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The Communication Trust

Free Download: The Communication Supporting Classroom Observation Tool.

This tool was developed as part of the Better Communication Research Programme (BCRP) in 2012.  It’s designed to be used in an observation of a classroom or a learning space by someone other than the adult working with the children.  The observation tool can be used in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 classrooms and other early years learning spaces.

The Communication Supporting Classroom Observation Tool is free to download from


Family Action – Childcare in Schools


Supporting schools to provide childcare from 8am to 6pm, 50 weeks a year

Family Action will soon be running the first in a series of free training workshops. These sessions will be free to any school staff, volunteers and childcare providers who are interested in finding out more about how childcare provision can be, and has been, successfully set up on a school site.

We’ll be focusing our training on the barriers that schools typically face when setting up school-based childcare for older pupils – and what practical measures can be taken to dismantle these. Find out more about our Dismantling the Barriers training and download the latest schedule of events.

If you would like Family Action to bring a workshop to your area, gather at least ten colleagues who can attend and also arrange a suitable venue for the workshop.  (They can support reasonable venue/refreshment costs.)  Email [email protected] for further details.

And finally, Family Action is delighted to be the NAHT’s charity of choice for the second year!  Find out more

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Find out more

Learn more about the Childcare in Schools programme:


NDNA – Become an English Champion

National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) has launched a project to recruit early years practitioners to become English Champions and support children’s literacy through play.

The project follows the successful Maths Champions project and is supported by the DfE.

The English Champions project will work with Early Years Teachers (EYTs) and graduates to raise their confidence levels in English and improve their skills to better support literacy through play.  Following the project the English Champions will support practitioners in their settings to improve their knowledge and help plan and provide an enabling environment for literacy in their nursery.

NDNA is looking for 35 EYTs and graduates to join the project which starts in May.  The project includes free online audit and diagnostic tools, ideas and resources to support literacy through play and an online forum to share best practice and ideas.

Interested practitioners should contact Fiona Bland on 07837 485 015 or [email protected]


National Literacy Trust – Early Words Together

Early Words Together

Early Words Together (EWT) is an early years programme run by the National Literacy Trust (NLT) aiming to assist parents and carers to improve the early home learning environment, for children aged 2-5, through a six-week structured programme delivered by trained community volunteers.

During 2013-14, we have successfully worked with 12 local authorities to implement a package of support enabling 119 children’s centres to identify and engage a total of 549 families in need of support around early home learning.

  • Primary schoolshave been identified as a key referral partner for both families and volunteers.
  • Following DfE and Ofsted policy direction around early years, we were particularly excited by feedback from the headteacher of a Primary School in Rochdale. They ran Early Words Together for pre-school children from some of their most complex families:

The success of this programme in engaging the hard to reach families… is exactly the sort of evidence that Ofsted are looking for.

The project has provided the opportunity for some of our vulnerable parents to gain confidence within a school environment and so the benefits are many;

–     the relationship between parent and child

–     parents’ relationship with school

–     parents’ understanding that books can be enjoyed in so many ways – they are a talking point for play and everyday life – the children and I loved riding on our broomsticks yesterday!!

–     parents talking to one another about learning

–     parents feeling valued by the school

–     parents and children having time together away from the distractions of technology

–     children wanting to share their enjoyment of reading with others

Practitioners can find information on Early Words Together, working in partnership to support children’s reading, at and parents can find hints and tips on how to help their children at


Achieving Two Year Olds

Following last year’s hugely successful event, Achieving Two Year Olds will be holding the second annual National Network Meeting at The Oval in London on 3rd June 2014 for local authority representatives.  The meeting promises to be a useful opportunity for local authorities to take a timely progress check, and to receive the latest information directly from DfE, Elizabeth Truss MP, Ofsted and others.  There will be an opportunity to share experiences and ideas during six workshops.  Invitations have been distributed electronically.  If you haven’t received your invitation, please contact [email protected]

Other things to look out for:

  • Further in-depth sessions in May on: marketing and communicating the offer; working with the 2014 criteria; and places development and remodelling.
  • Reports on: BME take-up; IT integration; and the recent in-depths and regional network programme (check out the A2YO K-Hub site for details).
  • A series of regional seminars on schools delivering the offer.  To find out more contact  [email protected]  or on 020 7940 7510.
  • A report supported by a series of regional seminars in May and June on workforce development strategies  – for further details contact  [email protected].
  • Three short films for you to use to promote the development of two year old places – they are all available for live streaming from
  1. The first is a wonderful example of how childminders in North London are delivering the offer in partnership with the London Boroughs of Enfield and Barnet.
  2. The second is a case study of how a school in Wolverhampton is making a success of delivery quality two year old provision.
  3. The third gives a flavour of the provider roadshow programme we have been delivering this year.


News from Montessori

Montessori Centre International have announced a new diploma in Montessori pedagogy due to launch September 2014

In response to the Government’s wider agenda for qualification reform in the Early Years outlined in More Great Childcare, Montessori Centre International is on track to be able to put Montessori training on the National Qualifications Framework for the first time.

The EYE qualification has been approved by the National College for Teaching and Leadership as meeting the full and relevant criteria required for those wishing to enter the workforce as Early Years Educators.  The qualifications will be offered part-time or Distance Learning and will be attractive to those who are combining study with work or family commitments.

A training in Montessori education requires a breadth of understanding and varied set of skills as well as specific attitudes to children.  It is with the aim of simultaneously cultivating of all of these that the new Diploma in Montessori Pedagogy – Birth to Seven (Early Years Educator) qualifications have been developed.

Penny Johns, Director of Studies at MCI says, “We are excited by the opportunities offered in developing the new qualifications which builds on our proud history of training Montessori educators and reflects the international nature of Montessori education and the diversity of our student body.

Our aim is to nurture reflective, creative practitioners who can contribute to a responsive and forward-looking Montessori approach to Early Years education.  We believe that this new qualification demonstrates our commitment to train educators who can work with children and those who support children to develop a sound foundation for sustainable, responsible citizenship from the earliest years of children’s development.”

The new qualification will be supported by a new Montessori online Virtual Learning Environment, which aims to introduce a more blended approach to learning for all students, wherever they are studying in the world.

Units include:

Theoretical subjects: Montessori Philosophy * Child Development and Observation * Contemporary Early Childhood Practice * Promoting Children’s Health & Well-being

Curriculum Areas of Learning: Activities of Everyday Living * Sensorial Education * Numeracy & Arithmetic * Literacy * Knowledge & Understanding of the World * Creativity

All students are required to complete a professional placement in an approved Montessori setting of at least 400 hours as part of the training.  From the outset, students are encouraged to develop self-awareness and focus on personal development with an emphasis on reflective practice.

MCI is hosting a range of open events to provide further information on the new qualifications and to guide candidates through the application process.


Getting to know your baby

Getting to know your baby app

The ‘Getting to Know Your Baby’ app is designed to help parents understand and respond to their developing babies.  It is the first app to show videos of babies in each of the six different sleep / wake states and this will help mums and dads to interpret their own infants’ cues and signals.  Read more

Getting to know your baby website

The getting to know your baby website is to help health professionals support early bonding between parents and their babies, and to promote secure infant attachment.  It uses video to show how parents and infants achieve this before and after birth, and includes a section on supporting parents in challenging circumstances, such as when parents experience anxiety or depression, when there is domestic violence, or when they are dependent on alcohol or substances.  Read more.

The Warwickshire Infant Mental Health Pathway

The pathway is divided into three time periods, Pre-conception, Antenatal and Postnatal (up to one year).  Within each of the three colour-coded sections (in keeping with the Health Visitor Implementation Plan), Universal, Universal Plus and Universal Partnership plus services are identified.  Read more.

The Association for Infant Mental Health (AIMH) UK website

The new Association for Infant Mental Health website will be available shortly, so don’t forget to keep checking back.


International Journal of Birth and Parenting Education


A new Journal, targeted at those working in the field of childbirth and parent education, aims to become essential reading for Early Years Practitioners and Teachers.

The International Journal of Birth and Parenting Education (IJBPE) seeks to establish meaningful links between policy, evidence and best practice in the field of parent education, and is edited by the UK’s first Professor of Perinatal Education, Mary Nolan.

Professor Nolan, who works at the University of Worcester, said she started the Journal after identifying the need for: “A practice-based but scholarly Journal which reflects and shares the excitement and importance of work with mothers and fathers in the earliest years of their children’s lives.

“As a result of reading the Journal, practitioners will grow in knowledge, skills and confidence to work in parent education and support, and will see themselves as part of an increasingly important body of professionals, building new understanding and expertise in their field”.

Each issue of the Journal explores a different theme.  To date, these have included babies’ earliest relationships; educating and supporting women who have experienced birth trauma and, in the latest issue, understanding and supporting new fathers.  Recent articles include:

Poised to Connect: How Early Relationships Affect Early Development by Robin Balbernie, Clinical Director, Parent-Infant-Partnership (PIP) UK

Helping Women Cope with Feelings of Failure in Childbirth by Dana A Schneider, Assistant Professor in Social Work, Southern Connecticut State University, USA

Supporting Couples at the Transition to Parenthood: Family Foundations by Mark E. Feinberg, Research Professor, Prevention Research Center, The Pennsylvania State University, USA

As well as articles, every issue of IJBPE includes editorials, news, readers’ letters, book extracts, information on NGOs working in the field of early parenting and activities for use with groups of mothers and fathers.

To find out more about the Journal, including how to subscribe, please go to:


Grandparents Plus

Grandparents Plus have published a new short documentary on grandparents helping with childcare which is available to view here.

The documentary looks at the role grandparents are playing in supporting families with childcare, in the UK and in Europe.  It draws on new statistics from Grandparenting in Europe: family policy and grandparents’ role in providing childcare, King’s College London, 2013.

Grandparents across Europe are playing an increasingly important but invisible role providing essential childcare for free whilst parents work, despite pressures on them to stay in paid work for longer.  This is creating a “care gap crisis” and threatening their income in older age.

The documentary was shot in the UK and contains interviews with 3 grandmothers, Anthea Tinker from the Institute of Gerontology of King’s College London, and Cllr Sarah Hayward, leader of Camden Council and contains key statistics from the Grandparenting in Europe report.


Education Endowment Foundation

The Education Endowment Foundation has published ‘Addressing educational disadvantage, sharing evidence, finding out what works.’

For the next two years the EEF’s work is focused on children eligible for free school meals attending primary and secondary schools eligible for EEF funding. These are schools that are below the government’s floor standards at Key Stage 2 or 4.

Registered charities, not-for-profit organisations, local authorities, individual schools, clusters of schools, teacher groups, universities, colleges, academy chains, mutuals, co-operatives, or any combination of these can apply for funding from the EEF.  Applicants do not have to be EEF target schools, but a substantial part of the project must benefit our target students and schools.

Applications are now open and will be assessed at three review points each year, in Summer, Autumn and Spring terms.

More information


4Children regional practical seminars

Children’s Centres – What next!

London – 5 June,  Leeds – 10 June

Children’s Centres are once again high on the agenda.  They are recognised as having “come of age”, now supporting as many as one million families across the country and becoming a cornerstone for early intervention and prevention within our communities.  Bringing together services and co-ordinating support around the needs of children and families is at the heart of Children’s Centres delivery.  It is imperative for Children’s Centres to find ways to drive greater integration in the provision of local services if they are to improve outcomes for children and families.


EYFS – Narrowing the gap

London – 1 July, Leeds – 7 July

HM Chief inspectors’ report on early years (April 2014) was clear in stating that the most vulnerable children do not achieve the outcomes that they should. These seminars will focus on improving the outcomes of the most vulnerable children through exploring quality transitions, effective pedagogies and systems and structures to monitor children’s progress.


Go to to book or call 020 7522 6966