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EYRG Minutes 17 March 2022

Early Years Reference Group Minutes: Thursday 17 March 2022, 13.30-14.30 via Teams


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

  • Helen Gibson - EEAC Officer SCC

  • Felicity Pepper - EEAC Entitlement Officer- SCC

  • Debbie Nash - Education Commissioning Officer - SCC

  • Karen Greenan - EY Sufficiency & Marketing Officer - Entrust

  • Keziah Dewing - Accountancy SCC

  • Sally Wride - Ofsted Early Years Senior Officer for the West Midlands

  • Sarah McCormick - Little Owls

  • Philip Siddell  - Humpty Dumpty / PVI Rep

  • Natasha Richards - Wolstanton Kindergarten/ Cheadle Kindergarten

  • Shereen Williams - ABC Nurseries Codsall

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

  • Tim Hopkins -Humpty Dumpty

  • Julie Wetton - Sandytots

  • Nadine Key - Oaklands Nursery School

  • Louise Lewis - Colwich Preschool


  • Emily Woodward - Three Peaks

  • Jude Russell - SSCB

  • Sharon Keane - childminder

  • Vicki Green - EEAC Sufficiency Data Officer - SCC

  • Karen Winfer - Accountancy Support Team Leader- SCC

  • Natasha Gilbert - First Steps Preschool

  • Jo Chan - EY Teaching Consultant Entrust

  • Rob Lawford - childminder

  • Jayne Waterman - Little People Nursery

  • Sue Dangerfield - ABC Nurseries Codsall

  • Jo Di Castiglione - Greenhall Nursery


Minutes from last meeting

Minutes from the meeting on 27 Jan 2022 were agreed as an accurate record of the meeting.

Actions: Carolyn Knight to raise with DfE differential funding to maintained nursery schools -  confirmed she had done this in a meeting with the DfE.

Sally Wride-Ofsted Early Years Senior Officer for the West Midlands

Sally shared a brief presentation focused on Ofsted inspections which will be distributed with the minutes.

  • Q: When will new registration inspections be back on track?
  • A. Ofsted are prioritising inspections of settings causing concern, RI and Inadequate. They are trying to clear the backlog of inspections but priority must be given to the most important.

One provider reminded the group of the next Ofsted Big Conversation event on 10th May includes a talk on mental health and wellbeing of staff.

The group thanked Sally for her time. 

Feedback from the sector re: EYFS reforms

One provider commented that the old Development Matters framework contained useful additional info for new starters-helps to identify further training needs.

Another provider commented that she feels they need time to embed the EYFS and for staff to become more familiar with the new ways.

Tim Hopkins mentioned that Birth to 5 Matters website https://birthto5matters.org.uk/ has many useful free resources and information. They are holding a ‘Spring festival’ between 21-31st March with keynote speakers on early years which will be recorded and available later on the Birth to 5 Matters website. 

It was shared that Julian Grenier ‘Principles into Practice’ pdf is free.

One provider recommended using the Stoke Speaks Out Screening Tool and found this invaluable.

This subject will be revisited at a future meeting. 

Sector updates - from early years settings

Staffing still a major issue-having to employ agency staff. Settings commented they had waiting lists but unable to take on more children as could not recruit the additional staff required.  

There was a discussion about settings training L3 Health and Social care students in house in EY. However, these cannot be counted in ratios.

Settings shared they had recently experienced Chicken pox, Scarlet Fever and norovirus spreading rapidly.

Action: Carolyn Knight to investigate with DfE how settings can become a registered training centre to train Health & Social Care students. Staff absences due to Covid continue and these are having an effect on the remaining staff as they are exhausted.

 Local Authority items

SCC Developments

  • Entrust: contract had a 10 year break clause; this will be enacted in April 2023. Staffordshire County Council will work with Entrust and stakeholders to decide what will service delivery will look like for early years over the next 12 months.

SCC Finance:

  • EEF Rates: these have now been shared with settings. Carolyn Knight thanked the group for contributions to the EY Rates workshop which were instrumental in informing the new EEF rate. The group wanted to extend their thanks to Anthony Humphries of the local authority Strategic Finance Business Partner and his team for the opportunity.

DfE and update and Projects

  • Experts and mentor updatedetails were included on the last EEAC update (part of Covid recovery plan) 
  • PDP2: this will be discussed at the next meeting

Staffordshire County Council Funded Training - futher details in the EEAC Update of 25th April 2022: 

  • Voluntary Management Committees: roles and responsibilities explored and explained
  • Early Years Business Insight: Marketing and Promotion (Recorded Webinar)
  • Early Years Business Insight: Income Sources & Funding (Recorded Webinar)


Action: Carolyn Knight - to extend an invitation to future meetings to Cllr Mark Sutton, Cabinet member for Children & Young People.

Date of next meetings

4 May 2022      -       18:00-19:30

8 June 2022      -      10:00-11:30


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