What a whirlwind September has been – we cannot believe it’s drawing to a close already and that this week officially brought the first day of autumn. We have been exploring EYPP throughout the month and would like to finish with some top tips garnered from the fantastic people we have spoken to and heard from, from nursery managers, through sector commentators and charity leads, to journalists.
For Early Years Providers
Work with your local authority
We have spoken to a number of different providers in different areas of the UK, some of whom have found EYPP funding difficult to access and information about it confusing or lacking. Some areas are beginning to stand out as getting it right: as always, now that the scheme has been up and running nationally for a few months, solutions are being found for collecting /submitting the necessary data and providing the funding in the easiest way for the provider to invest. If you are still finding challenges, club together with other local EY providers – use sector-specific expert groups to ask for help and guidance. And send your shared thoughts and preferences to start a debate with your Local Authority – would you rather collect data from parents on an “own brand” form? Could it be done at the same time as the child registers at your setting (as long as you ask the right permissions at the time, in terms of sharing the data with the LA)? What information do you need when you receive the funding from the LA? Are you being told which children received it, so you can target their needs?
Be creative and focus on the areas that make the most impact
It is overwhelmingly obvious to NurseryBook that this sector is hugely impactful and creative when it wants to be. Yes, the funding might only be 53p an hour, which is broadly equivalent to one second class stamp. But we know from research that the areas that make the most notable and long-lasting impact on children’s outcomes are: literacy, life skills (including self-regulation) and parental engagement. And not all change requires money, just a little creativity – when it comes to parent engagement, for example, changing the focus of those end-of-week conversations from “Tallulah ate all her broccoli” to “Tallulah loves animals and is learning what noises they all make, could you take her to a free farm or zoo this weekend and show her a real-life cow / pig / lion?”
Be open with Ofsted
Inevitably, one of the topics that has come up most has been how Ofsted will assess EYPP investment within its new inspection framework. The best advice we have heard is to be honest. If you have found it difficult to gather the required information to make applications, explain this and share the evidence (letters to parents etc) that you have tried. If you have received funding but were not told which children it was for, explain this and show the inspector the letters you have sent trying to follow up. You will need to show the documentation relating to what funding you have received too – but you don’t need a long written plan. The inspector would much rather hear from you and your practitioners about what change you have embedded and what impact you expect it to have.
Parent engagement makes the most incredible impact
Research from the Education Endowment Foundation suggests a child with engaged parents starts school on average five months ahead of others. That’s a huge advantage. On a personal note, I have seen this just by spending a week’s holiday recently with my son – suddenly his vocabulary has exploded and pronunciation vastly improved. Our top tip to parents is to engage with his or her keyperson in meaningful conversations about your children. We know it’s tough at drop-off and pick-up time so we are not proposing a long chat, just the exchange of one piece of information: something you have observed and would like his or her keyperson to be aware of; or an interest the keyperson has noticed that you could foster in a weekend outing or with a new book from the library.
At NurseryBook we have loved looking at EYPP this month – yes there are challenges and limitations but its fundamental aim is the right one – to leave no child behind. And everyone we have spoken to in the sector is united behind that aim, which is truly inspiring – we can’t wait to see what impact you have.