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Fsf Newsletter October 2017

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Welcome to our first newsletter of the Autumn term. We hope that you are all settled back into the academic year. Since our last newsletter (July 2017) the forums have been very busy and full of teachers and early years staff who are readily sharing their knowledge and skills. Thank you to everyone who contributes! If you are more of a ‘watcher’ on the forum … take the plunge and make a post! The 30 hours entitlement is now up and running and forum discussions remain lively, if you need help have a look at these threads: 30 Hours Funding - how will you allocate spaces? and Reconfirming 30 hours eligibility. Both threads contain useful information and helpful links.

This term there have been several research publications which will be of interest to you. The Sutton Trust report ‘Closing Gaps Early’ reported several key findings, one of which was that the new 30 hours scheme could widen the gap between disadvantaged children and those able to take advantage of the increased funding.  The Early Intervention report ‘Language as a child wellbeing indicator’ highlighted the correlation between a child's language skills and their sense of wellbeing. The DfE 'Consultation on Functional Skills' has been released, with a closing date for your input on 7th November. You can access it here.

The Chief Inspector of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, gave a speech in August about the health and safety culture in education settings. You can read the full text of her speech here.

FSF and Tapestry news

This term we have been hard at work improving and developing our Tapestry package. We have introduced a new Care Diary and following changes made after helpful feedback from the first users we are really pleased with how it is going. We are delighted to hear that it is proving a real time-saver in settings across the country. If you have not yet found the Care Diary then you can enable it from your control panel. Follow this tutorial to help you get started!

We have also released our SEND framework onto Tapestry. Again, you can enable this from your control panel. We exhibited and demonstrated the SEND framework at the Tes SEN show at the Design Centre in London and met many happy Tapestry users and made some new contacts who are keen to take advantage of all the things Tapestry has to offer. If you would like to have a look at the SEND framework you can see it in this tutorial.

In September we were proud to announce our involvement in the new Childcare and Early Education APPG. We are very keen to represent your views in Parliament and will be asking you to provide us with information and evidence to pass to MPs to help make the case for the sector in Westminster. We have a meeting on November 1st to discuss, amongst other things, the impact of business rates and VAT on the PVI sector. You can read about it here.

For the forum, we would like more members to share the news of their inspections – we will put you on our front page. You can read previous contributions on this thread: Celebrate your inspection. Don’t forget that we have lots of courses and events on our site that are either provided by subscribing local authorities or are run by recognised training providers at a reasonable rate. You can look at the courses and events here.

LA Scheme

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 eleventh year - Brighton & Hove and Southampton


Exciting news, after a period of absence we are delighted to welcome back Lincolnshire County Council for their 7th year with us and Surrey County Council who rejoin us for their 9th year.  It is so great to see all of your members back on the forum.


If you work for any of these authorities and do not currently have an LA membership scheme in place please click here for more information

New Content

This term we have published two articles designed to help you and you staff team set ‘Next Steps’ effectively. There seems to be an ongoing conversation about the best way to approach ‘Next Steps’ and hopefully our articles will give you things to think about and helpful ideas from other settings. The articles are: Next steps, choose wisely and The Practicalities of Next Steps. We have also reviewed Messy Maths. A Playful, Outdoor Approach for Early Years for our bookshelf. Don’t forget that if you buy any books or early years products through our Amazon link we will be able to raise money to send on to the NSPCC.

From The Forum

Lunch Breaks

Dear All,

I hope you’re all well.

I have two rooms at my nursery and in 1 room a couple of staff have complained to me saying other staff are taking more than their 1 hour lunch break (for example, leaving at 12.30pm and returning at 1.40pm).

Should I send a memo to all staff reminding them that lunch breaks are 1hr and if staff continue to take longer tighter measures will be put into place (like signing in/out when they go on lunch) - or should I put that system into place?


Parents with disabilities

I'm wondering what responsibilities we have to assist parents with disabilities get their children into nursery/school?  I've been observing a situation at the school I drop off at. For the past two years the little boy has been picked up from, and dropped back to the the Mother's car by the Teaching Assistant.  Now the second child has started nursery and the parent has been told that it's too difficult to keep that up and the children (only just three and five) will be released from the door as long as a 'line of sight is maintained between the parent (who uses crutches to move to the car tailgate), and the teacher, and in reverse in the morning.  I know other schools in the area refused this parent any assistance which is why she chose this particular school. 

I'm thinking there must be many parents in similar situations and I'm wondering how they get their kids to school.  Is there funding available?  Should care for the children be paid for from Disability Living Allowance?  I've lent a sympathetic ear but not offered any assistance as I'm a childminder and don't want to be seen to be touting, but I also know the family through the church we all attend.  They haven't asked me for my assistance (professional or charitable). 

I'm thinking it's all about rights and responsibilities, but this is tying me up in knots.

Any ideas?


How to turn from a committee run provision to a CIC

We are a committee run provision struggling along and now need to look at an alternative....Cic looks like an option does anyone know anything about it......

Toilet training

Good evening,


I am new to Nursery and all this toilet training stuff and I am hoping that you will be able to share your knowledge and experience with me. I have a three year old that has just started with us doing five mornings a week. He is in pull ups and although he is dry, he soils every morning. I have read that we shouldn't be constantly asking if they need to go to the toilet as this inhibits developing the feeling of needing to go to the toilet. However, what strategies would you suggest that we can put into place to help and support this child. I am thinking that we should be checking him every so often and occasionally asking if he needs to go to the toilet. However, I am totally in the dark and would welcome any advice or strategies.

Many thanks

Mel C

Help needed for planning in EYFS

Hey everybody,

Me and my colleague are entering our second year of teaching and we have been given the opportunity to change our planning structure. Currently, we teach a 10/15 minute input on a topic and then send the children off to 4 different activities. For example:

Activity 1- Red Group

Activity 2- Blue Group

Activity 3- Yellow Group

Activity 4- Green Group

The next day we will teach another input linked to the topic and then send them to a different activity. This means that by the end of the week, each group will have completed every activity. I think they call it 'round robins'. Once they have finished the activity, they are allowed to choose from the continuous provision in the classroom.

The thing that is bothering me is that activity 1 is usually writing and activity 2 is always reading. This means there is next to no time to float around the classroom with an iPad to get observations and Tapestry done.

Does anybody have any suggestions as to what we can do to change this please? It would be really useful if you could upload an example of your weeks planning so that we can see how you're structuring it. We want to change our ways but we have no experienced person to turn to about the subject.

Thank you for all of your replies, it's greatly appreciated.


How is your environment print rich?

Just picking up on a comment made by my early years consultant at a recent visit and thinking about how to implement it. How do you ensure that your environment is print rich? But so that the children actually gain something from it and it's not just up for the sake of Ofsted. Would love to hear what you do and how you do it.


supporting a child who is waiting for diagnosis possible ASD

I would really appreciate some advice from all you lovely experienced practitioners ( and parents)!


This September I have a child starting that has been assessed but not had a diagnosis who  possibly has ASD. Our setting has not supported a child on the spectrum before so I have put some things in place. Firstly I am SENCo and will be the child's key person, so I have  researched  and read books and created a list of questions to gather as much information as I can when I meet parents so I can see what the child's needs might be before he starts.   I will use this information to create an individual plan and a one page profile so that I can ensure all practitioners in my setting understand how to support the child. I have also time tabled a staff meeting so that I can ensure all staff have the knowledge they need to support the child in the setting. Is there an alternative assessment tool other than development matters? I am sure I have seen one but cannot find it despite searching on here. Is there anything you can recommend I put in place that I have not mentioned? what would you as a parent like to hear from me? I have only met the child briefly so will be spending time with him to assess him so that I can put in place a variety of strategies  once I have a good picture of his likes/dislikes etc. I have also been told that he was removed from another setting as mum felt they did not meet his needs.


I look forward to any suggestions, thank you. :P

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