Before the national lockdown Liz was the manager of a 46-place private day nursery, which was part of a small family owned chain of 3 Early Years settings based in Birmingham. With children on roll who were predominantly of Black African-Caribbean heritage, Liz ensured that as it was rooted in a community that she is a part of it would be more than a place to drop children off. Liz knew that along with her various teams over the years they had a greater set of responsibilities to the children and families than to operate as just a nursery. With an acute awareness of the wider impact of systemic racism within society, the nursery evolved into a community-based hub providing authentic and culturally compatible support for hundreds of children and families. Liz prided herself on developing multiple teams of extremely committed professionals who had developed specific pedagogy under her tutelage and leadership, providing care within an anti-racist framework. The 4 E’s of the anti-racist framework are something that she believes all Early Years environments should foster :
Embrace all children’s racial, cultural and religious backgrounds.
Embed a culture of belonging and value amongst practitioners and children.
Ensure that practice is culturally sensitive and that the child is positioned as the expert of their own identity.
Extend learning opportunities for the child by showing interest, expanding conversations and using diverse resources.
Liz is also a qualified secondary school teacher who taught Childcare, Health & Social Care and Drama in a girls’ school where the Black African-Caribbean and South Asian heritage student populations were over-represented. This was particularly poignant as the teaching and pastoral staff were not. Liz’s presence made a difference to the pupils. She was recognised as an Outstanding teacher when she qualified and gained excellent results for pupil engagement and raising aspirations, as she brought her unique industry knowledge and personal dynamic approach to education for students. In turn, she helped develop some of the best practitioners for the Early Years sector and most dedicated young women who went on to pursue their dreams.
Liz has also taught and lectured on the outcomes of Black children and young people and holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Studies. With her academic and professional background, Liz has become a recognised contributor and commentator on anti-racist practice in the Early Years sector. Liz also shares her knowledge with parents, caregivers and educators as The Black Nursery Manager on her social media platforms.
Through her blogs, various pieces that she has written for early years publications and Instagram presence, Liz is able to share her perspective about the early years. Liz has worked in collaboration with nursery settings, local authorities, professional early years organisations and various working groups to develop policy and guidance in order to drive the focus towards the development of anti-racist pedagogy within the sector.
Liz was awarded the 2021 Community Unsung She-ro award at the Multicultural Business & Community Champion Awards (MBCC) and is in the process of contributing towards the chapters of some early years books that are due to be released in 2022.
She says: “Everybody working with small children must recognise the significant impact that they have on their world view. Conversations pertaining to race must not be overlooked if we are really invested in their futures of creating a society that makes everybody feel as though they belong” .