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EYRG Minutes 04 May 2023

Early Years Reference Group Minutes: 04 May 2023, 18.00-19.30 via Teams


  • Carolyn Knight - Chair Senior Partnerships & Commissioning Manager - SCC
  • Helen Gibson - EEAC Officer SCC
  • Karen Greenan - EY Sufficiency & Marketing Officer - SCC
  • Debbie Nash - Education Commissioning Officer - SCC
  • Felicity Pepper - EEAC Entitlement Officer - SCC
  • Vicki Green - EEAC Sufficiency Data Officer - SCC
  • Jo Chan - Early Years Teacher Consultant - SCC
  • Karen Winfer - Accountancy Support Team Leader-SCC
  • Amanda Richards - EEAC Development Officer
  • Natasha Richards - Wolstanton Kindergarten/ Cheadle Kindergarten
  • Sharon Keane - Childminder
  • Rob Lawford - childminders
  • Jayne Waterman - Little People Nursery
  • Tim Hopkins -Humpty Dumpty
  • Philip Siddell - Humpty Dumpty / PVI Rep on Schools Forum
  • Jo Di Castiglione - Greenhall Nursery
  • Nadine Key - Oaklands Nursery School
  • Julie Wetton - Sandytots


  • Jude Russell - Staffordshire Safeguarding Childrens Board (SSCB)
  • Kelly Hill/ Becky Haynes - Codsall Community Nursery
  • Sue Dangerfield - ABC Nurseries Codsall
  • Sarah McCormick - Little Owl Childcare
  • Cllr Mark Sutton- Cabinet Member for Children and Young People
  • Helen Townsend - Hey Diddle Diddle
  • Sadie Shenton-Jones - Dollymixtures/PVI Rep on Schools Forum
  • Megan McComiskie - Colwich Preschool

Minutes from last meeting

Actions - 6.12.22 –re: epi pens. Carolyn Knight - has received no response from the Department for Education (DfE) despite chasing several times.

Action - Carolyn Knight to chase.

Recruitment & Retention Toolkit - a Case Study has been forwarded to Helen Gibson.

Meeting has taken place to discuss barriers to people taking up ‘T’ level qualifications and also with schools and Further Education settings. Staffordshire and Stoke On Trent post-16 group meets regularly, and this will be raised as an agenda item at next weeks meeting, where an offer will be made to meet with Tim Hopkins to discuss further. Opportunities for the sector not just in childcare but also Business administration, IT skills etc. The Early Years team have already collated a list of providers who offer ‘T’ levels.

Action Jo Chan - to share list

Operation Encompass - A meeting has taken place with the police to explore systems used by other local authorities for early years. Further information being sought on what traffic this would generate and how other local authorities support this. Further meeting will be scheduled in the next couple of weeks for Police to feed back their findings.

Minutes were agreed as an accurate record of the meeting. 

Think2 take up

Staffordshire is seeing a decline in take up and are putting in place strategies to try to reverse the downward trend. Further information was sought from settings on why take up may be down.

A couple of settings reported that their 2 yr old rooms were currently at capacity and sometimes parents have to be turned away. This may be due to in some part to staffing within the setting and closures of nearby settings.  

One setting reported seeing more fee paying 2 yr olds so pointed out that settings may choose to take fee paying children rather than funded ones, providers prioritising sustainability and cash flow as a business.

Sufficiency county wide is an issue.

It was suggested work could be done with those families who apply but don’t take up a place.

The Early Years Team are raising awareness with partners and practitioners working with families to take up place.

One provider reported that parents' mental health is a real issue. Lack of contact from a consistent Health Visitor may add to this issue.

Sufficiency Data Update

Sufficiency Survey took place in Autumn 2022.

Vicki Green shared some Survey analysis with the group.

One setting reported that parents of children with SEND are not declaring these to settings -as they may have received messages through social media etc that the settings will not accept the child if they have additional needs. 

The survey shows that 7% of providers had declined a child with SEND in last 12 months as they felt unable to meet the needs of the child.

Budget Announcements

Settings raised the concern of the delay in clarity regarding funding in relation to the new entitlements and how this impacts them. 

The question was asked regarding funding once new entitlements are rolled out if a provider receives an Inadequate Ofsted judgement. If this is withdrawn due to the Ofsted judgement it could result in closure of the business/setting as not sustainable.

Staffordshire County Council are awaiting further information and updated Operational Guidance.

Staffordshire County Council regularly meet with the DfE and they are aware that the new Operational Guidance is necessary as soon as possible. However, the team have already started to have discussion on what the changes may mean and how we can all prepare for them.

Sector updates

Childminders / Nurseries/ Preschools / Schools

One provider shared that colleagues who had attended the EYPDP3 (Early Years Professional Development Programme 3) really valued the training and were putting it into practice. 

Staffordshire County Council 

Stronger Practice Hubs -The West Midlands hub is working on evidence based practice to inform Education Endowment Foundation toolkit and has requested to work with Staffordshire in the first year. 20 fully funded places on The Hanen Centre project called ‘Learning language and loving it’ have been made available to Staffordshire settings. It has been decided to offer this training to settings with the highest numbers of Think2 children. Contact will be made to determine whether these settings wish to take up the offer. 3 places have also been made available on a programme to support children's mathematical development. These settings have been chosen from those settings closest to the venue.

Other opportunities will be available particularly for Childminders in next the phase.

Early Years Professional Development Programme (PDP)  - Staffordshire had one of the highest take ups for tranche 2 thanks to promotion by early years team. Phone calls will be made by the team next week to determine impact.

Experts and mentors programme is continuing in Staffordshire-12 settings across the county are taking part under 3 area leads. Feedback so far has been positive.

Recruitment & Retention -a working group has been set up. Jayne Waterman and member of the Early Years Team recently attended a Job Fair held in a Job Centre to promote early years as a career. It was felt that emphasis should be placed on the benefits of working in early years particularly the difference made to children. Successful event and it was particularly useful having a practitioner present, thanks to Jayne Waterman for her time.

The team have made links with the National Careers service and have attended 2 West Midlands webinars; a presentation was given promoting working in early years.

Links with the Department for Work and Pensions Partnership Officers has also been made.

Tim Hopkins shared that the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) videos are available showcasing practitioners and EY as a career: Early Years Careers -NDNA

Consultants move from Entrust

The LA welcomed colleagues from Entrust back to Staffordshire County Council from 3rd April and we are all looking forward to developing the team. 



Tim Hopkins is a trustee of Early Education the British Association for Early Childhood Education. They are celebrating their centenary this year and are offering some free local sessions. Find out more at Early Education

The question was asked what progress had been made with regard to the issue on Deprivation Rates? Some work has been done to determine how other local authorities administer the funding; however, this has been paused until we receive more guidance in the renewed Statutory Guidance, expected in due course.

Next Meeting Tuesday 18th July 2023  - 14:00-15:30


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