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Children’s Centre Census 2015

4Children has launched the 2015 edition of its annual Children’s Centre Census, which provides an overview of key trends and developments taking place in Children’s Centres across the country. This year, the Census found that two thirds of Centre managers have experienced a budget cut in this financial year. Of those who have experienced a budget reduction:

  • 57% say it will mean reductions to front-line services
  • 32% say they will be unable to reach as many families as before
  • 28% will have to reduce the number of locations they deliver from
  • 28% will have to start charging for services that were previously free
  • 20% will have to reduce their opening hours

As part of the research, 4Children also surveyed parents who use Children’s Centres to ask them about their experiences. This found that:

  • Over 90% said that attending a Children’s Centre had a positive impact on their child
  • 83% said that attending a Centre had a positive impact on their confidence and skills as a parent
  • 79% said that if they were unable to use their Centre it would make life harder for them and their families


Early Education

Making best use of Early Years Pupil Premium 

Our DfE funded Learning Together About Learning project is in full swing, and you can view our dedicated section on our website with some helpful ideas for making best use of Early Years Pupil Premium.

We will be revealing details of upcoming EYPP events soon, but please check out our upcoming Autumn and Spring training programme in the interim.

Training and Events

For our full list of courses, including outlines and booking information, visit here. This includes our Achieving Excellence in the Early Years: a conference for primary heads and leaders which will be held in Sheffield on 2 December 2015. Book now to avoid disappointment.

 Series of linked courses

New for 2016, we are offering a series of linked courses and sessions allowing you several opportunities to increase your knowledge in specific subject areas. Sessions can be booked individually, but we recommend attending the complete series for maximum benefit.  This also allows you to qualify for the multibuy discount with the code EEDISCOUNT3. You can commission these as training for your setting or within your local authority too. We currently offer:

  • Developing early writing: a series of three linked sessions with Jasmine Pasch, Anni McTavish and Julie Cigman
  • Leadership: a series of three linked sessions with Jane Cook



New early years language intervention

Following on from the success of the Talk Boost intervention for 4-7 year olds, which has been rolled out across more than 2,000 schools and helped over 30,000 children, we are pleased to announce the launch of Early Talk Boost. A targeted intervention aimed at 3-4 year old children with delayed language development helping to boost their language skills to help narrow the gap between them and their peers. Now available from I CAN – the children’s communication charity.

Initial findings show that after Early Talk Boost, children made statistically significant progress in their early language. On average they made six months progress after a nine week intervention helping them catch up with other children their age. This is twice the progress of children not having the intervention.


National Children’s Bureau  

The Integrated Review: Follow-up report on practice in two local authority areas This is a follow-up study by the National Children’s Bureau for the Children’s Partnership that shows how the Integrated Review has been put into practice within two local authority areas: Islington and Warwickshire. These local authorities have implemented two different models for structuring the review. In Islington, a joint meeting structure is used where early years and health practitioners come together to deliver their own parts of the Integrated Review in one meeting with the parent and child.  In Warwickshire, early years and health practitioners have separate meetings with the parent and child, and share information with each other.

The report will be of great use to local authorities implementing the Integrated Review and to practitioners themselves.


National Portage Association (NPA)

Having run a successful 2 year contract to ‘sustain and develop the Portage workforce’ the NPA are building on this work with a new project funded by the DfE VSC grant (2015-16).

3 levels of Portage training:

  • Portage Awareness Workshops*
  • Portage Workshops* – training delivered by NPA accredited trainers and parent trainers.
  • Training for Trainers Workshop

*FREE in areas with little or no access to Portage

If you are interested in accessing the training and/or developing Portage in your area please contact

[email protected] (South)  [email protected] (North & Midlands)


The NPA Stamp of Approval Scheme

The award is available to early years settings (including childminders and foster carers) whose staff have completed Portage training and demonstrate that they deliver high quality, inclusive early years education, based on the Portage model and Portage principles. For criteria and application information visit the Portage Support Hub


Children’s Food Trust

We know the impact of what children eat in their earliest years lasts a lifetime. That’s why we’ve joined forces with Nursery World magazine to launch the country’s first national survey of food in childcare. There’s some incredible practice out there but not enough credit given to the nurseries, pre-schools, children’s centres and childminders helping to give children the foundations of a good diet for life. So we want to hear all about setting’s approach to food: how they make it happen and the challenges they face in getting great food to children and encouraging them to eat well. What’s making that task harder? What would help you create the mealtime experience they want for the children they look after? And we’re particularly interested in two big topics: your kitchen facilities, and how they think the government’s 30 hours pledge will affect how you provide food. You can find the survey here.


National Literacy Trust

New tool set to raise literacy levels of pre-school children

A new way to develop the language, literacy and communication of children aged under three is being developed by the National Literacy Trust in partnership with two local authorities and five nursery teaching schools across England.

HELLO (Helping Early Literacy and Language Outcomes) is set to both improve quality and choice in early years provision in disadvantaged areas and improve the home learning environment by focusing on three areas of nursery work; practitioners’ skills, the setting and parental engagement. The tool will address the key challenge of improving early years literacy as Early Years Foundation Stage data shows that nationally, literacy is the area of early years development with the lowest proportion of children achieving at least the expected level – 66% in 2013/14 and 61% in 2012/13.

The aim is to increase knowledge and confidence among staff in early years settings of how young children develop their literacy, language and communication skills and around the use of digital media alongside books in literacy development. HELLO will also increase staff confidence in engaging parents in developing their child’s communication and home language skills. The project will also embed findings from National Literacy Trust early years research with Pearson on the benefits of using digital media in early years settings.


National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)

The NSPCC report on universal services and neglect is now available online. Please go here and scroll down to find the report, entitled Realising the Potential: tackling child neglect in universal services. You will also find on our website other learning from our five-year programme on child neglect, including findings from the evaluations of our services with children and families.


4Children in partnership with The Communication Trust

Early Identification in early language and communication – Supporting and upskilling the early year’s workforce

3rd November London5th November Leeds

Learning to talk is one of the most important skills a child will ever need.  They need to be able to communicate with people around them in order to learn, make friends, solve problems and have fun.  However, learning to communicate does not happen by accident, children develop their skills through supportive interactions from the adults around them.

It can be difficult to identify children who are not developing their speech, language and communication skills to the level that is expected for their age. There are an increasing number of children who are starting school without the communication and language skills they require; they are not ‘school ready’.  Therefore, early identification of speech, language and communication difficulties has become a crucial way of ensuring that children who are struggling to develop these skills, receive the support that they require as early as possible to minimise the potential impact of their speech and language difficulties.

One of the prime areas of learning in the EYFS is ‘Communication and Language’.  It is therefore vital that the early year’s workforce have the skills necessary to support children’s speech and language, identify when a child is struggling at the earliest possible time and encourage parents to feel confident to support their children’s language and communication development.

At these seminars you will hear about:

  • Early language and communication in the context of the free 30 hours childcare
  • The importance of early identification of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) and next steps
  • Upskilling the workforce and looking at what tools are available
  • Looking at how settings can support parents to encourage  their children’s  speech, language and communication development at home
  • Good practice case study examples

Who should attend?

  • Leaders and managers in all early years settings
  • Local Authorities
  • Workforce development Officers and Managers
  • Heads of Early Years
  • Providers
  • Children’s centres
  • Childminders
  • Health visitors and professionals

These seminars will provide a unique opportunity to hear from experts in early language and communication, some good practice case studies and pick up some tools to ensure that your workforce have the skills to support all children’s speech, language and communication development, including those with SLCN.


Family Action

National charity Family Action has been funded by the Department for Education (DfE) to support school-based early years childcare settings to develop their inclusive practices for 0-5s with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). As part of this project, we are running three free inclusion events.

‘Developing inclusive childcare practices for 0–5s with SEND’

  • 10 November 2015 – South (London)
  • 17 November 2015 – Midlands (Bedworth)
  • 24 November 2015 – North West (Leigh, nr Wigan)

This is a practice-sharing event for childcare providers wishing to develop a more inclusive setting. At the event you will have the chance to:

  • hear how providers we are supporting are developing inclusion in their early years setting
  • share your own experiences of developing inclusive childcare practices
  • take part in an interactive workshop
  • get practical ideas for developing inclusive practices.

The event is aimed at staff working in childcare settings for 0-5s that are on a school site (e.g. playworkers, nursery managers, children’s centre staff, PVI, holiday club staff). However, other providers will also find it useful (e.g. primary school wraparound staff who will be welcoming 3-4 year olds in the future).

To download a booking form, visit the Learning Exchange website.



PACEY’s autumn conference ‘Be happy, be healthy: supporting wellbeing in the early years’ will be held at the Park Inn by Radisson in York on Saturday 7th November 2015

  • PACEY’s  President,  Penny Tassoni will be delivering a morning keynote on ‘Attachment matters: an exploration of the importance of positive relationships in  early childhood’ Lee Owston, Senior HMI Inspector from Ofsted, will explain all on the new Common Inspection Framework.
  • Expert speakers from the Institute of Health Visiting and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

This event will be a fantastic opportunity to focuse on your integral role of helping children be happy and healthy

Special rate of £125 for the readers of this newsletter by quoting ‘foundation years‘ when booking

To view our full programme please visit or email Lauren Sampson on [email protected] to book your place


NLH Partnership

Workshop: Effectively tracking Children’s Centre impacts

Friday 27th November London – Monday 30th November Leeds

Effectively tracking the impacts of Children’s Centre work for children and families is an increasingly important part of the assessment of Children’s Centres’ performance, and Ofsted requires Centres to provide high quality impact ‘tracking’ evidence in order to gain a ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ grade. This workshop focuses on the various types of ‘tracking’, to provide attendees with a clear understanding of how to develop and implement effective systems and processes for tracking Children’s Centre impacts. Attendees leave the workshop with a thorough understanding of how to effectively meet key tracking requirements.

For more information email [email protected], or call 0207 7292206.



Conference 2016 – “Things Fall Apart”: How to contain anxiety when the centre struggles to hold

Friday 26th February, 09:30 – 16:30, Oxford

Amanda Jones, Consultant Perinatal Psychotherapist,

Andrew Cooper, Professor of Social Work, Tavistock Centre and UEL

Joanna Chapman, OXPIP Therapist

The aim of our conference is to engage people providing care and support in thinking about how we can continue to provide critical, front line support to vulnerable people, at a time when services, structures and jobs are under huge pressure.

This conference is primarily for those working in the early years including Children’s Centre Workers, Health Visitors, Midwives, Social Workers and other professionals from a wide range of backgrounds and settings.

OXPIP’s conference will provide a platform for leading speakers in the field to talk about the importance of reflective capacity, liaison and communication, as well as how we can preserve such space during a time of reducing resources and rising demands.

Tickets £50 and can be booked at / [email protected]


Sightline Initiatives

Reading the World – Language, literacy and meaning-making in early childhood & primary education

Saturday 28th November 2015 10am-4pm, University of Greenwich, London


“Reading words, and writing them, must come from the dynamic movement of reading the world.” Paulo Freire, educator, in Language Arts, January 1985

Presentations from Reggio Emilia and the UK

  • A hundred languages of children learning: Elena Giacopini, Pedagogista, Municipality of Reggio Emilia
  • The right to meaning: Sally Jaeckle, MBE, Bristol Early Years Lead Officer; Chris Merrick OFSTED Inspector
  • What is it that makes me, me?: Deborah Wilenski and others, Reflections Nursery School, Worthing
  • Chairs: Professor Peter Moss, Institute of Education, London; Robin Duckett, Sightlines Initiative


 The curiosity to understand

Educators and pre-three-year old children in an Environment of Enquiry

Sunday 29th November 2015 10am-4pm, University of Greenwich, London

£150 (if also on the ‘Reading the World’ conference) £190 (Sunday only)

A day for Sightlines Initiative network subscribers who are particularly working to develop their environments and pedagogy with children birth to two.

Together with Elena Giacopini, pedagogista of Reggio Emilia, we will work on selected questions and examples from participants’ own practice, as well as exploring the pedagogy of Reggio Emilia in their infant-toddler centres.


Reggio Study Week 2016

Sunday 17th – Friday 22nd April 2016

Loris Malaguzzi International Centre, Reggio Emilia, Italy.

A one-week study visit to learn about and be inspired by the world renowned educational approach of the preschools and infant toddler centres of Reggio Emilia. This course will explore the key principles underpinning the Reggio approach to early childhood education including:

  • History and background
  • Creativity and expressive languages of children
  • Listening to children
  • The environment as ‘the third teacher’
  • Parents as partners
  • Democratic citizenship
  • Children as the subjects of rights
  • Children and educators as researchers
  • Observation, interpretation, documentation
  • Making learning visible
  • Professional dialogue

The course will involve:

  • Lectures
  • Presentations
  • Discussion groups
  • Exhibitions
  • Visits to preschools and infant-toddler centres

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