The speakers are as follows: (in programme order)

Liz Roberts, Editor of Nursery World

Liz Roberts is Editor of Nursery World, and joined the title in 1996 as Features Editor, becoming Editor the following year.

As well as leading Nursery World’s print publications and online service, Liz is very involved in the title’s annual awards, conferences and exhibitions.

Liz has been a member of several early years sector working groups and think-tanks, including the Baby Room project, and regularly chairs and speaks at conferences. She is a trustee of CREC, the Centre for Research in Early Childhood.

Liz is frequently asked to commentate on early years matters by national TV, radio and press.

She previously freelanced for national newspapers and magazines, including the Guardian (writing a weekly column for the Parents page). Prior to this, she was Editor of Media Week magazine, and started her career as a journalist on Building magazine, where she was Chief Sub-Editor.

Pennie Akehurst, managing director of Early Years Fundamentals

Pennie Akehurst is an author and leadership specialist with over 30 years’ experience in the early years. Pennie has worked in the private, voluntary, maintained and public sector, and spent 17 years delivering strategic early years and childcare priorities within two local authorities; during this time, she provided training and intervention programmes designed to support leadership teams to improve outcomes for children and to manage changes to legislation.

In 2017, Pennie established Early Years Fundamentals Ltd., a research, training and consultancy company dedicated to supporting leaders and managers to understand and manage issues that affect inspection outcomes.

Professor Chris Pascal, co-founder of The Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC), Birmingham

Professor Christine Pascal has done extensive work at government level to support the development of Early Years policy, sitting on a number of national committees. In 2001 she was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to young children.
She has served as a ministerial advisor and as an Early Years Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons Select Committee on Education. She has written extensively on early childhood development and the quality of early education services and sat on the Expert Panel of the Dame Tickell EYFS Review.


Chris is a patron of the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF), whom she is supporting in developing their research strategy. She continues to be an active Vice President of BAECE (Early Education).

Penny Tassoni MBE, early years consultant and author 

Penny Tassoni is a leading author, trainer and consultant in the early years sector. She is also president of Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY). Amongst her many publications is a wide variety of early education and childcare textbooks and a best-selling series of handbooks, including Penny Tassoni’s Practical EYFS Handbook and Understanding Children's Behaviour: Learning to be with others.

Judith Twani, early years consultant and assistant head teacher

Judith qualified as a junior teacher in the days of discovery learning and topic webs. Following five years of teaching, she moved to South Africa to teach in a small rural school which was a pioneer of multi-racial education in the post-apartheid years. There, she developed a pre-school curriculum and introduced a creative approach to teaching.
Getting married and starting a family resulted in Judith taking a career break and, during this time, she led creative arts at a small college in Cape Town. A return to teaching took Judith first to Year 2 and then to Reception where she discovered her passion for early years.


She organised an early years cluster group comprising of practitioners from across early years settings and this gave her the opening to become a local authority early years consultant and children’s centre teacher. During this time, she also trained as an NVQ assessor and Ofsted inspector, and spent six months on a secondment to senior leadership in a large primary school.


For a couple of years, she developed her own independent training and consultancy work specialising in early years, alongside her work as a local authority consultant. She delivered training with BEAM on early years maths and has collaborated with Michael Jones, formerly an ECaT consultant, as co-author of ‘Let’s Talk About Maths’.


She was a regional manager and is now an associate consultant for Early Excellence and is now a part-time assistant head teacher for teaching and learning in a Norwich Primary and Nursery School.


Judith brings to her training and consultancy a wealth of experience and knowledge. She is an inspiring and motivating trainer who combines theory and practical hands on experiences successfully to create an unforgettable day.

Ben Hasan, head teacher, Wentworth Nursery School and Children's Centre, east London

Ben Hasan is head teacher of Wentworth Nursery School and Children’s Centre, an Outstanding nursery school situated in Hackney, London. He was previously a head teacher in a nursery school in Tower Hamlets, which achieved two Outstanding judgements during his headship.


Ben has delivered trainin
g and lectured in early years at a number of universities including the Institute of Education, Cumbria University, East London University and London Metropolitan University. He has also written articles on early years education for Nursery World and the National Education Union.

Cath Larkin, associate trainer, Quality 4 Early Years

Cath has had a long career in early years as a teacher and nursery school head teacher. Her nursery school was graded Outstanding by Ofsted at three inspections and her leadership was described as ‘inspirational’. She also spent two years as a children’s centre leader in Manchester. Since 2016, Cath has been an associate trainer for Quality 4 Early Years, supporting leaders and practitioners to enhance their practices through continuous professional development.

June O’Sullivan, LEYF chief executive, Ben Clay, LEYF pedagogy manager and Jean Hudson, manager, LEYF Queensborough Community Nursery, west London

June O'Sullivan MBE is chief executive of the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF), a social enterprise which currently runs 38 nurseries across 11 London boroughs.
An inspiring speaker, author and regular media commentator on early years, social business and child poverty, June has been instrumental in achieving a major strategic, pedagogical and cultural shift for the award-winning London Early Years Foundation, resulting in increased profile, a new childcare model and stronger social impact over the past ten years.


As CEO and creator of the UK's leading childcare charity and social enterprise since 2006, June continues to break new ground in the development of LEYF's scalable social business model. She remains a tireless campaigner, looking for new ways to influence policy and make society a better place for all children and families.


June is a champion of community-based, multi-generational early years education as the basis for greater social and cultural capital to deliver long-term social impact. She continues to advise Governments, as well as a range of organisations, academics and services at home and overseas, about how best to implement a social enterprise vision for early years.


June is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Trustee of London Hostels Association, Director of Social Enterprise UK, Founding Member of International Early Years, a board member of the Early Years Nutrition Partnership and sits on the London Mayor’s Advisory Board.


June was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours in 2013 for her services to London’s children. She won the Social Enterprise UK Women’s Champion Award in November 2014 and in February 2015 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Middlesex. In 2016, she was voted one of Debretts most influential 500 and in 2017, she won the NMT Most Influential In Early Years Award.


June is a published author, with an MA in Primary & Early Childhood Studies and MBA from London South Bank University.

Helen Prud’homme, nursery and Reception teacher, currently heading up the Foundation Unit at St Mary’s CE Primary School, Banbury, Oxfordshire

Helen Prud’homme is an experienced early years teacher with a passion for allowing children access to a broad range of opportunities, and in keeping the child’s interests at the heart of educational policy and practice.


Her vision of early years is
driven by the belief that children need to be valued for who they are, not what they’ll become. This vision has ensured that children are at the heart of provision and practice, and that well-being and relationships are central to all she and her team provide for the children.


She is the lead of the Foundation Unit in Dr South’s Primary School in Oxfordshire, part of the Oxfordshire Diocesan Schools Trust, which she supports with school improvement work. Her teaching experiences include inner-city, town and village schools and nurseries, Forest schools and FÓ§rskolas in Sweden.


She is currently on secondment and heading up the Foundation Unit at St Mary’s CE Primary School, Banbury, Oxfordshire.