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FSF newsletter July 2016

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Welcome to our July 2016 newsletter. The sun is shining, the sky is blue ... and we’re planning an outdoorsy weekend! Although, saying that, we have had a full range of weather this week - including some minor flooding. The changeable weather reflects in our politicians this week too - so we say goodbye to Nicky Morgan and hello to Justine Greening as Education Minister. It's been a bit like 52 Festive Road on Downing Street (

reference there for those with puzzled faces).

It's been a while since we last sent out a newsletter, but here it is. It’s out just in time, for those of you lucky enough to have the long summer holiday, to wish you a fine one! From now on, we’re planning to send out the newsletter each month with up to date information from us about what's going on in the early years world. If you have something you would like us to include in a newsletter, then please let Rebecca know. Rebecca has recently joined us (well, she’s been with the FSF for many years), but has decided to accept the heavy burden of responsibility for website content, in the form of articles, reviews, news and discussions. Feel free to contact her – even if it’s just to welcome her in! You can email her here.


At the moment the hottest topics on the Forum are the 30 hours funding issue, and the impending 'workforce review' from the DfE.

FSF HQ attended the NDNA conference in early July and heard Sam Gyimah (until last week minister for childcare and education) speak along with a number of others. We have a summary of the conference, along with links to transcripts of their speeches and announcements here.

FSF News

Prepare to be surprised by a substantial update to the FSF website in the near future! The current version has been in place for a few years now and needs to be brought into line with newer internet technology, not least to make it more useable with tablets and mobile technology.

For those of you interested in Tapestry, please take a minute to visit our new dedicated website (tapestry.info). We felt the FSF was in danger of getting overwhelmed with discussions and news about Tapestry, so have begun to separate out Tapestry related information. In particular, the videos of parents and staff talking about Tapestry are very watchable. With Tapestry growing so quickly and successfully (we’ve recently passed the 9,000th customer, with half a million children registered), we’ve been working hard to develop the next generation of Tapestry code over the last nine months. Now that it has been extensively audited and tested by security and penetration testers we hope to begin migrating our current customers over the summer holidays.

End of Life notice for PRAMS: PRAMS has been very popular over the last seven years, but we have taken the decision to give it an honourable retirement. Our recent news item (here) gives more detail – although you will be able to continue using the program on your own computers it will not be supported or maintained after the end of July.

LA Scheme

We're delighted to welcome both Dorset County Council and Durham County Council as new members to the FSF LA scheme. Teachers, practitioners, childminders and other providers from Dorset and Durham 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 from these authorities need do nothing; their individual accounts will automatically be re-subscribed:

  • For their second year - Rutland
  • For their third year - Isle of Wight
  • For their fourth year - Central Bedfordshire
  • For their fifth year - Somerset, Oldham, Rochdale and Slough
  • For their sixth year - Cornwall and West Sussex 
  • For their eight year - Wigan and Norfolk
  • For their ninth year - Derbyshire, LB of Barnet and Northamptonshire
  • For their tenth year - Southampton, Leicestershire, Brighton& Hove and Essex

A special welcome to Suffolk, Birmingham and Hampshire renewing for their 11th year!!


Welcome back to you all!

New Content

Safeguarding for managers


We have recently published a series of articles about safeguarding for managers. They are aimed at new managers undertaking the management responsibility for the first time but would also be very useful as refreshers for existing managers. The articles give managers a clear explanation of their duties regarding safeguarding and link to the EYFS Statutory Framework. If you missed them they are hereherehere and here.


What is an inspection actually like?


Our series about Ofsted inspections has been extremely well received. We have interviewed two experienced inspectors about their work. They spoke candidly about how they prepare for, and then conduct inspections. You can read about the preparation they do, including the notification phone call. You can also read about how the inspectors work 'on the day'. These are explained in two articles, part one is here and part two can be read here. Then, Helen and I conducted our own analysis of inspection judgements at both ends of the scale. You can read about 'Good and Outstanding' judgements and 'Inadequate' judgements and see which aspects were highlighted for settings to work on. We also carried out a survey of practitioners' inspection experiences and the findings can be accessed here. The overwhelming advice for practitioners, from practitioners, is "keep up to date ... reflect on what you are doing and make changes if you can make improvements ... then document changes you make to your practice and make sure your paperwork is in order"


Dusting and tidying up


The bookshelf has been dusted off and furnished anew with book reviews about knitting cats (it doesn't actually tell you how to knit a cat I'm afraid), Making marks (it does tell you how to do that) and also about how you can't take an elephant on a bus (which is tricky). The book reviews will now be regular and will range from books to read aloud to children, books to use to help children with particular issues, books to support and enthuse practitioners and also books to stimulate the old grey matter for those undertaking further higher level study. 


We have also had a tidy up in the resource library and have begun to sort the existing content so that it reflects the current EYFS statutory framework. You can access the library here.

From The Forum

Travelling Fellowship: Research study in New Zealand and Germany

WChurchill, a tutor in Initial Teacher Education at Manchester Metropolitan University, has been awarded a Travelling Fellowship for 2016 to visit Germany and New Zealand to research best practice in early years care and education. A fascinating insight into early years research as it happens.


Employment and English & Maths

Confused with all the legislation that has been talked about and what actually is 'real' so to speak. When we employ someone now do they HAVE to have English & Maths at level C or above? Or is this requirement if you want to take a Early Years course?

Have had a great volunteer who would be perfect for a job and although she is absolutely fine with her English & Maths and does have level 3 she just doesn't have 'the grades', she is a more 'mature' person.

Advice re: child who repeats phrases/noises.

I'm not sure whether this is the right place to post this but I'm going to ask anyway. I have a very lovely, sweet, warm little boy who has lots of speech/language issues (he had no speech at all a year ago). One of the things he does is become 'fixated' on a phrase or sound and will repeat it over and over and over. Sometimes the phrases are a repetition of something he would say normally e.g. "I want to go to the toilet." other times a bit random - a recent one was "Thank you very much today". The noises are just noises 'aaah', 'mmm' etc.

He won't be ignored - just gets louder and more persistent and continues even after having got my attention.

I'm just wondering if anyone has any strategies they've used for managing this kind of behaviour? I just listened to a recording I made of one of these incidences and although I was quite proud of how calm I remained (I know I was on the point of tears by the end of that morning) I also felt like none of the approaches I tried had any impact.


30 hours FE

Just had this through from our team at LEA :


Planned introduction in Sept 2017.


It will be delivered in a similar way to current FE – eg: EYFS is still to be followed, no top-up fees by settings, must be free at point of entry for child.


The only 2 things that are not finalised, and will be dependent upon the current pilots being run around the country are the actual rate LA’s will be paid and therefore the actual hourly rate the LA will pay providers, and the final bits around eligibility and how LAs will check parental eligibility. Basically if both parents work more than 16 hours and each parent earns less than £100,00 per year they will be eligible. For lone parents if that one parent works more than 16 hours and earns less than £100,000 per year they will be eligible. Age range is 3-4 years as current FE, eg: term after 3rd birthday.


The introduction of this benefit is directly related to the Government’s reduction of other benefits to working parents.



Staff References

Does anyone else have difficulty obtaining references for new staff. Recently we have had to keep phoning and chasing previous employers to get references and some them are refusing to do it and some are telling us that it's company policy not to provide them. This is most frustrating. I do understand how time consuming it is to keep providing references and especially if someone has left a while back - but in the spirit of safeguarding children - we do it. I prepare a basic reference for everyone that leaves and save it in a file on the computer so that we can forward it by email every time anyone requests one - which is particularly useful if it's for someone that left a long time ago and their line manager has left.

First ever! FSF Live chat - Supporting children's transitions

This evening we will be talking about how we support children through the various transitions they face during their Early Years journey.


At the beginning, how do you manage settling in sessions - are they the same for all children? are your systems the same for all ages? Do you do home visits?

Once children are with you, how do you manage changing groups / rooms / key people?

In preparation for school what do you do with the children? (rather than the paperwork you complete for parents or teachers)

How do you manage children who are particularly fearful of leaving you for school?

How do you manage the children who 'peak too soon' and are very very ready for school during the summer term - how do you keep them focused and motivated?

How do you follow up children after they have gone to school to ensure that transition has gone smoothly?

School radio

Looking for inspirational fun listening activities for pre-school children. Does anybody use the BBC school radio. Have found a few catchy sessions which I thought I could download on to our story phones.

Our children are really into dancing and have been listening to Latino music this week which has been great fun.

Any ideas or thoughts would be gratefully received

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