Bristol Men in Early Years were fortunate enough to attend the second day of the conference hosted at Doncaster University. Focusing on ‘Narrowing the Gap’, the day tackled the disparity between the achievements of girls and boys, providing some insight into the reasoning alongside strategies to improve the current failings.

Gary Wilson headed the keynote speech and delivered an inspiring message along with a good measure of humour. He began by declaring the importance of quality of deliver over simply attempting to increase male representation. Bemoaning the current culture of laddish or demeaning stereotypes, he instead put forward some great ideas for engaging boys as well as dispelling the myth that boys love competition and in fact crave challenge; a subtle but key difference.

Nicola Jones discussed the biological differences between boys and girls and how understanding these can lead to us better support children.

The Eureka Nursery team presented examples of their brilliant practises and shared some of their particularly interesting ways of encouraging physical play including ruff play and forest school.

Ben Tawil spoke of the use of play as a vital tool for learning. He outlined his theories through the term ‘ludicology’, stating that a child is not being born with capabilities, but capacity. He also highlighted how children are constantly ‘in control of being out of control’ and often between ‘jeopardy and mastery’ and how this is a key feature of learning. His belief is that there needs to be a focus on ‘playwork’, particularly the value of outdoor play, doing away with expensive resources and going back to nature.