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EYRG Minutes 13 July 2022

Early Years Reference Group Minutes: Wednesday 13 July 2022, 14.00-15.30 via Teams 


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

  • 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

  • Alixandra Gilman-
    Commissioning Officer-SCC

  • Natasha Richards -
    Wolstanton Kindergarten/ Cheadle Kindergarten

  • Lynsey Hurst-
    Reach for the Stars

  • Kelly Hill-
    Codsall Community Nursery
  • Sue Dangerfield 
    ABC Nurseries Codsall

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

  • Jayne Waterman -
    Little People Nursery

  • Julie Wetton -

  • Tim Hopkins -
    Humpty Dumpty

  • Nadine Key -
    Oaklands Nursery School

  • Jo Di Castiglione -
    Greenhall Nursery

  • Catherine O'Melia-
    Deputy Director, Services and Innovation Family Action

  • Louise Hudson-
    Operational Manager Family Action

  • Nicola Marshall-
    Service Delivery Manager - Malachi Specialist Family Support 


  • Cllr Mark Sutton-
    Cabinet Member for Children and Young People
  • Jude Russell -
    Staffordshire Safeguarding Childrens Board (SSCB)

  • Megan McComiskie -
    Colwich Preschool

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

  • Sarah McCormick -
    Little Owls

  • Emily Woodward -
    Three Peaks

  • Natasha Gilbert -
    First Steps Preschool

  • Rob Lawford -

  • Sharon Keane -

Welcome and introductions

Welcome to new members Kelly Hill and Lynsey Hurst.

Minutes from last meeting

Minutes from the meeting on 4th May 2022 were agreed as an accurate record of the meeting.

Actions from the last meeting:

MeeToo app:  Rebecca from MeeToo has sent the settings who indicated an interest in piloting this app an email to make contact but has not yet had many responses. Could settings check their ‘Junk’ folders. If settings still want to be involved email rebecca@meetoo.help; she will arrange a conversation with you to talk you through next steps. If you no longer wish to be involved, please can you let Becky know as soon as possible. becky.murphy@staffordshire.gov.uk

Family Support Providers

Louise Hudson – Family Action
Catherine O’Melia – Family Action
Nicola Marshall - Malachi

A short presentation was shared with the group.

Kelly shared that tooth decay and oral health was an issue with families and many are not registered with dentists. During targeted outreach visits this is included in the checks and families are supported to register with dentists and GP’s.

Speech and Language is also an important issue.

The group were reminded of the interactive Speech and Language Pathway which has been developed for parents and practitioners: 

Promotional materials will be issued soon.

Data shows referrals into family support and referral commissioning service are lower from early years providers. Family Support are available for advice and signposting families.

Local Offer on Staffordshire connects has all the referral info.

Presentations will be distributed with the minutes.

Countywide review of Specialist Provision

Staffordshire County Council's recent local inspection of SEND: The Local Area was found to have made progress in 6 areas identified in the original inspection. two areas were identified as still requiring further work. An accelerated progress plan has been developed to outline how the Local Area will address these two areas.

One of the actions within this is to complete a countywide review of specialist provision to review current needs and identify provision needed to meet these needs; early years will be included in this review. A project board has been set up and a representation is being sought from early years sector.

Nominations were received from:

Tim Hopkins Humpty Dumpty
Lynsey Hurst Reach for the Stars
Sadie Shenton Jones Dollymixtures

Sector updates

Childminders / Nurseries/ Preschools / Schools

Although Covid cases appear to be increasing again, staff morale is still good.

The group were reminded that two DfE Consultations are now open; it’s important that providers use the opportunity to make their views known.

Tim Hopkins shared that the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) will be hosting a session open to all providers in Staffordshire to discuss the best way to respond to the questions in the consultation and to pull together a joint regional network response. The invitation will be shared on the Early Education and Childcare (EEAC) update.

Action: Tim Hopkins to share article with Felicity Pepper for inclusion on the EEAC update.

Some providers have shared that they are reticent about completing the consultation because they are not able to respond anonymously, and it is feared their responses may instigate an Ofsted inspection.

Congratulations to Sadie Shenton - Jones and Dollymixtures for their recent Silver Award in the Pearson Teaching Awards for EY Team of the Year. This means they can be put forward for the Gold Award. Sadie Shenton - Jones commented that it was nice that the sector is beginning to be recognised as part of the education community.  

Local Authority Items

  • Early Years /SSCB Forum

E-Learning materials around voice of the child were developed in conjunction with SSCB. Next steps-SSCB want to provide an opportunity for all early years providers in Staffs join a Safeguarding Forum for early years. Any providers who are happy to share thoughts ideas, wishes barriers and how the Board can work with and support the sector. Advert/ information on EEAC update shortly. 2 sessions one in the day and one in the evening. Expression of interests welcomed.

  • Recruitment & retention:

Challenges on this have been shared and there is a much bigger picture than we can solve, but there are some actions we feel we can be progressing locally to help. So far, we have provided regular feedback to the DfE on this. Helen Gibson met with Staffordshire Partnership for Employability and Skills to raise this issue; they were keen to work with us on possible actions to address this. They have links with colleges, education providers and careers hubs and can influence curriculum. We have started to discuss producing a resource about what it's like to work in the sector and formulate an article that gives young people a better idea of careers in early years.

In autumn term to set up working group with other partners who would like to be part of that group. There may be a number of different strands to this e.g. induction, colleges. If you are interested in getting involved let Helen Gibson know.

Julie Wetton, Natasha Richards, Kelly Hill and Sadie Shenton-Jones indicated their interest.

  • Working with Comms:

To raise awareness on all early years entitlements due to changes of staff and change of process re: Golden Ticket etc. Based on Hungry Little Minds partner pack. Staffordshire County Council's Comms Team have put together a partner pack and this will be launched autumn 2022 term. Parent leaflets have been refreshed and a few hard copies have been printed. We would like some parent feedback-are any providers happy to share with parents to gain feedback over the summer to ensure the leaflets are clear. Sadie Shenton -Jones offered to share these with parents.

  • EEAC Update:

Change to format to make it easier to navigate. Feedback received was that it was: Much easier to read and find the relevant bits; less is more; clickable web links good to open a tab to look at later; better that it comes out weekly; simpler format is easier to take info in when in a hurry. 

  • EOF Update:

Programme will continue in reduced format over the next 2 years. 4 session training with free assessment tool will continue. Lots of providers are saying that the person who had been trained has now moved on. This training will be opened up to second places in autumn. EY-SENCO accredited training will be rolled out nationally by DfE, more details to follow. Government have only agreed to fund 5000 Level 3 Sencos from 28000 registered childcare providers  in the UK. Tim Hopkins asked if this could this be raised with DfE that there is a shortfall in the number of funded training places.

  • Experts & Mentors Programme:

25 places were allocated in Staffordshire. Criteria was the highest number of Think 2 children. 25 settings were put forward. 3 have decided not to continue but we have had 3 self referrals. Helen Gibson is an area lead as part of this programme and Natasha Richards is area lead for Cheshire. Lynsey Hurst is an expert for Derbyshire. 

  •  Entrust Update:

Good return on sufficiency audit which really helps, and we are beginning to analyse. So, thanks to the sector for their excellent response rate. 



Tim Hopkins - teaching school hubs are delivering NPQICL online with a buddying and mentoring system in place.

Carolyn Knight -  shared she was pleased to announce that Helen Gibson has been appointed as Early Education and Children Sufficiency Manager within the Early Education and Childcare Team. Helen is keen to work more closely with the sector. 

Date of next meeting

12 October 2022   -   10.00-11.30

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