Why I work in early years provision.
When I was eleven years old my mother decided to open a private nursery school, that would provide places for children and infants from 2 – 5. These children would mostly be referred from the local municipal social services, the most needy and disadvantaged, some ‘at risk’. Not so unusual you might think, except for the fact that my mother is from the Romani community and my father from an Irish Traveller background. To reflect the link with the past, she decided to call the nursery the ‘Carousel Nursery School’, as the family business was sign painting and decorating waggons, vans and lorries, shop fronts and fair ground rides. I spent time after school and during the holidays, when I wasn’t working with my dad or my uncle learning the trade, doing painting, drawing, mask-making, model making and many arts and crafts activities with the children in the nursery.
I went to work full time when I was 14 and mostly stopped going to school, which by that time I found of little interest as it had nothing about me or my family in the lessons or curriculum. I didn’t stop helping my mum in the nursery until the local authority ‘realised’ who and what we were and forced my mum to close the nursery through constant inspections and spot checks. Eventually, mum gave up and went back to trading ponies and dogs, sewing clothes and curtains and generally whatever else came along in the way of opportunities.
i never forgot what she had tried and succeeded (at least for a while), to achieve – a wonderful, creative, safe and stimulating place for small children to be, who needed care and nurturing. I went to work in ECD and early years and play projects for many years (1982-2000) in many parts of the UK, always inspired by her example. I tell her about my work now and how her nursery gave me the chance to learn how important early years care and education is for us as Romani people. She’s really pleased…