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EYRG Minutes 04 May 2022

Early Years Reference Group Minutes: Wednesday 04 May 2022, 18.00-19.30 via Teams



  • Carolyn Knight -
    Chair Senior Partnerships & Commissioning Manager - SCC

  • Cllr Mark Sutton -
    Cabinet Member for Children & Young People

  • Helen Gibson -
    EEAC Officer SCC

  • Debbie Nash -
    Education Commissioning Officer - SCC

  • Karen Greenan -
    EY Sufficiency & Marketing Officer - Entrust

  • Vicki Green -
    EEAC Sufficiency Data Officer - SCC

  • Felicity Pepper -
    EEAC Entitlement Officer - SCC

  • Karen Winfer -
    Accountancy Support Team Leader-SCC

  • Philip Siddell -
    Humpty Dumpty / PVI Rep on Schools Forum

  • Sue Dangerfield -
    ABC Nurseries Codsall

  • Sadie Shenton-Jones -
    Dollymixtures/PVI Rep on Schools Forum

  • Jayne Waterman -
    Little People Nursery

  • Sharon Keane -

  • Nadine Key -
    Oaklands Nursery School

  • Megan McComiskie -
    Colwich Preschool


  • Emily Woodward -
    Three Peaks

  • Jude Russell -

  • Tim Hopkins -
    Humpty Dumpty

  • Sarah McCormick -
    Little Owls

  • Julie Wetton -

  • Natasha Gilbert -
    First Steps Preschool

  • Natasha Richards -
    Wolstanton Kindergarten/ Cheadle Kindergarten

  • Rob Lawford -

  • Jo Di Castiglione -
    Greenhall Nursery


Welcome and introductions

Cllr Sutton joined meeting to outline his portfolio.

Minutes from last meeting

The DfE are unable to provide guidance on EY settings becoming approved training centres but has suggested contacting awarding bodies who support these qualifications. Karen Greenan is awaiting a response to her emails regarding this and is also exploring linking in with Job Fairs to promote and encourage people to work in the sector. 

Minutes from the meeting on 17 March 2022 were agreed as an accurate record of the meeting.

Representation on the group

Carolyn Knight asked if we had correct representation of the sector on the group?

Action: Felicity Pepper to invite expressions of interest from other providers on next EEAC update. 

Deprivation supplements-

Action: Vicki Green to share the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) with a list of postcodes and their corresponding Dep Rate with the minutes.

Staffordshire Observatory is publicly available and includes all the indices of deprivation.

Sector updates - from childminders, nurseries, preschool and schools

Disparity between Early Education Funding rate and what it costs to deliver, added to other pressures like increase in National Minimum Wage has resulted in low morale and the feeling of exceptional demands for low reward.

Childminders feel quite isolated looking after nine children between 7.30am and 6pm and is unable to interact with other childminders.

Settings are feeling a lack of support from Speech and Language Therapy Team and Health Visitors etc. Settings are expected to complete assessments before referrals are made and don’t feel supported.

Staff retention is still an issue.

One setting is distributing a survey to gauge what parents want, as numbers are decreasing. Also doing advertising and promotion. Entrust can offer business support for marketing if numbers are low.

Cllr Sutton stated that he has written to the DfE and Secretary of State for Education several times to point out that Staffs receives less funding than neighbouring authorities and the rate is too low; he will continue to table this matter on the boards he sits on.

Local Authority items

  • Early Outcomes Fund (EOF)

EOF has reached the end of the period. The Steering group has agreed the remaining small amount of budget to fund Hungry Little Minds localised campaign and work for two years. Also, there will be additional content put together with library colleagues to offer some live sessions which will be included in the Hungry Little Minds campaign by September this year.

Also, some live delivery of training will continue to be offered by the Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) Team  and this will include the funded Early Communication Screening (ECS) packs for use in the settings. Limited number of assessment packs will be available to loan from libraries.

Recorded Virtual training prepared by the SALT team will be available to early years settings to enable them to refresh their knowledge of the ECS tool. 

The link and password for this recording has been sent by the SALT team to all practitioners who have attended the 4 session ECS training.

A recorded webinar will also be available in the autumn term to previous attendees of the ECS Training that covers session 1 and 2 of the 4 session ECS training content. A link and password will be sent in the autumn term.

  • Interactive Speech, Language and Communication (SLC) Pathway

As part of EOF the Staffordshire and Stoke SLC-interactive speech, language and communication pathway was developed with a range of partners and User tested with parents and practitioners.

Promo materials are being developed to raise awareness and promote to parents.  

  • Me Too app

The Me Too app is an emotional wellbeing app that has been commissioned for practitioners working with 0-5 yr olds. Volunteers were invited from the group to be part of a pilot who will have access to the app between now and October and a portal for peer to peer support. By agreeing you would feedback and inform what happens next.

Action: Deb Nash will contact those that have volunteered, who were Philip Siddell, Humpty Dumpty Day Nursery; Jayne Waterman, Little People Nursery; Sadie Shenton-Jones, Dollymixtures; Shereen/ Sue, ABC Nurseries.

  • Promotion of Early Years entitlements

SCC are in the process of refreshing marketing materials regarding entitlements for 2,3 and 4 yr olds. Digital partner packs are also being developed and these will be shared when ready.  

  • DfE updates and projects               

126 practitioners are completing the Professional Development Programme. There has been positive feedback so far.  

DfE Experts and Mentor programme is launching in September. Settings can self refer or be selected by LA. Further details to follow. 



Date of next meeting

13 July 2022   -   14.00-15.30

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