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Alastair Campbell announced as key speaker at Alliance 2018 conference

By Rachel Lawler

Alastair Campbell speaks at Alliance conference
Alastair Campbell has been confirmed as one of the key speakers at the Alliance’s annual conference this year.
The conference, which is open to all Alliance members and early years practitioners, will focus on the theme of mental health and the need to protect the wellbeing of both young children and early years practitioners.
While best known for his work as spokesperson and press secretary for Tony Blair, Campbell has long been an advocate for mental health and wellbeing. He has worked as an ambassador for several mental health charities.
Other confirmed speakers include Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman, early childhood education expert Dr Guy Roberts-Holmes and Alliance chief executive Neil Leitch.
Neil said: “There has never been a more important time to talk about mental health in the early years. With the government insisting on pressing ahead with potentially damaging baseline assessments, and increasing emphasis on a formal, test-focused approach to early learning, it is vital that we as practitioners understand the importance of protecting young children's mental health and wellbeing, and how we can best do so.”
The conference will explore the theme of ‘Minds matter: protecting the wellbeing of children and practitioners in the early years’. Recent years have seen a shift towards a more ‘schoolified’ and formal approach to early education, including plans to reintroduce the widely criticised baseline assessment. Many in the sector have raised concerns about how this will impact on the wellbeing of young children.
While the wellbeing of children has always been at the heart of the sector, it is clear that early years practitioners must also consider their own mental health. One in six people of working age are now said to have a diagnosed mental health condition in England.
The topic will be of particular importance to the early years sector, which has seen pressure increase in recent years thanks to on going policy changes and financial pressures caused by underfunding and uncertainty.
The Alliance conference will address both of these issues, examining the increasing pressure on both practitioners and children and the potential impact on their mental health and general wellbeing.
The conference will also include a networking lunch and exhibition as well as the Alliance’s Outstanding Member Awards. The awards will be hosted by actor and writer Ben Faulks. 

Find out more about the Alliance's Outstanding Member Awards