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6 November 2020
By The Early Years and Childcare Service

Early Years & Childcare Bulletin October 2020

Welcome and Introduction from Alex Gamby

Dear early years and childcare providers,

Welcome to our second monthly (at least for now) Early Years & Childcare Bulletin which accompanies our weekly Covid-19 blogs. This bulletin provides a broader perspective on national and local early years and childcare issues compared to the blog and is issued on the last working day of each month. This falls within half term, which for some of you may mean you are not working in your setting. Whatever your circumstances and whatever ‘half term’ means and brings for you, I hope that somehow you are managing to find some time and space to support your personal welfare and wellbeing.

Notwithstanding national announcements since the September Early Years & Childcare Bulletin (which as of course you know has now put the country into three ‘tiers’) and whatever the future holds, at the moment the early years and childcare sector in Kent is, in general, recovering well from the lockdown earlier this year. Please do not misinterpret this as I/us not acknowledging and recognising that right now things are not very easy; I/we know that they are not. However, the number of children currently attending early years and childcare provisions in Kent is almost 30,000, which for this point in the academic year is very positive. This is wholly attributable to all of you and for which we say thank you very much.

The Early Years & Childcare Service’s first round of Zoom-based Briefing and Networking Sessions have recently taken place. They were largely well attended and very positive, with plenty of opportunity to receive new information on topical issues and also to partake in discussions with other providers in ‘zoom rooms’ – still a new and interesting concept for many of us! Thank you to those of you who attended and for your contributions to important discussions.

Once again, ongoing praise and thanks from both Kent County Council and The Education People for everything you continue to do for Kent’s young children and their families. Please continue also to do everything you can do to stay safe and well, looking after yourselves and those around you.

With my very best wishes always,
Alex Gamby
Head of Early Years & Childcare at The Education People

National News and Updates

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Reforms

The Department for Education (DfE) has provided local authorities with information on the intended support available as the new EYFS is rolled out. It provides a timeline which indicates the following will take place.

Reporting to Ofsted

Ofsted-registered childminders, nannies, nurseries and other day care must use the online service to report significant events affecting their childcare within 14 days. The day of the incident is the first of these 14 days.

What you must tell Ofsted:

  • The death of a child.
  • Where a person’s suitability to look after children might be affected, including:

involvement with social services or the police
          something significant affecting their health.

  • Events that might affect the smooth running of the childcare, such as a fire or flooding at the premises.
  • Serious accidents, injuries or illnesses to a child, including confirmed cases of Covid-19 (coronavirus).
  • Food poisoning affecting two or more children.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Cases

Please report to Ofsted:

  • Any confirmed cases of Covid-19 (coronavirus) in the setting, either in children or staff.
  • If the setting is advised to close as a result.

You should report this as an “Event likely to impact on the smooth running of the setting”.

Please also confirm:

  • The date when cases were first suspected.
  • The date when cases were confirmed as positive.
  • The total number of children attending the setting at the time of the suspected case.
  • The total number of staff working at the setting at the time of the suspected case.
  • The date the setting is closing from, and when you intend to re-open (if applicable).
  • If you have notified the case to Public Health England via the Department for Education helpline.
  • The advice provided by the DfE helpline (if applicable).
  • If you have advised the local authority (yes or no).
  • Any other action taken.

Inspecting Providers on the Childcare Register

On 11 September 2020, the Secretary of State for Education wrote to Ofsted to outline the requirements for the autumn term. These included the request for Ofsted to return to inspecting one in 10 providers registered on the Childcare Register each year. Ofsted will resume inspecting these providers from 16 September 2020.
Inspection of provision registered only on the Childcare Register (either or both parts) is a compliance inspection. It is not to make judgements about the quality of the provision but to make sure that the provider is complying with the requirements of the register.

Kent News and Updates

Funding Update

The DfE updated guidance in July 2020 on Early Years Free Entitlement Funding during Covid-19 which covered the following three areas:

  • funding (from the DfE) to local authorities in the autumn term 2020
  • funding (from local authorities) to early years providers in the autumn term 2020
  • planning for 2021 spring term.

You will find Kent County Council’s (KCC’s) Funding Guidance for the Autumn Term 2020 on Kelsi.

The paragraph below is the DfE’s guidance for the spring 2021 term:

Planning for 2021 Spring Term

“We expect to return to the normal early years funding process and use the January 2021 census count to drive funding allocations for the 2021 Spring term.
We also expect local authorities’ funding to providers to return to the normal approach (that is, ‘funding following the child’) for all providers from 1 January 2021.
However, we will keep this under review and confirm the approach in further guidance in the autumn.”

This is still the most up to date guidance we have received. When the DfE announces an update for Spring 2021 and beyond we will send a further communication.

Funding Dates to Remember

  • Remember to submit your adjustments and overallocations claims to Management Information by 5pm Tuesday 10 November 2020 in order that the Covid Supplementary Payments (CSP) can be calculated accurately and payments can be made quickly and efficiently.
  • Management Information will be sharing the findings of their 30 Hours audits with settings at the end of October and again in December. These audits highlight those families who are in the grace period and/or require new codes. Please let families know if they are affected. Posters to remind families to regularly reconfirm their details are available on the 30 Hours page on Kelsi.
  • Remember to submit any Free for Two claims by 13 November to receive a payment during week commencing 30 November.

Kent Local Area Inclusion Survey

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussions at the recent Briefing and Networking sessions or who has completed the Kent Local Area Inclusion Survey sent to you during October. This consultation is designed to gather feedback regarding the draft Kent Inclusion Statement and inclusive practice in the early years and childcare sector. The deadline for the response is 7 November.

Celia Buxton and Penny Pemberton (from KCC) who attended the recent Early Years & Childcare Briefing and Networking sessions to talk about the Kent Inclusion Statement would like to invite providers to share some examples of good practice relating to inclusion and transitions. This can be done by typing in the comments section of the survey and including an email address for Celia and Penny to make contact.

The digital SENIF Request Form is now live. If you have any questions about this please contact the SENIF Hotline (flyer sent to you recently) or view the SENIF webinar that can be undertaken at any time and can be found on the Kelsi SENIF pages under training.

Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust Health Visiting Service has put together a poster for early years settings which has been sent with the email containing this Bulletin. The poster outlines the support available to settings and contains contact details for the health visiting hubs.

The Early Years & Childcare Service (and Equality & Inclusion Team particularly) was very sorry to say goodbye to Christine Robinson, who is now enjoying a well-deserved retirement after many years in early years.

We welcome two new advisers to the Equality & Inclusion Team, Carla Nolan and Maria Boxley, who are joining us from the Improvement & Standards Team, so many of you will already know them.

We are very excited that they will be part of the ongoing support we provide and are sure you will look forward to seeing them at EY LIFT, on training or as part of the pre-LIFT or new SENCO support in your settings.

They will introduce themselves to those of you in their district(s) in due course.

KSAS offers a discretionary service to those who are having serious difficulties managing their income due to a crisis or are facing exceptional pressures because of an emergency. Support is in the form of goods and services rather than money. KSAS is also providing short-term assistance to households facing financial hardship as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. Examples of support include supermarket vouchers and pre-paid energy and clothing vouchers for non-branded school uniform. The KCC website provides more information. Please pass this information on to families where appropriate.

Looking After Yourself and Your Colleagues

Owners and managers have, like many, had a challenging time supporting families, children and staff in their settings during the coronavirus pandemic. If the ongoing situation is beginning to take a toll on your wellbeing, do make sure you take time out to look after yourself.

There is a range of information available to you. For example, the NHS have a range of online mental wellbeing audio guides and the website contains a variety of information on looking after your mental health and wellbeing.

The Education People also provides a free webinar, and although it focuses primarily on working from home, it does contain some good strategies for maintaining a good home/work balance.

Black History Month

The Education People has put together a list of resources to help schools and settings to show respect for, and value, all communities. The information covers the entire age range and offers the opportunity, during Black History Month, to consider some of the issues that have been in the media this year.

Childcare Sufficiency Assessment 2020

KCC has released an interim sufficiency assessment document.

Primary School Admissions

Applications for primary school admissions for Year R open on Thursday 5 November 2020 for children born between 1 September 2016 and 31 August 2017.

KCC’s Admissions Team would encourage families to conduct some research of their preferred schools and consider the following factors before applying:

  • the oversubscription criteria for the school(s)
  • travel arrangements to and from school
  • order of preference.

Families can apply online. Applications close on Friday 15 January 2021.

Fogging Machines

A number of providers in the sector are considering using fogging machines as an alternative means to disinfect their settings. These would be used at the end of the day once the setting is closed to free up time spent disinfecting surfaces. It is up to each individual provider to complete their own research to ensure the machine they use is safe for the setting and for the children in their care, taking existing health conditions and allergies into account.

Providers should be confident that they have a clear understanding of how to use the machine and it should be included in risk assessments. They would also need to ensure parents are aware and have given permission for its use. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website provides further guidance.

Good Practice

Settling-in Procedures During Covid-19

All early years and childcare practitioners know that having a clear welcoming procedure helps children to successfully handle the emotions they experience when settling into a new setting. We also know that sending a child to a new setting can be scary for parents, carers 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. Guidance ‘Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak’ recognises the need for parents, carers and families to enter settings to help their children settle. The actions include guidance from Public Health England (PHE) which outlines how parents, carers and families can enter a setting to help their children adapt to their new environment. Settings should ensure that parents, carers and families:

  • 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 setting 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, carers and families before or on arrival at a setting.

Screen Time

With the introduction of the new inspection framework in September 2019, Ofsted included that practitioners should “give clear and consistent messages to children that support healthy choices around food, rest, exercise and screen time.” Research shows these are all closely linked and influence each other. Ultimately what children eat, how much exercise and screen time they have can have an impact on the quality of their rest, their weight and their energy levels, and in turn can impact on a child’s behaviour and attitudes to learning.

With the rapid increase of technology in society it can be hard to navigate what clear and consistent messages to give and how to support not only children but families to evaluate their approach to screen time.

As with many early years topics there are varying opinions but looking at trusted sources of information will help with the consistent message you want to instil.

What is Classed as ‘Screen Time’?

When the media or research covers screen time they are usually including tablets, smart phones, PCs, gaming devices and televisions.

What are we Being Told About Screen Time?

The NHS site quotes the World Health Organisation (WHO) and they state the following:

Children aged 0-2 years should not have any sedentary screen time and it is important for them to be actively engaged in play. For children 2-5 years of age they advise no more than one hour of sedentary screen time in 24 hours.

How aware are you and your team about internet safety?  Are you aware of the different control measures you can use to keep everyone safe?

The word ‘sedentary’ suggests that screen time can be used in an active way to engage physical activity and some software and gaming devices may allow for this. The WHO continues by explaining what the expectations are around physical activity and that if screen time takes over then this reduces the amount of time children are physically active. The chief medical officer sets out the guidance about how physically active children should be on a daily basis.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) suggests the approach to screen time should be based on the child’s developmental age, the individual need and value the family places on positive activities such as socialising, exercise and sleep. When screen time displaces these activities, as the evidence suggests, there is a risk to a child’s health and wellbeing.

The RCPCH is recommending families collectively decide on their individual approach to screen time by considering the following questions:

  • Is your family’s screen time under control?
  • Does screen use interfere with what your family wants to do?
  • Does screen use interfere with sleep?
  • Are you able to control snacking during screen time use?

RCPCH then goes on to consider internet safety, which is a key element for practitioners to consider when helping children make healthy choices. With older children, informing them about safer internet use is simpler as they have more understanding about the abstract world on the internet and the risks posed by this. For younger children, upskilling practitioners, families and carers will promote a consistent and clear message to children in and outside of the provision. Signposting to sites like NSPCC, Thinkuknow and Internet safety matters which give practical advice about how to keep children and adults safe on the internet will be beneficial.

Within your provision, do adults or children have access to the internet, is it monitored and are you following all the recommended guidelines to keep everyone safe online? Role-modelling the practices you wish to observe in your families is key in ensuring that consistent message.

Briefing and Networking Sessions

Our first virtual Briefing and Networking sessions took place on Zoom earlier this month, with delegates attending from a total of one hundred and sixteen settings. Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed ideas and feedback about the new Development Matters document, inclusion and transitions, the integrated review at two and key topics for future discussion. PowerPoint slides for the sessions will be available on Kelsi during November. Our next networking and briefing sessions will take place in February 2021.

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