Early Years & Childcare Bulletin July 2021
Welcome and Introduction from Alex Gamby
Well, I can hardly believe that we are at the end of another academic year, probably for most of us the strangest and most challenging one in our careers in whatever way(s). I am very proud of the way that the early years and childcare providers in Kent have supported children and families over the past year and a half and would like to once again say a heartfelt thank you and well done to you all for everything that you have done. Whether you are an early years and/or out of school group provider or a childminder, and whether or not you are open or closed over the summer break, I do hope that you are all able to spend some ‘downtime’ with family and friends, ahead of the next academic year starting in September.
Contain Outbreak Management Fund
Discussions about the Contain Outbreak Management Fund between Kent County Council (KCC) and The Education People are ongoing – further information will be available in due course.
COVID-19 Grant Fund
You may have seen the communication sent out recently about the COVID-19 Grant Fund. Particularly, a new COVID-19 Grant Round - Safe Reopening of Community Venues and Spaces - has been launched and can be accessed via this link. Also that Rounds 1 and 2 have now been extended for a further two weeks until 6pm on 3 August 2021.
The Fund is currently open to receiving bids from initiatives that cover the below areas:
- engaging communities and reducing risk factors (deadline extension)
- reintegration activities for families with young children or expectant parents (deadline extension)
- safe reopening of community venues and spaces (new round - open for eight weeks).
Further information relating to the specific grant rounds and more information on how to apply or the grant scheme in general can be found here.
Please do take very good care of yourselves over the summer period – do all that you can do to stay safe and well. See you in September!
Yours, as ever
Head of Early Years and Childcare
National News and Updates
Department for Education – Two-Year-Old Entitlement
On 20 July the Department for Education (DfE) shared information of its awareness that a recent change to the gov.uk page for the Two-Year-Old Entitlement may have caused some confusion. The relevant website page had been updated as the DfE had heard that some parents might be confused about the tax credits they can claim and still be eligible for the Two Year Old Entitlement. Unfortunately, the amended version was missing out eligibility for those claiming working tax credits with an income of £16,100 or less.
The eligibility criteria have not changed since the 2014 regulations:
Parents are eligible for the two-year-old entitlement if their income is £16,100 a year or less, and:
- they are in receipt of child tax credit but not working tax credit
- they are in receipt of working tax credit but not child tax credit
- they are in receipt of the working tax credit four week run on.
Parents are not eligible where they claim working tax credits and child tax credits at the same time.
The DfE is also now aware that legislation.gov.uk is showing the original version with amendments rather than a clear version of the 2014 regulations and apologises for the confusion this has caused.
The Government’s Kickstart scheme provides funding to create new six-month jobs for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment. Employers can apply for this funding themselves or get help through a gateway. There is no longer the requirement of providing a minimum of 30 job placements to apply for this funding.
Kickstart is offering a Teams information session to the Childcare sector in Kent. The session is approximately 45 minutes which includes a presentation and Q&A time. Kickstart will be able to offer support to employers who may be interested in the scheme but are not sure if they are eligible or require more information. The scheme is open to any provider who feels they may be able to offer a funded placement to a young person in Kent for six months including sole traders.
If providers are unable to attend the session Kickstart can still provide information and support by contacting them on the email below.
Session details – Thursday 22nd July 2-3pm
To attend the session providers will need to request an invitation by emailing [email protected] or call 07385427314 9-5pm.
Kent News and Updates
Kent Child Protection Newsletter
The latest The Education People Child Protection Newsletter is now available on the website.
Headcount and Parental Declaration for Autumn 2021
To be able to claim Free Early Education funding for a child for autumn term 2021, providers must ensure that the Parental Declaration form has been completed fully and signed by the person with legal responsibility for the named child. Providers must also ensure the child has attended either during headcount week or for a FF2 child, a settling-in period. The Free Early Education funding for the child is then secured until the end of that term.
Unless on a planned holiday or off sick, a three- or four-year-old child will need to have attended during headcount week all hours declared on the Parental Declaration form. For a FF2 child to be considered as settled they need to have attended all hours on the Parental Declaration form for at least one week.
The Parental Declaration should be signed no earlier than 10 weeks before the end of the autumn headcount week.
The Word version of the parental declaration can still be used. However, this must be signed by the person with legal responsibility for the named child. This could be an electronic signature, or this document could be printed off by the person with legal responsibility for the named child, signed and either returned by hand or scanned back to the provider.
More details can be found on Kelsi
During what has been a very challenging 16 months, charity preschools may be finding themselves in financial difficulty. It is therefore recommended that cash flow forecasts can assist charities to recognise at what point they may become insolvent. It goes without saying that you should not engage in wrongful trading if you know (or ought to know) that there is no reasonable prospect of avoiding the charitable company or CIO going into insolvent liquidation and from that moment you do not take all steps to protect the interests of creditors, this can equally be said of an unincorporated charity too.
To support charities with this, the Charity Commission have some very good guidance that we recommend you familiarise yourselves with, the first is how to manage finances and also their insolvency guidance for all charity types.
The Charity Commission continue to have useful information on their website, particularly giving guidance about annual reports and accounts as if this is difficult you can request an extension. Their advice is ‘wherever possible, we would ask you to get your annual reports to us on time. However, where the situation impacts on the completion of annual returns and accounts, charities with an imminent filing date can email us’.
Please include your charity name and charity registration number when you email them: [email protected]
Kent Guide Dogs - My Time to Play Programme
My Time to Play is a free service, run by Guide Dogs’ habilitation specialists, that helps children with sight loss aged from birth to four develop a broad range of skills through play in a group setting. Each of the seven sessions are based around a sensory story and include songs, movement, and related activities. The programme also provides networking opportunities for parents and allows them to pick up the skills and knowledge that will help them support their child’s early years development with confidence.
The programme is currently run online, but we will be offering in-person sessions from the autumn in Kent. More information on the programme can be found on our website, the link is as follows: My Time to Play. If you know of someone who might benefit from this service, please ask them to call us on 0800 781 1444 to sign up.
Out of School Providers
On 4 May 2021 Ofsted resumed its inspection programme. In Kent we have already had a few out of school inspections. Remember, an inspection is the time to showcase good practice and demonstrate how action is being taken to make improvements and develop your setting further. Think about reviewing your policies, procedures, and practice with your staff so they feel confident when demonstrating to the inspectors how the three key judgements, Personal Development, Behaviour and Attitudes and Leadership and Management are met, together with how you meet the Early Years Foundation Stage (Annex A). Ensure the Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements are secure. This includes ensuring the safeguarding policy and procedure is in line with the Kent Safeguarding Children Partnership guidance and ensuring all staff know and understand the policy and procedure including recording and reporting.
Using the Outdoors
Now summer is here it is great to get children and young people into the outdoors no matter what the weather. Remember there is no such thing as bad weather; children just need the right clothing. When planning outdoor activities and play opportunities especially with the changeable weather it is important that children and young people have appropriate clothing for all weathers, rain, wind, and sun (including sun cream and hats). A reminder to families may be needed.
Connecting with nature and the outdoors supports children’s mental health and wellbeing and physical health. The outdoor environment engages them in a variety of different activities and play opportunities that will stimulate their creative and critical thinking. Den building, water play, planting and growing their own vegetables or flowers, free and found materials and loose parts are great for children to create their own play opportunities. Below is a suggestion for a play opportunity, please also share your activities via the out of school networking groups, Facebook page
A Twig Picture Frame is inexpensive and encourages children to look around and see the potential for using natural materials to make a beautiful gifts and art and craft. Discussion with children about their natural environment extends their knowledge of their local surroundings and the wider world.
What You Need
Twine low temp glue gun
- Gather twigs from your Garden or a walk in the woods. Look for straight twigs from 1/4" to 1/2" thick.
- Strip off any leaves or branches and break 6 of the twigs to 11" length. Break the other 6 to 9" lengths.
- Arrange the twigs to form your picture frame using a glue gun to tack the twigs in place. Wrap the four corners with twine as shown and glue ends in place on the back.
- Trim your photo to fit. Glue to back of frame at corners. Cut and glue a 6" piece of twine to back of photo for hanging.
Please remember to keep checking the Government guidance as it is being updated regularly.
As we head towards nearly three months of Ofsted inspections, we are pleased to say 100% of childminders have received a good or better judgement, which is fabulous news so well done to those childminders!
For those that have received a ‘good’ there is a trend around the recommendations made by Ofsted, with the majority being linked to the quality of education:
- extend children’s learning around communication and language skills
- extend opportunities to promote home learning and purposeful play.
Consider how you meet these and can clearly demonstrate this when it comes to your inspection. Is what you are offering purposeful, and does it meet the relevant Grade Descriptors in Quality of Education, as follows?
- Practitioners share information with parents about their child’s progress in relation to the EYFS. They help parents to support and extend their child’s learning at home, including how to encourage a love of reading.
- Practitioners ensure that their own speaking, listening and reading of English enables children to hear and develop their own language and vocabulary well. They read to children in a way that excites and engages them, introducing new ideas, concepts and vocabulary.
Consider the impact of doing this effectively and refer to the Quality of Education section in the Ofsted Inspection Handbook (2021).
After the positive feedback from the Friday Reflection posts we are now going to do the A-Z of Childminding on Facebook. As the name suggests we will cover statutory requirements, research and trends as part of this. Look out for our posts at the start of next term.
Information to Share with Families
Is Your Child Starting School in September?
Here are some tips from Gemma Sibley, a Health Visitor at Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, to help your child be confident, curious and ready to learn.
Download the Born to Move app for more tips, activities and resources to support you and your child on their next big adventure. Visit the website for more information or ring your local health visiting team for more support and advice (Monday to Friday 9am-5pm).
Kent County Council Reconnect Programme
The Reconnect website is now live, providing useful information for families.
To keep up to date with the Reconnect Programme over the summer and beyond, visit the website, like the Reconnect Kent Facebook page or sign up to receive the Reconnect newsletter straight to your inbox.
Kent Libraries – Summer Reading Challenge
Summer Reading Challenge 2021 – Wild World Heroes, launched on Saturday 10 July. It runs in libraries over the summer holidays and this year is a celebration of nature and positive action for the environment.
Running Saturday 10 July – Saturday 11 September, The Summer Reading Challenge introduces families to their library, encourages children to choose books freely and independently and addresses the “dip” in children's reading that can occur over the summer holidays if they don’t have regular access to books and encouragement to read for pleasure. And this year, Kent Libraries have introduced some new elements such as children can choose to take part either by visiting their local library or online, a virtual launch is available to all via our Kent Libraries Facebook page and some live virtual events.
Free Events – Early Bird Offer
Funded by the KCC Reconnect programme, Kent Libraries are able to offer families the chance to access free online Zoolabs – these are interactive themed story sessions, a chance to virtually meet a variety of animals such as stick insects, tarantulas, scorpions, giant African land snail, tree frogs and lots more. We’d like to reach families who wouldn’t necessarily consider taking part in library events and are offering an ‘early bird’ opportunity to book their place on one of these free sessions before we open up booking to everybody.
Naturetown – suitable for 5 – 8 year olds
Wednesday 4 August 1 – 1.45 pm and Thursday 12 August 10 – 10.45 am.
Hear about the adventure of fellow eco-warriors helping local wildlife, reinforcing what we can all do to protect and care for our animal neighbours.
Eco Investigators – suitable for 8 – 11 year olds.
Wednesday 18 August 10 – 10.45 am and Thursday 26 August 1 – 1.45 pm
Become an Eco Investigator and learn how we can help save our animal friends - all from the comfort of your own home!
NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group – Help Us to Help You Summer Campaign
With lockdown restrictions ending on 19 July, many of us are more likely than ever to be out and about having fun. It’s the start of the summer school break and day trips may be planned to visitor attractions across Kent and Medway, as well as family visits to the beach if the weather is hot and sunny.
It's also a time to think about how we use NHS Services and making sure we are doing so in the best way to help everyone. Accidents, minor illnesses and a range of other health needs happen to us every day and there are many ways you can seek help for your healthcare.
Please remember the following.
- Make sure you have a well-stocked medicine cabinet as many injuries may not need an NHS service at all.
- Pharmacists can offer free advice on minor illnesses and you don’t need to make an appointment.
- If you need urgent medical help, but it is not a life-threatening emergency, you can call the free NHS 111 phone service or go online.
- Urgent treatment centres can be found across Kent and Medway; you can call NHS 111 for an appointment at one.
- Leave emergency departments for people who need them.
This summer, we are asking you to help us help you by making sure you know all the available options for healthcare, so you can make the right choice for you and your family.
If you are a social media user, please look out for our posts encouraging people to find the care they need, when they need it and share them if you wish. Working together, we can make sure that everyone knows how they can access support in the best way. You will also find lots of information on our website
Introducing Big Issues to Little People!
In the upcoming Bulletins we will be offering an insight into how Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is being adopted in age-appropriate ways to help children begin to find out how they can help themselves, other people and the planet.
So, what is Education for Sustainable Development?
ESD empowers learners with knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to take informed decisions and make responsible actions for environmental integrity, economic viability and a just society.
ESD is a lifelong learning process and an integral part of quality education. It enhances the cognitive, social and emotional and behavioural dimensions of learning. It is holistic and transformational, and encompasses learning content and outcomes, pedagogy and the learning environment itself.
Why is Education for Sustainable Development so Important?
Recent events have shown how vital it is that we succeed in developing a more sustainable world for the future of all people and the environment. Pandemics, pollution and poverty are seen on the news far too regularly but through positive actions across generations we can change this.
In order to achieve a sustainable way of life we need individuals and organisations to adopt behaviours and actions that considers and supports the three key areas, or pillars of ESD:
- Societies and Cultures
- The Environment
Why Involve Young Children?
We recognise the importance of children developing empathy and how this leads to fairness, respect and responsibility; however these attributes are just as important for a harmonious society as they are for a harmonious setting.
Developing these key attributes in our youngest children, introducing them to the wider natural and cultural world and raising awareness of their ability to effect change can provide the first steps to enabling informed and responsible choices as adults.
In the next edition of the Early Years and Childcare Bulletin we will look at the United Nation’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development and how your setting, children and their families can support this worldwide effort.
In the meantime if you have any comments or questions then please contact the Early Years & Childcare Service’s ESD Team at [email protected]
Exploring Pedagogy: Urie Bronfenbrenner
Urie Bronfenbrenner was born in Moscow on 29 April 1917 to Russian Jewish parents. When he was six, his family moved to the United States.
Read more about Urie Bronfenbrenner's work here.
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:
EYC 21/215 East group settings and schools Tuesday 5 October 4pm to 6pm
EYC 21/216 North group settings and schools Thursday 7 October 4pm to 6pm
EYC 21/217 South group settings and schools Tuesday 12 October 4pm to 6pm
EYC 21/218 West group settings and schools Thursday 14 October 4pm to 6pm
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
At its meeting on 6 July, the Early Years and Childcare Provider Association received presentations and was invited to comment on:
- the recently consulted on redesign of the Specialist Teaching and Learning Service
- Kent’s draft Transition Charter.
Additionally, various Provider Association members fed back on provider discussions from recent Briefing and Networking Sessions, in relation to how early years and childcare providers in Kent might be able to most effectively influence positive change in the early years and childcare sector nationally and locally. More information on this will follow in due course.
The Association welcomed two new members, being
- Nicola Hills from Towers Tiny Tots Preschool representing Ashford
- Penny Seward from Kingdom Preschool representing Dover.
We are still in the process of seeking to identify new Swale, Dartford and Tonbridge and Malling representatives, there having been no expressions of interest within the requested response period. Particular thanks go to Jim Duncan and Karly Tabony, who have been the Swale and Dover representatives respectively on the Association since its inception in 2016.