wife Sophie, who is also a teacher, and his 2-year-old daughter B.

James is currently working as an Early Years Leader at a school in Southampton which has both a nursery and reception department on site. He has previously worked in both schools and nurseries. As well as teaching fulltime, James writes courses for several online training providers, writes articles for various blogs and magazines and provides tailored training to a variety of different settings. James holds an MA in Education as well as PGCE and Qualified Teacher Status.

James has a firm belief in the democratisation of knowledge and equality. He, therefore, makes a conscious effort to ensure that he provides his services at a fair price and refuses to sit on panels that do not reflect the diversity in our community.

Juliette, known as Juls, is an experienced Virtual PA/Admin working under the banner of Virtual Support UK Ltd. who specialises in working in the Early Years sector quite simply because of her love for it and also her admiration for the professionals who work with and care for children, in what she believes to be the most important area of education, being a child's most formative years.

Juls is the founder of EY Matters which she describes as her heart where she provides support to the Early Childhood sector where she can, hosting regular Twitter Chats, free online CPD, resources, articles, informative newsletters and more recently the #BrewEdEYOnline events. Juls is quick to acknowledge the support of those working in the sector who also provide their services for EY Matters and support the many initiatives, events and resources she provides.

More recently she has become the joint Co-Founder and Chair of The Early Years Academy with Aaron Bradbury and is looking forward to the formal launch early in 2021 to further support and raise the profile of the Early Childhood workforce.

Juliette (Juls) Davies
Web - Juls D
Kim Benham
Web - Kim B

Kim Benham is the renowned and well-respected Senior Manager and Owner of two successful provisions, Sparkles Pre-School and Millies Pre-School in Croydon. She is married with two grown-up children, one of whom, Fifi, works at Millies Pre-School as an Early Years Educator and SENCO.

Kim has worked in the Early Years sector for over forty years, originally training as NNEB and later upgrading her qualification to a BA in Early Years, as well as attaining Early Years Professional Status. More recently, she has founded Sparkles Early Years Consultancy, where she provides support to local provisions and is currently devising online training as a response to the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic with a close colleague, Sejal Payne, under the banner of S & S Training Partners, to further support quality CPD within the sector.

Kim divides her time between the two settings, supporting and caring for her staff and the children. She is passionate about inspiring young children and those that work with them to be the best they can be, very much with a focus on wellbeing and mental health. Kim is devoted to creating spaces where the children and families she works with are all included, feel safe and represented. When the chance presented itself to be included in the LGBTQIA, Kim accepted without hesitation, as is of the opinion this is great opportunity to further support those working in the sector and really help to make a difference.

Lucy Rae is an experienced early years trainer, author and consultant, specialising in gender equality and LGBTQ+ visibility; physical health and wellbeing in the under 5s and the importance of play for child development.

Lucy runs Under One Sky Learning, an independent consultancy which provides support, training and quality improvement to settings and schools on equality and inclusion, working to counter the negative impact of stereotyping on children’s sense of self and others. She continues this work as an SLE for Equalities for Bristol Early Years Teaching School Alliance, helping settings and schools to create a fully inclusive environment.

Lucy is also a Director for the Bristol Men in Early Years Network, a campaign to challenge gender stereotypes and encourages a more gender diverse workforce in children’s learning, development, and care. Striving to offer all young children a broader experience by encouraging and promoting the value of diversity.

Lucy is also the author of Stonewall Early Years guide, 'Getting Started' and in addition is a trainer for Children’s Scrapstore in Bristol and HENRY, a national charity, who deliver CPD to health practitioners and the early years workforce as well as parenting support to families with children under 5.

Lucy Rae
Web - Lucy R
Maggie Smith (Pseudonym)
Web - Leila AKA Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith is a pseudonym being used because this person is worried about repercussions to family members who continue to live in part of the world where being (and more importantly promoting positively) anything other than cisgender heteronormativity is illegal and potentially punishable by death.

S/he is a mixed race, asexual person who is a passionate advocate of life long learning and curiosity. For a period of time during their past Maggie dodged tear gas and rubber bullets to fight for freedom, justice, equality for all. Maggie fundamentally believes that all injustice and oppression are linked and the only true “weapon for peace is education” (Montessori) and that world “peace starts in the changing table” (Pikler).

Maggie is currently based in the North of England and has worked in early years for nearly a decade working with children aged 15 months to five years old. Maggie believes that only by striving to be a better person everyday and modelling this continuously to young children will the world become a better, fairer place.

Nazma Meah is a qualified Early Years Teacher, Manager and Owner of Aston Pre-School, the Director of some other pre-schools alongside working as a Consultant Manager. 

Nazma is very passionate about the early years and especially about children in deprived areas. She hates the labels, disadvantaged, deprived, FSM, EAL… all the things that have a negative connotation. Working in some of the most deprived areas in the country, Nazma comes across children and families that are in desperate need of someone to support, encourage and not judge them.

Nazma’s background is in business and finance but over 10 years ago when she was providing consultancy services for a local school, she was horrified to see the low expectation that the school staff had for these young children; she recognised that the children being referred to were often children who spoke two or sometimes even three languages from an early age; she felt that the low attainment must be something to do with the educators and the environment rather than the children themselves and so her mission of trying to change at least one child’s life was born and she enrolled on and completed her Level 3 in childcare, while still working as a consultant.

Nazma opened her first pre-school in 2010 for the children and their families within her local community and ten years on it is still going strong! She has helped hundreds of families, not just with early education, but also supported families with many issues including domestic violence, immigration, poverty and even with the more mundane tasks such as applying for school places. Her setting has become an unofficial children’s centre and all of this support she provides is without funding, always ensuring the every child matters and every child is included.

Nazma Meah
Web - Nazmah M
Ruth Sharp
Web - Ruth S

Ruth currently leads the States Early Years Team in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, and in her words ‘It is an exciting sector to be part of here in the Bailiwick, working with a passionate and committed workforce.’  

She has experience of working for local charities for children and adults with disabilities, in North Yorkshire and in New York, writing and developing community based programmes and in the role of a support worker. She has experience teaching in Nursery and Primary phases and in FE, with lead responsibilities in EYFS and SEND including some area SENDCo responsibilities and have been part of SLTs in schools. She is a trained and accredited EYFS Moderator and has been writing and delivering training across the sector for over 10 years. She feels privileged to have the experience of working with children centres, preschools, day nurseries, childminders and schools across the PVI sectors in various roles and for the City of York in my previous role as Early Learning Leader and feels she has been very fortunate across her careers and experiences to have worked with some inspirational, knowledgeable, generous and challenging individuals who she has learnt so much from. She feels she has grown and continues to grow and learn from such people as she reflects, change, challenge and improves her approaches and practices. She is thankful for these continued opportunities for her own professional and personal development.

Ruth believes Education is part of a wider jigsaw piece within child development and it is vital we recognise this as we develop policy and, in our teaching, and learning. In her privileged role of leading the States Early Years team, she believes in the strength of working in partnership to achieve the best outcomes for our children. ‘Within Early Childhood Education we don’t see children as empty vessels to fill up with facts and data, but unique creative learners who need our support and guidance (teaching) to give them opportunities to be actively involved in meaningful experiences. Learning happens best in context and PLAY is how we learn! Our role is to support and enable this, meeting children where they are and enabling them to put down the strongest foundations on which to build their life chances.’

A Deputy Headteacher who is aspiring to Headship, Sharifah Firza Jelany-Lee (Sharifah Lee) is currently completing her NPQH qualification with the second ever women-only cohort organised by Ambition Institute and WomenEd. 

Sharifah graduated from the National University of Singapore (where she was born) with a BA in English Literature and History and went on to attain a Masters in Middle Eastern History from the University of Manchester. She qualified as a teacher through the Graduate Teacher Programme when her fourth child entered full time education. Sharifah specialises in EYFS and Key Stage One (KS1) but has experience of all phases of primary education and has even undertaken several short stints in the secondary and pre-university sectors.

Sharifah is passionate about education and eradicating social inequity and discrimination at all levels in society. She has been awarded with a Fellowship at the Chartered College of Teaching for her work in education and now works closely with WomenEd in empowering women to leadership. Sharifah was an advocate for Building Learning Power, has been involved in Initial Teacher Training programmes and was chosen for specific leadership training including Future Changemakers.

Sharifah sees her role in education as educating not only children, but families and society as a whole. She is a firm believer that education is a powerful driver for change, but the change must be in the right direction and, as a direct consequence of Black Lives Matter, change must start to happen now.

A mother of four young adults, Sharifah’s eldest daughter came out as gay as a teenager and her daughter has taught her how to love, really love everyone for who they are.

Sharifah Lee
Web - Sharifah L
Sid Mohandas
Web - Sid M 2

Sid Mohandas (he/him/his) lives in North London and identifies as queer. He is a doctoral researcher at Middlesex University, exploring gender in the early childhood workforce from feminist 'new' materialist and posthuman perspectives. 

Sid is a former Montessori educator and teacher trainer and a guest lecturer at Middlesex University. He is also the founder of The Male Montessorian, an online project focused on complicating our understandings of gender in the early childhood workforce. The project emerged in the context where gender diversity has solely been framed in terms of 'recruitment of more men' into the sector, without consideration given to 'what kind of men' or the immense variability in gender that exists beyond the binary. In order to do this, Sid believes we must work from an intersectional social and environmental justice perspective, that is focused on dismantling cishet white ableist neurotypical classist antisemitic masculinist structures.

You can follow Sid on the following platforms: Facebook, Twitter, ResearchGate, Academia.

Tamsin is a part time lecturer at Bath Spa University, early years consultant and author. She has been working within education since 1998 and has improved outcomes for children and families as a qualified teacher, Area SENco, childminder and is currently the early years director for Linden Learning. She has Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education (University of Chester), is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Tamsin is passionate about young children’s learning and development and fascinated by how very young children think. She has a keen interest in early brain development, the different ways that children learn and how practitioners can support them. She believes that loving relationships in our early childhood settings build the foundation for wellbeing and a positive sense of self. All children deserve practitioners who are inspiring, dynamic, reflective and passionate about their learning. When children have the very best start in their early years, they adopt positive dispositions and attitudes to learning and, in this environment, children thrive and grow.

Tamsin lives with her husband Richard and tries to put theory into practice with their three children, all of whom have Asperger's Syndrome. It has been said that their home runs on love, laughter, tea and chocolate cake!

Tamsin Grimmer
Web - Tamsin G
Dr Valerie Daniel
Web - Val D

Dr Valerie Daniel is the Head Teacher of Washwood Heath Nursery School in Birmingham. 

Valerie is a qualified Teacher with over 30 years’ experience and a school leader for the last 17 years. Her other roles include being a trustee for the Birmingham Nursery Schools Collaboration Trust (BNSCT), a member of Birmingham Schools Forum and the current chair of Birmingham Nursery Heads Forum.

Valerie sits on a number of Local Authority Strategic groups and is one of the fifteen Birmingham Association of Maintained Nursery Schools (BAMNS) head teachers who work within a contractual collaboration.

Valerie is a Dr of Education and continues a close working relationship with the University of Birmingham, her alma mater and also with University College Birmingham (UCB). She is a trained Systems Leader and Leadership Mentor for other headteachers and leaders in the Early Years Sector.

Valerie has a deep interest in the dynamics of the current Early Years Sector and wrote her thesis on The Perceptions of a Leadership Crisis in the Early Years Sector (EYS).