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Mon, 29 Apr


Nettle Hill Conference Centre

Imagination and Creativity in Early Years - Bridging the Developmental Gap

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Albert Einstein.

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Imagination and Creativity in Early Years - Bridging the Developmental Gap
Imagination and Creativity in Early Years - Bridging the Developmental Gap

Time & Location

29 Apr 2024, 11:45 – 16:30

Nettle Hill Conference Centre, Nettle Hill Conference Centre, Brinklow Rd, Ansty, Coventry CV7 9JL

About the event

Are you seeing significant developmental gaps in your children?

Are you noticing communication delays as commonplace in your schools and settings?

Are you seeing lower levels of language and communication generally?

If you are seeking support with ideas and approaches for bridging gaps and understanding those early pathways into developing communication, please join us on 29th April at Nettle Hill Conference Centre. The Warwickshire Early Years Hub will be exploring Imagination & Creativity and how it underpins those crucial first stages of communication that form the bedrock of children’s development. The range of keynote speeches and workshops will help support you to explore and re-think the ways in which children express themselves - as a way of understanding their starting points and their potential. Two national trainers will be delving into concepts of how early expressions of imagination show a child’s inner world and understanding of their environments, and how you as EY practitioners can interpret expressions and interactions to nurture progression and ignite a spark for growth.

Keynote Speeches:

1) Inspiring Children’s Creativity – Changing the World One Child at a Time

Ben Kingston-Hughes, Inspired Children.

Prepare for a journey into a strange world where nothing is as it seems and absolutely anything is possible. This insightful keynote looks at how imaginative play directly encourages brain development, communication and language and emotional well-being and can be one of the most vital processes in childhood. The keynote also explores how imaginative environments can help create profound experiences and life-long benefits for children. The keynote gives delegates a wealth of ideas to take back to their settings to stimulate children’s imaginations. It also touches upon the neuroscience of imaginative play demonstrating that imagination is potentially one of the most important developmental processes in any child’s life and one of the greatest gifts they will ever receive.

2) The Power of Creativity and the Imagination

Debi Keyte-Hartland, EY trainer and consultant-creative and reflective approaches to Early Childhood.

In this keynote address, Debi Keyte-Hartland will explore and investigate creative thinking and the power of imagining through young children’s expressive and communicative artmaking. She will unwrap creative processes at play in children’s engagement with materials and media, tools, and languages of expression. She will enable all participants to see the creative and imaginative thinking going on right under our noses with richly illustrated case studies from early years practice together with provocations that help us all to understand the vital role the creative and expressive arts play in our daily lives which underpin so much of what we do. Finally, she will identify ways in which you can amplify possibilities for creative and imaginative thinking through the arts in your setting.

Workshops – CHOICE of 2 from the following menu:

1) Imaginative Play – Inspiring Creativity and Joy. Ben Kingston-Hughes. -  FULL

This practical workshop explores how imaginative play creates life-long benefits for children. Imagination is not merely fun for children, it is a fundamental process by which we innovate, critically think and problem solve, and this session explores the links between imaginative play and the development of a creative, problem-solving mind-set. The workshop then explores how we can use “immersive narratives” to engage, stimulate and delight our children. The workshop gives delegates a wealth of ideas to take back to their settings to stimulate children’s imaginations and inspire creativity.

Warning may contain Dragons.

2) Digging Deeper into Creativity Process: Developing Ideas and Theories over Time. Debi Keyte-Hartland.

In this workshop, Debi Keyte-Hartland will demonstrate how through a simple exploration starting in a puddle, can develop over time into an extended project that holds children’s creative thinking at the centre and uses languages of the arts to develop multiple ideas and ways of communicating with young children. She will help you to think about:

  • How children communicate and develop understanding through the arts and with materials and media
  • How to identify children’s interests, enquiries and working theories to create motivating contexts for deep learning and development
  • How to work with their interests, and revisit and sustain their enquires over time to develop, grow, and enrich their learning and development.

3) How Creativity Supports Learning Behaviours and Communication Skills - FULL

Rachel Gillett, WEYH Co-Lead and Executive Headteacher of Kenilworth and Whitnash Nursery Schools.

This workshop will focus upon the creative offer for young children as a vehicle to develop the two most fundamental aspects that young children will need to become successful, participatory learners. It will begin by briefly outlining ‘learning behaviours’ and referencing this to the entitlement of each child to the key characteristics of effective learning (COEL) and then expand into thinking about how communication develops and the ways in which children can express themselves creatively, while identifying the role of the adult in this process. Each element will be supported with examples from practice.

4) Imagining with young children to support metacognition and cognitive flexibility

Christy Aylott-Mayor, WEYH Specialist Leader of Education and DfE Covid Recovery Expert.

This workshop will outline the value of imagining with young children making links to the development of key learning skills that support metacognition. It will provide practical examples of the ways in which ‘imagining’ allows young children to access and draw from their knowledge and to begin to understand how they can use what they know to think, predict and suppose ideas. To become ‘cognitively flexible’ connecting ideas and applying thoughts.

How they might begin to ‘decontextualise’ and develop important skills that will eventually support their reading, comprehension and ability to ask questions and form ideas. It will provide some examples of ‘imagining’ games to trial with young children and encourage practitioners to see imagination as something that can be articulated and modelled.

Further creative experiences you can explore during the afternoon:

An Immersive Creative Space

“What you value you get more of”

This space will demonstrate some of what is possible in early years with the use of materials and a little technology. It will be full of photographs, projections and materials to stretch your thinking about what is possible and what you might offer creatively.

Resident artist and sculptor Matt Shaw will be on hand to think about how children respond to what we offer them. He will support you to consider the processes young children explore creatively when a ‘creative offer’ is made and adults value the process alongside the children.

Snail Pop Up Installation

We will be sharing  a pop up installation with you of the immersive ways that the children at Bedworth Heath Nursery School engage with our Giant African Snails - showing how the children and educators access a range of medias to gain a deeper understanding and knowledge. The installation will show that together we are researching children, researching the world.

These experiences can be accessed before the conference begins – from 11.45 onwards, during breaktimes and after the conference closes – until 4.30pm. Please do allow extra time to engage in these.

The event is open to all Early Years Practitioners and Childminders. Numbers for the event will be capped so please do book early, particularly if there are specific workshops you wish to attend.

We have a special Early Bird offer of two tickets for £60.00 (until 22/03/24), the standard single ticket price is £40 per person.

The WEYH team are available to answer any questions should you require any further information

E: admin.wey@welearn365.comT: 07795 367337.

Alternatively, you can contact the WEYH Coordinator Michelle Hutton on

Full Conference Timings:

11.45 onwards: Arrival / tea, coffee & signing in


12.15 -12.20: Everyone to their seats

12.25 – 12.30:   Brief intro (WEYH)

12.30 – 13.15: Keynote 1 - Ben Kingston Hughes

13.15 – 13.25:  Short break

13.25 – 14.10: Keynote 2 – Debi Keyte-Hartland

14.10 – 14.30: BREAK (Tea / coffee / cake)

14.30 - 15.10: Workshop 1

15.10 – 15.20: Movement time

15.20 – 16.00: Workshop 2

16.00 – 16.05: Movement back to main room

16.05 – 16.10: Conference Close


  • Standard Single ticket

    This ticket is for one person only.

    Sale ended



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