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FSF Newsletter - December 2012

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It's been a little while since the last newsletter, for which many apologies. Happily this is a result of our being really busy with various exciting things, and so we'll make up for the lack of quantity with a great deal of width in this newsletter as we explain some of it to you.

First of all, for those of you who have been waiting for the new EYFSP handbook but haven't yet seen the announcement, it's here and you can find it from this link - there is also a very interesting discussion listed in the forum conversations below, if you have time to read.

For those of you who have missed the recent discussion at the FSF and don't know, we (the FSF) will be Ten Years Old next year (on Valentine's day since you ask)! We've been discussing with old and newer FSFers what we should do to celebrate this, and have decided to hold a conference/event next April. You can find out more about the plans here, and express an interest in attending. It really is just an excuse to get to meet and chat with people who have become friends and colleagues over the last decade in this very special community, so we'd love to see as many of you as possible! Along with the celebration and chatting we've inviited a couple of very well thought of speakers to join us, and have a number of other activities to keep you busy. We're not professional event organisers, so I'm afraid we've taken the safest option and organised it as close to FSF HQ as possible, which happens to be the south coast. If it goes well, we've promised to try to have another one a bit more centrally located.

We've also been very busy with our EYFS progress recording and monitoring system (PRAMS), and are close to releasing version three, which has involved a major rewrite. The one drawback with PRAMS is it was initially intended for smaller settings, and so isn't ideally set up for networking and multi-user access. PRAMS version 3 is intended to be much easier to setup and maintain in networked settings, so keep an eye out for this - we hope it will be available within the first few weeks of the new year. (Incidentally, PRAMS was updated to work with the new EYFS back in July, so is already up to date in that respect)

Just a quick message for Tapestry users - the iphone/ipad app for Tapestry is now available at the Apple app store, and there's a link to it on the Tapestry introduction page here.

Finally - at the end of an interesting and complicated year, on behalf of all of us here at FSF HQ and the moderating team, I'd like to wish you a relaxed, contented and peaceful Christmas and a very Happy New Year. Look forward to your company and conversation in 2013!

LA Scheme

We're delighted to welcome Warwickshire, Somerset and Ealing to the FSF LA scheme. Teachers, practitioners, and other providers from these LAs can now register and subscribe free of charge (visit the LA index page to learn more).

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 second year -Oldham, Rochdale
  • for the fifth year - Cumbria, Wigan, Kent, Portsmouth City, Darlington, Reading, Norfolk
  • for the sixth year - Richmond, Northamptonshire
  • for the seventh year - Worcestershire
  • for the eight year - Birmingham and Bracknell Forest

Welcome back to you all! If you would like to find out more about the LA scheme and the benefits it brings to the early years providers for an authority, please do get in touch - you can do this simply by replying to this newsletter.

New Content

The New Ofsted Inspection Framework

Summarising the revised inspection framework documents, we include reflective questions and some useful proformas for you to use in evaluating your provision in the light of the new framework.?

Characteristics of Effective Learning: Playing and Exploring

In a series of three articles examining the characteristics of effective learning in the revised EYFS framework, Martine Horvath encourages us to consider how to support children's skills in independent learning.?

Characteristics of Effective Learning: Active Learning

What is "Active Learning"? The High Scope approach defines it helpfully as ‘having direct and immediate experiences and deriving meaning from them through reflection’. In this way children can better make sense of their world. It’s in the doing that we can make connections, apply our learning and get results in cognitive and practical harmony.?

Characteristics of Effective Learning: Creating and Thinking Critically

In the third and final article on the characteristics of effective learning, Martine Horvath outlines the essential components of critical thinking and how we can support children to develop their creativity.?

Aspects of Art

Art is a rich and magical area of learning. It can open children’s eyes to the world around them and offer them new and exciting ways of seeing, thinking and doing. But this doesn’t just happen; presenting children with the opportunity to use clay, paint or charcoal is not enough. Adults working in the early years need to think creatively themselves, explore ideas and resources with the children and celebrate the artistic process.?

Aspects of Art: Drawing

Being able to make marks on paper is a process of discovery that begins long before a child is able to hold a pencil. These marks are all about the movement of the body and will begin as accidental and become deliberate and repetitive. Over time these marks will become more controlled. As speech develops, a toddler might see an accidental resemblance to something within their mark making and name it – ‘round’, ‘wheel’.  They begin to realise they can represent things with their mark making?

Aspects of Art: Painting

Paint is such a versatile and energetic medium for children to explore. It can be thick or runny, pale or bright. It can be layered up with other things and it can be dabbed, spread, brushed, flicked or squelched.? Use these activities as starting points for explorations with the children.?

Every Child is Different: the individual and diverse ways that children develop and learn

All of us are different in countless ways, priding ourselves on our individuality and unique character. It should be self-evident that the same is true of young children. Yet for many years an underlying concept underpinning child development has been that of socialisation; the idea that childhood is the period when children are shaped and moulded to 'fit' into society and conform to social norms and expectations.?

Giving Children Feedback About Their Learning

How do we give effective feedback to children about what they have learned and what they might do next? Here, Sue Ridgway discusses how to involve children in evaluating their learning and planning future experiences.?

From The Forum

Parent requests no water activities in cold weather

A parent has written to me today- what do you think of it? Can you help me in replying?

'I love that the children play outside but is there any chance the water activities could be put away till it gets warmer please? It's far too cold for little ones to be wet in the garden. Many thanks.'

Hooray the EYFSP Handbook has been published!

Here it is!

Come and discuss the current issues regarding the profile and handbook.

Planning for area of learning or area in classroom?

Am I right in thinking that we should make provision for all areas of learning both inside and outside? If so, does anyone plan their activities/enhancements according to area of learning?

Polish children

We have had a visit from our early years advisor and she says we need more activities, words in the environment etc linked to our Polish children as we have 8 on roll now. I don't know what else to do. We have a couple of books in Polish and a poster of different words in Polish. I have spoken to the parents of the children who just want their children to concentrate on English. I'm so confused what else can we put in place...... any ideas?

Development summary/ reports...how often and how long?

I am the manager of a day nursery, and we have been sending development summaries/ reports home to parents for many many years. We always used to send one home every six months. The pre-school room then changed this to every term, as we had a number of children attending 'term time only' and as we could only offer a few of these spaces, the children occasionally changed each term. We have been sending home a report and holding a 'development meeting' (parents evening!) each term. However a number of staff members feel the summaries are too long and descriptive and are not necessary every term. How often do others send home a summary, and how long are they?

Epi-pen Training

We have a child starting soon who has an epi-pen, due to a nut and fish allergy. In the past we have struggled to get anyone down to Playgroup to train us...

When I updated my first aid training there was a section on Epi-pens and we got to look at them and shown how to use them - does anyone know if this is enough training? We will of course also get mums advice. Does anyone else struggle to get training on this?

Phonics - how far do you go?!

I work in a school nursery and almost 2 years ago we were advised we shouldn't be teaching Phase 2 phonics or introducing reading books etc, and should stick to phase 1 phonics. The previous nursery staff had run for many years as quite a formal, 'adult directed at all times' set up, so for some parents this was a bit of a shocking change!! However we went with it and it's worked well up to now. A recent inspection has suggested we need to do more on phonics in nursery and this has been interpreted as 'we need to get them through phase 2 before they go to school'...... I am interested in whether nurseries are routinely doing phase 2?

Do you have to offer snack in the afternoons?

We have been doing a snack in the morning and a snack in the afternoons and it does sometimes feel that the afternoon is all about feeding them when they only had lunch an hour and a half ago. It would be nicer to just offer a drink.. or a biscuit outside if that's allowed nowadays since we have such a healthy snack every morning and concentrate on great afternoon activities, especially as we have less children in after lunch. We were thinking we could let the children have longer for their lunch to ensure they aren't hungry but not sure if serving afternoon snack is an eyfs requirement or if any other pre-schools have thought about this?


We've been asked a couple of times recently how members can change usernames, as it's not clear from your individual profiles how to do this. We've removed the ability to change it automatically, as some people were changing it accidentally (and then wondering why no-one recognized them any more!). However, if you have joined us with a name that no longer suits you and would like to change it, simply make contact with us (either by PM or replying to this newsletter) and we'll be happy to make the change for you.

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