Early Years Update - 15.12.21

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Early Years
dan barton

Dear Colleagues,

As we come to the end of term, I would like to thank you all for your hard work and dedication over the past few months.

I am aware that the effects of living and working with Covid-19 are still very real for our education providers. Your tenacity and commitment to delivering the best education possible to Cumbria’s youngest children is an inspiration to us all.

You have also been implementing the revised EYFS framework during the past term, and we are starting to see the results of inspection across Early Years Providers under the new Inspection Framework.

While many of your will be continuing to operate into next week, may I take this opportunity to thank you all and wish you and your teams a very happy and healthy Christmas Break.

Best wishes,

Dan Barton, Assistant Director - Education and Skills

Public Health Updates

Last week the Prime Minister announced the implementation of Plan B of the COVID-19 Response: Autumn and Winter Plan, to reduce pressure on the NHS.

In Cumbria, the enhanced local guidance for education settings remains in place. For early years children, the local guidance is as follows:

We recommend taking the following approach for the rest of the term:

  • Early years settings (children under the age of 5)

Children who are close contacts of a positive case in their household

Early years settings can still follow the local enhanced guidance and ask parents to keep children who are household contacts of positive cases at home for up to 5 days.

Children who are close contacts of a positive case in the setting

No action required as children under the age of 5 are not asked to LFD test

Please find attached a comprehensive document from our Public Health Team which describes the national and local guidance, as well as some guidance about Christmas events - Public health briefing for EY settings and schools 



This week the UK Coronavirus alert level has increased from Level 3 to Level 4 due to a rapid increase in cases of the Omicron variant. As a result of this, the government has introduced additional measures to either slow the spread or protect people from infection.

If you still haven’t had your 1st or 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s not too late to book although you may have to queue to access the COVID vaccine booking service due to high demand.

Please note that for users aged 18-29, booking for boosters opens today (Wednesday 15 December)

Vulnerable children

The early years guidance Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) includes the following:

Where children who are self-isolating are within our definition of vulnerable, it is very important that you put systems in place to keep in contact with them particularly if they have a social worker. Some children may be vulnerable who are not officially in statutory systems and you should seek to support any children who you believe may have challenging circumstances at home. When a vulnerable child is asked to self-isolate, you should:

  • notify their social worker (if they have one)
  • agree with the social worker, the best way to maintain contact and offer support

Please contact your Early Years Adviser or Early Years Team manager if you experience any difficulties with the above.

Attendance Data collection

The DfE has ended data collection from early years providers for the time being, following feedback from the sector. The information gathered and the announcement can be found here

Thank you once again for your support in gathering this information during the past term.

The DfE have published the Early Years Provider Survey 2021. The report and data tables can be found here.

Ofsted Inspections

The DfE has confirmed that early years settings, schools and colleges will not be inspected this week unless there are safeguarding concerns to allow settings to use the final days of term to put in place any new Covid-19 measures and consider contingency measures for January. Guidance states that settings should revisit their existing outbreak plans to ‘ensure they are well prepared for any future changes’

Ofsted has also published its annual report for 2020/21which highlights the impact of the pandemic on children and staff working in early years and other education settings - OFSTED annual report 2020 to 2021

0-19 Child and Family Support Service (Children's Centres)

The Christmas holidays can be a very difficult time for families with lots of added pressures, including financial worries.

Support and advice is available for families who may need a little extra support to help them to get through the festive period. Please see the attached link for details of the 0 – 19 Child and Family Support Service in your area -

 0-19 Child and Family Support Service

If you wish to refer a family to the service, the referral forms are available here:

Allerdale referral form

Barrow referral form

Carlisle referral form

Copeland referral form

Eden referral form

South Lakes referral form

DfE Updated guidance

On 14th December the government updated the following guidance:

Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

This includes updated guidance on vaccination, vulnerable children and when to contact the NHS self-isolation hub, face coverings in communal areas, new and expectant mothers and individuals previously considered clinically vulnerable.

Other updated guidance includes:

Guidance for parents and carers of children attending out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Protective measures for holiday or after-school clubs and other out-of-school settings for children during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Guidance for schools: coronavirus (COVID-19) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Active Cumbria survey - chance to win £50 for your setting

active cumbria

Active Cumbria is working with other Active Partnerships across England to understand what physical activity and active play looks like in Early Years settings across the country and they need your help. A short survey has been developed and you can participate by clicking the link here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/XXHHY7N 

The survey is open to anyone working in an Early Years setting and will take no longer than 5 minutes to complete. Please pass this survey on to your colleagues to fill out too. As a thank you for your time, each entry will be placed in a prize draw to win one of two £50 vouchers to spend on equipment for your setting.

Home Learning

Early Years

This week our focus is on the rhyme 'Five little Christmas trees'.   Please share with parents to support home learning around the development of speech, language and communication.

Chat Play Share - Five Little Christmas Trees

For a range of fun activity ideas for children and families, please share What Can I Do This Week? This week's activities all have an ice theme. Remember that the activities contained in this communication are for the week starting next Monday.

Monday  Tuesday  Wednesday  Thursday  Friday  Saturday  Sunday

Training - new online training course - Brilliant Boys

The early years team have developed a pre-recorded course focusing on supporting boys in the early years. It's aims are:

  • To understand how to develop boys’ independence, emotional resilience and social skills
  • To establish how to develop language and literacy skills that are imperative to boys’ development
  • To gain a clear understanding of how to develop gross and fine motor skills which are vital for writing
  • To plan purposeful indoor and outdoor environments to engage boys in their own learning

The course comprises of 5 sessions of around 30 minutes each and could be used by individuals or for group/whole setting training. It is available from SLA online. 


A Christmas message from the team

Please note there will be no regular early years update for the next two weeks.

The early years team would like to wish you and your staff and famillies a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year. We look forward to working with you in 2022.