Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Inspiring Practice in Pen Green


Tuesday 24 April 2018

The staff of Creative Kids and Co. from Dublin, were very lucky to spend the February mid term break on a visit to the Pen Green Centre for Under 5’s and their families. The visit was planned to inspire practice, and to get new ideas for our spaces.

Pen Green is located in Corby which is near Birmingham and offers high quality care and education for children and their families. It was established in 1983 as an integrated service for families within the local community of Corby, and was staffed by a multi-disciplinary team including a teacher, social worker, early years worker and early health practitioner. Over the years it has grown and now includes support services, health interventions and adult education. There is a teaching school and early years educators can study there to achieve a Foundation, Bachelors, Masters and PhD degrees in Early Education. They also deliver short courses and conferences throughout the year. (

For us, it was an early 4am start in Dublin Airport. It was there we met Geraldine Delahunt and Cathy Steenson who were also coming along to see Pen Green. Geraldine is the owner of Wigwams in Ballysax and Cathy is the manager in Carrs Child and Family Services in Dublin.

After a short plane trip and a long bus journey we arrived in Pen Green. We were given a very warm welcome and a lovely cup of tea. There were 15 of us and 7 other childcare workers from the UK.      

We then attended a classroom session, which outlined the foundation of Pen Green and their philosophies and included information on research that was completed by the centre. We were amazed to learn that it had started in very humble beginnings and it has grown over 30 years to become the centre it is today. It was interesting to note that the nursery school which is equivalent to our ECCE is fully funded and staff are paid directly by the state.

We were taken on a tour of the centre and were able to see all their spaces. It was midterm so there weren’t many children present, but those who were there are obviously well used to visitors and didn’t give us a second glance.

The experience was inspirational and my colleague, David King, had the following to say
“I was very inspired by how they used their outdoor space, how areas are sectioned off. There was lovely documentation outside; I think we could add this to our own practice. I also had a real sense of pride as I saw so much of our own practice there. It was great to walk around the centre and say “we do that”.

Geraldine Delahunt described the day as a “Wonderful experience, some similarities to my own centre. There was an aura of warm nurturing service and it was affirming that we are offering quality early years experiences in our settings".

The only complaint anyone had was that it wasn’t long enough and we would have loved to sit and play with the children and explore the spaces.

There is great evidence of the voice of the child throughout the setting, each child's uniqueness is celebrated and there was great evidence in the rooms of the cultural diversity in the setting. Each child has their very own space to keep their special things. The documentation is very much like our own framework Aistear. There were so many different areas and spaces and we took so many great ideas for our own practice. We saw how easy it can be to create comfortable spaces for children to be in.

Reading space in childcare setting - Inspiring Practice in Pen Green

All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable trip and we would recommend any service to visit. It was a fantastic team building experience for all involved.


Valerie Gaynor is the Manager of Creative Kids and Co in Walkinstown Dublin 12 which is a part-time service catering for over 150 preschool and afterschool children.

Valerie is a member of the policy and implementation panel in ECI and sits on business consultative group for the Affordable childcare scheme in DCYA.

Creative Kids have won inspired practice and learning story awards and are currently undergoing the Siolta QAP hoping to submit by June 2018

1 comments Comments

One Response

  1. Beautiful memories shared by wonderful company ,lovely piece Valerie well done . Ger Wigwams

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

reading(6) Santa(2) keezy(1) Fee Play(1) Early Years(1) Games(2) child safeguarding(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) educating(1) UK(1) Family(1) United Nations(1) documentation(4) preschools(1) Visual Impairment(1) communication(4) COVID-19(18) Maynooth(1) Gardening(1) linc(1) Hand Hygiene(2) movement behaviours(1) Social Skills(1) learning hub(2) Treasure(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) playleader(1) Celebrate(1) Laugh(1) Childcare(3) GDPR(1) Health(2) Jillian van Turnhout(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Mealtimes(1) Time(1) Workplace well-being(1) Covid-19 lockdown(1) Research Seminar(1) Learning Journal(2) Pedagogy(2) EM Standing(1) Favouritism(1) RTE Investigates(1) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) early years learning(1) Liz Kerrins(1) childcare services(1) RIE philosphy(1) maternity health(1) Large Doll Play(1) GoToMeeting app(1) june29(1) ReCreate(2) Challenges(1) HR(1) Administrative Burden(1) Mindfulness(3) Trigonometry(1) Inspirational(2) Light table(1) Mayo(1) CCTV(1) Growing up Outdoors(2) Meal time(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Human Resources(1) outdoor space(3) Nordic model(1) Confidence(1) Halloween(2) Learning Story Awards(2) Eritrea(1) Nutrition(1) Inspiring Practice(1) behavioural science(1) Flowers(1) gender bias(1) social science(1) Mud kitchens(1) Painting(1) Mark Twain(1) Map(1) Learning Story(1) Building Resilience(1) Diversity(1) AsIAm(2) Pretend Play(1) Culture(2) Traffic Lights(1) Trade Unions(1) parents(7) preschool(4) COVID(3) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Seas Suas(1) UN(1) science(3) Funding(1) Magda Gerber(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Wrapping paper(1) upskilling(1) Rituals(1) Queues(1) Creative(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Book Review(1) babies(7) dogs(1) environments(1) Reggio Children Network(1) DCYA(6) Engineering Ireland(1) Fire Safety(1) Art(6) Environment(2) Certificate(1) Interaction(1) Affordability(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) democracy(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Settling in(4) Participation(2) Body Language(1) Empathy(1) Early Years Education(1) Sculptures(1) racism(1) early years settings(1) Whole Group(1) Giraffe(2) Pre-School Services(1) Kids Own(1) Spiders(1) animals(2) Plants(1) early years research(3) Early Learning and Care(2) Maths Week(1) emotional environment(2) Aistear(131) feisty(1) Playdough(1) Traditions(2) UD(1) UNICEF report(1) built environments(1) Reopening Childcare(1) Summer(2) Exploring(1) mental health problems(1) Dance(1) Infection Control(1) peer group(1) Biting(1) Academics(1) Graduate(1) Care-giving routines(1) journey(1) stories(3) Shoes(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Visitors(1) Socioemotional development(1) Communicating(1) story time(2) Christmas Creativity(2) Scéalta Book Review(1) ECEC(3) Competent(1) Mathematicians(1) Professionalisation(5) christmas(9) COVID-19 landscape(1) Women(1) Stress(2) education(2) Builders(1) child led(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) Smiles(1) Learning journals(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(2) Children(8) ERASMUS+(3) Anxiety(2) man up(1) responsive relationships(1) E.coli(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Twitter(1) Pen green(1) child-centred approach(1) relationships(18) Sociodramatic play(1) learning(19) Magnavacchi(1) Design(1) Self-regulation(1) Decision Making(1) National Holiday(1) Siolta blog(8) Educators(2) Potential(1) Europe(1) Child mental health(1) Confident(1) Document Learning(1) Consent(1) Síolta(139) Inclusion(3) Little Buddies(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Blocks(1) research submissions(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) ears(1) AIM(2) Seanchaí(1) art of the relationship(1) Running(1) Children's Voice(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) ECCE(7) pets(1) play stories(2) Identity and Belonging(4) SPICE Framework(1) continual professional development(1) Snacks(1) democratic citizens(1) Adoption(1) emotional well-being(1) European Project(1) risk assessment(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) bloom app(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) awards 2020(1) Weather(1) life long learning(1) listening(1) developing motor skills(1) STEAM(1) curiosity(3) scientific and artistic processes(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) QRF(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Italy(1) show and tell(1) Snakes(1) Role play(1) pablo(1) Reggio(1) Digital(1) CPD(1) play pod(1) Change(1) Recycling(2) Yoga(1) Brain(1) Frustrations(1) emotions(2) Staff Motivation(1) Kerry(1) Prexit(1) Time Out(1) Impact(1) Awards Night(1) Leargas(1) Academic Skills(1) dining experiences(1) iOS(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Interests(1) National Awards 2019(1) Qualifications(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Arlene Forster(1) Upcycling(1) Children's Book Club(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) role playing(1) Online(1) Wendy Lee(4) structure(1) Music(3) Buddy Bench(1) Capable(1) IGL(1) Advocacy(1) dublin(2) The Jelly King(1) code of ethics(1) Exit interview(1) bonds(1) Children's Rights(3) Awards 2018(3) NCCA(3) Ariana Pucci(1) Degree(1) New Appointments(1) outdoors(4) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Party(1) Skillnet(1) Story(2) Arithmetic(1) Return to Work Training(1) ECIAwards20(1) Sweets(1) NAEYC(1) purpose(1) Trade union(1) Looking Forward(1) aistear blog(3) Equality(1) Covid19 crisis(1) family time(1) Universal Design(2) conversations(1) Drawing(2) Inter-generational(2) conference(1) women in research(1) Pobal(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) TRAP(1) an post(1) Kilkenny(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Laughter(1) memories(1) Masterclass(2) Obesity(1) Rich Documentation(1) supportive environments(2) transitions(10) Self-Esteem(1) educarer(1) Syria(1) Digital Devices(1) Engineers Week(2) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Mo Scéal(1) risk(2) Exercise(1) Interactions(3) ICBN(1) Anthony Semann(1) Awards 2019(1) learning bias(1) Maths(6) National Awards 2018(2) Community involvement(1) meals(3) staying connected(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Fabric(1) Oireachtas(1) Child Care(1) Gratitude(1) Exclusion(1) Maynooth University(2) Family wall(1) primary education(1) Arts(1) World Health Organisation(1) Wilenski(1) Iraq(1) Mount Everest(1) Communications(1) Craft(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) Mantra(1) creche(1) natural environment(1) School Age Childcare(2) Kindness Challenge(1) Sequins(1) collaboration(1) listen(1) Workplace Relations(3) trust(4) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) EECERA 2016(1) multi-generational community(1) Children's Research Network(2) toddlers(3) learners(1) Feeding(1) Thanks(1) Proceedings Journal(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Independence(1) play therapy(1) Scéalta Blog(106) annual awards(1) dining(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Routines(2) Margy Whalley(1) Norway(2) Nonverbal(1) science week(2) outdoor environment(1) Budget 2018(1) MECPI(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Easter(1) National Research Conference 2019(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Opportunities(1) Event Guide(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) PIP(1) mushrooms(1) Wonder(1) Window(1) Youtube Series(1) Children and families(2) TUSLA(1) Reflective Practice(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Online Research Symposium(3) Exploring and Thinking(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) quarantine kids(1) Elders(1) refugees(1) Names(1) Exploratory Play(1) planning(1) Infectious diseases(1) SAC(1) Your place(1) interacting(2) World book day(1) children’s learning(1) Identity(5) Mental Health(4) Mixed age groups(3) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Investment(2) play pods(2) Positivity(1) Covid response(2) Unesco(1) College(1) food(1) Photographs(1) imotion(1) Croatia(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) apps for children(1) Appreciation(1) curriculum(6) Nuturing interactions(1) Sleep(1) Iceland(2) Childhood(2) Reading Time(2) Belonging(3) baby room(1) DES Inspection(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Early Years Educators(3) Rising to the Challenge(2) friendships(1) keep in touch(1) lockdown(1) Leadership(1) Support(1) Early Childhood Education(1) MA(1) Home Corner(1) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Shapes(2) Cork Institute of Technology(1) research(8) Bereavement(2) Penguins(1) Budget 2020(1) Training(3) Annual Conference 2017(2) Counting(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) development(9) outdoor play(7) Buddies(1) Orla Kenny(1) Breathing(2) Budget 2019(2) overhear(1) Recycle(1) ECEC Setting(2) partnership with families(1) Technology(3) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) STEM(3) Albert Einstein(1) presentation skills(1) worries(1) First 5 strategy(1) Cork(1) reopening ireland(1) Study Trip(1) Xbox(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Fantasy play(1) Sustainable(1) Afghanistan(1) Engineering(3) youdoodle(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) TOY Programme(1) Montessori(3) partnership(1) Graduation(1) phone apps(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) INTO(1) Malaguzzi(1) National Annual Awards 2020(1) Love(3) Wesco(1) Magic(1) Japan(1) Glitter(2) inspiring interactions(1) Early Childhood Ireland(10) Facebook(1) Patterns(1) International Narratives(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) Small World Play(1) scéalta(58) Line-ups(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Covid pandemic(3) risky play(2) Maria Montessori(1) Behaviour(3) early year’s classrooms(1) Treasure Chest(1) Awards(2) Loss(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Ceremony(1) social media policy(1) children development(1) Employee(1) Through the looking glass(1) Kindness(1) quarantine(2) Deirdre Rogers(1) timekeeping skills(1) UNCRC(2) Teamwork(1) Sustainability(3) Workforce(1) Inter-generational learning(2) online training(1) Síolta QAP(1) community(5) coronavirus(1) early life(1) ELC(1) Book Club(2) Vietnam(1) Sport(1) under 3's(3) Trauma-Sensitive(1) gender stereotype(1) Titles(1) Intention(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) social media(2) Horizon 2020(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Sessional service(1) Touch(1) Celebrations(4) Loving Relationships(2) early childhood ireland research(1) Inspections(1) Snack Time(1) Our Little Seed(1) Vertical grouping(1) books(5) Cognitive development(1) Thinking(1) Meet the Members(1) Death(2) The Lullaby Book(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Winter(1) experience(1) homeschool(1) Supernanny(1) First 5(1) Grief(1) early childhood(1) San Miniato(4) worldbookday(1) routine(2) education system(1) Plastic(1) Maternity Leave(1) eating(1) Imagination(3) annual conference(1) Valentine's Day(3) Reggio Emilia(2) Looking Back(1) Trick or treat(1) Decisions(1) University(1) early childhood educator(2) Performance Management(1) Learning through Storytelling(2) Storytelling(8) Quality(4) healthy eating policies(1) Learning Stories(9) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Thank you(1) blog(56) CIT(1) Primary School(3) EECERA(1) Performing(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Lego(2) UK Government(1) Self Help Skills(1) preschool settings(1) Creativity(7) Regulation 23(1) grandchild(1) Engagement(1) Autism(4) reopening(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Well-Being(10) Relaxation(1) Jenga(1) Policy(2) Care routines(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Valerie Gaynor(1) budget(1) Leprechauns(1) Irish guidelines(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Limerick(1) Super Shed Stories(2) play(37) guardian(1) respect(5) Universal Design Guidelines(1) value(1) Scents(1) Playschool(1) Irish(1) child-centric(1) Return to Work(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine