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EYRG Minutes 14 March 2023

Early Years Reference Group Minutes: 14 March 2023, 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
  • Debbie Nash - Education Commissioning Officer - SCC
  • Felicity Pepper - EEAC Entitlement Officer - SCC
  • Natasha Richards - Wolstanton Kindergarten/ Cheadle Kindergarten
  • Tim Hopkins -Humpty Dumpty
  • Michelle Lindley - Sandytots
  • Becky Haynes - Codsall Community Centre
  • Jo Di Castiglione - Greenhall Nursery
  • Nadine Key - Oaklands Nursery School


  • Jude Russell - Staffordshire Safeguarding Childrens Board (SSCB)
  • Kelly Hill - Codsall Community Nursery
  • Sarah McCormick - Little Owl Childcare
  • Julie Wetton - Sandytots
  • Emily Woodward -Three Peaks
  • Natasha Gilbert - First Steps Preschool
  • Rob & Tracey Lawford - childminders
  • Cllr Mark Sutton- Cabinet Member for Children and Young People
  • Sharon Keane - Childminder
  • Philip Siddell - Humpty Dumpty / PVI Rep on Schools Forum
  • Karen Winfer - Accountancy Support Team Leader-SCC
  • Vicki Green - EEAC Sufficiency Data Officer - SCC
  • Jayne Waterman - Little People Nursery
  • 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 - raised with DfE but has had no response. Carolyn has chased this and update group when she has a response.

Minutes from Funding Workshop 24.1.23

Tim Hopkins raised the point that it was discussed at the Workshop how other LA’s may distribute Deprivation Supplement per child and whether SCC could follow the same model? SCC agreed to do some further research over the next year to identify possible methods of calculating deprivation supplements and the impact it may have on some settings if the existing method changed. Any change proposed would need to involve a consultation with the sector.

Natasha Richards asked when this consultation may take place?

Further research was needed into other options and how other LA’s distribute the supplement; before a consultation can then take place.

All minutes were agreed as an accurate record of the meetings.

Update on Staffordshire Safeguarding Children Board

Deferred to meeting in July.

Recruitment and Retention

Covered below

Sufficiency data - update

Deferred to meeting in July

ECS Data Outcomes

Covered below

Sector updates

Childminders / Nurseries/ Preschools / Schools

One setting reported that numbers of SEN children and children with challenging behaviours are increasing, possibly due to Covid. Parenting support groups are now beginning to re-open which can support parents. Two additional members of staff have been recruited to enable more 1:1 support for children.

Another setting agreed that they are seeing more children with SEN needs particularly in 2 year old room (particularly showing autistic traits and Speech & Language needs). It was commented that parents do not recognise there is a need and that Developmental stages aren’t being met as due to lockdown measures they haven’t mixed with other children. Practitioners find it difficult to open up dialogue with parents.

Recruitment & Retention - National Minimum Wage increase will have an effect on budgets. Inevitably fees will increase but hopefully this will be managed. Concern of impact on schools of children with SEND when they reach school. It was felt that Funding in EY was inadequate. Tim Hopkins stated his concern regarding the proposed changes to ratios and he felt this would impact quality. He said he would welcome a golden handshake payment but there was a need to recognise the disparity between this and what is offered to teachers.  

A further setting expressed concern about increase in ratios particularly for SEND children as many settings have recruited extra staff out of their own pocket.

Natasha Richards shared that she is completing a PhD and asked if any members of the group would like to complete her questionnaire please let her know. 

Local Authority Items

SCC Developments - EOF and other government projects / DfE updates and projects / Entrust update.

Carolyn Knight shared that the vacant post of EEAC Development Officer had been recruited to and the successful applicant starts on 3rd April. Thanks to Philip Siddell for representing the EY sector during interviews.

 Recruitment and retention working group – Sadie Shenton Jones and Julie Wetton have been working with SCC and Entrust colleagues and the group decided to focus on 2 major challenges:

  • Recruitment & retention toolkit-is now live. Settings can use it to reflect on what is unique about their setting-their ‘USP’. Thanks to Karen Greenan, Sadie and Jayne for producing this toolkit as input from the sector is invaluable.
    Action Karen Greenan - to approach 2 settings that have fed back about using the toolkit to develop a Case study.
  • Promoting EY Careers- Sadie Sheton Jones volunteered to work with the Careers Hub to promote careers in EY. A lesson plan has been developed in collaboration with Chase Terrace High which will be available to view by all High Schools on the website. Thanks were shared to Sadie for her work on this

(Helen Gibson shared the lesson plan on screen with the group)

Tim Hopkins asked about ‘T’ level qualifications and volunteered to help further explore this; work has already started linking with further Education providers and determining how they link with providers on how they can support with recruitment. 
Action: Helen Gibson to link with Tim and Careers hub to further develop this.

National Careers Service were offering funded webinar for out of work adults. HG/KG have linked with the West Midlands lead to develop a webinar for EY.

ECS data results are positive-progress has been replicated from the smaller first cohort so programme is proving to be robust.


All children:

  • Improvement from 50% in September 2021 to 67% of children who had language within normal range in July 2022 (Green).
  • Improvement from 36% in September 2021 to 26% of children who had moderate delay in July 2022 (Amber).
  • Improvement from 14% in September 2021 to 8% of children who had significant delay in July 2022(Red) (should show a decrease).

Children with SEND:

  • Of the children who were assessed in July 2022 just 5% (181 children) were identified as being children with SEND.
  • Of these 22% were identified as green up from 15% in September 2021.
  • 40% these 22% were identified as green up from 15% in September 2021.

Children in receipt of Think2

  • In July 2022, 53% of children entitled to Think 2 funding were rated as green, a rise from 35% in September 2021.


  • In July 2022, 74% of girls were in the green compared to 57% in September 2021 showing a 17 percentage point increase.
  • 61% of boys were in the green compared to 43% in September 2021 showing a 18 percentage points increase.

Early Outcomes Fund (EOF) project is coming to an end but additional workshops have been scheduled - one more cohort to be delivered and targeted work with settings with high numbers of ‘red’ children, a workshop focusing on support for children with SEND, a recorded resource will be available for practitioners working with children under 2.

SCC Senior Leadership team are committed to find ways to continue with this programme due to its success and are exploring additional funding streams.

DfE Projects-Experts and Mentors programme is continuing as well as PDP3, although take up is slowing down.

Entrust -from 1st April 2023 the Early Years team will be returning to SCC - business will continue as usual. Further contact details will be communicated to all providers in due course. 



Nadine Key -is working with Jill Allbutt from NHS Shropshire re: Oral health policy and asked the group for any feedback, how it was working with changes to EYFS and any challenges in local areas?

One member commented that settings are now performing parent support work that used to be done by Surestart centres and outreach, but that they had not noticed a change or increase. No settings reported supporting tooth brushing, for example.

Further question was posed regarding what training was needed to be included in a learning package to support practitioners in Oral hygiene?

Dummies and their impact on speech and communication was suggested.

Tim Hopkins - Operation Encompass -schools receive notification of a domestic violence incident to enable them to effectively meet childrens needs. This currently does not extend to EY providers, is this a missed opportunity to support families in a multi agency approach? 

Action: Carolyn Knight to ask Jude Russell if this could be extended to EY.

4th May 2023  - 18:00-19:30

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