Early Years & Childcare Bulletin May 2021
Welcome and Introduction from Alex Gamby
Welcome to this May edition of the Early Years and Childcare Bulletin - as I write this the sun is shining, so hopefully we can all dry out a bit and finally warm up!
New Style Bulletin Trial
The April Bulletin saw the trial of 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 move beyond anything more easily you feel is less relevant to you. I asked for your feedback on this trial format and thank you to the people who have been able to respond to this. We would love to hear from more of you so please do, by clicking on this link, completing our very short survey (seven questions which should take you no more than five minutes). Thank you.
Sometimes we are asked to identify providers to be part of working groups or similar. For example, we are currently being asked this in relation to the various work streams affiliated to Kent County Council’s (KCC’s) Reconnect Programme. I did include information about this in the April Bulletin, but for ease of access, here it is again.
The Reconnect Programme aims to support Kent’s children and young people to reconnect in the following ways, each one of which is a work stream in its own right:
- health and happiness
- learning missed
- friends, family and community
- sports, activities and the outdoors
- economic wellbeing.
If you would be interested in being on a ‘Provider Representatives Register’ so that we could contact you when these kinds of opportunities arise, please email [email protected] outlining briefly any particular areas of interest and expertise you bring. Thank you.
Contain Outbreak Management Fund
In a recent report published by OFSTED the learning and development of the following groups of children that normally attended nursery were most affected by the lockdown:
- children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
- those who speak English as an additional language
- children living in poverty
- those whose parents were not engaging previously.
In this context KCC is introducing a ‘Contain Outbreak Management Fund’ (COMF), the purpose of which is to support proactive containment and intervention measures in relation to COVID-19, hence mitigating any future, additional adverse impact on children. KCC has asked for our feedback on how this fund can be used practically and most effectively in early years and childcare settings, hence we would like to seek your views on this. To this effect, the Contain Outbreak Management Fund will be a key agenda item on the Early Years and Childcare Briefing and Networking Sessions in June. Please do book your place on one of these sessions to hear more about this fund and to have your say on its use.
Yours, as ever
Head of Early Years & Childcare Service
National News and Updates
As you are aware Ofsted return to full inspection is underway and we are sure you will be interested in the process as the lockdown eases. Here is some information to note that may be useful to group settings from recent inspections:
- you may not receive the notification call until 3pm the day before
- the inspector may ask you to explain intent, values and curriculum vision (Cultural Capital) during the learning walk
- you will be required to talk with the inspector about each area of the indoor/outdoor provision and the aims and rationale for learning for each of these areas
- there will be focus on how the setting supports diversity
- the inspector will triangulate evidence by speaking to every member of staff to see if messages are consistent
- each member of staff will be asked about safeguarding and wellbeing during COVID-19
- the inspector may ask you what s/he would see at snack time for observing – what the aims and rationale behind it are – and then observe it in action
- the inspector will observe indoors and out both child-initiated and planned adult directed activities - staff maybe asked about the Intent, Implementation and Impact
- tracking of children will take place and is likely to include: EYPP, two-year-old, SEND, Children in Need
- no paperwork has thus far been requested in relation to Observation, Assessment and Planning
- safeguarding/staff files/first aid certificates/policies etc have thus far all been checked as expected
- the inspector will explore any complaints received and what you have learnt.
- the inspector may explore what you are doing/have planned for children that day and why (Intent, Implication and Impact)
- the inspector will discuss with you each area of the indoor/outdoor provision and the aims and rationale for learning for each of these areas
- there will be a focus on how the setting supports diversity, enquiring about families who attend, the wider community and any families within the setting with EAL
- the inspector will triangulate evidence by speaking with you, observing practice and/or reading a policy to ensure consistency
- the inspector may explore how you have supported children and families whilst they did not attend the setting during the pandemic, including what you chose to do and why
- there may also be a discussion on what you observed once children returned to the setting after lockdown and how you supported them to settle and what you observed in relation to their learning and development (regressed, stayed the same or progressed)
- there may be a focus on partnership with parents and carers and how you are supporting this ethos, home learning, progress their children make, etc
- the inspector will observe indoors and out both child-initiated and planned adult directed activities
- tracking of children will take place and is likely to include: EYPP, two-year-old, SEND, Children in Need
- no paperwork has been requested thus far in relation to Observation, Assessment and Planning; it has been through conversation and observation that inspectors have gained
- evidence to support what progress children have made
- the inspector will observe how the childminder supports children’s vocabulary and language
- safeguarding/staff files/first aid certificates/policies etc have thus far all been checked as expected
- the inspector will explore CPD with the childminder, what has been completed and why and what the intention to develop in the future is and why.
Childminders working with assistants would also benefit from reading the information for group settings to see how the assistant may be involved in the inspection.
The Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (September 2021)
Managers and leaders will be aware of, and likely to be preparing for, the changes to the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework that comes into effect from September 2021. The changes are being applied with the intention of improving children’s outcomes at age five, particularly in early language and literacy and to reduce workloads such as unnecessary paperwork so that more time can be spent with the children.
The information below provides a brief summary of the key changes. Providers are advised to review the updated documents themselves to ensure they are fully aware of how the changes will impact on their provision.
Providers’ attention is also drawn to the footnotes throughout the document that offer additional support and guidance.
Educational programmes refer to the areas of learning and development which must shape the activities and experiences that children have in an early years setting. The seven areas of learning and development remain the same. The information detailing the educational programmes is longer, with more depth, and includes examples of things that can be done with the children. There is a new focus on early language and extending vocabulary, with more examples on how to embed and develop vocabulary skills across all seven areas of learning and development.
Early Learning Goals
The Early Learning Goals have been changed to make them clearer and more specific. They are more focused on the main factors that support child development at the age of five. There has also been some reorganising of the order of the bullet points in this section.
Assessment arrangements remain the same; however there has been some rewording to the text to reinforce messages about reducing workloads and minimising unnecessary paperwork.
The Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements
Changes to the Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements are minimal.
Replaces the name ‘Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB)’ with the updated title of Local Safeguarding Partners (LSP). Signposts providers to the Safeguarding Children and Protecting Professionals in Early Years Settings: online safety considerations document.
Slight rewording to say ‘Providers must ensure that people looking after children are suitable to fulfil the requirements of their roles’.
Providers must have effective systems in place to ensure that practitioners, and any other person who may have regular contact with children (including those living or working on the premises), are suitable. This previously read ‘is likely to have regular contact’.
Clarifies arrangements for checking suitability on domestic premises.
Reworded to clarify the arrangements for childminders, childminder assistants and childcare practitioners working on domestic premises where they live in the same household as another person who is disqualified, or because they live in the same household where a disqualified person is employed.
Staff Taking Medication/Other Substances
Replaced the term ‘practitioner’ with ‘staff member’.
Staff Qualifications, Training, Support and Skills
New bullet point included to reinforce providers’ responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010.
Bullet point 3.23 (2017 version) which details qualification and experience requirements for managers and deputies has been moved to Staff:Child ratios section. The requirement remains the same.
The term ‘full and relevant’ has been replaced with ‘approved’ for all references to qualification requirements.
Staff:Child Ratios – All Providers (Including Childminders)
The need to adequately supervise children whilst eating has been added as a must.
The term ‘suitable’ has been added for those aged 17 or over when being included in ratio.
Additional information has been added to clarify the application of ratio requirements for childminders.
Age group listed in bullet point 3.43 (2021 version) is now three to five (was previously noted as four and five). Clarification by using the term ‘per adult’ as been added.
This bullet point has also been written differently to list the requirements using bullet points.
This section now includes the importance of promoting oral health.
Food and Drink
Signposts providers to further information regarding sample menus for early years settings, menu planning, food safety, managing allergies and reading food labels.
Managing Children’s Behaviour
Information remains the same, however the bullet points have been reorganised.
Safety and Suitability of Premises, Environment and Equipment
Smoking and Vaping
Information has been extended to include the use of vapes and e-cigarettes.
Clarifies requirements for forest schools and other exclusively outdoor provision.
Extends advice for safe sleeping practices and sleep equipment.
Information and Records
The requirement to seek permission from Ofsted to keep records off the premises has been removed.
Other Legal Duties
This is a new section and highlights the other legal obligations that sit alongside the EYFS.
This is a new guidance section for school staff in all maintained schools, academies and free schools with a reception cohort. It does not apply to nurseries or childminders.
Grants from the Speech Language and Hearing Foundation
Nurseries and schools that are registered with the Charity Commission and have difficulties accessing funding for children’s speech, language and hearing development may be eligible for grants from the Speech Language and Hearing Foundation (SLHF).
Kent News and Updates
Why a Child’s Free Early Education Hours Are Capped
At the end of each term, Management Information advises providers if any one child in their setting has an overallocation of their funded hours, or if any one child has exceeded their funding entitlement of 570/1140 funded hours.
This occurs when two (or more) providers are claiming for the same child and the total number of hours per week exceeds 15/30 or 12/24 (if stretched) being the weekly limit. This is usually rectified by communication with both providers and discussion with the parent. Management Information may request sight of parental declarations, to verify the providers’ claim.
Children have 570/1140 (if eligible) funded hours to use per year; this is broken down into three terms, with different termly limits for Non-stretched and Stretched hours. Please see table below (for extended hours these figures are doubled).
If a provider stretches their entitlement over 48 weeks, then at the end of the child’s funded year there will always be a cap of 6/12 hours (15 hours x 48 weeks = 576 hours, 30 hours x 48 weeks = 1152). Hopefully providers will have already communicated this to parents and therefore made arrangements for the parent to either remove their child for these additional hours, or to pay for them.
However, there may be other occasions when providers are capped for varying number of hours and it may not always be obvious as to why.
In most instances where capping exceeds 6/12 hours, it will be because the child has moved to the setting, having taken their funded hours in a previous term(s) elsewhere. It is vitally important if a child transfers from one provider to another during their funded year, that the incoming provider establishes how their previous funding was delivered. The mixing of term time/stretched delivery over the course of a child’s funded year is where these anomalies are normally generated.
As you can see from these examples there are varying degrees of how much the child will exceed or not exceed their funded hours. Scenario 1 shows an overallocation of 24 hours, scenario 2 an overallocation of three hours, whilst in scenario 3 the parent would need to be informed that by switching between term time and stretched, they will not receive their full entitlement of 570 hours.
For children accessing 30 hours of funding, these figures would be doubled.
Without due diligence, a provider may find themselves ‘out of pocket’ if these anomalies are not identified at the point of when the child changes providers.
Therefore, it is strongly recommended that in those instances where a child moves to you, in their funded year, you request information from the parent or previous provider as to how their funding was previously delivered. If neither the parent or previous provider can divulge this information, contact Management Information with the child’s name and date of birth. They will be able to establish how many hours have been previously claimed, and you, as the new provider, will know how many hours are left to offer to the parent, thus preventing being capped at the end of the child’s funded year.
Free for Two Take-Up Project Update
As you may be aware, the Department for Education (DfE) identified Kent as one of 20 local authorities that would benefit from support to increase the take-up of childcare by eligible families with a two-year-old child. Hempsall’s was appointed by the DfE to oversee the project from January 2021 until 31 March 2021.
As a result of being part of the project we have developed a plan to support and further embed the take up of two-year old childcare places going forward. We are focusing on the following areas to drive the take-up:
- to improve and build on how the data is collected and analysed and used to understand communities and drive take-up
- to work with providers to deliver sufficient high quality two-year-old places
- to ensure eligible families are supported to take up their childcare places
- to provide up-to-date, accessible information for all, including families, family-facing professionals, the wider local authority and other stakeholders and partners.
We are carrying out some focused work in both Dartford and Gravesham districts in partnership with Health and Early Help and Preventative Services and Management Information. This is to establish if there may be other ways we might engage with more families and help target outreach support services and engage with harder to reach communities.
Carrying out a parent and carer survey is part of this plan and we will shortly begin engaging with providers in relation to this. Promoting the offer through family influencers and short information videos is also part of the plan. If you have families attending your setting who are using (or have recently used) their Free for Two entitlement with you and who might be interested in recording a short video clip of their experiences, then please let us know. We would also be interested in providers who might also be willing to record a short clip promoting the benefits to families. In both cases, please email [email protected]
Maximise Disability Access Fund (DAF) Take-up
Disability Access Fund is £615 per year paid to a setting, where a child is accessing the early years entitlement and is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Providers are responsible for identifying eligible children. The purpose of DAF is to allow the setting to make reasonable adjustments to improve the child’s access and remove any barriers which may prevent the child from accessing free early years education.
We are interested in hearing from settings that have taken up DAF funding and would like to capture your setting’s story and the difference DAF has made for children. Your experiences of using DAF and the impact it has made in your settings is important and needs to be shared. Our intention is to have regular DAF case studies featured in this Bulletin. Some settings may not know about DAF or have never applied for this valuable funding. The Early Years and Childcare Service is wanting to take steps to improve take-up of DAF in both group settings and for childminders.
Please send your thoughts, experiences, and stories to:
Senior Early Years & Childcare Equality and Inclusion Adviser [email protected]
SEND System in Kent
As you will all be aware there has been a drive towards the transformation journey of the SEND system in Kent. These improvements have been driven by a shared professional commitment to improving the experiences and outcomes for children, young people, young adults, and their families. Whilst some of this work is school specific, early years and childcare providers have been invited to be part of the conversations about this work and have offered their views and experience in its development.
The following aspects are key to improving outcomes for children in the early years and beyond:
- the SEND Strategy has been published and the co-produced Countywide Approach to Inclusive Education (CATIE) shared with stakeholders for review and discussion
- the first meeting of the Transition Task and Finish Group has met and is co-producing a Transition Charter
- SENCO Forums continue to offer advice and support for early years and childcare settings and forums specifically for childminders are being developed.
Supporting Parents and Families
- The Local Offer continues to be developed and has been renamed and rebranded as the SEND Information Hub. Parent satisfaction overall with the Local Offer has moved from 19% in 2019 to 60% in spring 2021. The SEND Parent Newsletters continue to be published, with subscriptions doubling since February 2021. The Co-production Charter which is aligned to the new Kent Youth Charter has also been finalised.
- Joint funding from KCC and Health has been provided to extend the IASK Service for the next two years, demonstrating a joint commitment to supporting families.
- Kent PACT (Parents and Carers Together) continues its growth and independence journey with Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) status achieved in April 2021 and a significant growth in membership following the recruitment of key staff. Quadrant ambassadors join the Kent PACT Team this month, taking the lead in area-led parent activities. Kent PACT continues to be part of the strategic shaping of the future of the SEND Service.
The past three months has been particularly challenging for health services, with increasing referrals across the board since children returned to school. The pressure is being felt most significantly on mental health and eating disorder services, with unprecedented demand and increasing complexity and acuity of cases. As a system, Kent has responded extremely quickly to emerging pressures and strong relationships have played a key part in enabling quick decision making. There has been a strong focus on children and young people at a strategic level and this has been evidenced through support for additional investment across the system to strengthen services post COVID. Many services are returning to normal and are still delivering a mixture of virtual and face to face appointments. There has been strong engagement with system partners and the establishment of a new governance structure and newly formed meetings has been a key strategic driver. There are more joint posts and jointly funded services than have been seen previously and it is anticipated that these will have a positive impact on outcomes for CYP in future.
The Integrated Review at Two process has been established and the joint working between health visitors, early years providers and families is underway.
The KCC SEND Co-production Charter
The SEND Co-production charter – Kent County Council has been finalised and is now available on the SEND Information Hub (the new name for the KCC Local Offer). This document has been produced in co-production with children and young people via Activmob and Kent PACT. The SEND co-production charter was created with the help of children and young people to allow for their voice to always be heard. The main message focuses on everyone, no matter what their age is, coming together from the start to work collaboratively as equal partners, communicating and listening in a respectful manner to achieve the best possible outcome for everybody.
Early Years Funding Allocation Planner Tool
The Early Years Specialist Funding Allocation Planner is a financial planner to support settings when allocating/planning funding to support children with SEND. This planner is provided by KCC to support budget managers when allocating SEN monies.
Two training session have taken place and a recorded version will be available soon.
Integrated Review at Two
We are delighted that so many of you have already watched the Integrated Review at Two webinar. For those of you who have not had time to view it, please do so to ensure you are fully aware of the new processes. Do remember to ask families to share the Child Health Development Book (Red Book) and fill in the Progress Check at Two page when completing your assessment. Having viewed the webinar, if you need further advice about when an Integrated Review meeting may be appropriate do contact [email protected] or for childminders [email protected]
Kent Children and Families Information Service
The Kent Children and Families Information Service (CFIS) manages an online directory of childcare providers on behalf of Kent County Council which allows families to search for childcare by postcode.
Results can also be filtered by provider type and those currently registered to offer the Free Early Education.
If you are unable to accommodate childcare requests from families, please signpost them to the directory. Kent CFIS can also be reached by telephone 03000 412 323 or via email
Out of School Providers
The Government guidance for out of school providers now states:
"From 12 April 2021, in line with the commencement of step 2 of the COVID-19 response – spring 2021, out of school settings and wraparound childcare providers can offer provision to all children, without restriction on the reasons for which they may attend."
This is very good news for the sector but with further restrictions being eased it is important that all control measures, COVID-19 procedures, and risk assessments are regularly reviewed, monitored and developed in line with the most up-to-date guidance. It may also be useful for out of school setting managers and leaders to share these with the schools they work in partnership with to ensure continuity.
If operating in a shared facility that is not a school, these procedures and risk assessments should be shared with the managing body of the venue to ensure they are aware of all measures in place in line with government guidance for the health, safety and welfare of children, families, and staff.
The Early Years Inspection Handbook May 2019 was updated on 19 April 2021.
Updates include inspecting during the COVID-19 pandemic and the inspector’s approach in reaching a final judgement within the context of the pandemic. It is important that all out of school leaders, managers and staff are familiar with the handbook and its contents in relation to their out of school setting.
Out of school advisers are currently contacting settings who are waiting for their first inspection. They are also offering annual conversations to all other settings. If you have not yet received a call, they will be in touch very soon. However, if you have an urgent enquiry or would like to discuss training or support, please do not hesitate to get in touch via
Over the past few weeks, we have posted ‘Friday Reflections’ in The Education People’s Kent Childminders Facebook group. This was created to promote reflection on practice in relation to Ofsted’s grade descriptors. Below is a sample of the questions posed.
- How do you ensure you create stimulating sensory environments indoors and out for your infants? Remember it is a statutory requirement for children to have daily access to outdoors, regardless of their age!
- Are you aware of the Kent Levels of Support and the flow diagram to support you and who to contact if you have a concern about a child?
- How do you inform parents about your SEND support and is it accessible and easy to find?
Childminders followed these with queries and images to demonstrate their practice and it has been wonderful to see this level of engagement with the Facebook group.
If you have not already, why not consider joining us and have the opportunity to discuss and share practice as well as get reminders about forthcoming dates too. The Education People Kent Childminders Facebook group. Remember you need to answer the questions so we can validate your application.
Information to Share with Families
One of the best ways to protect your baby against diseases like measles, rubella, tetanus and meningitis is through immunisation. Despite the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is still recommended that your child receives their routine vaccinations at 2, 4, 6, 12 and 13 months, as this protects them against other serious diseases that can still cause them harm.
Information for families experiencing financial hardship is available on the Kent.gov website.
Exploring Pedagogy: Introducing Abraham Maslow
Many of us are familiar with Maslow but how influential are his theories and whether now, as we attempt to return to some sort of normality, is a good time to revisit his hierarchy of needs?
Read more about Abraham Maslow's work.
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 21/005 South group settings and schools Tuesday 15 June 4 – 6 pm
EYC 21/006 West group settings and schools Wednesday 16 June 4 – 6 pm
EYC 21/007 North group settings and schools Tuesday 22 June 4 – 6 pm
EYC 21/008 East group settings and schools Tuesday 29 June 4 – 6 pm
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:
EYC 21/011 Childminders and out of school settings West Wednesday 23 June 7.30 – 9.30 pm
EYC 21/012 Childminders and out of school settings South Wednesday 7 July 7.30 – 9.30 pm
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.
There are vacancies on the Association for early years group representatives in Tonbridge and Malling, Dover and (with effect from September) Ashford. We will be seeking to fill these vacancies shortly through our established district-based elections process.