About the FSF
The Foundation Stage Forum (FSF) was originally set up in 2003, so before the EYFS was a twinkle in anyone's eye. This explains why we're not called the EYFSF. We thought about changing our name with the advent of the EYFS, but on reflection thought that a) the FSF was still a nice neat way to refer to ourselves, and so many members had got used to thinking about us with those three little letters that we might as well leave it that way. So the FSF we remain - on badges, mugs and on our logo above - with the compromise of 'early years' written in small friendly letters above.
The forum began with an amalgam of web developers and a small team of practitioners involved heavily with early years foundation stage and early years education. The technical requirements of the website have grown and the content has expanded, but we still remain a small (albeit older and slightly greyer) long-serving team at heart. Joined early on by an enthusiastic and dedicated volunteer team of moderators, over the years we have watched the membership grow dramatically, into an amazing, vibrant community and support network of professionals dedicated to the early years. They lend their advice and experience to the community, extend their empathy to each other, and indulge their passion for the care and education of young children with each other. If the founders were ever able to say that they were the main cause of the liveliness of this community, it has been some time since they could make that claim!
Our belief is that the world of early years education badly needs this online gathering place, where it is possible to find not only information and news relevant to the profession, but where experiences can be shared, frustrations voiced and questions asked. Being able to do this, without fear of being attacked or mocked, in an environment where the ethos is one of mutual respect and courtesy, has helped many thousands of providers and teachers, and we hope will continue to do so for many years to come.
Who Are We?
When it comes down to it, the FSF is basically all Steve's fault - if you need someone to shout at at any time, he's almost certainly the one to look for. After working with Ericsson for many years while watching his wife Helen (see below) set up a nursery, he decided he wanted some fun as well. Having heard about how hard it was to make contact with other early years managers and staff, for support, advice, or just to exchange ideas, he came up with the idea of an online community for early years providers - or, as he put it at the time, a way of 'joining the dots'. The FSF became successful very quickly, being joined by hundreds (and then thousands) of enthusiastic 'dots', of which he is, of course, one. Eleven years down the line, here he still is. Older, slightly more battered, but very happy to be a part of the FSF community.
Helen began life as, well, as a baby. But after she'd grown up (we're whizzing through what would otherwise be a fairly involved biography) and had a couple of degrees to her name, she trained as a teacher and was a primary school teacher for some years. After her second child (yes I'm aware we've scooted past the fact that she had a first child - you'll need to fill in the gaps occasionally or we'll never get done) she opened a nursery which ran very successfully for ten years. During this time she also worked with her local authority early years team as an adviser and consultant. She became an EYP shortly after the status became available, and has worked as an EYPS mentor and assessor for two providers in the South East, in addition to her work here at the FSF. She is also a reflective practice tutor for students on the Foundation Degree in Early Years Care and Education at the University of Brighton.
Sue has been with the FSF for seven years, as the customer services manager, providing admirable and cheerful support to local authorities participating in the LA subscription scheme. She's also an active forum member and is always ready to help individual FSF members out with any issues they may have.
Louise ably supports Sue, Helen and Steve in all sorts of intricate ways, and has been with the FSF for four years. In addition to her work with us, she works as the school secretary at a local primary school.
We haven't yet mentioned the Matts (there are three of them) who deliver the technical expertise that the FSF needs to stay on its feet. Matts are notoriously shy creatures, so at the moment we don't have individual biographies for them. However, we've been coaxing them out from behind their computers with various delicacies, and we're confident that we will soon be able to persuade them to let you know a little bit more about themselves.
A very special breed of FSF member, many of our volunteer moderators have been with us since way back in the early years of the FSF Universe. Susan, mundia, JacquieL, Beau, HappyMaz and Sue R work to nurture the special FSF ethos that prevents forum conversations and relationships from descending into the 'Lord of the Flies' mentality you might have come across in other online communities.
As you read through the articles you'll see that there are many contributing authors, some of whom have been with us for some years. We benefit enormously from their expertise and passion for the early years. If you feel a burning desire to write articles for us, do please get in touch with Helen; she will be delighted to discuss your ideas with you.