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EYRG Minutes 18 July 2023

Early Years Reference Group Minutes: 18 July 2023, 14.00-15.30 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
  • Jude Russell - Staffordshire Safeguarding Childrens Board (SSCB)
  • Sarah McCormick - Little Owl Childcare
  • Tim Hopkins -Humpty Dumpty
  • Sadie Shenton-Jones - Dollymixtures/PVI Rep on Schools Forum
  • Philip Siddell - Humpty Dumpty / PVI Rep on Schools Forum
  • Nadine Key - Oaklands Nursery School
  • Julie Wetton - Sandytots
  • Helen Townsend - Hey Diddle Diddle


  • Cllr Mark Sutton- Cabinet Member for Children and Young People
  • Becky Haynes - Codsall Community Nursery
  • x South Stafs Reps
  • Jo Di Castiglione - Greenhall Nursery
  • Jayne Waterman - Little People Nursery
  • Rob & Tracey Lawford - childminders
  • Megan McComiskie - Colwich Preschool
  • Sharon Keane - Childminder
  • Michelle Lindley - Sandytots
  • Emily Woodward - Three Peaks

Minutes from last meeting

Clarification from the Department for Education (DfE) regarding use of epi pens was circulated to all on 18/5/23. An Expert Working Group was established and have recommended that epi pens could be used more widely but this would require an amendment to human medicine legislation and implementation of training to support safe use. The Medicine and Health Care Regulation Authority is considering next steps.

List of providers currently or planning to deliver ‘T’ Levels:-


  • Newcastle and Stafford College Group - Live
  • South Staffs College - Sept 2023
  • Landau Sixth Form College - Sept 2023
  • Burton and South Derbyshire College - Live
  • Kingsmead School - Sept 2024
  • Codsall Community High School - Sept 2024
  • Biddulph High School - Sept 2024
  • Painsley College (sixth form) - Sept 2023 (TBC)


  • Stoke College - Sept 2023
  • City of Stoke Sixth Form College - Sept 2023

Minutes were agreed as an accurate record of the meeting.


Update on Staffordshire Safeguarding Childrens Board (SSCB)

Jude Russell explained role of the board by sharing some slides. Attached to minutes.

Some settings shared the following issues/barriers:

  • Lack of signposting to appropriate services
  • Lack of communication/information sharing
  • Constant change of Social Work personnel
  • Learning from serious case reviews

Many providers agreed that the weekly EEAC update was the best place to advertise training opportunities.

One provider shared concerns over Staffordshire’s Children’s Advice and Support Service (SCAS) and how they appeared to have no mechanism to record 2 of their referrals. 

Action: Jo Chan  - to investigate further - any outcome from this will be shared with the group. 

E-Learning: 'With or Without Words' 

Safeguarding Forum-how can we increase attendance?

Day time and evening sessions are scheduled at 10:00am or 2:00pm and 6:00pm to enable attendance. One provider shared that 6pm was too early.

Some shared that recruitment and retention of staff is having an impact on being able to release staff to attend. One provider said that a 9:30 or 1:30 start would suit them better. 

Action:  Jude Russell to consider changing timing to increase attendance. 


EYRG - role of EYRG members

What is the mechanism to communicate and share with other providers what has been discussed in the group and to gain their views to feed back to the Local Authority?

Some thought that contact details of members of the group could be shared on the EEAC update, for providers to contact them directly.

Sharing information at PVI managers network meetings was also suggested


Sector updates

FROM - Childminders / Nurseries/ Preschools / Schools

Ratings - One provider shared that it was uplifting to see some Outstanding Ofsted judgements recently and that these are celebrated in the EEAC update (with their consent).

Think2 take up-one provider reported that parents were waiting to receive a Golden Ticket. The LA are no longer permitted to assume eligibility from the DWP list and eligibility must be checked on application; therefore, the LA are unable to continue issuing Golden Tickets. A Working Group has been set up to address fall in Think2 take up and work is ongoing to determine reasons why parents are not applying/taking their place. Postcard and email reminders are sent to all parents on DWP list to encourage them to apply. 

Action: For All to inform Amanda Richards and Felicity Pepper of any reasons they are aware of why parents do not apply/or take their 2 yr old entitlement. 

Calling cards have been distributed to Health Visitors (HV) to share at progress checks; also, to libraries and Job Centres in 2 districts as a trial. The calling card contains a QR code to take parents direct to the webpage. A couple of providers shared that it would be useful to have something to give to parents when they look around the setting.

Some providers shared their concern that misinformation is being shared with parents by HV and this is raising expectations. Parents then turn up at settings who have to turn them away due to limited availability. 

Action: Amanda Richards to speak to Commissioner to ensure HV are passing on correct information to parents and signposting them to our website for eligibility criteria. 

Experts & Mentors programme-one provider (Expert) reported that the most challenging part was getting into settings and building relationships. She has improved her own professional development as well as supporting setting.

Another provider (Area Lead) reported that many settings were unable to release staff and can’t commit to the time. She found more success where settings have self-referred. 

FROM - Staffordshire County Council 

Early Years Supplementary Grant-Local Authority (LA) attended DfE webinar last Tuesday. The intention is to pass the funding on in full in base rate. Finance has worked extremely hard and at pace to produce a recommendation paper to present to Senior Leadership Team today. Once ratified by a Senior Member an announcement will be made to the sector.

The Funding and conditions will not come to LA until September. 

Ofsted Inspectors have attended previous EYRG meetings; the invitation to attend any future meetings now has to go through an official application process at Ofsted. JC/HG are looking into this for autumn term. 

Stronger Practice Hubs - Sarah McCormick has taken part in Walsall’s’ Stronger Practice Hubs Numicon training. She thanked HG for visiting her setting which helped to improve staff morale.  Stronger Practice Hubs are looking at providing more localised offers. Staffordshire have nominated ourselves to take part in any future evidence-based programmes. 

Dingley's Promise - Staffordshire’s bid was successful to Dingleys Promise for funding to provide £500k of SEND and Inclusion training to EY sector and anyone working with children under 5. Launch event will take place soon offering virtual, flexible training to meet the needs of practitioners.

Sufficiency Audit - data has been collected. Analysis has begun and results will be available in August. Annual Sufficiency report (showing sufficiency data up to March 2023) will also be finalised in August. 

Children's Centre consultation - Consultation for Childrens Centre sites to become Family Hubs closes 31st July. Please encourage as many as possible to contribute to this. Outcome will be shared at next meeting. 

Schools Forum - wraparound agenda item was removed. The only update the LA have received from DfE – they have selected trailblazers. Very little additional info has been shared with the LA.  



One provider fed back regarding their experience with Malachi Family Support service; they had referred families for behaviour and financial support. Malachi appeared to have little knowledge of what support is available/appropriate signposting. 

Action: Carolyn Knight will raise with the Commissioner.

Helen Gibson was successful in her application for the Early Years Lead role, to oversee the whole Early Years team. HG will chair this group in the future.

Carolyn Knight thanked group for sharing their thoughts and for working with us.

Thanks go to Carolyn Knight K for chairing the meetings.

Next Meeting 28 September  - 18:00 to 19:30

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