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 - 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.
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’. Since then he has spent his time dreaming up other little projects, like PRAMS and Tapestry, and then handing them on to better people to do all the heavy shifting.
The FSF became successful very quickly, being joined by hundreds (and then thousands) of enthusiastic ‘dots’ of which he is, of course, one. Fourteen years down the line, here he still is. Older, slightly more battered, but very happy to be a part of the FSF community.
Helen avoided full-time work for many years, following her ambition to be a perpetual student. After a degree in Linguistics, Music and Astronomy (probably the only person to have studied this particular combination of subjects) she gained a D.Phil from Sussex in Experimental Psychology. At the grand old age of 28, she thought she'd better get a proper job, so completed a PGCE and became a primary school teacher. After the birth of her second child she opened her own nursery, which she managed for ten happy years. She was amongst the first to achieve Early Years Professional Status (EYPS), and tutored students on early years courses at Brighton University. She has also been a local authority EYFS advisor and an early years Ofsted inspector.
Sue began working at the FSF way back in 2005, and has the scars to prove it. She looks after customers as the customer service manager, and anyone who looks after one of the FSF local authority schemes will undoubtedly have had a lot of contact with her. Prior to this, Sue worked in Helen's nursery for several years, having achieved her NVQ Level 3 in Early Years Care and Education. In her spare time (we don't give her much of that) she plays a mean round of golf and cares lovingly for her dog Billy.
Lauren joined the Foundation Stage Forum in 2014 as the first official support technician for Tapestry. She now manages the product support team, runs training sessions and webinars, and helps to ensure that the data we store is protected to the highest standard possible. When she’s not at her desk you can usually find Lauren with Finlay, the office dog, or looking for snacks.
Matt became part of the FSF team in 2009, after completing his degree in Computer Science. His primary activity was looking after and entertaining Finlay, the office dog, but he still found time to create PRAMS. In 2011 he escaped and was able to obtain a masters degree in Computer Games Programming before being recaptured in 2012 and put to work on the new Tapestry application. Firmly shackled to his desk he tended to Tapestry, bringing it through numerous changes until it became the system it is today. Aided by Rebecca H, he managed to gnaw through his chains and together they fled to Australia in 2017. Matt continues to work remotely for the FSF, and in his spare moments likes to brew beer, prepare tasty things to eat and get outside in the sunshine when possible.
Emily joined The FSF in 2016 after completing her Bachelor's degree at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Emily works in the product support team, updating resources, running training sessions and webinars, drinking as much tea as possible and occasionally bringing in baked goods.
Rebecca H was first informally introduced to the FSF and Tapestry via Matt K, where she became devoted to the office dog – Finlay. Then in August 2016 after completing her Master’s Degree in Applied Linguistics, she made her relationship more formal by joining the FSF as product support, Emily’s fellow tea guzzler and linguistic sage (not the herb). She currently resides in Australia, spending much of her time concocting patisserie, watching sausage dogs and investigating Hindi through Bollywood lyrics.
Andy was rescued from self-employment by the FSF in 2015. After a short adjustment period where he tried to fire colleagues and take over the company, he now spends his time improving and maintaining Tapestry. He is also, in the opinion of all his colleagues, a really kool dood.
Joe joined the (then much smaller) FSF product support team in July 2015 after a variety of successful endeavors elsewhere. Once he'd finished tidying up the garden he went inside to see what was going on with all those computers. After a year of working at the FSF he was surprised to learn that there were five days in a working week, not four, and moved to full time employment. We haven’t the heart to tell him his colleague Andy fired him only months after joining the company. As well as Product Support Joe is in charge of electrical appliance safety and staff Christmas entertainment. Two things he has never managed simultaneously but is aiming for this year.
Rebecca is the FSF Website Editor and one of the FSF's education advisory team. She is responsible for ensuring the FSF is lively, relevant and fully up to date with all the latest news and debate from the sector. Rebecca also works with the Tapestry team, helping to develop Tapestry with new features such as the KS1 and 2 assessment framework. Rebecca qualified as a teacher back in the dark ages when there were 17 National Curriculum files, all beautifully colour coded. Having worked with children between the ages of 4 and 11 as a primary school teacher she decided to open her own nursery when her own children were very small. That must have been ages ago as one is now off to university. She has a Masters degree in Education, has been an Ofsted inspector and remains involved in the management of her nursery on a day to day basis. Rebecca prefers crisps and biscuits to cake and has had to take up running as a consequence.
Dan has been with us since early 2017, and in his previous incarnation was a serial developer and caretaker of bespoke websites, maintaining around one hundred of them. Since coming to the FSF he has learned more about the daily activities of children than he really expected to, having developed the care diary function in Tapestry. Hopefully, one day he'll put this expertise into practise by, well, having some of his own. In the meantime he's very happy to reliably enjoy full nights of sleep. When he's not on callout duty...
Olaya joined Tapestry in August 2017, after having moved to England from the Basque Country in the summer of 2014, to work as an aupair, complete a Master’s degree, and test the waters of event management. She writes tutorials, tests new Tapestry features, but, mainly, she will respond to any and all of your questions, so if you have had a query recently, it is quite likely that you have come across her exotic name (pronounced ‘oh liar’ or ‘Oh-Leia’, depending on your love for Star Wars. She will respond to both). Olaya is also easily recognisable on the phone for her ‘American Spanglish’ accent, so bear with her if she struggles to pronounce ‘Bournemouth’ or ‘Shrewsbury’.
Sneha joined the FSF after contacting us and enthusiastically encouraging Steve and Helen to allow her to add the Montessori Curriculum to Tapestry - and then never left! After working as a Montessori and Reception teacher in the U.K. and as an early years teacher at an International School in Singapore, she was so impressed with Tapestry that she decided to join the team. She wanted to provide Montessori settings across the world with the opportunity to encourage parent and staff engagement with a detailed Montessori curriculum. 34,000 words and several barrels of tea later, it arrived, and has been enthusiastically put to work by Montessori settings around the UK - and, indeed, the world!
Tim has had a varied career, including at least these three elements: he was an IT manager in a local newspaper organisation; he holds Early Years Teacher Status and built a childminding business; currently he looks after the FSF's IT systems and is a member of the product support team. All this still leaves him time to cycle more miles than it can possibly be good for anyone to complete.
Louise joined the very small FSF team part time back in 2008, spending the rest of her week moonlighting as a school secretary. After a very brief hiatus (18 months) working full time in school, Louise was lured back in January 2018 as part of the product and customer support teams, finally enabling her to leave school and embark on life as a proper grown up! Louise is often joined in the office by her mad dog, Eric, who brings chaos and much hilarity to the team.
Tom joined us in 2015, having previously been a deputy director for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). He's an engineer by training and has a PhD in the subject, which makes him very handy when it comes to, for example, getting the new FSF fridge to work. Tom came to us through an increasingly common route - his son went to a nursery using Tapestry and liked the product so much he thought he'd join us and make it even better. He currently looks after the Tapestry iOS and Android apps, but has his finger in many different FSF pies, including being responsible for preparing us for GDPR compliance.
Matt M bio
Kirk also came to us via the route of his son's school using Tapestry. He has recently masterminded the move of our main FSF website (the one you're looking at now) to a different platform, which he did so seamlessly that you probably didn't even notice. A 'Creative Technologist' he weaves rich media and web development together in new and inventive ways. Previously producing innovative digital storytelling products and platforms, we're looking forward to seeing how this can be applied to Tapestry's rich media journals. His passions include photography and video.