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Sure Start Children’s Centres

The House of Commons Education Select Committee has published the fifth report of Session 2013-14 on Sure Start Children’s Centres.  It shows that Sure Start children’s centres are essential for families and must be seen as a priority and adds credible weight to the case for Children’s Centres becoming a one stop shop and community cornerstone where all families can find the help they need to flourish.

The report sets out ways to refine expectations around the role, performance, outcomes and accountability of Children’s Centres and Local Authorities.  To move forward, everyone should have a clear expectation of the integral role that Children’s Centres play in getting the very best for children and families in their communities and work together to make sure it happens.  It recommends that, as part of a firmer commitment to recognize the impact of role children’s centres a national outcomes framework be developed to ensure that the right areas are being measured and that the impact of individual centres can be evaluated.

Read the report here

Family Action

If you’re thinking of setting up childcare in a school for the over 8s, visit Family Action’s Learning Exchange website. There you’ll find a wide range of guidance, information, case studies and free templates to take you through every step of the process – from carrying out consultations with parents/carers to commissioning a provider, and from setting charges to evaluating your provision.

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Keep an eye on Family Action’s ‘Training and events’ page. They will soon be publishing details of the forthcoming free ‘Dismantling the Barriers’ seminars. At events held across the country, schools and other childcare providers will have the opportunity to meet Family Action’s Childcare in Schools Team and learn how they can overcome the challenges they face, and offer flexible and affordable childcare that meets the needs of local families.

Find out more
Learn more about Family Action’s Childcare in Schools programme by:


Family and Childcare Trust – Parent Champions newsletter launch

The Family and Childcare Trust are very pleased to launch their first ever Parent Champions newsletter – ‘Champion Chatter’.  This will be appear quarterly and include information on support to the Parent Champions National Network, plus case studies from various schemes around the country.  You can see this and other Latest News on their website


NCB’s Early Childhood Unit would like to thank the 8 local authorities taking part in the DfE funded Making it REAL development projects. Since September 2013 they have trained 109 teachers and practitioners from 66 primary schools, nurseries and children’s centres in South Tyneside, Oldham, Sheffield, Blackpool, Haringey, Luton, Peterborough and Sandwell. There are 522 children receiving early literacy home visits (and many more involved in events).  By the end of 2013, 276 home visits and 46 literacy events had already taken place.

The first network meetings were overwhelmingly positive with participants particularly enthusiastic about home visits and the response of children and parents.

‘Amazing – we are offering teachers in homes – I thought parents might be fearful but no one has said no! It is really positive.’

‘It’s helped us explain to parents why we do things the way we do and they are saying things like, ‘I’d never have thought of doing that.’

Read more updates and stories from Making it REAL


Be a star – NDNA Nursery Awards 2014

The NDNA Nursery Awards are the only awards voted for by parents and carers and celebrate the fantastic care nurseries and practitioners provide to one million children and their families across the UK.

This year a new award – NDNA Healthy Nursery of the Year – will be awarded to the nursery which best promotes healthy lifestyles for children through play and fun. The winner will receive £400 to spend on their nursery.

The NDNA Nursery of the Year and five regional and national titles will also be awarded and the NDNA Nursery Practitioner of the Year. The NDNA Nursery Sector Champion award celebrates people and organisations working in or with the nursery sector and is open to NDNA members, volunteers, local authority staff and the media.

Voting for the awards closes on 20 March 2014. The deadline for Nursery Sector Champion entries is 25 April 2014.

The winners will be announced at a celebratory awards dinner in Manchester on 19 June 2014.

For more information go to



I CAN, the children’s communication charity, are currently encouraging early years groups to register for the 2014 Chatterbox Challenge. I CAN’s Chatterbox Challenge: Sounds Like Fun with Humf is the annual fundraising singalong for children under 5 to develop their communication skills and raise money to help children who struggle to communicate. Children will learn songs and rhymes related to sounds, noise and even silence and take part in activities linked to the EYFS.

Please help I CAN to spread the word about the Challenge and encourage as many early years groups as possible to sign up! Chatterbox Challenge week is 10-16th February but groups can take part in the Challenge at any time of the year. To register for a free fundraising activity pack, or to find out about Humf and TTS prizes, go to

Chatterbox Challenge with Humf at Meath School


News from Montessori

We have an article from Barbara Isaacs on teaching and learning in Montessori schools.

For further information on Montessori please visit

Families First Quality Award

The Families First Quality Award recognises Children’s Centres and Family Information Services that demonstrate excellence in providing information, advice and assistance to local families.

The Awards are administered by the Family and Childcare Trust and the National Association of Family Information Services (NAFIS) and are suitable for services at any stage of the developmental journey. Local Family Information Services and Children’s Centres can undertake the award at the same time or separately.  Undergoing the Award works as a quality improvement tool; in order to achieve accreditation participants are supported to develop any areas that need enhancing or further work to reach a gold standard. Achievement of the Award recognises services that exceed the requirements set out in the Childcare Act 2006 and provide information and assistance of the highest quality.

The Families First Quality Award for Children’s Centres launched in 2013 and builds on the success of the quality award for Family Information Services, which has been running since 2009, with 108 FIS’s having undergone the accreditation.

Read more


4Children childcare events

4Children are running a series of regional conferences on more quality, affordable childcare 0-14.

High quality, affordable childcare for 0-14s is a crucial part of life for many families in Britain. This set of 4Children regional conferences highlights how you can build in continuous quality improvement to achieve more.

At these informative events we will explore the next steps in achieving more affordable high quality and continuous childcare for all children, 0-14.  We will share innovative and creative solutions to help you work towards continuous quality improvement to match the expectations of children and families in the UK today.

At these regional conferences you will hear from childcare experts who will address issues such as sustainability, marketing, partnership working and engaging with the PVI sector.  4Children conferences also offer an excellent opportunity to network with colleagues, sharing experiences and ideas with other professionals.

These events will be held on:

25 February – Leeds

4 March – London

6 March – Birmingham

For more info and to book your place click here

Learn Explore Debate

The next round of Learn Explore Debate events will be held in the last two weeks of March.  We will upload more information once specific dates and venues are confirmed.

Achieving Two Year Olds

Achieving Two Year Olds (A2YO) is the national DfE support programme for providers and local authorities, delivered by Hempsall’s and Mott MacDonald.  A2YO’s aim is to support the implementation of free early learning for the least advantaged two year olds.  They are running a second programme of FREE nation-wide roadshows for group providers, children’s centres, schools and childminders.  Over 60 roadshows will occur over the next few months across daytimes, evenings and weekends, and you are invited to come along to the next dates in the diary:

In this spring programme all locations will offer afternoon roadshows (1.00pm registration-4.30pm) and  evening roadshows (6.30pm registration-9.30pm)

3rd February 2014 – Manchester

10th February 2014 – Bristol

13th February 2014 – Liverpool

28th February 2014 – London

3rd March 2014 – Exeter

4th March 2014 – Peterborough

11th March 2014 – Birmingham

James Hempsall, National Support Director says:

“The autumn term roadshows have been extremely popular, well attended and well received.  Providers, childminders and schools are eager to find out more about developments across the country, what to be considering, how to work with local authorities, and things that could or should be done.  There is significant interest in the business and funding opportunities provided by the extension to early learning for two year olds.  We are pleased to be extending the programme into the spring term, the new programme includes evening roadshows which will offer opportunities to  providers and childminders who are who are unable to  attend during working hours.”

Don’t miss out on your FREE place.  To book contact [email protected] or download a booking form by visiting the A2YO page at

Communication Council Seminar

The Communication Council is running a free seminar supported by the Department for Education and the Department of Health- Preparing for September 2014: Commissioning through the prism of speech, language and communication needs, supporting commissioners to respond to The Children and Families Bill.

The event, supported by The Department for Education and the Department of Health, will have keynote speeches from Health Minister Dr Daniel Poulter and Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson. It will focus on supporting commissioners to understand more about the importance and prevalence of speech, language and communication needs for children and young people and offer practical and evidenced information about best practice for commissioning services to support these needs.

Currently recognised prevalence levels show speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) to be one of the most common childhood disabilities – as many as 10% of all children have SLCN.

The seminar will take place on Tuesday 25th February 2014 at the Abbey Centre in Westminster and aims to support local and national decision makers in commissioning cost-efficient, effective SLCN provision for children and young people in light of the Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEND) Reforms.

The SEND reforms require commissioners responsible for services to support children with special educational needs to demonstrate strong joint working practices and have a clear understanding of local health needs. To find out more about the day please find the agenda here.


Please register your interest using this link-

Places are limited so don’t delay.

EY Talking

EY Talking are hosting a twitter conversation between 8pm and 9pm on Tuesday 21 January.

The Department for Education has agreed to co-host and has set the following discussion points:

–          how to encourage schools to offer more Early Years and out-of-school childcare, including in partnership with PVI providers

–          how to encourage more childminders to enter the profession whether independently or as part of an agency;

–          how to help parents make informed choices about childcare, including knowling how to demand a quality service.

As well as these discussion points, there may be other complementary issues that the sector may like to raise with the Department.

On the evening use the hash tag: #EYTalking to share and connect with others on the debate

For more information email: [email protected] and follow @EYTalking on Twitter.

Don’t forget to follow Foundation Years for news and updates from the Early Years Sector

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