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30 April 2021
By The Early Years and Childcare Service

Early Years & Childcare Bulletin April 2021

Welcome and Introduction from Alex Gamby

Hello everyone and welcome to the April edition of the Early Years and Childcare Bulletin. As I am writing this I can see clear blue sky and sunshine out of my window, so I do hope that as you are reading it you have sight of something equally pleasant and uplifting.

New Style Bulletin Trial
The first thing that I hope you will have noticed (and as I mentioned in the March Bulletin) is that this edition is in a different format, whereby the first page displays the content of the Bulletin as a whole and enables you to immediately click on anything you want to particularly read and/or to more easily move beyond anything you feel is less relevant to you. Please do give us your feedback on this trial format by completing a very short survey (seven questions which should take you no more than five minutes). Thank you.

Wellbeing
I hope that at least some of you found Kelly Hannaghan’s Wellbeing Webinar (shared in the March Bulletin) relevant, useful and supportive. For anyone who has not yet been able to listen to this, I am including the link again here for your ease of access:

Wellbeing webinar for Early Years and Childcare settings

Kelly is keen to receive your feedback so please do let us know if you enjoyed the webinar and found it beneficial and also if there is anything in particular in relation to wellbeing that you think Kelly may be able to offer support with.

You may also be aware, I think, that 10 – 16 May is national Mental Health Awareness Week, with the theme for the week being nature. We would love to hear from you about the things you do in that week so that we can showcase them in a future edition of this Bulletin.

To send Kelly your feedback or to send us the things you did for national Mental Health Awareness Week please email ThreadsofSuccess@theeducationpeople.org

Our Threads of Success weekly mailing over the next two weeks will include information on a time-limited offer that will support this theme.

Reconnect: Kent Children and Young People Programme 
A letter from David Adams, Director for Reconnect: Kent Children and Young People Programme was attached to the email we sent out with the April Bulletin. This programme aims to support Kent’s children and young people to reconnect to:

  • health and happiness
  • learning missed
  • friends, family and community
  • sports, activities and the outdoors
  • economic wellbeing.

The letter includes an invitation for you to inform the design of the programme by filling in a form (that will take you about 10 minutes). It also includes a sample letter for you to share with parents and carers with a similar invitation. Everyone’s input will help Kent County Council understand what the wants and needs are of the children, young people and families of the County. Responses by Friday 14 May are very much appreciated.

Countywide Approach to Inclusive Education
You may recall also in the March Bulletin that included information about a consultation on Kent’s Countywide Approach to Inclusive Education, giving a closing date for responses of 30 April. This deadline has now been extended until 14 May so please do respond with your views if you possibly can do.

Feedback can be given through the online form CATIE online feedback form or by completing the questions set out in the guidance document and emailing: sendstrategy@kent.gov.uk
Full details and documentation can be found on Kelsi

I am aware that this Bulletin includes a number of things for you to respond to and that your time is often pressured. Please though do respond wherever you can do, as your views on these significant issues are important.

In the meantime, thank you for your ongoing and unwavering provision of services and support for Kent’s youngest children and their families. I know that what you offer daily, weekly, monthly and beyond is welcomed and appreciated by them and it certainly is by myself and us.

Enjoy blue skies and sunshine at every opportunity!

Yours
Alex Gamby

National News and Updates

NSPCC
The NSPCC is working with the Department of Education to provide a bespoke helpline for children and young people who have experienced abuse at school, and for worried adults and professionals that need support and guidance.

If you are concerned about something, you can contact the NSPCC Helpline Report Abuse in Education on 0800 136 663 or email help@nspcc.org.uk
Please make this information available to your staff and families.

Educational Visits

As we enter the summer term you may be considering educational visits with your children. Please give due care and consideration to the guidance within the Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak with regards to visits indoors and outside. The Government recognises the value of education trips but asks you to ‘undertake a full and thorough risk assessment’ taking into consideration all current Government advice and the systems of control. If you have any queries please contact your childminding adviser or the childminding inbox.

The Big Bang Research Project
Pete Moorhouse, Honorary Research Fellow from the University of Bristol, is currently undertaking research into the impact of woodwork on children’s development and learning in early childhood education. If your setting is providing woodwork you may like to complete his research survey.

Kent News and Updates

EYFS Profile Assessment 2021
As you will be aware the Local Authority will not be carrying out statutory moderation activities this year or be collecting any of the data for the DfE. However, all schools and settings (where relevant) have been asked to use their ‘best endeavours’ to complete this assessment to support a successful transition to Key Stage 1.

If you have not carried out this assessment before there is an E-learning module available.

To further support schools and settings in making accurate judgements we are providing a supportive virtual EYFS Profile Assessment Agreement Trialling. This will be an interactive session to support the EYFS Profile assessment this year in the absence of LA moderation. Teachers will be able to work with other schools in agreement trialling activities using the DfE supporting documents supported by LA advisers.

EYFS Profile Assessment Agreement Trialling - SCH 21/621 - 15 June 2021 via Zoom

EYFS Profile Assessment Agreement Trialling - SCH 21/622 - 15 June 2021 via Zoom

SEND Information HUB
We have been told that early years settings would like to be able to point families to the Local Offer for information, advice and guidance safe in the knowledge it is up to date, informative and engaging. Take a look at Kent County Council’s new look SEND Information HUB - Kent’s Local Offer. Here you will find information, advice and guidance on a range of things to assist you in supporting your families to find the information that they need.

This includes how to help families to explore their options if they think their child or young person may have SEND. There are new sections on the website with content for under-fives so this information is easier for parents to find. The new sections are:
⦁ what to do if you think your child has SEND
⦁ education support for your child
⦁ support services to help families with SEND children
⦁ health and wellbeing support for your child, and information for professionals.

We would love to hear your feedback on whether you think we have got this website right or what we can do to improve it. You can tell us your views on each page on the website.

Business Support
As a childcare business trying to recover from the effects of the pandemic, having an effective marketing plan in place has never been more important. Parents are gradually gaining confidence in returning to settings, particularly since all pupils have returned to schools, but there’s still more to be done.

Loss of parental fees has had significant impact on many providers so what better time to remind parents about the benefits of tax-free childcare. Parents can get help to pay their childcare costs in addition to their free entitlement places. For every £8 a parent pays in, the Government will automatically add £2 up to the value of £2,000 per year (or £4,000 for children with a disability). Many parents still don’t seem to be aware of this and how to apply. Parents can find out if they qualify by logging on to the Childcare Choices website and following a few simple steps. Please note that providers need to ensure they have signed up to the scheme in order to receive tax-free childcare payments directly into their accounts.

The Government has a range of promotional materials available for providers to use, including posters for the setting, social media communications for putting on your Facebook page, Twitter feeds or Instagram accounts. To access the free templates please visit Childcare Choices

Free for Two (FF2) Entitlement – Your Nursery Could Make a Difference
In some districts across the county, take up of the Free Entitlement for two-year-olds has dropped. The pandemic will undoubtedly have had an impact on this but without parents attending settings and seeing your promotional banners and posters, have you considered using your social media to promote this entitlement?

Parents who may be eligible receive a postcard from Kent County Council (KCC) advising them to check their eligibility. Throughout the year and as the postcards go out, KCC Free Childcare Facebook page posts about Free for Two. You might want to consider sharing the posts on your own social media to coincide with the postcards going out so that you can maximise take up at your setting.

Parents/carers should be signposted to the KCC website

A postcard-sized flyer which promotes both Free for Two and 30 Hours can be found on Kelsi

Funding Reminders
The next two payments for Free for Two funding are as follows:

Kent County Council (KCC) Consultation on School Term Dates for 2022-23
KCC is responsible for setting term dates for community and voluntary controlled schools for 2022-23. In determining the proposed future school term dates, KCC is required to consult on the proposed dates and this consultation began on Thursday 15 April 2021, lasting for six weeks and will conclude on Wednesday 26 May 2021.

The proposed dates and consultation response form can be found at KCC Consultations

Message from Integrated Children’s Services
We are pleased to advise that the Children's Portal is now available for making referrals into the Front Door Service, so you will now be directed to the portal Request for Support Form via the Kelsi or KSCMP websites.

Remember that you will need to enter your password and email address to receive your authentication code.

Any forgotten passwords can be reset via the Children’s portal page where you will find full guidance.

Many thanks for your patience over the last few weeks.

The Children’s Health and Wellbeing Navigation Service
The Children’s Health and Wellbeing Navigation Service improves support at Primary Care level for children and young people with mental health, neurodevelopmental and other health conditions, and their families. Based in GP surgeries across Kent (list of participating surgeries available), Children’s Health and Wellbeing Navigators’ role is an innovative hybrid, combining the functions of social prescribing, care navigation and care coordination.

Social Prescribing

  • Support families to identify what matters most to them, set goals with a holistic action plan, and connect to peer support, groups, services and apps to build resilience.

Navigation and Information

  • Collate and provide information and signposting ensuring access to support from statutory services, community resources and inclusive activities.
  • Ensure children, young people and their families know what to do and who to contact if problems escalate or if in crisis.

Coordinate Care and Support

  • Engage with children and their families to build an active profile of their clinical and social journey.
  • Maintain liaison and build working relationship with key contacts, building rapport with schools and SENCOs/school nurses/health visitors/NELFT/ Community Paediatrics/Early Help etc.
  • Become an Information centre for the patient, their family, and colleagues across multiple organisations to ensure a seamless, holistic approach to their personalised plan.

The service is not time limited, recognising the long-term needs of families, though it is action-focused and seeks to provide guidance, enablement and motivation for children/young people and their families to support themselves.

The service is open to children aged 0-17 (up to 25 for young people with SEND) as well as offering support to transition into adult services.

Katy Abson
Children’s Health and Wellbeing Manager
www.involvekent.org.uk

Take a Break Sessions
We are offering you the opportunity to participate in our May Take a Break Meetings. As attendance at the March meetings was low, we are offering three dates this time rather than five as previously.

These sessions are an additional opportunity for you to discuss with your peers any issues that are concerning you during these challenging times. On joining the meeting, you will be put into a break-out room where you can talk confidentially with fellow managers/owners/childminders to share information and ideas. The meetings will be hosted by The Education People’s Early Years and Childcare Area Leads. If you have any questions as you come out of your break-out rooms, the Area Lead will take a note of them with responses to be made available in due course.

Take a Break meeting details are as follows. You do not need to book a place on these meetings, simply use the Zoom link provided for the meeting below.

Committee News

The Charity Commission has updated its guidance for the charity sector.

The guidance covers many areas which includes meetings, AGMs and other meetings and holding meetings online or by telephone.  We would urge you to familiarise yourself with this guidance to ensure you continue to meet charity law and in particular the section on holding meetings online or by telephone because the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020, which permitted charitable companies and CIOs to hold AGMs and other members’ meetings online regardless of their governing documents, ended on 30 March 2021.

Childminders

Facebook
It has been wonderful to see childminders being active on the Facebook page and sharing photos, activities and welcoming new childminders to Kent. We know this has been well received especially during a time when people could not meet face to face. Your views are important and we would like to know if there is any content you would like to see on the page? Please contact us via the childminding inbox childminding@theeducationpeople.org

Compliance
Compliance visits restarted as of 1 April 2021 and currently these are taking place virtually. The advisers will share with you what the expectations are but we do appreciate some processes may not be able to be signed off until we can return to face-to-face visits. If you have any questions or queries in relation to this please do get in touch by emailing childminding@theeducationpeople.org

Information to Share with Families

Mental Health Awareness Week is 10 - 16 May. Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, this year the theme is ‘Nature.’

The World Wide Fund (WWF) have shared ‘5 ways to connect to nature to help our wellbeing’ on their website and have teamed up with the Mental Health Foundation to create a guide filled with further tips and tools.

Explore Kent provides information on activities and events in your local area to make the most of exploring outdoors.

Good Practice

Settling-in Procedures During COVID-19
All early years practitioners know that having a clear welcoming procedure helps children successfully handle the emotions they experience when settling into a new provision. We also know that sending a child to a new provider can be an anxious time for parents and the wider family. Involving parents in settling their child not only helps reduce their anxiety but has a positive impact on children’s emotional wellbeing and their subsequent play and learning.

Children starting with a new early years and childcare provider may experience high levels of stress as they adapt to new surroundings and unfamiliar people. This may not always be obvious in their behaviour, but the levels of the stress hormone cortisol can double and remain high for weeks, even months. Parents and providers are the only ones in a position to minimise this stress through secure and flexible settling-in procedures and a robust key person approach.

In addition to effective settling-in procedures which allow the parent to spend time in the setting with their child, Professor Michael Lamb of Cambridge University recommends regular opportunities throughout the day for children to rest, even if they do not sleep, as this can help to lower cortisol levels.

The Government guidance ‘Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’ recognises the need for parents and carers to enter settings to help their children settle. The actions include guidance from Public Health England (PHE) which outlines how parents and carers can enter a setting to help their children adapt to their new environment. Providers should ensure that parents and carers:

  • wear face coverings, if required, in line with arrangements for staff and other visitors to the setting
  • stay for a limited amount of time (ideally not more than an hour)
  • avoid close contact with other children
  • are aware of the system of controls, how this impacts them, and their responsibilities in supporting this when visiting a provider with their child.

Section three of ‘Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’ includes details on the system of controls. It is important to explain these expectations, verbally or in writing, to parents and carers before or on arrival at a setting.

Exploring the Terminology from the New Development Matters
Following on from last month, the Childminding Team continue to explore some of the terminology from the new Development Matters.

The term zone of proximal development also relates to ‘Scaffolding’, and it is how a more competent person (child or adult) supports or scaffolds a child’s understanding and learning to the point they can then do it unaided. For example, you may play alongside a child and build a bridge out of blocks, they observe you and then try to copy your construction. You then help them to build a bridge and over time and through skilful teaching the child relies less on your assistance and begins to build a bridge independently. Once this knowledge is embedded the child can apply this learning to other situations, perhaps they build a bridge out of another resource on a larger or smaller scale.

Self-regulation is about a child’s ability to understand and self-manage their emotional and physical impulses, thoughts, and feelings. For example, supporting a child to find ways to cope with strong feelings so they do not become overwhelmed, they learn to shift their focus and attention and successfully manage their feelings, emotions and behaviours.

The ability to self-regulate thoughts and feelings and actions helps children successfully negotiate many of the challenges they may face through into adulthood which is why it is such an important skill.

To develop good self-regulation children need secure environments and supportive relationships. As a practitioner you will be instrumental in supporting children to develop the self-regulation skills they will need to get the best start in life by:

  • providing a warm, responsive relationship where children feel respected as an individual
  • creating an environment that is physically and emotionally safe for children to explore and learn at their level of development. Offer routines which help young children to feel secure. Have clear and consistent expectations for children
  • being a positive role model.

Pedagogy is about how you help children to learn and aid their development. It is the techniques and strategies you can use to provide opportunities for development which will be a mix of adult led and child initiated.

An early years pedagogy can be many things, but will include how you:

  • offer choices
  • learn together, with and from others
  • listen
  • develop playfulness and joyfulness
  • provide open-ended experiences and resources
  • ensure there is a generous learning environment with a plethora of meaningful first-hand experiences (Swann et al 2012).

Briefing and Networking Sessions

Our regular Early Years & Childcare 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 sessions and benefit from the opportunity to network and hear important updates? These sessions will be held virtually via Zoom and you can access your place by clicking on the course codes below:

We are also running two additional evening Briefing and Networking Sessions specifically for eligible childminders and out of school settings who find it difficult to attend the weekday afternoon sessions.

Early Years and Childcare Provider Association

There have been no meetings of the Early Years & Childcare Provider Association since the last edition of this Bulletin. The next routine meeting is scheduled for mid-June.

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