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6 January 2022
By The Early Years & Childcare Service

Early Years & Childcare Bulletin - Term Two 2021

Welcome and Introduction from Alex Gamby

Hello Everyone

Well as we seemingly hurtle towards Christmas (and no I most definitely do not have my Christmas tree up yet, although my shopping is well underway!), the early years and childcare scene nationally has been busy enough in its own right. We have already circulated (and you would have seen anyway, I am sure) the Government’s recent funding announcements. If for any reason at all you have missed these, I am including them again here:

1. Spending Review Outcome
The spending review settlement provides all children with the best start in life through high-quality education, childcare and family services, raising standards and helping parents to work. The settlement continues to support the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people through high quality education and local services, so that no one is left behind. You can read the full publication at Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021: A Stronger Economy for the British People, the Department for Education information is on page 96 (section 4.10 onwards). We wanted to draw your attention to the following key announcements:

  • We are investing additional funding for the early years entitlements worth £160m in 2022-23, £180m in 2023-24 and £170m in 2024-25. This is for local authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers for the Government’s free childcare entitlement offers and reflects the costs of inflation and national living wage increases.
  • £18 million in 2024-25 to create a network of family hubs to improve access to services for families, and £20 million in 2024-25 for parenting support.
  • Over £200 million a year for the continuation of the holiday activities and food programme, providing enriching activities and healthy meals for disadvantaged children during school holidays. Information on the current programme (HAF 2021) is available.

2. Early Years Recovery
As set out in the DfE press notice, which is available here: All schools and colleges to receive extra funding for catch up - GOV.UK, the Government is investing £153 million to build a stronger, more expert workforce in the early years sector. This was previously announced as part of the £1.4 billion commitment made on 2 June 2021. We can now share details of how that £153 million will be invested.

As soon as we have information we can share about any Kent specific implications for any of this spend, we will do so.

Minister Will Quince’s Letter to Parents and Carers of Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)
Please see below under the ‘National News and Updates’ an introduction and link to a letter issued recently from Will Quince to parents and carers of children and young people with SEND. Whilst it is possible that your parents may have already seen this, it would be helpful if you could share through your usual communication mechanisms to be absolutely sure that they have done. It is encouraging that ‘early years’ is named as being represented on the steering group for this going forward. Again, we will share any future information when we have that and are able to do so.

Calling all Childminders: Contain Outbreak Management Fund Training
Childminders, please see page 10 of this bulletin for further details but if you haven’t already, please do take the opportunity to attend this Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) funded training, which introduces a range of visual support strategies and other augmentative and alternative communication resources to support children's communication and interaction skills.

Shout Out for Collaborations!
Over the past year and a half we have been told so many positive stories about how valuable (and indeed invaluable) collaborations have been through the pandemic, facilitating information sharing, mutual support and encouragement. In order to do all that we can to support any and every provider who wants to be in a collaboration to find and join the right one for them, we are putting out a call for potential new leaders to come forward. Please see page 8 of this bulletin for further detail and that all important ‘next step’.

I think that is all from me for this Bulletin edition. It only leaves for me to say, once again, thank you so very much to each and every provider for your diligence and tenacity in continuing to provide high quality services for Kent’s youngest children and their families and of course to wish you all a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR.

I hope that you will have a blessed and peaceful time, whatever you are doing, and manage to get some well-earned rest and relaxation. Now, where did I put those Christmas decs…….?!

Yours, as ever

Alex Gamby
Head of Early Years & Childcare Service

National News and Updates

Minister Quince Letter to Parents and Carers of Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)
Will Quince MP, Minister for Children and Families, has written an open letter to parents and carers of children and young people with SEND, their families and those who support them.

In the letter, the Minister reaffirms his commitment to delivering the SEND Review and the importance of supporting the most disadvantaged children and young people. He outlines his plans to continue to visit schools, nurseries and colleges around the country to directly hear first-hand from children, young people, parents and carers, school, college and local authority staff as well as meet with SEND organisations and experts so they can influence proposals.
Alongside the letter, the Department for Education has published information about the members of the SEND Review Steering Group. The new group was set up to assist the department to conclude the SEND Review at pace and advise on proposals to be set out in a SEND Green Paper to be published in the first three months of 2022.

Department for Education Message Regarding the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday
With the additional bank holiday due to take place on Friday 3 June 2022, and taking into account that for most this will be during the half term break, we are aware that some providers may intend to close on a different day to give their staff the entitlement to a bank holiday.

Our statutory guidance (paragraph A4.37) is clear that local authorities should ensure providers are not penalised through withdrawal of funding for short term closures of a setting, for example, as a result of local or national elections or damage to the premises. Therefore, providers should not be penalised for closing as a result of the additional bank holiday, as is currently the case with other bank holidays.

However, providers should be mindful of the impact on parents if they choose to close on a different day, and should be confident they can still provide the total number of hours parents agreed with the provider in their parental declaration.

Companies House News
Those of you who receive regular information from Companies House will have noticed they are offering a series of bitesize webinars to support directors’ responsibilities. Watch the whole series online.

They feature webinars with the Business Support Helpline and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), directors’ responsibilities bitesize webinar series answering questions about running a limited company. From protecting personal data, to changing the registered office address and dealing with late filing penalties, the series provides useful information to help understand the role and responsibilities as a company director.

If you missed any of the webinars, visit the website to watch a recording of the presentations. For more useful links and digital tools, visit their directors’ toolkit

Choking Hazards
Tragically, a child dies in the UK every month from choking and hundreds more require hospital treatment. It can happen quickly and it can happen to anyone.

The Food Standards Agency has produced a poster which you can display in your setting where food is prepared and served to children, as a helpful reminder of how to minimise the risk of choking.

Early years choking hazards food safety advice

(Source – also contains useful advice and resources for early years providers.

UK General Data Protection Regulations (UK GDPR)
How is your "UK GDPR" compliance? The main English data protection laws include the Data Protection Act 2018, Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 and, of course, the GDPR. However, since 1 January it is officially referred to as the "UK GDPR". You should consider amending your documentation to demonstrate good legal awareness and compliance with the law. However, please discuss with your own professional association or advisers as the Early Years & Childcare Service is not qualified to provide legal advice.

The Kickstart Scheme
The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to create new jobs for 16- to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment. Employers of all sizes can apply for funding until 17 December 2021 which covers:

Employers can spread the job start dates up until 31 March 2022. You’ll get funding for six months once the young person has started their job.

Further funding is available for training and support so that young people on the scheme can get a job in the future.

You can either apply online yourself or access the scheme through a Kickstart gateway.

Further information is available.

Applications to join the Kickstart Scheme or to add additional staff to an existing grant agreement, ends on the 17 December 2021.

Kent News and Updates

Analysis of Ofsted Recommendations Following Inspection
Ofsted resumed on-site inspections of registered early years providers under the education inspection framework on 4 May 2021. The Early Years & Childcare Service has reviewed reports for early years providers inspected following this date to identify any commonalities or patterns in the recommendations being given.

For providers receiving a good judgement two key areas have emerged as result of our analysis which are, children’s language development and the organisation of group activities.

Children’s Language Development
Recommendations following inspection highlight the need to strengthen practitioners’ skills and ability to support young children’s communication and language development, stressing the importance of securing a consistent approach to this prime area of development.

What You Can Do
It may be worthwhile revisiting your ECAT strategies, introducing peer to peer observations with a language focus or investing in additional training. The Ofsted definition of teaching is useful in helping to identify the key characteristics of effective teaching which support children’s learning and development. The Development Matters document identifies development expectations and includes useful observation checkpoints to enable us to assess where children should be. Examples of how to support language development in this document can be used to further strengthen your practice.

Group Activities
Recommendations relating to group activities focus on the importance of children’s engagement, highlighting the need to ensure group times meet children’s needs as well as being appropriate for their age and stage of development and that they maintain children’s interest to maximise learning opportunities. We have moved on from large whole group activities delivered to children of several ages and are using smaller group activities to engage children; however, these group activities must be suitably planned, meaningful and of a length appropriate for the children.

What You Can Do
Make time to observe group activities: are all children engaged and how do you know, is the length of the activity appropriate or can children come and go? Can the practitioners planning or delivering these group activities confidently talk about their intent and reflect on its implementation? Is the impact such that it develops vocabulary, extends learning, develops new skills and helps children remember long term what they have been taught?

Additional Recommendations
In addition to these two key areas, we are also seeing recommendations around the following:

  • effective sharing of information with parents about their children’s progress
  • enabling children to explore a wide range of media and materials to allow them to freely express themselves during creative activities
  • promoting children’s independence
  • extending children’s interest in maths
  • strengthening practitioners’ understanding of how to secure a clear learning intent
  • developing and extending children’s knowledge during planned activities.

Recommendations for Providers Receiving a Judgement of Requires Improvement
Recommendations for those providers receiving a judgement of requires improvement are predominantly related to the Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements or the Learning and Development Requirements. They include, but are not limited to, having the required documentation available, for example, first aid certificates, accessing the outdoors, the roles and responsibilities of those with governance of the setting, the implementation of the curriculum to build on what children know and can do, providing effective support and coaching to staff to improve teaching, and involving and keeping parents informed in their children’s learning.

Did you know you can sign up to receive Ofsted notifications for published early years and childcare reports? This is what we at the Early Years & Childcare Service do. Just make sure you set filters for early years and Kent or your mailbox will be filled with every report from every type of educational provision in the entire country!

Early Education Funding Reminders
Dates for the diary:

  • FF2 claims to be submitted by 2 December 2021
  • FF2 payments will be made during the week commencing 20 December
  • Headcount week for the spring term is 17 to 21 January 2022.

Don’t forget, if you have any issues with a 30 Hours code, please contact the Management Information Team in the first instance before referring a parent or carer to the Kent Children & Families Information Service (CFIS). Recent enquiries to CFIS have included codes showing as not valid due to a grace period or incorrect input of the code.

Early Education and Childcare Entitlements for Resettled Afghan Children
Please be aware that we are awaiting guidance on the funding of resettled children from the Department for Education, which is expected to arrive soon.

Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) Referrals - Allegation Investigations
At a recent meeting Ofsted let us know that some settings in Kent continue to initiate internal investigations without first informing the LADO of any allegations made. Please be aware that settings must inform the LADO within 24 hours of any allegation being made about a member of staff. If you are not clear on whether an allegation should be referred, you can call the LADO Enquiries Officer and consult for advice and next steps. LADO Team contact telephone number: 03000 410888.

You can find the November edition of the Child Protection Newsletter on our website.

Early Years & Childcare Recruitment Hub
A well-qualified and skilled early years and childcare workforce is essential to ensure you effectively deliver the EYFS and provide the best possible outcomes for children in Kent.

Finding the right member of staff is even more challenging in today’s competitive environment.  In order to support you, The Education People continues to offer ‘The Recruitment Hub’ – a central location for early years and childcare employers to advertise their vacancies and for candidates to search, either for their first role in the sector or to further their career.

Free of charge and easy to use, The Recruitment Hub is proving to be a very popular resource and, alongside the jobs board, offers a wealth of information for settings and jobseekers about the recruitment journey.

The Recruitment Hub is the place to come if you are an individual seeking a new job, or an employer looking to recruit in the early years and childcare sector.

Kent Collaborations
The leaders and members of our 70 collaborations in Kent have told us how beneficial membership has been throughout the pandemic and into recovery. Not only have collaborations shared ideas and information but have also given each other mutual support during difficult times. Some existing collaborations are seeking new members whilst others are full to capacity.

If you are from a setting graded good or above by Ofsted, why not consider further developing your leadership skills by starting up a new collaboration? The Early Years & Childcare Service can offer support to you to achieve this.

We recently supported a Canterbury childminder to meet with others to take forward a new childminder collaboration and they would welcome interest from more childminders to join them. If you are a childminder in the Canterbury district or you live in the Faversham or the Westgate and Minster areas of Thanet and feel this is something you might be interested in finding out more about then please let us know.

Email the collaborations mailbox for any support or information about Kent collaborations.

Kent Children and Families Information Service (CFIS)
Kent CFIS support and maintain the Kent Directory, which providers can use to advertise their settings. A recent report has indicated that 10% of providers who have updated their record this year have not given permission to advertise their setting. There are five levels of permissions to choose from including whether or not to appear on a map and revealing your street level location. Please review your permissions to ensure that you are visible to Kent families looking for childcare.

Kent Bookstart Annual Report
The latest Kent Bookstart Annual Report (2020-21) is now available.

The report is shorter than normal due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the delivery of both Bookstart gifting nationally and in Kent. Due to the major disruption to services this year, Kent Libraries have included no comparison data with previous years. It covers Bookstart in Kent plus also highlights how Kent Libraries responded to the impact of COVID-19 on their services by providing virtual activities and support for preschool children and their families.

Specialist Teaching and Learning Service (STLS) Redesign
This consultation is seeking the views on proposals for the future delivery of the STLS in Kent. Over the last year, families, early years settings, schools and practitioners have shared their views on how the STLS currently works. The consultation reflects on feedback received and puts forward proposals for the future delivery of the service. The ambition is to create a more consistent and equitable service across the county, as part of a network of support and interventions. You can provide feedback by completing a questionnaire, which can be accessed on the website by Tuesday 7 December 2021.

Out of School Providers

This term we have had the pleasure of visiting some of our new and existing out of school settings face to face. It has been fantastic to see the children and staff again and we will be carrying out more visits over the coming weeks. We are still unable to visit settings where there have been recent cases of COVID-19 but we are able to revert back to virtual meetings in these cases as we are committed to keeping in touch. Please ensure that whilst restrictions have been eased, it is important to keep up to date with Government guidance and revisit your own risk assessments and control measures to ensure that you and your children and families are kept as safe as possible. Always refer to the latest Government guidance.

Please remember to share your lovely activities, play opportunities, special events and celebrations on our dedicated Kent Out of School Networking Group Facebook page. This is a great place to showcase the wonderful things that are happening in your setting as well as sharing and gaining ideas from others.


Last month saw the launch of the Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) funded training Using Visuals and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) in the Early Years. Whilst some childminders have attended and provided good feedback, we are currently seeing lower than expected numbers of childminders taking up this opportunity. This funded training introduces a range of visual support strategies and other augmentative and alternative communication resources to support children's communication and interaction skills. Don’t forget to book your place via CPD Online.

Please remember to use the request for support form if you wish to seek guidance on SEND processes, LIFT or any another SEND concern with an adviser. This will allow advisers to schedule appropriate appointments to support you.
We held another SEND forum on Thursday 21 October which was well attended. We explored current updates and provided a question and answer session for the Milestone Assessment Tool. Michelle Buckland also provided an update on the Professional Development Fund. Look out for the next one which will be happening in the new year.

Many childminders in Kent have now been inspected. Several of the recommendations set for those that are good are predominantly within the Quality of Education grade descriptor so why not take a look and reflect on how you are meeting these? Alternatively, you can explore this further by taking up the offer of a good and outstanding visit with a childminding adviser. More information on our findings are in the Kent News and Updates section of this Bulletin.

Our Facebook page has been a hive of activity and in the last 60 days had 209 comments and 111 reactions. Our top posts have included information on safeguarding policies and courses. If you have not done so already why not join us on our Facebook page, The Education People Kent Childminders. You will need to answer a couple of questions before being added as a member.

Information to Share with Families

ICON is all about helping people who care for babies to cope with their crying.

ICON stands for:

  • I - Infant crying is normal
  • C - Comforting methods can help
  • O – It is OK to walk away
  • N – Never, ever shake a baby.

ICON was conceived following years of study and research into the prevention of Abusive Head Trauma (AHT). The ICON founder, Dr Suzanne Smith PhD, consolidated the study and research with a visit to the USA and Canada in 2016 to see the prevention programmes in action and to understand more about what makes such programmes a success. Research points to persistent crying in babies as being a potential trigger for some parents/caregivers to lose control and shake a baby. It also shows that around 70% of babies who are shaken are shaken by men. So, any prevention programme should include male caregivers and use the best opportunities to reach them as well as support all parents/caregivers with information about crying and how to cope with a crying baby.

ICON has been developed in partnership with all the areas who have taken on the programme: NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), NHS health trusts, Kent County Council (KCC), Medway Council and Kent Police. Our local safeguarding partnerships (Kent Safeguarding Children Multiagency Partnership and Medway Safeguarding Children Partnership) have joined together to roll out the ICON programme locally.

ICON is managed by a collaborative of health trusts, local authorities and volunteers, and the Executive National Strategic Group. All areas who have commissioned ICON are represented on a wider National Strategic Group.

For more information, resources for your setting and advice for parents/carers visit the ICON website

Primary School Admissions Posters
Primary school admissions posters are attached to the Bulletin which was emailed to all providers on 26 November 2021. Please share these with your families.

Good Practice

Supporting Self-Regulation in the Early Years
Dr Stuart G. Shanker is a research professor of Philosophy and Psychology at York University and the Founder/CEO of The MEHRIT Centre. His work centres around developing a fundamental understanding of self-regulation and how children and adults can be supported to recognise and respond to their stressors.

Read more about Dr Shanker's work 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. 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

At its meeting on 4 October, the Early Years & Childcare Provider Association discussed in some detail the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and families, as these have been observed and experienced since September, including children’s social and emotional needs, communication and language and (in some instances) physical development. The Association also received an overview of the nature and purpose of applications for the Contain Outbreak Management Fund and was hopeful that because of the nature and scale of these, they would positively support children’s recovery and ‘catch up’ where this is needed.

The Association also discussed the current Recruitment and Retention challenges in the early years and childcare sector, which include (but are not limited to):

  • the actual cost of recruitment
  • the inability to recruit qualified staff
  • the increasing struggles being experienced by agencies in identifying staff at short notice (if at all).

A significant element of the meeting focused on discussing the next steps in relation to the Association’s intention to make representations to Government about the early years and childcare sector’s overall situation (notwithstanding subsequent funding announcements). As reported at the Briefing and Networking Sessions in October, early conversations with Kent elected members indicate that they are in principle supportive, with follow-on conversations expected soon.

On membership, at its next meeting in December, the Association expects to welcome new early years group members for Swale and Thanet and an East Kent childminder representative. Details will be shared in the Term Three edition of this Bulletin.

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