Early Years Update - 17.02.21

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dan barton

Dear All,

First and foremost I wish to extend my thanks to all of you and your wider teams for all of the time and effort that you continue to put in during these very challenging times. 

Today’s update contains a lot of information to help you to support your families, including many useful resources to aid home learning for families of young children.

I would also like to alert you to an online Q & A session which I will be holding for colleagues across the early years sector, in order to listen to you and respond to the key issues that you are currently facing:

Wednesday 3rd March, 6pm – 7pm

Further information will follow, but please do reserve this in your diary if you would like to attend


Dan Barton Assistant Director - Education and Skills

Early Years Weekly Attendance Survey – Please action on Wednesday

The Department for Education have decided that we need to return to weekly collections while the current national COVID restrictions are in place.

We would like to thank you for your continued assistance with this piece of work.

Attendance Survey

Lateral Flow Testing update

An explanation of the Lateral Flow testing programme can be found here: What is Lateral Flow Testing?

Further to previous updates, we are pleased to say lateral flow testing is now available for Early Years colleagues at the following community testing sites on an ongoing basis:

Trinity School Sports Hall, Strand Rd, Carlisle CA1 1JB

  • Wednesdays 17:45 – 19:30
  • Saturdays 09:15 – 12:30

Beacon Hill School, Market Square, Aspatria, Wigton CA7 3EZ

  • Saturdays 09:15 – 12:30

Queen Katherine School, Appleby Rd, Kendal LA9 6PJ

  • Thursdays 17:45 – 19:30
  • Saturdays 09:15 – 12:30

Millom School, Salthouse Road, Millom, LA18 5AB

  • Saturdays 09:15 – 12:30

Furness Academy, Park Drive, Barrow-In-Furness, LA13 9BB

  • Tuesdays 17:45 – 19:30
  • Thursdays 17:45 – 19:30

Dowdales School, Dalton-In-Furness, LA15 8AH

  • Mondays 16:30 - 18:30

Ullswater Community College, Wetheriggs Lane, Penrith, CA11 8NG

  • Saturdays 09:15 – 12:30

No appointment is necessary – please just arrive at the testing site between the stated times.  Please wear a face covering unless you have a medical exemption. Please note, the testing sites will not be open outside these times.   

We are working hard to make testing available at other sites across the County as soon as possible, and more sites will become available over the coming days and weeks. Please look out for further communications.

Important information

  • At the moment, lateral flow testing at community testing sites is only for Early Years colleagues and a small number of other priority groups.  Testing for the general public is being arranged but will follow soon.  It would be appreciated please if you do not share this information with anyone outside of your organisation at this stage so that the number of tests available are able to be managed.
  • Community Lateral Flow Testing is for asymptomatic people only.  If you have symptoms of coronavirus, please do not attend the test site, but instead book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.

About Lateral Flow Testing at Community Sites

  • Around one in three people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and will be spreading it without realising it. That’s why the rapid-turnaround lateral flow tests, which provide results within an hour, are being used to proactively test asymptomatic individuals.
  • This will help to identify those who unknowingly have the virus and enable those who test positive and their contacts to self-isolate, which can help drive down the R rate locally and save lives.
  • A Lateral Flow Test detects the presence or absence of coronavirus from a swab or saliva sample.
  • It takes less than 15 minutes to register, administer the test, and around 30 minutes to produce a result.
  • Your result will be sent to you via SMS and/or e-mail – you will be asked for these contact details on registration.  Results will be communicated at latest within a day of the test.
  • If you do not receive your result within 24 hours, please let us know at ask.lft@cumbria.gov.uk.
  • If you test positive with the lateral flow test you will need to self-isolate for 10 days. Eligible individuals who test positive will be entitled to the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment in the same way as a regular swab test through NHS Test and Trace. Please note the government has laid down eligibility criteria.
  • If you test negative with the lateral flow test you will need to continue to follow the preventative measures currently recommended for stopping the spread of the virus - to protect yourself and others, you must remember: Hands. Face. Space.

Should you have any queries, please email the project team at ask.LFT@cumbria.gov.uk

Vaccinations update

We are aware that there has been a lot of confusion over the past week or so about vaccinations and whether or not colleagues working within the early years sector are included in the roll out to those working in social care.

There has been an update from the Department for Health and Social Care which is disappointing for the sector as it clarified that the vaccines are being made available to frontline care staff but not those working within childcare settings.

However if you or colleagues fulfil the criteria below, you are eligible for being vaccinated under cohort 5 or 6, and will now be invited to have your vaccine:

Cohort 5: people aged 65-69

Cohort 6: Those aged 16+ who fulfil one of the following criteria’s - at-risk clinical groups, carers and young adults in residential settings.

You are also eligible if you work with clinically extremely vulnerable children. To qualify under this criteria you need to be providing face to face care or support to children or adults who are clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid-19.

Further background to this issue, including more detail on the general rollout of the vaccination programme, is available in the Early Years Alliance FAQs here.

Please be assured that the need for vaccinations for frontline early years and education colleagues has been raised at the highest level within Cumbria and we are working with our Clinical Commissioning Groups to continue to raise this.

Public Health resource packs - updated

Public Health have updated their resource packs for PVI settings and childminders. The updated versions can be accessed below:

Childminders resource pack

PVI resource pack

Birth to 5 Matters revised guidance

This non-statutory guidance has been produced by the Early Years Coalition, a group of 16 major early years organisations, and aims to support practitioners as they implement the statutory Early Years Foundation Stage.

Following the initial consultation with the early years sector, the guidance has been redrafted to include some new sections including care, self-regulation, and summative assessment, and also includes strong support for practitioners working with babies and children under three. This draft also includes our solution to showing typical progression in development and learning, while not setting out expectations for individual children at certain ages.

The second draft of the Birth to 5 Matters - Guidance by the sector, for the sector - is now available for you to read and feedback.by midnight on Friday 26 February.

Home learning

With so many life changes taking place for families and many children unable to attend their normal provision, supporting parents and carers with home learning is even more important than before.

Activities to support children's learning

This week our focus is on the rhyme Row, row, row your boat.  Please share with parents to support home learning around the development of speech, language and communication.Chat Play Share - Row, row, row your boat Week 4.pdf

For a range of fun activity ideas, please share What Can I Do This Week?   Remember that the activities included in the Wednesday Communication will be for the activities beginning the Monday of the following week.

Monday-playdough recipe         Tuesday-playdough- Buttons

Wednesday-playdough- Printing         Thursday-playdough- Modelling

Friday-playdough- Bakery            Saturday-playdough- Lavender

Sunday-playdough- Rainbowfish


Fun activities to support young children’s personal and social skills and their emotional wellbeing at home (2-5 year olds)

Children who develop good personal, social and emotional skills have been found to cope better with life’s challenges.  They become children who don’t give up when the going gets tough and who bounce back in the face of adversity.  Focusing on helping children to develop these skills at home will give them a greater chance of enjoying their time in nursery and school and of developing success and happiness in the future.

Here are some simple fun ideas for parents/carers to try at home with their young children which supports their child’s personal and social skills and their emotional wellbeing.  PSED Home learning.pdf

Home learning for children with SEND - from NASEN

NASEN are offering workshops and briefings on home learning, with a particular focus on children with SEND through the Making it REAL programme.

The offer includes:  

• Special Treasure Chests for families with young children with SEND to promote early literacy activities. These will be available for distribution through early years and specialist services, settings and schools, food banks and charities.  

• An opportunity to become a Making it REAL Champion to share key messages.

• Workshops for families to share REAL activities for early home learning. These will take place on Zoom

• Workshops for practitioners to gain an understanding of how REAL can support families with young children

  Briefings about the project will take place as follows:

  • Tuesday, 23rd February 11 – 11.30am A special approach to Making it REAL, on MS Teams
  • Wednesday, 24th February 3.30 – 4pm A special approach to Making it REAL, on Zoom

To book a place please email: GImafidon@ncb.org.uk stating which session you would like to attend.

The workshops for parents, carers and families will be held on Zoom on:

  • Friday, 5th March, 10 – 11am
  • Monday, 8th March, 2 – 3pm
  • Wednesday, 10th March 1 – 2pm
  • Tuesday, 16th March, 11am – 12pm

The workshops for practitioners will be held as follows:

  • Thursday, 11th March, 9.30 – 11am repeated at 1.30 – 3pm (MS Teams)
  • Friday, 12th March, 9.30 – 11am repeated at 1.30 – 3pm (Zoom)

To book a workshop place please email: GImafidon@ncb.org.uk stating which workshop you would like to attend.

Early Years in Mind – survey results, free webinar and resources

Some of you will have responded to a survey shared recently by the Anna Freud Centre. The results of this national survey have now been released and it has revealed that a high proportion of nursery workers have experienced working with children facing extremely complex backgrounds and challenging emotional and behavioural needs. Many practitioners admitted that they had found these needs difficult to manage.

Domestic violence, parental substance use, abuse and bereavement were listed as some of the issues affecting the children in their care. Other challenges involved different emotional or mental health needs. The effects of the pandemic were also a cause for concern for some of the respondents. According to the survey, many nursery staff feel under-prepared for this side of the job and wanted more access to training.

Read the report here – Their-challenges-are-our-challenges-survey-report.pdf

The Anna Freud Centre are also offering childcare practitioners a free online webinar on Managing challenging behaviour in Early Years settings. This takes place on Wednesday 24th February at 4:30 - 6:00pm. You can book on to this webinar by clicking the link below:


Information and advice to support mental health

The Anna Freud centre's website provides support for common difficulties in the early years and some of the issues we are facing due to the current pandemic situation.  Their  mission is to transform the experience of children, young people and their families with mental health issues.

The Early Years section covers areas such as: Transitioning to nursery or reception after lockdown, Helping under 5s through the coronavirus crisis, Top tips for parents and carers and Advice for professionals working with young children.

The website can be found by clicking here:Anna Freud Centre website - Coronavirus support

Practitioners and parents/carers might also find 'Common difficulties in the early years' https://www.annafreud.org/early-years/early-years-in-mind/common-difficulties/  useful to read.

Designated Safeguarding Lead Networks

Thank you to everyone who responded to the e-mail we sent out asking if you would be interested in attending a Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) network meeting. We had a very good response. We are pleased to let you know we will be holding DSL meetings after the Easter holidays (exact times and dates to be communicated nearer the time). At these meetings we will have an Early Help officer present and a representative from the local 0-19 Child and Family Support Service (children’s centre). There will also be time to network and ask questions.