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The Foundation Stage Forum EYFS newsletter October 2018

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Welcome to the first newsletter of the 2018/19 academic year. The heady days of the long summer heatwave seem well behind us; let's look back and see what has happened since the beginning of July when we published our last newsletter. Shortly before MPs broke for their summer recess a team from FSF HQ headed to Westminster for the APPG lobby day. We were heartened by the attendance, both from MPs and from sector representatives. Many of us met with our local MPs and gained commitments from them about raising EY issues and asking questions in Parliament. MPs signed a pledge board demonstrating their commitment; in the photograph you can see Tracy Brabin (shadow minister for early years) with FSF Rebecca celebrating the success of the pledge board. IMG_4507.jpgThe focus of the APPG was the the sorry state of finances within the early years sector. The difficulties associated with the sustainability of settings have continued to be reported in the media this half term. In Nursery World there was a piece entitled 'Counting the cost of early years funding shortfalls' which generated an interesting forum discussion. When party conference season came around in September the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, pledged more free childcare. Again, this promise sparked debate on the forum. Interestingly, the Government's 'Evaluation of the first year of the national roll out of 30 hours free childcare' painted a more rosy picture than was being discussed at the APPG. There is more planned from the APPG this year, so 'watch this space!'

Despite the frustrations of the economic situation, 'normal service' continues in both the DfE and Ofsted. As the school summer holidays began the Government response to the Level 2 consultation was released. The consultation concluded with actions that, (from 09/19), will set the minimum requirements for knowledge, understanding and skills that individuals must demonstrate to achieve a level 2 early years qualification. At the end of July, Education Secretary Damian Hinds pledged to improve speaking and reading standards for school starters. This announcement was met with mixed responses when it was reported in the media. You can read about the announcement here. Ofsted have released the updated EY3 document and have revised their guidance concerning staff suitability. We have, therefore, updated the staff suitability declaration proforma that was held in our resources library. Ofsted have also revamped their inspection reports website and, although it looks a little different, the 'save this search' function is very helpful for those of us who are regular visitors to the site checking which settings have been recently inspected. To help with their ongoing 'mythbusting' mission, Ofsted's article 'A day in the life of an Ofsted Inspector' is well worth revisiting. 

Other sector influencers have released reports since the summer. The Education Policy Institute raised concerns about the EY disadvantage gap and the SEED report confirms that children do better when they have access to quality EY provision.You can read both reports and make comments on the forum. In any setting, the importance of the safeguarding procedures cannot be underestimated.This term, a revision to the 'Working Together to Safeguard Children' document was published and we have uploaded it to the FSF resource library. Helpfully, the NSPCC have published guidance to assist settings' understanding of the differences between the 2015 and the 2018 documents. 

In September, Early Education published a new document called 'Musical Development Matters'. This focus on children's musical development is pertinent as Gill Jones, Ofsted’s deputy director of early education, has recently been in the media following a speech she made at an NAHT conference. You can read about that 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 8th year – Lincolnshire

For their 10th year – Surrey

New Content

Our contributors have been busy writing inspiring articles to enthuse and motivate your practice. Natalie Perera, who is Executive Director and Head of Research at the Education Policy Institute, wrote for us explaining How research is used (or not!) in developing government policy. This was particularly interesting for those of us who spend a lot of time encouraging people to contribute their views and data to research pieces. If you wanted to discuss the article, you could do so here. Kathryn Stinton's article 'Understanding and Supporting Children’s Behaviour' gives fantastic, practical tips to help you manage challenging behaviour in your setting. In September we invited you to Meet the brushes behind Paint Pots! This article provides some gentle inspiration for your break time and will reassure you that the right people are at the forefront of our sector.

In house, we have reviewed a lovely book to help children develop their phonic awareness. Superhero ABC will attract even the most reluctant reader, who might accidentally find themselves interested in the difference between a letter name and a letter sound! We have also reviewed Teaching on a Shoe String which will help you resource and plan on a 'next to nothing' budget. In the book we are reminded of the fascination and excitement young children have playing with a cardboard boxes - the authors take the notion that children can derive play, knowledge and pleasure from apparently ''nothing' objects. For Tapestry users and for those responsible for cohort and group tracking in their setting we have published two pieces since the summer to help you scrutinise your data effectively. Firstly, the piece entitled 'Cohort tracking using the summative screen' will help you look at your summary data - whether or not it is collated on Tapestry and the second article 'Cohort tracking using the group comparison screen' will help you think about ways in which you can compare groups on a regular basis.

From The Forum

Lost child - report to Ofsted?

Yesterday I picked a six year old child up from school, and in the few minutes it took to greet the older children he lost sight of me, thought we'd gone without him and headed off to find us. His loss was recognised within those couple of minutes but it was thirteen minutes before he was located, safe and well, half way between school and my house.  There are no roads to cross luckily and the path is busy with other school families, but the 'what-ifs' are horrifying.   I followed my procedures, and I've written up the report, but my sleep deprived brain won't let me find out if I have to tell Ofsted or not?  It's not in my procedures which makes me think not, but I feel like I should.  

Any support gratefully appreciated. 

Good Suppliers - ethical companies?

Hi you lovely knowledgeable people,

I've posted here a while ago when we were planning to set up a new Nature focused nursery and after a lot of work from an amazing team we are nearly there. We just had our Ofsted interview and are now planning to open our doors in January 2019 - Yeah! One of the less exciting jobs on my to do list now is to find suppliers for all those essentials, cleaning products, health and safety equipment (fire signs, First Aid etc), office stuff and of course nursery resources. Can anyone recommend good, reliable companies, ideally ethically minded (e.g. for 'green' cleaning resources)? I look forward to your replies.

Reduced Staff Rotas

Hi, I'm wondering how others manage staff hours in Autumn when child numbers are low?  We have started a reduced rota for staff temporarily but it is difficult to manage staff expectations around this so I wonder how other settings deal with this issue?

Badmouthing and Ofsted complaints

Hi all, I am new to this forum and just wondered if anyone has ever experienced what we are currently going through.

Basically we are a fairly new setting (been open 16 months), private and based in a very small town where there are currently only 2 other nurseries.  Everyone knows everyone and word spreads fast.  Our problem is that a disgruntled parent (who we suspect has Munchhausens), has gotten together with another disgruntled parent and made a complaint to Ofsted about our setting relating to an accident.  These parents claim that their children bumped heads and that one of them had to be rushed to the emergency room that evening.  Ofsted carried out a surprise visit which lasted 4 hours and was satisfied with our response and the evidence that the child had a booked hospital appointment for that evening anyway regarding a UTI (which we proved by showing her the email from the parent).  Our problem is now, that because they did not get the results they wanted with regards to their complaint, they are spreading false and malicious lies about our setting around town.  We were due to have a new starter today but called yesterday to cancel.  When asked why, she admitted that she had spoken to her friend who had recently pulled her child out and wasnt happy with our setting.  Other parents who are 'friends' with these other two are now acting funny towards us and are being very rude and awkward so we are expecting them to hand in their notices soon.  

This is incredibly worrying as we are a small business and have funded our setting ourselves.  Word is now going about town and people are not going to use us.  We only have around 15 children in a day but they are all friends and know each other so it will only be a matter of time before we end up closing down due to lack of business.  We are now constantly treading on eggshells making sure everyone is happy but they are all fine to your face and just do it behind your back and on social media later.  Parents have also just left in the past without giving notice or paying their last invoice because we have refused them swapping their days and raised safeguarding concerns.  

Has anyone else had this in a small town?  We really dont know what to do to stop these lies from being spread and to stop people from taking the p by just leaving out of the blue. 

Any advice is gratefully received

Runner bean seeds

Can anyone tell me if there is any reason why children should not play with runner bean seeds? Want to use them in the tuff tray.

Edited to say I have just looked them up and they may be poisonous if eaten.  I am guessing it is best to steer well clear just in case? 

Edited by Rebecca

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