The Nursery World Two-year-olds conference provides access to an engaging mix of expert speakers from across the early years sector. Current confirmed speakers and workshop leaders include:

Julie Brierley

Owner of Harlequin Day Nursery and Pre-School, Lecturer in Early Years, Hull University

Dr Julie Brierley has over 25 years’ experience of working with young children. Gaining 12 years as a Primary school teacher, before taking over the ownership and management of a private day Nursery. Her recent experience includes working as a local authority education early years consultant. After completing a Doctorate under the supervision of Professor Cathy Nutbrown At Sheffield University Julie now works as a lecturer at the University of Hull. Her main research interests continue to focus on gaining a greater understanding of  young children’s developing cognition and  use of schema in their everyday lives, especially in relation to two-year-old children.


Verity Campbell-Barr

Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies, Plymouth University

Verity is a lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at the Plymouth Institute of Education where she teachers on both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. She has extensive research experience in early childhood education and care policy, particularly considering the quality of services, with a more specific interest on the role of the workforce in delivering quality provision. She has recently completed research on the quality of early years services for two year olds and a European project on the attitudinal competences advocated for early childhood practitioners. She is about to embark on project on the knowledge, skills and attitudes advocated for the early years workforce in European.


Marion Dowling

Early Years Consultant

Marion Dowling has been employed in early years throughout her career and continues to love the work. She was involved in the pre-school playgroup movement, primary teaching and as a Headteacher of a state nursery school. She worked as an educational adviser in two local authorities; a member of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate and was one of an early years group of experts commissioned to advise the government. Marion is an experienced author, her particular interests being children’s thinking and personal, social and emotional development. She is on the advisory board of Early Years Educators and a Vice President of Early Years Education who appointed her to direct two projects on Young Children Thinking.



Jan Georgeson

Research Fellow, Early Education Department, Plymouth University

Dr Jan Georgeson is a Research Fellow at Plymouth University, currently investigating professional development for early years practitioners, especially in the context of multiagency working and working with very young children. She has a background in teaching young children with special educational needs, particularly speech, language and communication difficulties.  Jan carried out research at Birmingham University from 1995 onwards, completing an EdD in Educational Disadvantage and Special Educational Needs in 2006.  Since then she has worked on a range of research projects on disability, special educational needs and provision in the early years.



Denise Kingston

Co-Author of the SSTEW Scales, Institute of Education, University College London

Denise Kingston is currently working as a consultant running training and professional development designed to augment early childhood educators’ skills in supporting children’s learning and development and improve quality ( She is also a senior researcher at the Institute of Education, University of London and the University of Wollongong, Australia. Previously, she worked as a senior lecturer and early years subject co-ordinator for the University of Brighton. Denise is a qualified educational psychologist and teacher and has worked as a schools’ psychologist, senior manager, advisory teacher/senior psychologist supporting quality and inclusion and as a portage supervisor and visitor for a number of different Local Authorities within the UK.


Julia Manning-Morton

Early Years Consultant

Julia Manning-Morton is an independent consultant and group facilitator for ‘Key Times Professional Development’. Her career in the early childhood field spans 40 years and diverse roles as a practitioner, manager, adviser and inspector across a range of settings for children aged 0-7 years and also as a lecturer in Early Childhood Studies for 13 years. Julia’s training, research and writing is focused on practice and provision that meets the needs of children from birth to three years old and on the personal, social and emotional well-being of children and practitioners. Julia’s latest publication with Maggie Thorp is: Two-year-olds in Early Years Settings, Journeys of Discovery published by OUP.


Sandra Mathers

Part of the Families, Effective Learning and Literacy (FELL) research group, University of Oxford

Sandra Mathers is a senior researcher at the University of Oxford. Her main research interests are the quality of early years education and care, and the relationships between quality and children’s development. Sandra’s research is strongly policy-focused. She has led a number of large-scale government evaluations of early childhood initiatives (including the evaluation of pilot two-year-old early education programme) and is a regular adviser to government. Outside her work at the University Sandra is a co-Director of A+ Education, which supports local authorities and early years practitioners in improving early years quality, and she is a co-convener of the local authority ‘ECERS’ Quality Improvement Network.


Julie Mountain

Director, Play Learning Life

Early childhood landscape designer Julie Mountain has worked on outdoor learning and play projects with schools, settings and families for over 20 years.  She is passionate about getting children outdoors to experience nature at first hand, take risks, get active, enrich learning and have fun. Julie has written two early years outdoor play books and is a regular contributor to Nursery World.  She specialises in helping nurseries, children’s centres and schools make the most of the potential of outdoor play, through CPD, advisory programmes and fully collaborative design projects, so that all children may benefit from the essential and special nature of outdoors.



Anne O'Connor

Early Years Consultant & Director, Primed for Life

Having taught in early years for over twenty years, Anne has had a longstanding career as an educational consultant, trainer and writer, contributing regularly to Nursery World. An associate trainer with Early Education, Anne has also been associate tutor at the Institute of Education (UCL) and currently with the University of Cumbria. She is co-founder of Primed for Life Training Associates providing consultancy and training to support understanding of the Prime areas of the EYFS. Recent publications have focussed on Transitions and Wellbeing with her current work 'Understanding Physical Development : linking bodies and minds' due for publication later this year.


Alice Sharp

Manging Director of Experiential Play Training Centre & Wonderbox

Alice is the MD of Experiential Play a training company who specialise in working with staff, parents and local authorities concerned with the provision of play and stimulation for children aged birth to eight years.  The company has a team of eight staff who pride themselves on their passion and innovation of working in this area of expertise.  In the past 7 years she has launched Wonderbox, an educational resource company whose resources are based on ideas she has tried and tested and are now sold across the globe. Alice is privileged to travel, sharing practice ideas with early year’s centres, universities and local government.  She works with the Welsh and Northern Irish education authorities addressing the imminent changes towards experiential learning throughout nursery and primary schools. The company designs and sells ideas and resources based on the articles she has written.  She is the author of three books and is invited to various parts of the Globe to share her ideas and practice.



 Judith Stevens

Principal Consultant, Early Learning Consultancy

Judith Stevens is an independent early years consultant and a prolific author, having written numerous books and articles in all the leading early years magazines. Following many years working with children and in local authority advisory roles, Judith took on a national leadership role as Senior Adviser for the highly successful Every Child a Talker (ECaT) programme. Judith has a passion for all aspects of early language and communication. Most recently, Judith is part of the consultant team engaged in the longitudinal Study of Early Education and Development (SEED). Her book, Planning for the Early Years: Storytelling and Storymaking (2012) explores the importance of stories and rhymes.



 Nancy Stewart

Principal Consultant, Early Learning Consultancy

Nancy Stewart is a consultant and writer with experience across early years sectors. She provided expert advice to the review of the Early Years Foundation Stage, and co-produced Development Matters in the EYFS.  As Senior Adviser with National Strategies, Nancy led Every Child a Talker across central England and developed national materials on playful pedagogy.  Nancy is particularly interested in the role of the adult in playful teaching and learning, early communication and language, and children’s development as self-regulated learners with the characteristics of effective learning.  Nancy’s books include Early Education’s bestselling book How children learn - The characteristics of effective early learning.



Cathy Street

Director of the Research Centre, National Children's Bureau

Cathy has been Director the NCB Research Centre since early 2014. She has worked as a child health researcher, consultant and trainer since 1998, following over ten years of clinical work in various social service settings and specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). With particular research expertise in mental health, many of her research studies have explored innovative ways of delivering new services for children and families. At NCB, Cathy was the project lead for the team who evaluated the two-year-olds in schools demonstration project for the Department for Education and findings from this project form her presentation at this conference.  



Catherine Worton

Headteacher, Trimdon Grange Infant and Nursery School, Durham

Catherine has taught in Primary Schools for the 26 years with the majority of her experience in Key Stage One and Early Years. For the past 15 years she has led Trimdon Grange Infant and Nursery School as Headteacher. Trimdon Grange School is constantly evolving a child centred curriculum and since 2013 has extended this offer to 2 Year Olds. This provision was inspected in 2014 and judged to be outstanding. Our 2 Year Olds play and learn in an Early Years Unit alongside 3, 4 and 5 Year Olds.