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EYRG Minutes 12 October 2022

Early Years Reference Group Minutes: Wednesday 12 Oct 2022, 10.00-11.30 via Teams 


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

  • Helen Gibson -
    EEAC Officer SCC

  • Karen Greenan -
    EY Sufficiency & Marketing Officer - Entrust

  • Karen Winfer -
    Accountancy Support Team Leader-SCC

  • Natasha Richards -
    Wolstanton Kindergarten/ Cheadle Kindergarten
  • Philip Siddell -
    Humpty Dumpty / PVI Rep on Schools Forum

  • Tim Hopkins -
    Humpty Dumpty

  • Nadine Key -
    Oaklands Nursery School

  • Michelle Lindley-


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

  • Felicity Pepper -
    EEAC Entitlement Officer - SCC

  • Debbie Nash -
    Education Commissioning Officer - SCC

  • Vicki Green -
    EEAC Sufficiency Data Officer - SCC
  • Jude Russell -
    Staffordshire Safeguarding Childrens Board (SSCB)

  • Kelly Hill -
    Codsall Community Nursery

  • Sue Dangerfield
    ABC Nurseries Codsall

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

  • Megan McComiskie -
    Colwich Preschool

  • Jayne Waterman -
    Little People Nursery

  • Julie Wetton -

  • Jo Di Castiglione -
    Greenhall Nursery

  • Emily Woodward -
    Three Peaks

  • Natasha Gilbert -
    First Steps Preschool

  • Rob Lawford -

  • Sharon Keane -

Welcome and introductions

Meeting was recorded for minute taking purposes. All present agreed to the recording.


Minutes from last meeting

All actions were completed. Minutes from the meeting on 13/7/22 were agreed as an accurate record of the meeting.


Kelly Hill training

Kelly Hill sends her apologies. Action: Helen Gibson to check that she is free to speak at the next meeting in December instead.


Tim Hopkins- Ofsted Big Conversation Overview:

Matt Hedges, Senior Her Majesty’s Inspector (HMI) for Early Years in the West Midlands introduced his first face to face Big Conversation since he became a senior HMI. 4 senior officers for West Midlands report to Matt.

Inspection handbook was last updated September 2022.

Headlines from inspections Ofsted have found:-

  • Number of providers unaware of changes in inspection handbook
  • babies are struggling to respond to basic facial expressions possibly due to face mask use.
  • delays in Speech & Language
  • Significant social and friendship building skills affected and also in school settings.
  • Regression in independence and self care skills
  • Delays in physical development

Ofsted roadshows-promoting language rich environments with high quality interactions.

New inspectors in West Midlands (2 or 3 in Staffordshire) very proactive as they have until 31st October to catch up with backlog.

Ofsted have been receiving lots of enquiries from Owners regarding their inspection if a new manager is in post, or if the manager is off sick or on holiday. Ofsted state that deferrals would not be accepted if the manager was not on site as a Deputy should be in place. However, if Registered Person is away, let Ofsted know if this would affect ability to be at discussions and feedback.

Complaints procedure-confirmed in Ofsted workshop if a provider makes a formal complaint, the re-inspection will take place within published guidelines. Inspection reports (and therefore re-inspection) must not be held back from publication due to a complaint, as decreed by Secretary of State.

Safeguarding –the impact of online training was raised with some staff not receiving any follow up within the setting, after the training, to embed learning. Ofsted are making links with Safeguarding boards as many Local Authority’s (LA) are offering funded training, but some are not. County lines-info from Early Years settings on families with older siblings who have expressed concerns. SSCB have updated their Level 1 slides to reflect this.

Ofsted meetings with LA do give them an insight and find those links really beneficial; LA will continue to meet with Sally Wride. She shared concerns at her recent meeting with the LA re: basic Safeguarding processes and procedures and pressures that managers are under who may be in ratio. Recruitment and retention is still a big issue.

Action: All to let Carolyn Knight  know if they would like Ofsted to present at future meeting on a particular topic.


Sector updates

Childminders / Nurseries/ Preschools / Schools

Uncertainty re: Governments plans for sector is causing anxiety:

  • plans for direct funding
  • changes in ratios
  • recruitment and retention
  • funding
  • rise in SEND children
  • Social Services are placing children with severe trauma and pay for 1:1; however, settings cannot recruit.
  • Increase in National Minimum Wage (NMW) and increases in rent etc are causing financial anxiety. LA had previously shared concerns from sector regarding financial pressures with Department for Education (DfE).

Staffordshire Review of Specialist Provision - Lynsey Hurst will be representing Early Years at the Project Board.  Tim Hopkins explained the pressures resulting in the timing and lack of communications for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and deferring their school place and applying for funding.

One provider reported that children have been turned away from school and referred back to a private nursery. 

Carolyn Knight /Helen Gibson will continue to raise these issues with the DfE directly.

A working group is to meet to discuss issues being raised in placing children with SEND in early years to identify barriers and possible solutions relating to placements and transitions.

TIm Hopkins stated that he was disappointed that Cllr Sutton was not hearing first hand the concerns and pressures that the sector are facing.

Action: Carolyn Knight will raise the issues shared by the sector with Head of SEND and AD for Wellbeing and Partnerships.  Cllr Sutton will continue to be invited to these meetings.

Local Authority Items

  • EYPP

Karen Winfer presented some slides to describe the new process to maximise the number of children eligible for Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) receive the funds. 

  • Experts and mentors:

25 settings in Staffs have been nominated. Support has started and will continue into January 2023.

Second round will be available, and list to be provided to DfE by mid November. DfE are looking for more self referrals this time. Opportunity will be given to settings on future Early Education & Childcare update (electronic newsletter). Online free child development training is part of Experts and Mentors programme with a view to being rolled out nationally.

  • Stronger practice hubs:

webinars were advertised on EEAC update and how settings could apply to be part of this. At least 3 applications that we know of have been put forward for Staffordshire. 

  • Professional Development Programme 3 (PDP3)-

will be available from January and backfill will be provided at £80 per practitioner per session. Feedback from PDP2 was very positive. SM mentioned that PDP2 sessions after 4pm would give settings more opportunity to access.

Action: Helen Gibson will feed this back.

  • Early Outcomes fund:

settings that have submitted ECS data will be first to have the opportunity to access further online training in the form of bitesize online sessions: - ‘Supporting children with SEND’ and ‘Vocabulary to talk about emotions and feelings’.


Karen Winfer -wanted to know whether portal training sessions during task times would be useful. Action: all to let Karen  know.

Carolyn Knight -  thanked the group for sharing thoughts and experiences honestly and candidly-it's really useful.

EEAC team have been nominated for a regional Team Excellence award and have been invited to the award ceremony on Friday. Carolyn Knight thanked the team for their hard work.

Date of next meeting

6 December 2022   -   18.00-19.30

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