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FSF Newsletter - December 2010

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Welcome to the final FSF newsletter of 2010, and it looks like it's only just in time, before the weather closes in and presents us with the 'worst snow in 100 years' according to one newspaper. Well I'd better get a move on and pack my shovel so I can personally deliver these 20,000 emails before it happens.

Firstly, we have revamped the way we organise our articles. The old system, splitting them into just two categories (visitors and members) had become cumbersome, now that our article list is so long - around 200 at the last count. So we have split them into subject areas, which you can find in the same place on the navigation bar. They now have the following index listings: Child Development, Theory and Inclusive Practice, EYFS, Early years General, Leadership and Management, Early Years Pioneers and Pedagogy, and FSF Light (for the lighter hearted articles). There's also an archive section for articles that may be out of date but are available for people who have previously used them and want to have access to them for reference.

While we are still copying across the articles (newest first) the older ones will be available in the archive, and will be deleted as they are copied over - so bear with us if not all the articles appear in the relevant section.

During 2010 we introduced our Progress Recording and Monitoring System (PRAMS). The first version was available in late January and we have developed it over several iterations; it now has many new features incorporated as a result of your suggestions and feedback, so many thanks to those of you who have taken the time to let us know how you are getting on with it. We have a page here letting you know how we're getting on with it.

A lot has happened in 2010. A new government is reviewing the EYFS via a consultation (hope you took the opportunity to respond?) and results are due in the new year. Additionally, the difficult financial conditions have caused many extra pressures to early years settings in the PVI area. The FSF community has discussed and debated these and many other issues, and its wonderfully supportive community has been as passionate and involved as ever they were. From all of us here at FSF Global HQ (as we like to call it) and from our wonderful moderating team, we wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year. Thanks for your company!

LA Scheme

We'd like to welcome back members from the following authorities, which have renewed their LA subscription - members need do nothing, their individual accounts will automatically be re-subscribed:

  • for the third year - Wigan, Surrey, Staffordshire, Reading, Darlington, Reading, Newcastle, Windsor & Maidenhead, Guernsey
  • for the fourth year - LB of Richmond, Northumberland, Northamptonshire
  • We're happy to welcome back members East Sussex, City of Sunderland, Nottingham City and  Worcestershire renewing for a 5th year
  • Huge welcome back for Birmingham and Bracknell Forest, two of our first ever LAs to join the scheme, who are renewing for the 6th year!

Welcome back to you all!

New Content

Child Development: fact or fiction?

Knowledge about child development is an important tool which enables practitioners to make appropriate provision for young children; but if we are not careful it can also be a dangerously limiting illusion that may actually hamper practice.

What's critical about critical thinking? Understanding academic terminology on a Foundation degree in early years.

Joy Chalke, principal lecturer in the School of Education and Continuing Studies at the University of Portsmouth, demonstrates and analyses some of the critical thinking skills required of students engaged in higher education courses.

Assessment, Progression and Attainment in the EYFS

Life on the Foundation Stage Forum takes on its own seasonal phases and autumn is no exception. As the new academic year commences there are always queries, particularly from school-based practitioners, on how to gather and interpret the progress data required alongside the observational assessment practices required in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework. So what do we need to consider and how do we make best use of the assessment information we gather?

EYFS Survey (Available to visitors)

The FSF asked members (and visitors) to fill out a questionnaire on the EYFS in the autumn of 2010. This is a summary and the raw results of that survey.

Using 'Owl Babies' by Martin Waddell & Patrick Benson as a focus for activities
This is a lovely book to focus on when children are starting school or nursery or with a new childminder. There are lots of opportunities to talk about how we feel when the people we love leave, and how we feel when they come back again. Children can also explore night and day and nocturnal animals. Others may be interested in woods and trees and birds. Whatever direction the children want to take their learning, this story provides plenty of interesting starting points.

From The Forum

Competitive Parents!

I need a different perspective on a small problem I have!!! I have a smashing class of 15 of varying abilities but we do have a group of parents who are incredibly competitive and this is really impacting on my displays -my parents bring the children into the class in the morning and this group of parents are always looking around and asking their children which is their work and carefully eyeing up the work of others then going out onto the playground and comparing and commenting on the other childrens work. I believe in celebrating all work and I am finding it frustrating I thought about not including a name with a piece of work but children like to see their name on their work. These parents do have the brightest children in the class and are just as competitive with each other - never come across this problem before so grateful for any advice.

Advanced EYPS?

I did an EYP assessment today and the candidate was telling me that she's heard through the PLA that because Sarah Teather is so impressed with what we EYPs are doing that the Government are considering creating Advanced EYPs who will have a Masters degree.

Has anyone else heard this?

Vetting and Barring and ISA - confused!

I'm slightly confused! Are we meant to be registering employees with the ISA and checking new employees with the ISA? I know it was put on hold but just wondering what everyone else is doing?

Quality Improvement Tool, Any experience of using a quality assessment tool?

I am looking for a quality improvement tool to work through in my setting as a staff team to assess our environment. I have heard of ECERs and Wellbeing and Involvement scale (Leavers). I was wondering if any of you have used these or indeed know of any other quality improvement tools?

Web Site, How to do one cheaply

I am looking to make a website for our pre-school, it's something I have really put off but now find the need. (competitor now has one and I don't want to miss out on future clients)

Letters And Sounds/synthetic Phonics

I've just been doing some reading about the whole letters & sounds and synthetic phonics approach. From what I can gather, teachers are now encouraged to stop children from recognising words by sight. Would that be a correct assumption or am I misreading the guidance?

Staff Repaying Training Costs

Hi, I know it has previously been mentioned on here that in some settings staff are asked to repay training costs if they leave the setting within a certain amount of time.

What I need to know is how you communicate this to staff - is it in their contracts, or in the handbook, and how it works, i.e. is it a percentage per year, etc?

EYFS Packs For Sale, ON EBAY!

I can not believe that I have just seen a complete EYFS pack on sale on the popular auction site for £55!

Beggers belief that someone would even pay that much for a free government legislation - which is no longer available


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