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New Family and Childcare Trust Parent Champions toolkit published

Family and Childcare Trust has just published an updated and expanded Parent Champions Toolkit which contains a whole range of advice and templates for anyone considering setting up a peer-to-peer Parent Champions scheme.  This is available free to members of the Parent Champions National Network, and you can view the contents page here.  Issue 3 of Champion Chatter has also been published and can be seen here.

If you are considering setting up a Parent Champions scheme you can find out more information on the Family and Childcare Trust website, including the free support available through the Department of Education funded National Network.


Early Words together

On 6 October, Early Words Together will be presenting at the National Literacy Trust’s annual Talk To Your Baby conference in London. Early Words Together matches community volunteers with young families to improve home learning and the presentation will feature interim findings from external evaluations. These highlight, the positive impact the programme has on local authority services and the children’s centres involved in delivery, the outcomes for participating children and families and on the home learning environment.

“We’re mostly on school sites, and that can put some parents off from engaging in the children’s centres. This programme is helping parents break down those barriers about what school is, their own negative experience, and to become engaged with us.”

Local authority early years service

 “Do you know I didn’t want to come to the group? But we have had so much fun and done loads of stuff that I wouldn’t have thought of doing all with simple stuff that I have at home. I like the thought that we don’t have to go out and buy stuff.”


Delegates will also hear how Early Words Together is contributing to Sheffield City Council’s award winning city-wide literacy strategy, Every Sheffield Child Articulate and Literate (ESCAL). The National Literacy Trust will make delegates aware of how they can benefit from introducing the programme themselves.

The Talk To Your Baby conference brings together speakers and delegates from different disciplines across the Early Years sector. The popular annual conference is uniquely designed to bring together speakers from academia, policy and practice, reflecting the very latest in research and grass roots activity. This year’s content will include:

  • Developing effective partnerships with local library, cultural and arts organisations
  • Accessing high-quality speech and language services
  • Working with families
  • Digital technology

Further information and detail on how to book your place at the conference is available at

NCTL launch School Direct for early years

NCTL is introducing School Direct for early years initial teacher training (ITT) from September 2014.

School Direct (Early Years) places are available for training starting in September 2014.

Successful completion of the programme will lead to the award of early years teacher status. Early years teacher status is the equivalent to qualified teacher status (QTS) as the entry requirements to early years teacher training are the same as for primary teacher training.

Early years teachers specialise in early childhood development and are trained to teach across the early years foundation stage (from birth to 5 years old). They must also understand how early education links to education beyond age 5 and into key stages 1 and 2 in school.

This new approach is based on the School Direct training programme which gives schools more influence over the way teachers are trained.

School Direct (Early Years) creates more employer-led training, giving employers (schools and nurseries) the opportunity to recruit and select their own early years teacher trainees and engage in the design and delivery of early years ITT in partnership with accredited training providers.

The programme enables schools and nurseries to:

– influence how early years teachers are trained

– recruit the trainees that best meet their and their partnership’s needs, with the expectation that trainees will go on to work with the group of schools and nurseries where they trained

– decide which accredited training provider to work with and influence the way in which the training is delivered

Training is fully funded by NCTL through a grant of £7,000 available to all trainees. Bursaries are also available: £9,000 for graduates with a first class degree and £4,000 for graduates with a 2:1.


PACEY and CACHE launch new childcare qualification

The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) have launched a new qualification in conjunction with the Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education (CACHE) to help attract new entrants to home-based childcare professions and support them in their work with children in domestic settings.

The CACHE Level 3 Award, Preparing to Work in Home-Based Childcare, will be available from September 2014 and aims to equip learners looking to operate in a home-based childcare setting as a registered childminder, childminding assistant, nanny or au pair, as well as helping existing childcare professionals improve their expertise.

Learners undertaking the course with PACEY will have the support of online materials and free PACEY learner membership when completing this online course.

The qualification provides a solid foundation for progression to CACHE’s Early Years Educator qualifications.

To register your interest in receiving full details about the qualification, go to


Trio Childcare

On 1st June 2014 Trio Childcare Connections Ltd launched a range of exciting membership packages for Registered Childminders throughout England.

Additionally, they now offer through their website,, an on-line shop offering a range of supportive materials for Registered Childminders including many resources enabling childminders to prepare for their Ofsted inspection.

By working in partnership with Morton Michel, Childminders that become Bronze, Silver or Gold Trio members will be able to purchase insurance at discounted prices.

Trio promises that their membership whether the bronze back-to-basics package or the gold VIP service, will not only offer everything professional childminders require currently, but will remain current in line with changing local government priorities and central government requirements.

Trio Childcare Connections Ltd have been supporting and training Registered Childminders, as well as other settings across the whole sector, since 1996, focusing their work through the management of large service level agreements with local authorities (LAs) across the South West of England.  Their launch into supporting individual childminders has been brought about due to the reduction of LA support for the sector and requests by childminders to deliver services directly.

Trio’s support, advice and training packages will remain in place for Childminders who decide to remain independently registered with Ofsted even after September 2014, when Trio Childcare are planning to offer Agency Registration and Inspection Services for those childminders who meet their rigorous quality criteria.



Achieving Two Year Olds (A2YO) hosted their second annual National Network Meeting at the Oval in London in June 2014, playing host to 300 delegates.  The meeting had a number of aims:

  • to provide latest policy updates and progress
  • to enable A2YO regional network members the opportunity to link with each other
  • to provide detailed information around key themed areas of work, showcasing good practice and sharing resources to support on-going work
  • to provide an opportunity for delegates to ask questions directly of policy makers

Following the morning plenary session there were six workshops, each focussing on a different key topic, ranging from childminder agencies and delivery in schools, to using Department for Work and Pensions lists of eligible families.  These are briefly described in the relevant section below.

After lunch, the keynote speech was delivered by Elizabeth Truss MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (education and childcare).  This also provided an opportunity for a continuation of the morning’s questions and answers from the floor.

Delegates feedback the A2YO programme was rated as good or very good overall by 88% of delegates, with 99.5% rating the programme as satisfactory or better.

There were 6 workshops available

Workshop 1 – Examining the individual experiences of schools delivering the two year old offer – lessons to be shared with other schools.  This workshop was aimed at sharing the experience of Trinity Church of England Primary School, Wolverhampton which has developed their early years setting to offer 32 funded places to two year olds in their Early Explorers provision.

Workshop 2 – A focus on childminders delivering the offer, and a look at the learning from the childminder agencies pilots.  This workshop was aimed at providing attendees with information on childminder agencies, the implications for 2 year old places.

Workshop 3 – Learning from the Two-Year-Olds in Schools Demonstrations Project, and its strategic implications.  Delegates were provided with the general policy background and a process evaluation of two year olds in schools demonstrator projects, led by DfE and the National Children’s Bureau.  Oasis Academy (Hadley), based in Enfield in North London, shared their experience to date as a demonstrator school, identifying their rationale for participation, the timeline to date and challenges.

Workshop 4 – Supporting sustainable business models for providers and two-year-olds.  This workshop was aimed at providing attendees with an opportunity to consider the business support needs of providers today and in the future.  It was an opportunity to hear two different local authority approaches, to consider and discuss a number of examples of what providers have been doing and to identify the support required to maintain sustainable business models for providers and two year olds.

The presentation used examples of national research to provide an overview of the current financial context within which providers are working.  It highlighted the importance of business skills at a time when there are opportunities for growth and to secure financial security.  The presentation identified different local authority approaches to providing business support including, training, 1.1 support, signposting and online toolkits, support materials and distance learning.

Workshop 5 – Maximising use of the DWP lists and eligibility checking service for 2014.  This workshop was aimed at providing attendees with examples of good practice demonstrated by local authorities using the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) lists of eligible families.  Several examples of how LAs are using the DWP lists were discussed, ranging from using the lists ‘as is’ (with no further checks on eligibility) to sharing data with partners (e.g. health and children’s centres) to ensure eligible families were aware of their entitlement, and were supported to take-up a place.

Workshop 6 – Considering the childcare needs and preferences of BME groups: marketing and communicating the offer to support take-up.  This workshop aimed to provide attendees with ideas and examples of good practice in marketing and reaching BME groups. The ideas and examples were gathered through:  A brief presentation of successful strategies was followed by a presentation from Joanna Wilkinson from New Beginnings day nursery in Havering.

All materials from the 6 workshops are available on the LGA Knowledge Hub A2YO site.

You can watch videos form the Hempsalls roadshow programme here:


Third Annual Conference Takes Place For The Montessori Evaluation And Accreditation Board

The Montessori Evaluation and Accreditation Board held its third annual conference at The Institute of Education, London on Friday 20 June 2014 with 150 MEAB School Owners and Managers in attendance.

The schools that have undertaken their MEAB accreditation this year celebrated their achievements when they receive their MEAB plaques.  There are now 169 MEAB school settings.

MEAB’s mission is to acknowledge and support good, genuine Montessori practice and thereby promote greater understanding amongst parents and the wider educational sector of what constitutes “best practice” in Montessori settings.

The accreditation ensures that schools using the Montessori name have to offer the high quality education it stands for. All accredited schools carry the MEAB logo and plaque to signpost them as genuine Montessori settings.

The scheme is a huge advantage to children, parents, students and teachers who can be reassured a MEAB school meets the criteria of high quality Montessori provision.

95% of the settings accredited in the first round of the accreditation process have been re-accredited and MEAB accreditation is recognised by Ofsted as a bench mark of quality improvement. Montessori settings continue to score high and above the national average in their Ofsted inspection outcomes.

This year’s conference started with a presentation by Dr Bettina Hohnen and Lesley Joffinck who explored the relevance of brain research on our Montessori practice. Both speakers have strong roots in Montessori education with Lesley Joffinck being the founder of Montessori Centre International in the 1980s.

It also showcased the new MCI Early Years Educator qualification that launches in September 2014.

Barbara Isaacs, Senior Accreditation Officer for MEAB says, “For the first time in the history of the British education system, we will have a Montessori qualification that will meet the nationally set criteria. It will also sit alongside other qualifications on the National Qualifications Framework and will be delivered with the help of a virtual learning environment, creating an international Montessori learning community benefitting from shared learning resources.”

Dr Martin Bradley, National Chairman of the Montessori Schools Association presents an overview of the MSA activities during the year with particular focus on the voice of the MSA in the national political arena and the contributions to the many consultations published during the year.

For further information or interviews, please contact: Amanda Gilchrist at [email protected] or telephone: 020 7493 9936



New website launches to improve knowledge and skills

Thousands of children with a mental health condition could be prevented from slipping through the net as a free pioneering e-learning and advice resource launches – MindEd.

Any adult who works with children can now access the website which contains quality assured, bite-size information that’s tailored by profession – teachers and sports coaches, healthcare professionals, police and judiciary staff, social workers and many more.   Its aim – to give adults the skills to identify a child at risk of a mental health condition early, the confidence to act on their concern and signpost them to the services or support that can help.

MindEd can be accessed quickly and easily anywhere, at any time, by anyone, on tablets and computers. It already contains over 100 sessions of e-learning and with a further 170 in production; the chance to improve children and young people’s mental health and well-being is now in your hands.

To find out more visit or watch the MindEd film.


Free e-learning modules to support funded 2 year olds

Bolton LA have developed some e-learning modules in partnership working with A2YO to support new start up and existing businesses to create sustainable places for funded 2 year olds.

They are available to all providers at no cost.


Family Heroes

4Children in partnership with Take a Break, is searching the UK for the most inspirational Family Heroes. We want to hear from you if you know someone who has had a significant and life changing impact on the lives of children, families or young people within the UK. A hero should be inspirational, outstanding and someone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Heroes can be any age, any profession, even family members or friends, as long as they have made a real difference to the life of a child, family or young person in some way.

We are looking for a family hero in each of the nine regions of England, one in Scotland, one in Wales and one in Northern Ireland and then we will choose an overall UK Family Hero!

To nominate your hero go to



#EYTalking is the free weekly ‘touch in’ within Social Media for anyone, be they a practitioner, childminder, teacher, educator, trainer, lecturer, tutor or assessor working within Early Years education or childcare nationally or internationally. We also have parents joining in. Topics we have covered include outdoor learning, parents as partners and literacy; we also have guest hosts, such as the Department for Education and other Early Years colleagues.

We share ideas as well as resources such as research and blogs. In addition, we comment on Early Years childcare and education issues.

Join this growing online community of passionate Early Years colleagues via Twitter every Tuesday between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. UK time and enhance your CPPD. Use the hash tag #EYTalking to connect and share with others.

For more information please visit


Talk to your Baby Conference 2014

An informative and inspiring conference programme of the latest policy, research and practice is in the making. Professor Caroline Rowland from Liverpool University and Programme Director of a new ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development will talk about the latest research on early language.

Gill Jones HMI and Deputy Director of Early Childhood will share thinking and findings from Ofsted.

Delegates will be inspired by innovative thinking and best practice in giving babies and young children the best start in life ensuring they develop well and are ready for school.

Speakers with wide ranging backgrounds and experience will give delegates a comprehensive profile of what matters and what works in communication and language with young children.

It will provide an opportunity to learn about ways of improving services and settings.

October 6th, 9.30-4pm, venue: London WC1


Learn, Explore, Debate events

The dates for the October round of events have been confirmed.

Tuesday 7th October – London

Wednesday 8th October – Birmingham

Thursday 9th October – Liverpool

Friday 10th October – Leeds

Tuesday 15th October – Taunton


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