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3 February 2022
By The Early Years & Childcare Service

Early Years & Childcare Bulletin - Term Three 2022

Welcome and Introduction from Alex Gamby

Dear Early Years and Childcare Providers

Notwithstanding that as I write this we are (seemingly) hurtling towards the end of January, I would like to take this opportunity to say that I hope you were all able to enjoy some valuable time with family and friends and/or also find time to rest and relax over the Christmas period. Furthermore to wish you all, of course, a very happy New Year.

I am, and in the Early Years & Childcare Service more broadly we are, very aware that since the beginning of this term there have been some often ongoing but still significant challenges for early years and childcare providers in Kent (and indeed elsewhere no doubt). These include the ongoing effects of the pandemic on the physical and emotional wellbeing of staff, covid-related closures (in part and in some instances in full for a period of time), challenges with Synergy as communicated by Kent County Council’s (KCC’s) Management Information, the impact of all of that on yourselves, the wider workforce, recruitment and retention, the key person approach etc.

In this context you may recall last year we shared with you information around an Early Years and Childcare Wellbeing Toolkit provided free of charge to Kent settings. Given the challenges providers are still facing during the ongoing pandemic, we are sharing the link to this recorded webinar again in the hope that it may be of some support and help, even if only in small way.

The Early Years & Childcare Service will continue to offer whatever support it is able to as we look to the future, and the hope that on the horizon we can see a time when the present day, covid-related issues and challenges will be firmly behind us.
In the meantime, our continued and heartfelt thanks for all that you do, day in and day out, week in and week out, in support of Kent’s children and their families.

Should you wish to contact me directly for whatever reason, my email address is at the end of this bulletin and I do always endeavour to respond.

Thank you very much.
Yours, as ever
Alex Gamby
Head of Early Years and Childcare

National News and Updates

Outstanding Ofsted Inspection Judgements

Since the new Ofsted Inspection Framework was introduced in 2019, 31 early years group settings and 16 childminders have lost their outstanding judgement. The key points that Ofsted has identified when making their judgements include settings needing to:

  • provide more challenge and extend children’s learning
  • strengthen partnership with parents and involve parents in children’s learning
  • improve organisation of routine, staff and activities
  • teach children about health and hygiene
  • teach children about similarities and differences outside of their own communities and religious beliefs
  • teach children to learn how to manage risks.

As a team, consider how these points are evidenced in your practice. Do you need to strengthen any of these aspects in preparation for your next inspection?

Ofsted Early Years Inspection Handbook

You may already be aware, but Ofsted has made some changes to the Ofsted Inspection Handbook. The most up-to-date version is now dated 15 December 2021. These changes include the following.

  • Paragraph 35: Clarification on timing of re-inspection of providers judged ‘requires improvement’ now reads ‘All childminders, preschool provision and nursery provision judged requires improvement will usually be re-inspected within 12 months’.
  • Paragraph 36: Clarification that where a provider is no longer meeting requirements, previously stated ‘usually’ take steps to cancel their registration, now reads ‘We (Ofsted) usually also take steps to cancel a provider's registration at any point if we find that they are no longer meeting requirements’.
  • Paragraph 101: Clarification that when inspectors discuss children’s learning and development with staff, there will be a particular focus on communication and language, now reads ‘inspectors will also discuss children's learning and development with staff as part of the inspection. There will be a particular focus on communication and language, as the development of children's spoken language underpins all 7 areas of learning and development that are set out in paragraph 1.6 of the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. Much of this will be through incidental conversations prompted by observing the children at play and the interactions between them and adults’.

To view the updated handbook please follow this link

Food Business Registration

There are lots of things to consider when setting up a new or taking over an existing early years and/or childcare provision; from business planning and marketing to registering with Ofsted. Another important registration not to be overlooked is registering as a food business.

A food business is any business that is preparing, cooking, storing, handling, distributing, supplying, or selling food. Therefore, even if your setting is preparing or simply handling a fruit or vegetable snack and/or storing and offering milk for the children then you will need to register as a food business, all be it a low-risk food business.

It has previously been thought that preschools/nurseries and childminders need not register separately as a food business, as Ofsted would pass their details on to the relevant Local Authority at point of registration. However, Ofsted has recently confirmed that whilst details of childminders are passed on to District Councils, those of nurseries and preschools are not and as such should be registered directly with their local District Council.

If you are unsure as to whether your setting is registered as a food business, then please use this link to check.

If your setting is not registered, then you need to do so as soon as possible via Food Business Registration. Providers with more than one setting will need to register each site separately with the District Council they are located in.

Once you have registered as a food business the District Council may wish to inspect your setting under the Food Hygiene Safety Rating Scheme.

More information about the scheme and advice and guidance on how to prepare your food business for inspection can be sought via the District Council and the Food Standards Agency website

Childcare and Early Years Career Progression Map
The Childcare and Early Years Career Progression Map attached to the Bulletin which was emailed to all providers has been designed by early years experts and stakeholders. The Department for Education (DfE) supports this map and has asked us to share with providers in Kent.

Kent News and Updates

Disability Access Fund

As advised in our recent email communication, funding for the Disability Access Fund (DAF) is changing. From April 2022 DAF will increase by £185 to £800 per eligible child per year. DAF will continue to be used to help providers make reasonable adjustments within the early years provision.

In addition to DAF funding for eligible three- and four-year-olds, Kent County Council (KCC) has also agreed to extend DAF to include eligible two-year-olds from September 2021 to September 2023. Claims made for two-year-olds from September 2021 to the end of March 2022 will be at the current rate of £615 and will increase from April 2022.

Two-year-old children may be eligible for DAF if they meet the following criteria:

  • the child is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and
  • the child receives Free Early Education places for two-year-olds known in Kent as the Free for Two or 'FF2' scheme.

Eligible children can start claiming after they turn two, depending on when their birthday is:

Child's 2nd birthday                 When they can claim from

1 January to 31 March                the beginning of term on or after 1 April

1 April to 31 August                      the beginning of term on or after 1 September

1 September to 31 December      the beginning of term on or after 1 January.

For more information on claiming your DAF for two-year-olds or if you have queries email [email protected] or contact 03000 421 612 and ask for Victoria Bentley.


In addition to DAF, all early years settings in Kent with children attending who are receiving DAF including two-year-olds can access an annual free Silver Emporium subscription funded by KCC. Emporium can offer you access to high-quality play materials and resources that will support activities and extend experiences to meet the educational needs and interests of children.

Please visit The Education People’s Emporium & DAF pages to find out more.

Early Education and Childcare Funding Reminders

Dates for the diary:

  • Next estimate data collection for three- and four-year-old funding (summer term) – Friday 4 March to Tuesday 15 March 2022
  • Balancing payment for three- and four-year-old funding (spring term) – Monday 21 February 2022
  • FF2 claims to be submitted by 24 February 2022 and 31 March 2022
  • FF2 payments – 14 February 2022, 14 March 2022, 18 April 2022.

Notification to Early Years & Childcare Sufficiency Officers and Childminding Advisers

Please be reminded that all group providers should notify their Childcare Sufficiency Officer (CSO) in the following instances.
1. Reporting a positive Covid case in the setting, whether this be a member of staff or a child.
2. Reporting a change of manager.
3. Reporting a closure due to unforeseen circumstances (KPA Section 8.11).

Where appropriate the CSO will then notify other teams in The Education People and KCC.

Childminders should notify [email protected] for positive Covid cases in the setting and for closure due to unforeseen circumstances.

We thank you for your help in this matter.

Committee News

Charity Commission - Safeguarding for Charities and Trustees - Guidance

The Charity Commission has updated its Safeguarding for charities and trustees guidance on responsibilities to keep everyone who comes into contact with a charity safe from harm, including volunteers, staff and beneficiaries. Please take a look at the guidance and share with all your trustees.

Annual Return Guidance

The Charity Commission’s guidance on filing annual returns has been updated and states that the temporary provisions put in place to allow charities to request additional time to file annual returns have now been removed.

Annual Return Reminder

Those charities with a 31 December year end date were reminded to file their annual returns and accounts (where applicable) last month. Before starting, trustees should check they can log in, or request a new password if they need it. The annual return may include questions about the charity and what it does, depending on their income and structure.
Find out how to prepare an annual return and what needs to be included.

Food Champion Programme

Kent Community Health NHS Trust is delivering a two-day training course certified by the Association for Nutrition covering consistent healthy eating messages with a focus on nutritional guidelines. The next programme is due to run on 1 and 8 February 2022. A flyer with further details was attached to the Bulletin which was emailed to all providers or it can be accessed on  the KCH NHS Foundation Trust page

Focus on Out of School Providers

Welcome back to the new term and to all managers and staff working in the out of school sector in Kent. May 2022 bring with it healthier times for everyone. The new term may present us with some tricky issues to deal with regarding the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus; however, we know how dedicated and skilful the out of school sector is in providing high quality childcare for all children. We would like to recognise this and thank you for your continued hard work and dedication.

The Early Years & Childcare Service contacted the manager of every out of school setting last year to answer questions or offer support either via our Delivery Plan or through an Annual Conversation. We will be in contact again this year, but should you have any questions or concerns and have yet to hear from us please feel free to email [email protected]

We do not yet know how the pandemic will affect us or if further restrictions may be put in place; however, we are committed to supporting the sector and keeping you updated with changes in Government guidance. Please remember to check the Government guidance website and revisit your COVID-19 risk assessments and all control measures to ensure that they are in line with the guidance

New Year Idea

Planting bulbs and seeds will brighten up dull days in January and February. Recycle empty plastic drinks bottles or milk bottles and use as a seedling propagator. Please share your own planting experiences, successes, and other ideas for planters (or recycling) with us. Send to [email protected] for the next Bulletin or share on our very own Kent Out of School Facebook page

Focus on Childminders

Good and Outstanding Visits

Many childminders are now overdue an Ofsted inspection.

The Early Years & Childcare Service’s Childminding Team offers KCC funded visits from Childminding Advisers (CAs) to Ofsted registered good and outstanding childminders due an inspection. If you are offered such a visit, we would encourage you to take up this opportunity. The visit will enable you to reflect on the Statutory Framework as well as on your own practice. The CA can also share with you current trends and information. 
Feedback from these visits has been very positive and childminders have noted how beneficial a visit has been, enabling them to reflect and prepare for the upcoming inspection.

Funding Compliance

A regular topic of conversation during Compliance visits is around voluntary contributions. Section 14 of the Provider Agreement sets out the requirements surrounding the charging of fees and when charges must be voluntary. A table of items has been provided on page 19 to support the interpretation of the Statutory Guidance on consumables. Please contact the Childminding Team by emailing [email protected] or contact your CA if you have any questions on this topic.


Don’t forget if you have questions or concerns in relation to SEND please complete a request for support form. Your request will be allocated to an adviser who will contact you in relation to your enquiry.

The next Childminder SEND Forum is on 10 February from 7.30pm to 9pm. These sessions are an opportunity to hear updates from other professionals as well as to ask questions. The main focus for this session will be recent updates, Integrated Review at Two and the SEND Request for Support. To book your place please use the online form and a Zoom link will be sent to you nearer the time.

Information to Share with Families

Online ‘Solihull Approach’ Parenting Courses for Anyone Caring for a Child in Kent and Medway

Parents are to be given free access to an online parenting course that can help them to understand their child’s behaviour and improve family relationships, thanks to an investment of £16,000 by Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT) and Kent County Council (KCC).

Access has been provided to the parents and carers of nearly 450,000 children and young people in Kent and Medway to the ‘Solihull approach’ parenting course as part of their package of support for local families. There are four separate courses for parents, starting during pregnancy and continuing until a child’s 19th birthday.

Jinny Robinson-Bright, KCHFT’s Clinical Services Manager for Public Health, said “Supporting parents, families and carers has become increasingly important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stresses experienced by families, both expecting a baby and for those managing relationships and behaviours of their children, can be high. That’s why we’re delighted to be able to extend the support we offer to families to include the Solihull online courses.”

“We know that being a parent can be tough, especially at the moment. These courses give parents and carers some simple, practical strategies to both strengthen their relationships with their children and give themselves a confidence boost. The courses complement existing support available to families from health visiting and school health teams and we urge parents to get in touch if they need further one-to-one support.”

Courses are available at OurPlace using the access code Invicta, to register for a free account.

More details of the parenting support available to families in Kent can be found on the NHS Kent Community Health website

New Childhood Nutrition Campaign

This new campaign launched earlier this month focusses on helping families make healthier food swaps. Resources are available to download and share with families.

Good Practice

First Aid Case Studies

The Early Years & Childcare Service met with Ofsted last term. During the meeting Ofsted let us know that they were beginning to explore first aid knowledge with settings and childminders during their inspections and registration visits. The Early Years & Childcare Service agreed that we would provide some case studies for Kent providers to help them prepare for this. These case studies will appear over the next few Bulletins and we would encourage you to discuss in your setting team meetings, with your childminding assistants or in collaborations and childminding groups.

1. Jamal aged 4 arrives at his small village preschool operating from a church hall with his grandmother in the morning (Jamal’s mother usually brings him). Just as he was approaching the setting and was running up the slope to the hall entrance he tripped on a tree stump hitting his nose on a concrete step. His grandmother is distressed and blood is pouring from Jamal’s nose and he is screaming and thrashing his arms and legs.

  • Describe your actions to deal with this situation.
  • Consider how and with whom you might need to share information about this incident.
  • Discuss how you would record this incident/accident.
  • What are the implications for risk assessment?

2. Chloe aged 9 months has recently started crawling for the first time in the baby room at her large purpose-built nursery. It is shortly after lunch and she is on the floor looking at her reflection in the mirror. Her key person Mary notices another child close by who had climbed onto the sofa and was about to fall off so she quickly turns her attention to him to stop him from falling. Meanwhile when she returns her attention to Chloe she can see something is wrong. Chloe’s breathing is suddenly laboured and she appears to be gagging/coughing and her skin colour is fading and her lips are turning blue. Mary notices a few peas left over from lunch on the floor close to where Chloe is.

  • Describe your actions to deal with this situation.
  • How would it be recorded?
  • What are the implications for risk assessment?
  • How do you ensure other children are kept safe during an incident such as this?

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. At our last round of Briefing and Networking Sessions 98.75% of those attending rated the quality as good or outstanding (83.50% good, 15.25% outstanding).
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 22/033 North group settings and schools Tuesday 8 February 4pm to 6pm
EYC 22/034 South group settings and schools Wednesday 9 February 4pm to 6pm
EYC 22/035 West group settings and schools Tuesday 22 February 4pm to 6pm
EYC 22/036 East group settings and schools Thursday 24 February 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 22/040 Childminders and out of school settings Wednesday 23 February 7.30pm to 9.30pm.

Early Years and Childcare Provider Association

The Early Years & Childcare Provider Association met in December and was pleased to welcome the following two new members:

Gemma (Gem) Maclachlan as the East Kent Childminder representative
Michelle Matthews (owner and manager of Chatter Tots Day Nursery in Swale) as the Swale Early Years Groups representative.

Vacancies remain for representatives of early years group providers in Dartford, Thanet and Tonbridge and Malling, so if you are the owner and/or manager of a good or outstanding early years group in either of these districts and may be interested in this opportunity, please email Alex Gamby in the first instance at [email protected]

At its December meeting the Association received information on and was able to:

  • discuss the (at that time) new National Funding Announcements
  • discuss the associated national Early Years Recovery Programme
  • consider a response to a DfE consultation exercise on Recruitment and Retention in the early years and childcare sector (drawing on information gathered at Kent’s autumn Briefing and Networking Sessions)
  • discuss DAF for two-year-olds (as mentioned earlier in this Bulletin)
  • hear about The Early Years & Childcare Service’s response to KCC’s consultation on the re-design of its Specialist Teaching and Learning Service.

The next routine meeting of the Association is in March.

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