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10 May 2019
By Bev Johnston and Heidi Foster

Early years and childcare bulletin May 2019

Welcome and Introduction Alex Gamby

Hello and welcome to the summer terms, which I do hope bring lots of beautiful weather that we can all enjoy!

Threads of Success

You may be aware that we will shortly be refreshing the Threads of Success web content so that it sits within The Education People’s website. However, in response to feedback that settings and schools find paper versions of information generally more accessible and useful, we are also creating a refreshed version of the Threads of Success brochure. The last brochure we printed was at the launch of Threads of Success in May 2016. Since then our offer has evolved significantly, so in order to reflect the changes that have taken place in this time we will shortly be providing you with a new brochure.

The new brochure, which replaces the previous version in its entirety and complements our new website, can be placed in staff rooms or taken home, to enable staff to browse at leisure and reflect on their own development needs. As with any printed information, the brochure will be up to date at the time of going to print; however to ensure you have access to the full range of our offer please find here a link should you choose to visit.

We hope this responds to your feedback and that you will find this a useful tool.

We are delighted that so many people have opted in to receiving information from the Early Years and Childcare Service about the promotional and marketing opportunities we continue to offer.  However, we have not had a response from everyone yet and remember, unless you opt in, you might miss out!  To opt in, if you haven’t done so already, please email [email protected]. You can also email us at this address if at any time you want to be removed from all non-statutory communications, and we will remove you from our promotion and marketing list.

Department for Education, Early Years Professional Development Fund

In October 2018, Kent was invited by the Department for Education (DfE) to be one of 54 local authorities to take part in the Early Years Professional Development Fund (EYPDF). Over a three year period (2019 – 2022) this fund will train a network of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) ‘Champions’ who in turn will lead and cascade professional development activity through newly established early years CPD partnerships in their local area.

The DfE will directly grant fund local authorities to:

  • convene local early years CPD partnerships - identifying and recruiting pre-reception Private, Voluntary and Independent settings and schools, attended by disadvantaged children, to participate in collaborative CPD activity
  • nominate suitably skilled and experienced local pre-reception practitioners as ‘CPD Champions’ who will receive training from a national Delivery Partner and then cascade to other practitioners via their CPD partnerships
  • manage the CPD cascade model - developing local delivery plans to manage the cascaded CPD activity and administering funds from DfE to cover local staff backfill costs so the training is free for practitioners to attend, which will account for the vast majority of expenditure.

We received confirmation recently that Kent will be funded for four CPD Partnerships. In Kent, The Education People will lead and manage the EYPDF on behalf of KCC. More information will follow in due course about where (in the context of DfE criteria) these partnerships will be. Look out for this information in the next and subsequent bulletins and at the June Early Years and Childcare Briefing and Networking Sessions.

Tax-Free Childcare

If you have parents who are struggling to meet the cost of their childcare or want to buy additional hours outside of their free entitlements please direct them to Childcare Choices to check whether they are eligible to register for Tax-Free Childcare.

Tax-Free Childcare is a UK wide offer. Eligible parents with children under 12 can get up to £2,000 per child, per year, towards their childcare costs (or up to £4,000 for disabled children under 17). For example, a parent paying £8,000 into their tax-free childcare account per annum will have a further £2,000 added by the government per annum to pay for childcare.

Parents entering the scheme open an online childcare account which they use to pay you directly for childcare. Payments work just as they do through an online bank account. Each payment is accompanied by a reference number for each child so you can identify their payments.

You will only be able to receive Tax-Free Childcare payments from your families if you’ve signed up to Tax-Free Childcare.

Over time, Tax-Free Childcare will replace childcare vouchers. By signing up now, you’ll be ready to accept payments from parents as soon as they ask to pay using Tax-Free Childcare.

Signing up to Tax-Free Childcare does not affect any payments you receive through childcare voucher schemes.

If you’re an approved or registered childcare provider, you can sign up to get a childcare provider account. This allows you to set up your bank account details and receive payments from parents who use Tax-Free Childcare.

To register for Tax-Free Childcare please visit Childcare Choices.

Early Education and Childcare Funding Reminders

Estimate collection for the autumn terms one and two will be Friday 28 June – Tuesday 9 July 2019. Please ensure you check your numbers so that it is the total hours for all children per week input in to the box, this will then calculate the total hours per term.
The 30 Hour Audit of Codes will be sent to providers by Friday 31 May.  The midterm 30 Hour Audit is based on your summer term headcount claim and will highlight those children who will be eligible in the autumn terms and which children will enter their grace period before the start of term. This is an opportunity for you to speak to the parents to encourage them to renew their details with HMRC in time for their code to be updated for an autumn term claim.

The Free for Two payment schedule for terms 5 and 6 is as follows:

Early Years Foundation Stage Profile

The following three documents will support settings to identify those children for whom an EYFS Profile will need to be completed this summer and will assist with carrying out the assessment.  The e–learning module is a supportive tool to assist you in completing the profile.

EYFSP Handbook

2019 EYFS Assessment and Reporting Arrangements

EYFS Profile 2019 eLearning

Committee News

Please note all Charity Commission email addresses have changed and they no longer have ‘.gsi’ in the address.  The GSI (Government Secure Intranet) network is being phased out across government. As part of this change ‘.gsi’ has been removed from Charity Commission email addresses; therefore you will need to remove the ‘.gsi’ if you send any emails to them.  For further information please go to this link.

Revisions to the Early Years SEND Offer from September 2019

Over the past year we have been looking at how we can support settings to meet the needs of children with SEND more effectively within the budget constraints that KCC faces and time factors that we all have.

As a result we have been able to make some changes that hopefully you will find address these issues and will enable you to feel that we have listened to what has been said.

The “Revisions to the Early Years SEND Offer from September 2019” has been sent to every registered EY PVI setting and maintained nursery setting in Kent but if you haven’t seen the leaflet this will be shortly be available on KELSI and you will be able to print it or read it for yourself.

You will also have received a list of drop-in sessions, sent by each district which gives you the opportunity to ask us any questions you may have about the changes. This leaflet will also be available shortly on KELSI.

Ofsted and CQC Inspection

Between 28 January and 1 February 2019, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) jointly carried out an inspection of our effectiveness in identifying and meeting the needs of, and improving outcomes for, children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities.

The outcome of this inspection which identifies strengths in the early years can be viewed here and Louise Langley, KCC Head of SEN Assessment & Placement, will be driving forward improvements in order to address the concerns outlined in the report.

Further information will follow at the June Early Years and Childcare Briefing and Networking Sessions.

Local Offer Questions on CFIS

Thank you so much to all of you who have completed your Local Offer questions on CFIS. Do please contact [email protected] if you need any support with this very important sharing of information which ensures that families have the information they need regarding your inclusive offer.

Tackling Early Years Disadvantage

This Government response to the Education Select Committee report on tackling disadvantage in the early years makes for interesting reading.

Ofsted Big Conversation

This event is open to all early years providers, and those who support early years providers. This meeting will take place on the 24 June in Brighton.

The focus will be on the Education Inspection Framework and the curriculum and there will be a question and answer session with representatives from Ofsted.

To obtain tickets please click here.

Information Management Toolkit Early Years Provision

The updated version of this toolkit is now available on KELSI. The toolkit contains information on records management and record retention for those settings involved with early years provision.

School Readiness

The school readiness report which was launched at the School Readiness event last year is now available on This report is for professionals working across the early years system. It aims to improve school readiness and provides data and evidence relating to school readiness with a public health focus. It describes the current situation across the south east of England and details local school readiness initiatives and case studies. It also signposts national and local resources and training for supporting school readiness and gives a parental perspective using results from focus groups.

Leadership and Workforce Conference - 28 June 2019

“Strong Leadership within the Changing Landscape of the Early Years and Childcare Sector”
Ashford International Hotel

The Education People’s 2019 Early Years and Childcare Conference is set to bring you key current updates in the sector, exciting and innovative workshops and a host of valuable high-quality information stands in our market place.

The following speakers have been confirmed:

  • Gill Jones - Ofsted Deputy Director for Early Years who will be talking to us about the new Education Inspection Framework
  • Kym Scott - Early Education. Kym works nationally and internationally, providing consultancy, training, workshops and keynote speeches on a number of subjects related to early years, but is especially passionate about children leading their own learning and how adults can best support this.

We know that strong leadership and a dedicated supported workforce is the key driving force behind a high-quality early years and childcare provision. Our conference aims to offer delegates key current messages from influential speakers and a range of innovative workshops to support leaders and managers in developing their own professional development and networking with like-minded colleagues.

If you are in a leadership position, either leading practice, in governance or management in the early years and childcare sector, then this conference is a must to attend. With the forthcoming NEW Education Inspection Framework coming in September 2019 and its focus on high-quality teaching and learning, the conference will provide opportunities to keep yourself informed as well as time to reflect on your workforce. An excellent range of workshops will be offered which will give you opportunities to immerse yourselves in thought provoking and innovative thinking. We are proud to be able to support the sector on its journey of continuous improvement and recognise the importance of providing high quality speakers and workshops that challenge thinking and inform practice.

Conference Objectives

  • To explore the new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework and gain insight into the rationale and intent of the changes
  • To build on practitioners’ understanding of child-initiated play and the role of the adult in supporting high quality learning experiences
  • To explore current workforce challenges and give opportunities to identify strategies to support and enhance staff’s wellbeing and engagement.

Details of workshops and how to book them will follow in due course.

To book a place please click here.

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced it will launch a new campaign later this year ‘Chat, play, read’ to encourage learning at home. To read more click here.

Students and teachers are being given the chance to rise to the challenge of growing giant sunflowers this summer.  Early Years settings, primary and secondary schools in Kent, Medway, Bexley, Sussex, and East Anglia are invited to take part in Ted’s Big Sunflower Competition. To read more please click on this link.

Schools and settings have until Saturday 1 June 2019 to complete an online enquiry form to request a free packet, subject to availability, or you can use your own (just make sure they're giant sunflowers to have the best chance of winning!).


Recently published childminder Ofsted reports have shown some trends in actions and recommendations.  These cover specific areas that you may wish to use as a means of self-evaluation for your own setting and practice.

For those not yet good these have included:

  • Improved risk assessment to keep children safe
  • Provision of an enabling environment
  • Information sharing with parents and support to parents in helping children to make even better progress at home. Partnership working with other settings and agencies
  • Better use of professional development opportunities to keep up to date with changes in legislation.

For those wishing to be outstanding these have included:

  • Strengthening partnership working with parents and staff at other settings that children attend in order to create greater continuity to help them make even more progress
  • Enhancing opportunities to develop children’s communication and language, mark-making technology and mathematical skills
  • Developing children's respect and understanding of other people's similarities and differences outside of their own communities and religious beliefs more extensively
  • Better use of professional development opportunities to enhance knowledge and skills, to help raise the quality of teaching to a higher level.

Below are some key points to consider:

The Childminding Environment

The environment you create needs to continue to meet the needs of the ages and abilities of the children you are currently caring for. It should provide a safe but stimulating space that enables children to explore confidently and make independent choices in their play that enable them to follow their individual interests. There also needs to be an available space for children to relax and switch off as required. Sufficient resources should be accessible which allow children to explore all areas of learning and provide opportunities that will enable them to practise their early reading, writing and mathematical skills. Children’s imagination and creativity can be promoted by offering open-ended resources – materials that have a multitude of uses help children be curious and experimental. Many plastic toys have limited learning outcomes so loose parts and natural resources give children wider opportunities to extend learning.  The outside space is also where children enjoy learning, this offers many opportunities for children to learn about the natural world as well as them developing their physical skills.

Partnerships with families

It is recognised that when childcare providers and parents work closely together then children make even better progress. Parents are required to be kept informed about their child’s achievements and encouraged to support the learning further at home. Regular two-way sharing of information promotes consistency and continuity for the child that they can consolidate their knowledge to help them build a deeper level of understanding. Simple activity ideas can be provided to parents based around the child’s next steps, these can then be carried out at home and the parent can feedback information around the learning that took place. The challenge for many childminders is to ensure that this is happening with every parent as some are more willing than others. Using different strategies may be necessary to encourage the more reluctant parent to participate.

Working with other settings

When children attend another setting it is important to seek parental permission to be able to communicate with the child’s key person. Therefore, key information regarding current interests, abilities and next steps can be shared that will promote learning in both settings and create a united approach. This coordinated way of working will effectively support the child’s learning and overall progress.
The Education People offers a wide range of courses, services and products which could support you in developing your practice and environment.


DBS checks must be undertaken for any assistants that are working in the childminding setting. Ofsted need to be informed of the arrangement and the assistant must be approved as a suitable person to work with young children. DBS checks are also needed for new partners or anyone moving into the premises.

Keep yourself informed

The Early Years and Childcare Service’s Childminding Team uses a closed Facebook Group to share information with childminders. If you haven’t already joined the group you can do so here.

Briefing and Networking Sessions

Our regular Early Years Briefing and Networking Sessions provide a good opportunity to keep your setting and staff up to date and to network with colleagues from other settings.

Why not book a place on the next round of Early Years and Childcare Briefing and Networking sessions and benefit from the opportunity to network and hear important updates?

EYC 19/057 Mercure Tunbridge Wells 11 June 2019
EYC 19/058 Mercure Brands Hatch 12 June 2019
EYC 19/059 Holiday Inn Sittingbourne - The Coniston 18 June 2019
EYC 19/060 Hythe Imperial 19 June 2019

We are also running two additional Briefing and Networking Sessions (one in the evening and one on a Saturday) specifically for eligible childminders and out of school settings who find it difficult to attend the weekday afternoon sessions. These sessions will be opened more widely at a later date if spaces are available.

EYC 19/149 Riverside Church, Whitstable 22 June 2019
EYC 19/150 Holiday Inn, Ashford North 11 July 2019

Contact us