Our seasonal news updates summarise the latest childcare news plus which MindingKids resources have been added or revised so you can easily keep on track and up to date.
With lockdown restrictions remaining in place up and down the country and the cold and darkness of winter still upon us, 2021 has been tuff so far! We must stay strong and remember that there are better times ahead. It won’t be long until we are blessed with lighter days, spring flowers and we can plan things to look forward to. Hang in there everyone!
Hello and Welcome to all our new visitors, and a MASSIVE THANK YOU to all of our loyal members, customers and followers for your ongoing support!
Whether you are just starting out in the world of childcare or have years of experience, we hope that find something on our website to help you on your journey.
Again, our newsletter is dominated by the pandemic and it’s impact on the childcare world…
Whilst there is evidence that the lockdown is working and case numbers are falling, tight restrictions remain in place and we must ensure we follow guidance in our settings to minimise risk.
Guidance for education, childcare and children’s social care settings in England can be found here.
Guidance for childcare providers in Wales can be found here.
And guidance for childcare providers in Northern Ireland can be found here.
💉Testing and Vaccination
Are calls for better testing facilities and the prioritisation of vaccines for early years and childcare workers now being heard?
On Friday, the Welsh Government announced a testing offer for childcare settings alongside schools and colleges whilst in Scotland it has been confirmed that routine testing will be introduced for school-based ELC and childcare staff. Testing is also being considered for the Private, Voluntary and Independent sector although there is no specific mention of childminders just yet. Pressure is building for the government in England to follow suit in order to provide better protection for all early years and childcare providers.
Recent reports have shown a worrying rise in coronavirus cases within early years settings and, in Scotland, there is concern that there will be further spread of infection if plans go ahead to welcome back pre-school to primary 3 pupils before the end of the month.
Several organisations including The Early Years Alliance, National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) and the SCMA have been calling for urgent action including adequate testing kits and to prioritise early years and childcare practitioners, including childminders for early receipt of the vaccine.
This Nursery World article highlights the concerns.
The SCMA explain how they are pressing the case for childminders in Scotland in this news post.
And the MP Vicky Ford has released this letter with information regarding testing and vaccination for early years staff and childminders in England.
There are also calls to improve financial support offered to childcare providers, in particular self-employed childminders. Worrying statistics show not only a reduction in new childminders entering the workforce but also that the numbers leaving the sector has increased dramatically due to the impact of the pandemic. With many childminders missing out on the support schemes currently available, and increased competition with nurseries to offer funded places, the pressure on sustainability is immense.
The Scottish Government has recently announced a £1million of financial support fund for childminding businesses in Scotland most affected by COVID-19 with grants of up to £1000 available. Information can be found on the Scottish Government website and on the SCMA website with further details on how the scheme will operate expected soon. For larger childminder settings caring for 12 or more children, the Temporary Restrictions Fund is now open.
In England the Government has confirmed it will continue to pay funding to local authorities for the free entitlements for 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds despite whether or not children are in attendance. The prime minister has also announced £300m of additional funding for education settings which will include early years. We will need to wait and see how and if any of this filters through to support childminding settings.
In Wales Guidance for childcare providers on The Childcare Offer has been updated.
You should also contact your local authority and business gateway / support centre to see if there are any other forms of assistance available to you.
The Coronavirus has had a profound effect on wellbeing which is likely to continue for some time. In addition to the impact of missed school and limited social contact, there are increased safeguarding concerns for children alongside intense pressures on families as many struggle to cope with the unprecedented challenges the pandemic has created.
It is vital that we remain alert to how everyone is feeling right now, including children, families and ourselves! Take some time to consider your day-to-day routine and activities. Sometimes just making small changes can benefit our overall wellbeing and can have a significant impact on how we feel.
In our settings we can incorporate activities that will have a positive effect on wellbeing such as promoting healthy eating, keeping active, getting outdoors or doing something that will help others.
These resources may also provide some fun ideas and inspiration for Healthy Eating, Exploring Outdoors, Staying Active and understanding Feelings & Emotions…
For providers registered in Scotland (Care Inspectorate)….
📅Annual Returns – Deadline Extended
In light of current restrictions the Care Inspectorate have extended the deadline for submitting annual returns to Sunday 28th March.
Each year the Care Inspectorate asks all service providers to complete an annual return to assist with keeping records up to date and inspection planning. The valuable statistics collected help to gain an overall insight into childcare provision in Scotland which can then be shared appropriately with other organisations such as the Scottish Government and the Scottish Social Services Council. If you have not already done so, you can complete your annual return via the online eForms system here. All registered providers are required to complete a return, even services which are currently inactive. You should refer to their frequently asked questions document or contact the Care Inspectorate if you have any questions or concerns.
📝Action Plan for Childminding
The Scottish Government has published a new action plan for childminding – Our Commitment to Childminding in Scotland.
Created in collaboration with the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA), Early Years Scotland (EYS) and the Care and Learning Alliance (CALA), and with input from Education Scotland and the Care Inspectorate, the plan sets out actions that will be taken in the short, medium and long term to ensure business sustainability and support for childminders.
Through the document, the Scottish government highlights the challenges faced by childminders in these unprecedented times and sets out their commitment for support focussing on four themes:
- Investing in the development and growth of the childminding workforce
- Supporting childminding as a choice – availability and access to childminders
- Promoting childminding as a choice – helping parents and carers to make informed choices
- Business sustainability and support for childminders
The Action Plan will be refreshed and added to as we emerge from the pandemic and further progress can be made.
🧥Outdoor Clothing Fund & Cash for Kids Winter Fund Grants
In December the Scottish Government announced a new £1million Outdoor Clothing Fund to enable providers of funded early learning and childcare to purchase outdoor winter clothing for children in their settings who needed it most. Unfortunately, applications have now closed however the fund helped to raise huge awareness of how important it is to reduce inequalities so that all children can enjoy the many benefits of playing and learning outdoors all year round.
Appointed by Scottish Government to administer the fund, Inspiring Scotland has been working with the ELC sector to support outdoor play.
Find lots of information and resources on their website to help children to Thrive Outdoors!
And don’t forget to download our FREE Outdoor Play Activity Ideas Sheet for more outdoor learning inspiration.
Another fund available to help support families affected by poverty this winter is the Cash for Kids Winter Fund. Applications are open until the end of March with grants of up to £100 available for children affected by poverty to help towards the cost of food, fuel and basic essentials. Please note, children who are eligible for free school meals are not eligible, as they will be receiving support direct from their local authority. Childminders are being encouraged to nominate families who they believe may be eligible for a grant. Find more information and terms and conditions here.
If your area is not mentioned, please check the Bauer Media radio stations for a similar campaign in your region.
For providers registered in England (Ofsted)….
📣Reporting to Ofsted
Ofsted have updated the way in which early years and childcare providers in England should submit notifications of serious incidents. All significant events must now be reported using Ofsted’s online notification form as soon as practical, and at least within 14 days. Providers should no longer provide notifications via phone or email.
To complete the online notification form you will need the following details:
- your unique reference number (URN)
- the childcare address
- details of the incident and details of those involved
You can find information about incidents you must tell Ofsted about here.
And additional guidance on how to report a coronavirus incident at your setting here.
⏸Inspections remain paused
Ofsted have confirmed that all early years assurance visits will remain paused until at least the 8th of March with the exception of safeguarding concerns. Updated guidance for Early Years assurance inspections in 2021 can be found here.
With the vaccination roll out continuing to make good progress, we can assume that on site inspections will resume in the not too distant future so if you are due a visit, it makes sense to be prepared. Take a look at our Preparing for Inspection Hot Topic for some top tips to get inspection ready.
Will the full roll out of the New EYFS coming later this year, many of us will be revisiting our information recording and sharing methods and wondering whether or not we are doing enough…or perhaps too much?
Ofsted have confirmed that future inspections will be focussed on practice, not paperwork and that the only documents they will ask to see during a visit will be those which are required by the statutory framework. With regards to learning and development requirements for example, only the 2 year progress check is statutory. Progress trackers, observation reports, next step plans and contact diaries are not required in writing, however… if they help you to tell a child’s story, allow you to plan how to best support development and / or assist you in maintaining effective communication with parents and everyone that is involved with supporting a child’s progress, then additional record keeping is not always a bad thing.
The key is to use methods that work well for you, your setting and the children and families that you are caring for. If you are doing paperwork that you feel is unnecessary, surplus to requirements, unhelpful and time consuming… and that is not required by the EYFS, stop doing it and find better, more efficient ways that will benefit the quality of your service.
Is it really necessary to give parents printed copies of everything or could you share more information digitally? In addition to saving time and money, using paperless solutions where possible also has huge environmental benefits. Something we all need to consider in our efforts to reduce waste and encourage eco-friendly practices.
MindingKids is currently working on creating and updating resources ready for the new EYFS framework in September. We are also in the process of updating our EYFS document checklist to better highlight the mandatory and optional record keeping AND are updating the observations section of the MindingKids App ready for the new framework. Keep a look out for more news on this soon!
And at MindingKids…
✅Preparing for changes
There has been lots going on behind the scenes at MindingKids. As we approach the full roll out of the new EYFS Framework in England and as the Scottish Government develops their action plan for childminders alongside funded ELC expansion, we are continuing to work on resources that will support providers through the changes.
In addition to creating new resources and reviewing our existing packs, we have been making some exciting progress with regards to digital developments.
After more than a year of searching (unfortunately lengthened due to the pandemic) we have finally found a new team of experts to work with us on improving the website and MindingKids App. Many of our development plans had been put on hold but we are now ready, and bursting with even more ideas, to get working on this year.
We are about to embark on a journey that may be long but with an end goal that will be very much worth the wait!
👂Requests & Suggestions
We continue to receive lots of requests and suggestions for new resources which is brilliant as we never run out of things to do! We try our best to work through them all but prioritise work according to demand and anything that may be urgent in order to meet requirements.
Please feel free to contact us with your ideas or to ask for anything that you feel would be useful. The chances are that there will be others out there that would benefit from your suggestion too so this is a perfect way to help each other.
Recent requests include linking policies to the Health and Social Care Standards (Scotland) / EYFS (England), Toy box labels, Learning Walk ideas for inspections, and Centre Improvement Plans. If you have anything you would like to add to our development list, please do get in touch.
Since our Autumn News Update the following resources have been added, updated or improved…
Share essential information about the Coronavirus, it’s symptoms, where to find the latest government advice, and explain the procedures your setting will follow to minimise risk and disruption.
Coronavirus – How can I help HOT TOPIC – links to advice, guidance and resources to support childcare providers, children and families during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Perfect for long term planning and teaching children about festivals, cultures, traditions and awareness days from all over the world! Excellent for displaying in your setting, to give as gifts to families or to plan for the year ahead in your own household. INCLUDES Activity Ideas Sheets packed full of ideas for to enhance children’s learning around each special day.
Just a couple of printed calendars remaining! Also available to download, print, bind and display as you wish!
Revamped and refreshed to include a selection of Monthly, General and Learning Framework templates in addition to Seasonal Newsletter templates allowing you to keep families informed as well as share important news and reminders.
Step by Step Guides to Registering as a Childminder in Scotland, England and Wales! Whether you are looking for a complete career change, already enjoy working with children or want to be around your own little ones whilst running a successful business,
MindingKids can help you through the process and break down what needs to be done in small manageable chunks.
And we have added…
NEW Realising the Ambition OUTCOMES for providers registered in SCOTLAND to the MindingKids App!
Link observations for individual children OR for your entire group to the national practice guidance, whilst considering INTERACTIONS, EXPERIENCES and SPACES that help to shape learning.
AND Coming Soon…
NEW EYFS and Welsh Foundation Phase outcomes for the MindingKids APP!
And Policy Check Charts for meeting the Health and Social Care Standards and EYFS.
Thank you to all for your continued support! Keep safe and look out for more MindingKids News soon!