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FSF newsletter September 2016

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Welcome to the September 2016 FSF newsletter. We hope you all had a lovely summer whether you were enjoying a break or if you were working straight through. We hope also that things are beginning to settle down after the first couple of no-doubt manic weeks!


For anyone who hasn't heard (and hopefully you have), the EYFSP remains as the mandatory EYFS assessment for 2017, the EYFS baseline assessments having been judged as ineffective during last year's experiment. More information here.

Ofsted has released new guidance for inspecting safeguarding in the early years, which is worth reviewing.

FSF (and Tapestry) News

If you're subscribers to Nursery World, we hope you found the learning journal review in the management supplement, where we were delighted to have Tapestry very favourably reviewed. If you're not subscribers you won't be able to read it, sadly; however you can read our 'advertorial' in the same supplement where we tell people how Tapestry evolved within the FSF, and see photos of the team, along with the office dog!

At FSF HQ we've been busy with the launch of the updated Tapestry service. It has been extremely well received and we are excited about how it is developing and improving. Those who have not yet migrated will be doing so over the next few weeks.

Back to the FSF proper, and we've begun work on an overhaul of the main website, which badly needs some love and attention, not least due to the growing number of you accessing it via tablets and smartphones, which is not currently a great experience. We'll be asking for volunteers to view the beta site soon and would be grateful for your honest feedback.

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 third year - Bedford BC
For their ninth year - Kent

Welcome back to you all!

New Content

We have published several excellent articles recently. Nancy Stewart, who co-authored 'Development Matters', wrote a fantastic piece about why it is so important that practitioners do not use the Development Matters document as a 'tick list'. You can read her fascinating article here: Development Matters: 'A landscape of possibilities, not a roadmap'. Michaela Machan, who is an Early Years graduate from the University of Brighton, has written about the historical context of outdoor play. Her article is available here: 'The Historical Context of Outdoor Learning and the Role of the Practitioner'.

We have also been busily adding to our book review section in the library. We have reviewed 'Child Development from Infancy to Adolescence' which is an extremely comprehensive textbook for all Early Years practitioners. We have also reviewed two books that will inspire and enthuse. '50 fantastic ideas for messy play' and 'Mud Kitchens and Beyond: 50 ideas for investigative play' both provide ideas and suggestions to help practitioners develop their investigative play. Our two most recent reviews raise awareness for children about same-sex parenting. 'Two Dads' and 'Two Mums and a Menagerie' are both lovely books for reading aloud.

From The Forum

Yet another U turn - EYFSP

So there I was feeling rather redundant as the last moderation visit came and went - but wait! Not so fast everyone. EYFSP stays for 2017!


Hurrah. Must get planning for next years moderation plan!



Staff on long term sick leave

Our manager has been mostly off work since Feb with a couple of serious different things which have required recovery.




The last operation she had has caused a massive problem in that her arm has lost all movement from the shoulder down, just nothing!




She feels able to return, being quite well in herself but I'm so far not allowing it because she cant do anything with her arm.




She's cant do paperwork and I wouldn't want to leave her in charge of the children with one arm permanently strapped up and I cant think of anything else she could do.




Her current sick note runs out after half term but her arm has been immobile since June and physio is so far not having any effect. She's just text to say that apart form a couple of days, she can come back in to playgroup from next week, she said she's going to over rule the doctor! Not the first time she's said this!




She says she's bored, missing work and unhappy at home and while I can sympathise I have to think of the children and other staff first, who have said they'd feel so watchful of her they'd be taking their eyes off the children.




I'll be speaking to Lawcall in the week but I thought I'd get your views first. :1b

Mathematics resources

I am searching for some advice on our maths area.


We have designated areas such as maths, role play, mark making etc and they all intermingle, ie writing implements in the maths area, number books in the writing area, etc - we often have a more adult led maths activity at registration time and an activity set up on the maths 'table'.


Has anybody got any suggestions on a different approach?


I struggle to plan exciting and different weekly activities to have out on the table for the children.


One week we may have sorting cars or a matching game, etc according to the next steps that we need to cater for but I always wonder if there is a better way of providing maths opportunities.


We have maths going on all of the time it's just the area itself that I struggle with!!


Any ideas would be so gratefully received! Or even recommended books, etc.

Foundations Stage Units - Fully integrated nursery and reception

Hi everyone,




I'm working on the second edition of my book:


'Understanding Transitions in the Early Years: Supporting Change Through Attachment and Resilience'








and am looking for examples of Foundation Stage Units where nursery and reception children are integrated and move freely between all spaces, adults and activities for most, or even all, of the day rather than in separate age groupings and particularly where key person groups are vertically grouped across both nursery and reception age (3-5).



I would also be interested in comments from anyone who has experience of such types of setting but where pressures to formalise reception teaching have resulted in greater separation, fewer shared activities and even 'walls being put back in' to recreate separate provision.


Please note - am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with separated provision within FSUs - just that I am looking at strategies that have removed the transition between nursery and reception.


Huge thanks in anticipation! :1b

How many key children?

I'm just wondering how other settings manage allocating key children between staff. We have 5 staff who are key workers (including 1 apprentice who only has a couple of key children & is supported by me as manager) and currently have 52 children on the register for September. I know that lots more will come along in September and am wonder how we are going to manage to allocate all these children a key person. The other 4 staff already have more than 10 key children each which I think is too many, both in terms of giving the children the time & attention they need and in terms of paperwork. In the past we have had more staff but I really need to manage costs this year. We have plenty of staff in terms of ratios & staffing the sessions but, in the past have ended up employing additional staff just because of the key person issue. I'm sure this can't be what other settings do? Any help or suggestions much appreciated. I'm beginning to think that there's a way of doing this that I'm just not seeing?! Is it just me?

Forecasting places for 2017 with 30 hours

I'm really starting to panic about the 30 hours funding in 2017... how am I going to forecast places!? We are a very popular nursery. Our current group that will be eligible in 2017 are limited to 32 places a day, the mornings are now full and afternoons will be taken up as they take their 15 hours over the year. My preschool room can take 40 a session... so that gives me 8 places a day.


I'm getting enquiries for new children to start in 2017 and they are talking about getting the 30 hours...


Do I get my existing children that might be eligible to start booking in now?? But what happens if the criteria changes? Do you think it will??? Then what happens if some children go to the school nursery and then i'm left with spaces and I've turned children away!! Do I charge a refundable fee to guarantee their place.. but on a first come first served basis, they have to let me know by a certain date or I can't guarantee it? they are rubbish at reading paperwork at the best of times!


Aghhh my mind is too full of everything else to totally get a grip on this!




PS any other mangers feeling overwhelmed with the amount to do... my mountain keeps getting bigger

Retention Period for Records

Please help me out!




Last year whilst doing what I am doing now - reviewing policies - one of you lovely people posted a document that listed how long we had to hold onto the rainbow of documentation that I collect. I know I downloaded and at some point during the academic year my LA also replicated the document. I know I have filed it somewhere safe but right now when I need it I am not really sure where that safe place is!!!!




So if any of you are able to help;


by adding link to the document or

by reminding me about all those safe places I should be looking in

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