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FSF Newsletter November 2015

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Welcome to the first FSF newsletter for quite some time. For those of you who sit up at night waiting impatiently for its arrival, many apologies! We'll try not to leave it so long again. The forum is as busy as ever, however, so hopefully you've been suitably entertained?




Firstly, we'd like to draw your attention to a petition that is on the government's petition site, to 'Increase the hourly funding rate for 2-4 year old children in early years settings'. If you feel you'd like to support this petition, it is halfway to its target of 10,000 signatures, which will trigger a government response. You can find the petition here. If you'd like to discuss it on the forum you can do so here.


The introduction of the national 'living wage' next year is a connected issue causing concern and discussions by forum members (see below). There was an article in Nursery World a little while ago, with some interesting facts and figures. You can find this here.


For anyone who hasn't found it yet, the new Common Inspection Framework (CIF) is now available and you can find it here.




Our Tapestry learning journal service has grown hugely in popularity recently, with over 7,000 settings using it to look after over a third of a million children, and over 200,000 parents. For this reason we decided recently that Tapestry needed its own webspace, so we've moved much of the information previously hosted at the FSF to http://tapestry.info. For those who might be interested, please do have a look at the videos on this page, where parents and providers talk about their experiences of Tapestry. The Tapestry forum area is still available (and lively!) on the FSF though - you can find it here.


We'll be sending out a Tapestry newsletter separately in a day or two, so won't go into details of all the new features we've introduced this year, but should probably mention that Tapestry can now record assessments for KS1 and KS2, as well as Leuven and CoEL, ECAT and P Scales. Also, please note that our apps (for Android and iOS) are now being updated much more regularly, so if you don't have your device set to automatically update you might be out of date. Additionally, due to popular demand we'll be introducing a 'like' button, so staff and managers can acknowledge parental comments without having to think of something to say!


As ever, support is available from tapestry.support@eyfs.info.

LA Scheme

We're delighted to welcome Rutland County Council as new members to the FSF LA scheme. Teachers, practitioners, childminders and other providers from Rutland can now register and subscribe free of charge (visit the LA index page to learn more).


We would also like to welcome back Enfield Council who have rejoined after several years absence.


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 - Isle of Wight and Bedford BC.
  • For their third year - Central Bedfordshire.
  • For their fourth year - Somerset, LB of Ealing, Slough, Lincolnshire, Oldham and Rochdale.
  • For their fifth year - Cornwall.


  • For their seventh year - Darlington, Norfolk, Cumbria and Wigan.


  • For their eighth year - Derbyshire, LB of Wandsworth, Kent, Barnet and Northamptonshire.


  • For their ninth year - Essex, Northumberland, Brighton & Hove and Southampton.

A special welcome to Leicestershire, Worcestershire, East Sussex, Sandwell, Suffolk & Birmingham renewing for their 10th year!!


Welcome back to you all!

New Content

Choosing 'Next Steps' from your observations


One of the biggest concerns when the EYFS was first published was about doing observations of children. How will there be enough time? How could you observe every child? How much paperwork was this going to involve?


Although some of these questions still exist, the vast majority of practitioners are now very good at doing observations. Most practitioners can write a range of different types of observations, can tune into their children's interests and have found methods of doing this accurately and in good time.


However, it is not always clear as to how these observations should be used to inform planning, assessments and evaluation of children's progress. These ‘Next Steps’ need to be appropriate for the children, as well as making best use of the observations made by practitioners. Translating observations into next steps can be very daunting. There is almost an infinite number of ways that you can use one observation to support a child’s learning and development. It could be that you have found one way of using your observations for next steps, but then always use this same method all the time. This may result in planning that is repetitive and may not cover every area of learning and development. On the other hand, it may be that you have not found a simple way of using observations to inform next steps. Sometimes the huge array of choices can make choosing a next step a really confusing task.


Developing Sustained Shared Thinking to enhance the areas of Learning and development – Prime areas


The research in the Effective Provision for Pre-school Education (EPPE) by Sylva et al. (2004) demonstrated that sustained shared thinking benefited all children in all types of settings. Sustained shared thinking was one of the indicators of a ‘good quality’ setting and it is still considered to be highly desirable, as evidenced by its inclusion in the Early Years Teacher Status Standards (NCTL, 2013:2).


In the guidance for the EYFS, sustained shared thinking appears in the Characteristics of Effective Learning (CofEL). These underpin all the other areas of learning and development (Early Education, 2012) in the EYFS, which means that they are methods by which children learn. Put another way, the Characteristics of Effective Learning are the ‘how’ of children’s learning, to the ‘what’ in the areas of learning and development.


The Characteristics are divided into three areas:

  • Playing and Exploring

  • Active Learning

  • Creating and thinking critically

Sustained shared thinking appears in the third area, creating and thinking critically, which focuses on thinking skills, making links between ideas and using strategies to solve problems. This is an indication of the way that children may approach the Prime and Specific areas of learning. It suggests that children will be doing more than playing; exploring and concentrating, but they will be taking their play onto the next level. Children will be more inquisitive and probing in their play.


In this article Kathy Brodie will be focusing on how sustained shared thinking can support each of the Prime areas of learning and development, as defined by the EYFS – Communication and Language; Physical Development and Personal, Social and Emotional Development.


Developing Sustained Shared Thinking to enhance the Specific areas of learning and development


In this article Kathy Brodie examines how Sustained Shared Thinking can be used to enhance the four areas of learning and development in the EYFS known as the Specific Areas: Mathematics, Expressive Arts and Design, Literacy and Understanding the World.

From The Forum

In the Moment Planning

Having read Anna Ephgrave's 'Nursery Year In Action' in the summer, we have implemented a lot of her fab ideas, and are 'planning in the moment' in practice but are unsure how to record it. Is anyone else doing this? Would you be able to describe what your written planning looks like?

Malleable Materials

I have been working in a reception class and the teacher was saying that in d&t they don't use clay till year 1. I'm not entirely sure why, is it because it's hard?

Responsive / Retrospective Planning

At our setting for the past couple of years we have been moving steadily towards a much more flexible , responsive style of planning that involves staff engaging fully with the children during each session and allowing spontaneous 'activities' to simply happen as we go along

EYFS lead in school extra TLR points?

Hi I was wondering if other EYFS lead teachers in school have extra TLR points or are on the SLT in this role. I have had the title of eyfs lead since I started at the school but this hasn't been reflected in my pay. To begin with I was the only reception teacher with 1 TA so being EYFS lead meant that I was leading myself and my TA the same as any other teacher. My school however has grown over the last 2 years and I am now leading across 2 classes and 5 staff, organising and providing training and support for my team, involved with their performance management, writing the EYFS SEF and supporting the Y1 teachers (NQT).

Advice re child who repeats phrases/noises

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.

PREVENT training

One of my staff returned from college saying that Prevent training is mandatory for all staff. As the manager, I have booked on to LA 'awareness' training but not until April 16. Does anyone know what the situation is regarding training? I had thought that we all need to be able to have an awareness and be able to recognise children/families who might be vulnerable to radicalisation but haven't been told the training is compulsory for everyone.

Planning and Next Steps

I am after some advice please. How do you all do your observations, assessment and planning with next steps just in simple terms. We have had a bad ofsted and the LA have got involved and have made me feel like I don't have a clue.


We use ABC does forward planning sheets, we then add ideas onto continuous provision document, we highlight names to ensure all children are included. We look at the gaps in tapestry and then plan activities to support the achievement of next steps, obviously being aware of the whole child.

Playing alongside other children who are engaged in the same theme

What would you be looking for, for this statement? We had 2 girls - one was being a vampire and one was being a witch in our Witches Den and at times they were playing together not just alongside?


If you'd like a list of all topics over the last day, week or month, click the 'Forum' menu item, then 'View New Content'.

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