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1 October 2020
By The Early Years and Childcare Service

Early Years & Childcare Bulletin September 2020

Welcome and Introduction from Alex Gamby

Dear Early Years and Childcare Providers

You will recall, I hope, that in my ‘Early Years & Childcare Covid-19 Summer Round-Up Blog’, dated and circulated on 3 September, I said that for the time being (and in our ongoing previously unprecedented circumstances), in addition to our Thursday emails bringing together government guidance for the week, we would be re-establishing our Bulletin but on a more frequent monthly (rather than termly) basis.

So, with our ‘previously unprecedented circumstances’ in mind, this week has brought, as you will all be aware, announcements from the Prime Minister about the latest heightened restrictions being put in place to manage and prevent the escalation of a second surge of Covid-19. With the rising number of cases in the last ten days, this was looking inevitable and sadly we can see that further lockdown restrictions could be looming if the numbers of those infected and entering hospital do not reduce. I know that we are in agreement that we do not want this to happen.

Notwithstanding this, you will know from government guidance that funding will continue for any settings that close for Covid-19 reasons and on Public Health England instruction. If this applies to your setting at any point, please do let us know via your Childcare Sufficiency Officer (groups settings) or Childminding Adviser (childminders) in order that we can ensure that the Children & Families Information Service is aware and can advise families accordingly. Thank you.

As always, continued thanks from both Kent County Council and The Education People for your continued and tireless support for our youngest children and their families. Please continue also to do everything you can do to stay safe and well, looking after yourselves and others.

Alex Gamby
Head of Early Years & Childcare Service
The Education People

National News and Updates

Development Matters

The Department for Education (DfE) has published a revised version of Development Matters. This new non-statutory guidance supports the delivery of the new EYFS Framework, which early adopter schools can use from September 2020 onwards.

The current version of the EYFS Framework is still available for all other non-early adopter schools and providers to continue to use.

From September 2021 onwards, early years providers and schools will need to use the new version of the EYFS Framework.

Kent News and Updates

Special Educational Needs Support – Information from Kent County Council (KCC) and The Education People

The latest Special Educational Needs Offer (2020-21) which replaces last year’s document will be available at the beginning of October. You will be pleased to know that the SEN Support Allowance will continue for the next academic year.

The Early Years & Childcare Service’s Equality & Inclusion Team continues to offer advice and support, including Pre-LIFT/SEND visits. You will find the Equality & Inclusion (E&I) request form on Kelsi

Childminders seeking support can either use the request for support form above or complete the Childminder SEND Support Request Form and email it to [email protected]

Support is also available from SENIF practitioners including the SENIF hotline, available every morning, term time only between 9am and 10 am.

  • Debbie James (North and West Kent) telephone 03000 418 862
  • Fleur Thorogood (South and East Kent) telephone 03000 418 807.

Also support is available from Specialist Teaching and Learning Services (STLS) Early Years Teachers, Health Visitors through the duty line, Early Help and other multiagency colleagues.
Some of this will continue to be a virtual offer in accordance with current government guidelines.

You will receive a hardcopy of the following documents in October along with further information to support you to meet the needs of children in your care. These documents will also be available on Kelsi and/or the Local Offer:

  • Special Educational Needs Offer 2020-21
  • Best Practice Guidance leaflet: A Guide for Families
  • Guidance for your SENIF Monitoring and Support visit
  • What is MAP? - Multi-Agency Planning (MAP) leaflet.


Please remember that if you have a child in your provision who is eligible to receive the Disability Access Fund you can also request a funded subscription package from Emporium.
If you would like more information about the Emporium DAF subscription, please email [email protected] or call 03000 422 355.

Integrated Reviews at Two

Work on the Integrated Reviews at Two was postponed in spring 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now that recovery planning has progressed across the Health Visiting Service and early years and childcare sector, the project group has reviewed and amended the integrated model to align the pathways to the new service delivery models.

We will be sharing the plans for moving this forward at the October Briefing and Networking Sessions and will provide further information and training later in the autumn term and in January 2021.

In the meantime please:

  • continue to use the handheld Personal Child Health Record (PCHR Red Book) to gather any information shared about the HV development checks (NB checks have been virtual during this period so will have been completed by the family)
  • use the HV duty line to access support
  • recommence undertaking the Progress Check at Two from 26 September 2020
  • request support from Equality & Inclusion Advisers or Childminding Advisers regarding the Progress Check and any subsequent targeted planning.

Kent Local Offer

There have been some updates to the Local Offer over the summer period in accordance with the Written Statement of Action following the SEN Inspection. It is vital that families and early years and childcare providers have a voice in how the Local Offer is developed and to that end Sharon McLaughlin has been tasked to undertake this work.

An Introduction to the Local Offer from Sharon McLaughlin

The Local Offer has two key purposes.

  • To provide clear, comprehensive, accessible, and up-to-date information about the available provision and how to access it.
  • To make provision more responsive to local needs and aspirations by directly involving disabled children and those with SEN and their parents, and disabled young people and those with SEN, and service providers, in its development and review.

The Local Offer sits within KCC’s SEND Service, and the Local Offer Team will work with partners across the local area to ensure content is most up to date and relevant.

Early years and childcare provision is an integral part of our Local Offer Improvement Programme. We want to make sure that you, our partners in this, can shape and inform the look, content and tone of the website. We want to make sure that it offers the best possible support to families seeking information, advice and support if they have a child with SEND or that they think they might have a child with SEND.

I will be attending the Early Years & Childcare Provider Association meeting in December and the Briefing and Networking sessions in February but in the meantime if you would like to contact me please email me at: [email protected]

Sharon McLaughlin SEND Partnership and Engagement Manager

You can also speak to your Early Years & Childcare Equality & Inclusion Adviser or Childminding Adviser, or if you have any comments you would like to share, email:
Sue Smith [email protected]
Zenia Ford [email protected]

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

The ESD Team has been busy converting the Global Goals workshops to an online format to maintain the enthusiasm shown by the early years and childcare sector for embedding education for sustainable development within Kent’s settings. These aims are now more important than ever as we face new challenges such as the current pandemic as well as long existing issues like climate change. We are finalising the next workshop, which will now be delivered online and is aptly: Goal 3 – Good Health and Wellbeing. We hope this will be of help to many early years staff and the children in your settings.

The Early Years Education for Sustainable Development Award has continued despite lockdown and has in fact provided many settings with a means of supporting parents with home learning ideas. The Get Going on the Global Goals children’s books have been immensely popular with parents looking to support their children’s education at home and provided continuity for those returning to pre-school after lockdown. We are proud to announce our first two settings have completed the Early Years Education for Sustainable Development Award at Bronze level which was made possible by using MS Teams or Skype to carry out advisory visits and final assessments.

For any queries regarding Education for Sustainable Development please contact: [email protected]

Early Years Hubs and Eco Centre

Our risk assessments for the hubs and the Aldington Eco Centre have been written and approved by The Education People and we have been busy preparing Aylesham hub and Aldington Eco Centre for re-opening.

Following Covid-19 government guidance, we have adapted our usual way of working and therefore, as part of our commitment to keeping our customers safe during their visit, we have implemented the following measures:

  • hand sanitising stations at key points
  • protective screen on reception
  • social distancing measures in place including one-way flow
  • revised layouts accommodating smaller numbers
  • enhanced cleaning schedules.

We look forward to welcoming you back to the centres as soon as we are advised we can carry out face-to-face training again.
For enquiries regarding the hubs and Eco Centre please contact: [email protected]

Further to the most recent update on 1 September, Integrated Children’s Services are pleased to advise that they are still on track to proceed with the go live date on 12 October 2020.
Integrated Children’s Services will be keeping you updated over the coming weeks and will include links to all guidance and information closer to the go live date.
Key Points/Top Tips:

  • Access to the portal will be via the existing sites – Kelsi and Kent Safeguarding Children Multi-Agency Partnership (KSCMP).
  • Users will have to register to set up an account – this is quick and easy to do and just requires a name and email address that can be accessed whilst the portal is being used.
  • The system offers greater security, with features such as the requirement of an authentication code (delivered to the user by email) for each submission and forms are submitted directly into the Early Help Module.
  • Full guidance will be available and will be released before the go live date; this includes a short instruction video.
  • Full testing has taken place with partner agencies.
  • Most browsers can be used; however, use of Chrome is recommended for greater efficiency.
  • There will be the facility to provide feedback, and whilst we won't be able to respond to individuals, we will be regularly reviewing and using feedback to further develop the Portal.
  • Individual accounts are recommended but where this is not possible (for some of our partner agencies – any KCC staff will be expected to have their own account) it is advised that portal users within a service should be kept to a minimum.
  • We will be asking for the same information – but in a slightly different format.
  • You will be able to save and print a PDF copy of the form.

There will be further information from Kent Integrated Children’s Services in this Bulletin over the coming weeks.

Looking After Yourself and Your Colleagues

Now, more than ever, the need to look after ourselves and others is a priority; a priority for our physical as well as our mental health. The situation we have found ourselves in this year has tested us all in a way we could never have imagined and we will continue to be faced with new challenges over the coming months. The information that follows is intended to prompt reflection and offer possible ideas to support the wellbeing of yourself and your colleagues as we commit ourselves to returning to a possibly new kind of normal.

It is of no surprise that high levels of wellbeing of adults equates to high levels of wellbeing for the children in their care; however, many factors can impact on our own wellbeing. So what do we need to consider in order to maintain consistently high levels of wellbeing for ourselves and for our colleagues?

It is the nature of a dedicated early years and childcare practitioner to put the wellbeing of children before their own. But to be the very best we can, we must look after our own wellbeing to be best placed to support the children in our care.

A helpful analogy is to remind ourselves of the emergency procedures on a plane. We are told to put on our own oxygen mask before helping others, including children. Why? Because if we do not, we will run out of oxygen and will be unable to help anyone else.

The World Health Organisation defines health as a ‘state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’.

It may be helpful to consider these three aspects: physical, mental and social wellbeing in relation to our roles as early years and childcare professionals. The table below gives a starting point for discussion.

Research is telling us that simple things we can incorporate into our everyday lives can have positive outcomes for our wellbeing by improving our mood, helping us deal with stress, reducing the risk of depression, strengthening our relationships and even adding years to our life expectancy.

Committee News

Are you a charity run setting? Should you have held your AGM in the summer term or are you due to hold your AGM in the autumn term? If so, you may wish to have a look at the latest published guidance from the Charity Commission. Here you can find a wealth of important information, but in particular details about postponed or cancelled AGMs/meetings and holding meetings online or by telephone. Some of this information is below.

AGMs and other Meetings

The type of charity will govern what you can do in relation to making changes to meetings; however, the Charity Commission states:

  • AGMs for companies or CIOs: any that had to be held between 26 March 2020 and 30 September 2020 can be delayed until 30 September 2020 at the latest. This is allowed by the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 and also applies to community benefit and friendly societies. It temporarily overrides the timing requirements in a charity’s governing documents. This deadline of 30 September may be extended if the government thinks this is needed.  The website will be updated with any changes if they happen.
  • AGMs for unincorporated charities are not covered by the new law but an alternative for trustees of these charities is to change the requirements in their governing document about timings.

If neither of the above flexibilities apply, trustees of any type of charity can decide if it is necessary to cancel or postpone any meeting, but you should record this decision to demonstrate good governance of your charity. This is particularly important if it is not possible to hold your AGM, which may make it difficult for you to finalise your annual reports and accounts. Wherever possible, they ask that you try to get your annual reports to them on time. However, where the situation impacts on the completion of annual returns and accounts, charities with an imminent filing date can email them at [email protected] including your charity name and registration number.

Holding Meetings Online or by Telephone

In the current situation, it may be difficult to hold face-to-face meetings. Some charities have clauses in their governing documents that allow them to meet virtually or to use telephone facilities, so it is advised trustees check their governing document and see if they can make amendments themselves to facilitate changes as to how or when meetings are held.

Generally, if there is no such clause in the governing document and you decide to hold meetings over the phone or using digital solutions, the Charity Commission will understand but you should record this decision and that you have done this to demonstrate good governance of your charity.

In the specific cases of members’ meetings (not trustee/director meetings) of Charitable Incorporated Organisations or charitable companies, held between 26 March 2020 and 30 September 2020:

  • they may be held by phone/video or other electronic means, even if the governing document requires them to be held physically face-to-face
  • members still have the right to vote, but the charity can require this to be done electronically, or by other means (such as by post)
  • members will not have the right to attend a meeting in person or participate in meetings other than to vote.

You can use these provisions if you feel it is in your charity’s best interests to hold the members’ meeting virtually rather than to defer it at this current time. If you rely on these provisions, you must ensure that this decision is recorded in the minutes and that all other meeting requirements of the governing document are met including being quorate for each meeting. You should ensure that you have a robust system to ensure only those eligible to vote can do so and that you record who has voted and the percentages of votes cast.

We trust this information is helpful but of course things change so please visit the link above for the most up-to-date details.  Additionally, you can always contact your Childcare Sufficiency Officer to discuss.

Good Practice

Working within early years can be incredibly rewarding, but it also comes with an enormous responsibility. One of the most important aspects of this responsibility is your obligation as an early years practitioner to keep those who are in your care safe from harm. Safeguarding training is the perfect way to ensure that you and your team have the skills needed to be able to provide a service that protects children.

As face-to-face training is a limited option in the current climate, settings are increasingly turning towards other options such as E-learning, to ensure Designated Safeguarding Leads and staff keep up to date with the safeguarding requirements. The question is which course do you choose? Finding the right training for your setting and staff is an important decision but can be fraught with complexities; the following guidance, written by the Education Safeguarding Service, will help you find the right fit for you your setting.
Firstly, ask some key questions to explore your specific training needs and requirements. This could include the following.

  • What do you need to achieve in relation to safeguarding training, for example, who is the audience?
  • What are the desired learning objectives and outcomes for the training? For example, training for a Designated Safeguarding Lead will need to cover different content to a basic child protection course aimed at new staff.
  • What are you required to do by law? For example, all staff should be able to recognise, respond, record and refer a range of safeguarding concerns, both internally and externally.
  • What level of understanding, skills and knowledge do you have in your organisation already?
  • How can you evidence and/or evaluate the impact of any training provided?

Only once you have identified what your specific training needs are, can you find the right fit in terms of training provider. You should consider if an E-learning course is best suited to meet your needs or if you would benefit from a more interactive trainer-led session. You should also consider if you need to use a training provider who knows the Kent safeguarding policies and procedures, as well as the specific trends in your area.

Secondly, if you are using an external trainer or package of materials, you need to ensure that they have the right understanding, experience, skills and knowledge which fits with your identified training needs. The following questions can help you gather essential information to inform your decision-making.

  • Do they have any accredited or recognised training, teaching and/or safeguarding qualifications?
  • Do they have an appropriate understanding of what it is like to run an organisation such as yours?
  • Are the training resources up-to-date and aligned with your organisation’s safeguarding ethos?
  • Is the content appropriate to your specific local needs? If not, can the content be adapted, or will you need to undertake additional work to ensure it is fit for purpose?
  • Is the training certified and/or quality assured? If so, by who?
  • Is the training provider able to put you in touch with other settings for testimonials?

Thirdly, value for money is key to many settings. Shop around and compare costs for different training approaches or products; as you research, you may identify a benchmark cost for a certain type of training; however, be wary of providers who have costs significantly lower than others. If you feel drawn to them because of this, please ensure that they meet the requirements identified above as sadly, reduced costs could mean cutting corners when it comes to quality. It is vital that you and your staff are well equipped and confident in your safeguarding role and responsibilities; if the training is poor, mistakes may be made, and this could mean you need to buy in additional resources later. Most importantly however, poor quality training could put children, your staff and your setting at risk of harm.

Finally, it is vital that any training provider you choose strengthens your setting’s safeguarding approaches; the experience of training should not be a passive or ‘tick box’ experience. Whichever way it is provided, it needs to provide you and your staff with the knowledge and understanding required to ensure your setting is a safe place for the whole community. Once completed, safeguarding training should leave you and your staff encouraged to contribute to and shape your safeguarding arrangements and ultimately should help support your setting to establish safer practice which ultimately makes you a better provider.

If settings need to discuss their training requirements further, advice can be sought from the Education Safeguarding Service.

Education Inspection Framework – Leadership and Management (part 4 of 4)

This is the final piece in our four-part series looking at each of the new judgements in the Education Inspection Framework. We have previously looked at the quality of education, behaviour and attitudes and personal development.

When we speak of leaders and managers this includes those responsible for the governance of a provision, for example, committee members, board directors and owners. Those with oversight or governance must fully understand their role and responsibilities and hold managers and leaders to account for the quality of the care and education.

To read more click 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 in the table 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 & Childcare Provider Association

The Kent Early Years & Childcare Provider Association met on 14 September and the chair has shared the link to the 'Challenges for the childcare market: the implications of Covid-19 form childcare providers in England'

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