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25 May 2023
By The Early Years & Childcare Service

Early Years & Childcare Bulletin - Term 5 2023

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Welcome and Introduction from Alex Gamby

Hello, all early years and childcare providers. Welcome to this Term 5 edition of the Early Years and Childcare Bulletin and also (finally) to some decent weather, which I hope you are managing to enjoy. I hope that the information in this Bulletin will be useful and supportive to you.

Still at the front of all of our minds is, of course, the Government’s announcements now a little while ago in relation to the expansion of free childcare for two year olds and under between April 2024 and September 2025. As things stand, we are still waiting for further information from the Department for Education (DfE) about funding issues and also updated Statutory Guidance, which will in turn inform an updated version of the Kent Provider Agreement. Although we haven’t yet received formal notification of this, an article in Nursery World recently shared that the DfE intends to consult with the sector on childcare funding ahead of the 30 Hours expansion.

In addition, we have today (24 May) received from the DfE a ‘stakeholder information pack’ for stakeholders with an interest in childcare, including early years providers, sector bodies, employers, and parents and carers. Please see below under National News and Updates. The pack contains 'key messages, communications resources and answers to frequently asked questions …..about the changes to childcare policy announced in the Spring Budget on 15 March 2023. This includes:

  • expansion of childcare support for working parents to include children age 9 months up to school age
  • wrap-around care and childminders
  • changes to universal credit childcare payments’.

Please be reassured that as soon as there is any information to be shared on any of these very important if not critical issues, we will do so promptly.

Coming closer to home, you should also be aware of Kent County Council’s (KCC’s) Early Years Review, which is currently undertaking a number of ‘deep dives’ as follows:

  • Children’s Pathways
  • SENIF and LIFT processes
  • School Readiness
  • Sufficiency Planning
  • Specialist Intervention Nurseries
  • Portage.

These deep dives are expected to conclude by the end of June, with recommendations coming forward after that. We are also expecting to have someone from KCC attending the Briefing and Networking Sessions in June, so please do come along to one of these to hear more. Please see page 11 for dates and times.

I do hope that you are all managing to stay well and okay through these challenging times. Please do accept my continuing thanks for all that you do for Kent’s children and their families and for the incredible job that you do, day in and day out.

Yours, as ever
Alex Gamby
Head of Early Years and Childcare

Kent Early Years and Childcare Provider Association

The Kent Early Years and Childcare Provider Association has not met since the previous edition of this bulletin. It is due to meet next in June.

National News and Updates

DfE Stakeholder Information Pack

As described in Alex’s introduction, the DfE has produced a Stakeholder Information Pack to support providers and families in relation to the changes to childcare policy.

Safeguarding at Inspection

During inspection an inspector will make a judgement as to whether the provider has a culture of safeguarding that facilitates effective arrangements to:

  • identify children who may need early help or are at risk of neglect, abuse, grooming or exploitation
  • help children to reduce their risk of harm by securing the support they need, or referring in a timely way to those who have the expertise to help
  • manage safe recruitment and allegations about adults who may be a risk to children
  • complete suitability checks for all those 16 years and over living or working on childminding premises.

Inspectors will do this through observation and discussions with practitioners and leaders, and an evaluation of the provider’s policies, procedures and training. Key documentation will be checked, for example, DBS records and paediatric first aid certificates.
Inspectors will always have regard to how well children are helped and protected so that they are kept safe. Although inspectors will not provide a separate grade for this crucial aspect of a provider’s work, they will always make a written judgement in the report about whether the arrangements for safeguarding children are effective.
Ofsted has published additional guidance to be read alongside the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage and the Early Years Inspection Handbook that sets out the approach inspectors should take when inspecting a provider’s safeguarding arrangements. This document is called Inspecting Safeguarding in Early Years, Education and Skills Settings. As part of the Annual Conversation process, providers are given an audit tool adapted from this important document.

The Improvement and Standards Team consistently reads, reviews and collates information from inspection reports to identify patterns that help us to understand what may result in a provider receiving a less than good judgement, as well as the high-quality practice that secures good or better judgements. Feedback from providers who have been recently inspected, and our analysis of reports, highlights a focus on the following safeguarding elements:

  • the Prevent Duty Guidance, including how this links to the fundamental British Values and how these are embedded in practice
  • County Lines and the indicators that suggest a family may have been recruited to transport drugs across county borders
  • knowledge and understanding of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
  • the role of the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) and how and when staff would contact the LADO
  • staff knowledge of the indicators of possible abuse and neglect and their understanding of the referral process to follow should they have concerns
  • whistleblowing procedures
  • how to manage angry or distressed parents wishing to make a complaint
  • intimate care routines and hygiene practices, specifically nappy changing and sleep arrangements
  • risk assessments to ensure children are kept safe
  • staff training and its impact on staff knowledge and understanding of safeguarding procedures
  • the importance of keeping policies up to date with relevant contact details and ensuring, when using a policy template, that information on the local safeguarding partner and local processes are included.

You may wish to reflect on the following to support effective safeguarding in your setting.

  • Would an inspector be able to gather sufficient evidence from your provision to assess these points?
  • Could you and your team confidently talk to an inspector about your safeguarding knowledge and understanding and the procedures you take to keep children safe?
  • How do you ensure all practitioners, leaders and registered persons know and understand the indicators that suggest a child could be at risk of harm and the procedures to follow to ensure these concerns are effectively acted upon?

The 2023 Speech, Language and Communication Early Years Summit - Monday 29 May to Sunday 4 June

The summit is completely free to watch online for a full week with 24 expert speakers on Speech, Language and Communication from around the world.

It features well-known experts like Alistair Bryce-Clegg, Sally Haughey, Prof Sam Wass, Molly Potter, Dr Lynn Williams, Heeral Davda, Dr Lucretia Berry and many more. All sharing their insights, top tips and advice on the vital topic of Speech, Language and Communication for young children.

Please visit the event website to register for free access.

Kent News and Updates

Education Safeguarding Service

The Education Safeguarding Service is now part of KCC. The latest edition of their Child Protection Newsletter May 2023 is now available and includes updated contact details.

County LADO Service (CLS)

The County LADO Service will no longer be taking professional referrals through a word document and have provided the following guidance:

All professional referrals will need to be submitted through the Kent Children’s Portal.

Please ensure that you select the “LADO Professionals Referral”:

Once you have completed and submitted the referral you will receive a notification stating that it has been received by the CLS. If you do not receive this notification, it will mean that you have not sent the referral correctly.

Please note that key demographics are important and are a requirement. It is not appropriate to submit a referral form with incorrect details such as a false date of birth.

If CLS now receive a referral through the portal with key information missing, they will have to return it to the referrer, through the portal, requesting that the missing data be added. The CLS gives three working days for these to be returned with the details required, however if on the third day a response has not been received, the referral will be rejected. This will mean that the referrer will be required and accountable for resubmitting it as soon as possible with the full and correct details.

KCC Management Information (MI) Update

MI have had an increasing number of queries regarding children who start in a setting/return to a setting at the start of term but move during headcount week. As per the Kent Provider Agreement, MI will fund where the child is attending during headcount week and where the parent has signed a Parental Declaration Form. As a child has accessed a Free Entitlement place for the week/s prior to headcount, and it is the parents’ decision to move the child, MI will accept an appeal request from providers and will look at funding this on a case-by-case basis. Attendance registers and a signed Parental Declaration Form will be needed to support the appeal.

Promoting Free For Two (FF2)

We continue to strive to improve the take up of FF2 funded childcare places in the county. Why not take a look at our FF2 Talking Books and share these with families on your website and social media pages? In addition to an English version, we have created five in other languages which you may find useful.

English Nepali Polish Punjabi Romanian Yoruba

Early Education Funding Reminders

There are three remaining opportunities to submit a Free for Two (FF2) claim this term:

  • 16 June 2023 for payments week commencing 3 July 2023
  • 7 July 2023 for payments week commencing 24 July 2023
  • 28 July 2023 for payments week commencing 14 August 2023.

More information for this term and the following academic year can be found on the FF2 payment schedule documents on the Kelsi website.

Payments from the recent headcount for three- and four-year-olds will be made during the week commencing 12 June 2023.

The PVI calendar on the Kelsi website provides further dates for next term as well as the next academic year.

Kent Early Years Stronger Practice Hub (KEYSPH)

Providers who attended February’s Briefing and Networking Sessions and/or the Hub’s Welcome Webinars in March will know that 18 Hubs have been set up across the country as part of the DfE’s Early Years COVID-19 Recovery Programme. KEYSPH is one of the two Hubs in the southeast of England.

Providers told the Hub Lead Partner, Julie Miles, that Communication, Speech and Language and Personal Social and Emotional Development were the key things they were concerned about post pandemic. Julie will be providing an update on the Hub at the June Briefing and Networking Sessions. KEYSPH is also providing the opportunity to attend a webinar on an Introduction to Managing Children’s Feelings and Emotions towards the end of June. Look out for an email from the Hub on how to book onto the webinars via CPD Online. You may also be interested in following the Hub’s Facebook page or you can contact the Hub at [email protected].

Reducing Parental Conflict Multi-Agency Training

OnePlusOne’s practitioner training will provide you with tools and techniques to reduce parental conflict with three different audiences.

  • Me, You and Baby Too
    For new parents
  • Arguing better
    For parents experiencing stress and conflict
  • Getting it Right for Children
    For separating or separated parents.

Having constructive, supportive relationships has never been more important. These evidence-based resources have been built to help couples strengthen their relationship, manage their conflict better and help separated parents understand how conflict can affect their children. This training is for anyone who works with parents or families.

Participants must attend two virtual sessions on two consecutive days, with each being 9.30am to 12.30pm.

You can find out more and book your place at Eventbrite.

Information from KCC’s Area Partnership Managers

Start for Life Update – Message from Area Partnership Managers

As many of you will be aware, we are transforming the way we offer family services in Kent in line with the Department for Education’s Start for Life Programme. This is an exciting time of change, which will mean Kent’s parents and carers can more easily access the support they need.

We have recently reached the first milestone in the programme with the publication of our initial Start for Life offer online and in print, with dedicated telephone support for residents who cannot easily access the internet. Start for Life is concerned with the first 1001 days of a child’s life (pregnancy – age two years) which are crucial for healthy development. You can find Start for Life at

In addition, we are asking parents and carers to sign up for our Parent Carer Panel to help us co-design the Start for Life programme in Kent and in their local areas. It’s so important that services are designed alongside the people who will use them and we’re very excited to begin this programme of recruitment. You can find the panel sign-up form at

A poster and leaflet containing information to share with families are linked below. We will be posting on KCC social channels over the coming days and weeks and would be grateful if you could share these on your own channels too. If you would prefer social media content to post direct, please request via Hayley Buery, [email protected].

We’re at an early stage in developing these services and the information we have shared with you reflects that. The real work in co-designing them with colleagues, partners and our service users starts now.

We are also embarking on an exciting digital programme to see where we can make best use of technology to help parents and carers access help when and where they need it and avoid the need for them to go to multiple people and organisations to do so. We will keep you updated as we proceed.

Start for Life A4 Poster
Start for Life A5 Leaflet
Parent Carer Panel Recruitment A4 Poster
Parent Carer Panel Recruitment A5 Leaflet

Charity News

Charity Annual Returns 2023 – if your financial year ends on or after 1 January 2023, then it will be time for you to prepare your Annual Return to the Charity Commission. This year the Charity Commission has produced a Charity Annual Return 2023 question guide, where you will find guidance on how to answer their questions, along with reasons why the Charity Commission is asking them.

To ensure you receive the most up-to-date information from the Charity Commission, always keep your details up to date. Don’t forget, you need to have set up a ‘My Charity Commission Account’, a new way in which trustees can access their online services. This goes live in the spring, so if you have any queries please contact the Charity Commission.

Focus on Out of School Providers

Although the spring break is over and we are well into the summer term, this may be a good time to ‘spring clean’ your paperwork, policies, and procedures. For example, check that all DBS checks (including committee members) are recorded, and details are readily accessible. Make sure your insurance is up to date, core training is updated and training plans are in place. Remember Ofsted must be informed of any significant events that may occur. Government guidance details what Ofsted considers to be a significant event.

Ofsted must be informed of the following: a new address, name change, a change in contact information, offering overnight care or a significant event which is likely to affect the suitability of the early years provider, and anyone who lives on the premises.

The email [email protected] can be used to notify Ofsted. Always use the email address that you used for your application/registration.

Changing the address of your provision usually means that you will need to reregister and pay again for the registration. Below are useful links for registration.

Childminders and childcare providers: register with Ofsted

Apply to register your nursery or other daycare organisation (EYO)

Spending time outside on larger projects is a great way for children to express their creativity and work together. Some ideas to try are:

  • large scale models (castles, towers, making your own village, vehicles, rockets) using loose parts and junk modelling resources. Children can begin with a plan and work together or on their own to create their models
  • large paintings or murals on sheets, old wallpaper or chalking on pavements
  • bug, insect or bird houses
  • den building with natural materials or sheets, poles, ropes and pegs.

Remember to share your activities, play opportunities, special events and celebrations on our Facebook page. This is a great place to showcase the wonderful things that are happening in your setting and share ideas with other settings.

The Early Years and Childcare Service’s Out of School Improvement Adviser continues to offer their support for settings through Annual Conversation visits. Dates are still being offered and appointments made until the end of November 2023. The principle aim of these visits is to reduce the risk of falling below a ‘met’ judgement on Ofsted inspection. During these visits there is the opportunity to explore and understand the setting’s approach to the monitoring of the quality of provision, the safeguarding and welfare requirements and their place within the self-evaluation and setting improvement plan. In addition to the Annual Conversations, the Out of School Adviser supports newly registered out-of-school settings until their first Ofsted inspection.

If you have any questions about our visits, please email the EY Improvement Team [email protected]

Focus on Childminders

The Childminding Team continues to be on hand to support Ofsted registered childminders in a variety of ways.

Ungraded Support Visits

The team offers regular visits to all childminders newly registered with Ofsted to support them to develop their childminding practice up to their first graded Ofsted inspection. These visits will cover various aspects of practice and are designed to support you on your childminding journey.

Professional Conversations

These informal visits are an opportunity for Ofsted registered and inspected childminders to review their practice with their local adviser ahead of their next inspection to support them to reach or maintain a good or outstanding grade. These visits are not mock inspections, but a chance to catch up with your adviser and ensure that you have everything in place and are confident for your next Ofsted visit. They are also an opportunity to develop your practice and access one-to-one support. These visits will be offered to childminders between inspections.

Support Visits

These visits are offered to Ofsted registered childminders in Kent who were graded less than good (requires improvement or inadequate) at their last Ofsted inspection. During these visits, a Childminding Adviser will offer you one-to-one support to address the actions given to you by Ofsted, and to develop your practice.

SEND Support

These visits are offered to all registered childminders to provide support with Special Educational Needs and Disability practice. During these visits an adviser can offer you one-to-one support and signpost you to various information and services to ensure that you meet the individual needs of the children in your care.

For more information, or to book your free visit, please email [email protected].

Ofsted Inspection Trends

Recent childminder Ofsted reports in Kent have shown the following trend:

  • most Childminders receiving an ‘outstanding’ grade in Kent hold an early years qualification at level 3 or above.

The EYFS Statutory Framework 2021 states that ’the daily experience of children in early years settings and the overall quality of provision depends on all practitioners having appropriate qualifications, training, skills, knowledge, and a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities’ (3.21).

There are a number of qualifications and training opportunities currently being funded for early years professionals, including the NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator (Workforce), the NPQEYL, and the Level 3 SENCO qualification. A great opportunity to develop your practice!

Join us on Facebook!

Over 560 of the Kent Childminding community have now joined our ‘Education People Kent Childminders’ page on Facebook. This is a great way for us to be able to engage with you on a day-to-day basis and for you to network with each other.

This month we have focussed posts on Health and Safety, and Tips for Under Twos to support your childminding practice; join us for support, discussions and ideas.

Stay in Contact!

Alongside our support with childminders and our Facebook page, the Childminding Team also regularly sends a childminder specific email to all childminders in Kent. This email contains childminder specific updates and information to support your practice. If you are not currently receiving these emails, please contact us at [email protected] and update us with your contact details to ensure that you are kept in the loop with Kent childminding news.

Information to Share with Families

Kent and Medway public health leaders are urging parents and carers to make sure children are up to date with their MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccinations.

The call comes as UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) figures show a national rise in measles cases and six recent confirmed cases in the South East.
More information can be found in KCC’s media release.

Resources for education settings are also available from UKHSA.

Resources include primary, secondary school and nursery reminder postcards to send to parents as well as posters. Paper copies are available to order now and there are additional assets to use on social media platforms.

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.

The agenda includes information on KCC’s Early Years Review, upcoming training from the Autism Education Trust and an update from the Kent Early Years Stronger Practice Hub.

Why not book a place on the next round of sessions and benefit from the opportunity to network and hear important updates?

In line with provider feedback and to maximise ability to attend, these sessions will continue to be held virtually via Zoom and you can access your place by clicking on the course codes below:

EYC 23/006 Group settings and schools (West) Tuesday 6 June 4pm to 6pm
EYC 23/007 Group settings and schools (North) Wednesday 7 June 4pm to 6pm
EYC 23/009 Group settings and schools (East) Tuesday 13 June 4pm to 6pm
EYC 23/010 Group settings and schools (South) Wednesday 14 June 4pm to 6pm

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

EYC 23/008 Childminders and out of school settings Thursday 8 June 7.30pm to 9.30pm

Please note that any type of provider is welcome at any Briefing and Networking Session.

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