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All about the Early Years team

All about... the Early Years team in the Local Authority

In order to fulfil the duties laid out in the Childcare Act 2006 all Local Authorities have an Early Years and Childcare team. In Telford and Wrekin this team consists of 1 FTE Team leader who is our Early Years and Childcare Quality Specialist, 4 FTE Early Years and Childcare consultants, 2 FTE Early years and Childcare Advisory teacher/ SENCOs and 1 FTE Childcare Business consultant. All of the team hold adult teaching qualifications and assessor awards and are skilled at developing individual support to enhance the quality of provision for children and their families within early year’s environments.

The team supports around 200 settings which offer Early Years and Childcare and schools can also access this expertise and support for both Early Years and Childcare provision and wrap around care. There is a range of provision in the borough supported by the team including 54 PVI settings offering full day care, 109 childminders, 29 nursery schools and nursery classes and 8 out of school clubs.

The main functions of the team are to maintain childcare sufficiency, manage and promote funded places, support vulnerable children including those with SEND, support settings to provide good quality provision which complies with OFSTED registration requirements, ensure Early Years children are safeguarded, and improve links between Early Years (EY) providers and schools to support transition for pupils into school and good outcomes for all children by the end of Reception.

The EY team is funded via the Early Years Block of the Dedicated School Grant. (More information about funding is provided below).

View more information about the team and work on our talking advice and support page.

How do the Early Years team support childcare sufficiency in the borough?

The Local Authority has a statutory duty to secure sufficient high quality childcare for working parents or parents preparing for work. Local authorities must take a strategic lead in their local childcare market to plan, support and commission childcare from schools and the local private, voluntary and independent sector providers. Local authorities must secure the free minimum amount of early year’s provision for all funded children whose parents want it. This duty is set out in the Childcare Act 2006 Section 6. To fulfil this duty the Early Years team produce an annual Childcare Sufficiency report to identify areas of need in the borough. View the latest Childcare Sufficiency Assessment. To assist the market the team also provides business planning support to schools and providers, advises on the ratio and qualifications of staff, and prepares local sufficiency audits where requested, to support schools and settings to plan provision.

The team also supports schools to extend their provision to include 2, 3 and 4 year funded places and to develop wrap around and holiday care. They advise and guide new providers to set up within the local authority and provide a comprehensive support programme for prospective childminders.

The Childcare Funding Consultant ensures that providers are paid their nursery education funding in a timely manner and that the Funding Portal operates efficiently for both parents and providers. 

View information / guidance for childcare providers on talking early years and childcare.

How does the Early Years team ensure all parents can access the Early Years childcare that they need?

The Childcare Act 2006 Section 12 sets out that local authorities have a duty to provide information, advice and assistance to parents and to prospective parents. The service must be proactive in reaching those parents who might otherwise have difficulty accessing this information. This includes supporting parents to access to funded provision for disadvantaged 2 year olds and the 30 hour childcare offer, as well as childcare more generally and wrap around provision. The Early Years team maintains a register of providers, supports parents to access providers, manages the transfer of funding to providers and very importantly supports parents to apply for Early Years Pupil Premium Grant and Disability Access Funding (where this is applicable) to support their children’s needs. Throughout the pandemic the team have been able to help any parents whose childcare provision was closed temporarily for any reason to access suitable provision to allow them to work. Parents can access a list of childcare providers through our website.

View information about finding childcare within Telford and Wrekin.

What support does the Early Years team give to ensure Early Years provision across the borough is of high quality?

The Childcare Act Section 12 states that Local authorities must provide information advice and training to persons who provide or intend to provide childcare in their area. In addition to support with sufficiency assessments, this includes support with OFSTED registration and with ensuring that the provision meets the learning and development requirements and the welfare requirements set out in the ‘Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage: Setting the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to five'. Further information about this support can be found on the Early Years and childcare website.

View more information about talking advice and support for working in childcare.

The Childcare Act 2006 also sets out a duty for the local authority to secure information, advice and training for providers in their area who are judged less than good by Ofsted Settings who are judged to be ‘Requires improvement’ on inspection are given intensive support by the team to ensure they are graded ‘good’ at their next inspection. The quality assurance of provision is important because this will have direct impact on the progress children make and their level of ‘school readiness’ when they transfer to school. The quality of provision is also important because the Local Authority has the discretion to remove funded places from any setting graded by OFSTED as less than ‘good’ on inspection, which would also impact on our sufficiency duty. Of the 201 providers in the borough 98% are currently judged to be ‘good’ or better by OFSTED and the work of the Early Years team in improving the quality of provision has been recognised by OFSTED during inspection.

For example in 2019 the team worked with a setting to improve its provision from RI to good on inspection and the Ofsted report noted, ‘ The managers and staff have made very good progress since the last inspection. They have worked closely with local authority advisers, and have embraced their advice and implemented their ideas and suggestions. Consequently, the care and learning that children receive has greatly improved.’ 

Outcomes for EY children in Telford and Wrekin

The ages and stages questionnaire at the 2 to 2 and a half year review 2018/19 indicated almost 1 in 3 children were not at or above the expected level in all five areas of development, and that on average children were well below their peers nationally overall and in communication skills.

This table shows the ages and stages questionnaire outcomes for children in Telford and Wrekin.
Indicator Telford and Wrekin England
% receiving a 2-2 ½ year review 97.6% 90.8%
% at or above the expected level in communication skills 77.4% 89.7%
% at or above the expected level in gross motor skills 87.6% 93.3%
% at or above the expected level in fine motor skills 87% 93.8%
% at or above the expected level in problem solving skills 87.8% 94%
% at or above the expected level in personal-social skills 86.1% 92.7%
%at or above the expected level in all five areas of development 67.1% 83.9%

At the end of reception in 2019 71.4% pupils achieved a ‘good level of development’, which was similar to the national average, demonstrating that children in the borough made good progress in developing their skills between the ages of 2 and 5 years old. This good progress can be accredited to the provision attended by children both at school in the Reception year and with their Early Years providers prior to this from the age of 2.

How does the Early Years team support the learning, development and well-being of early Years children?

Section 1 of the Childcare Act 2006 sets out the local authority’s duty to promote the well-being of young children. This is also contributes to children’s school readiness, and includes supporting children with SEND. The team proactively encourages providers to work with Health colleagues to complete the 2 year old progress check. As well as identifying key strengths in the child’s development the report will also focus on any areas where there is a concern that a child may have a developmental delay (which may indicate a special educational need or disability). The Early Years team includes three Early Years QTS/SENDCo teachers and three Early Years Consultants who hold the NASENCO award and will offer advice to settings to put plans in place to support children with identified needs, including on their transition to school. In the year 2019 to 2020 148 new referrals for involvement from PVI and school settings came into the team where support was provided. The team works closely with a range of health care professionals, colleagues from the SEND team and external agencies to meet the needs of these children. Working in partnership with parents/carers is also key to this role.

What role does the Early Years team play in safeguarding children?

The local authority has a critical responsibility for safeguarding all the children in the borough and there are over 4500 children in our Early Years and Childcare settings at any one time 3375 in PVI settings and 1125 in school nurseries. The majority of our PVI providers are open 52 weeks a year. The Early Years team has a critical role to play in safeguarding children in PVI and childminder settings. In line with the Statutory Safeguarding and Welfare requirements of the EYFS and Keeping Children Safe in Education they support settings to ensure staff have appropriate qualifications, training, skills and knowledge and a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities in relation to safeguarding. The team delivers a range of Child Protection courses:

  • Child Protection Awareness Raising
  • Designated Safeguard Lead Training
  • Designated 2 yearly update
  • Designated Lead Network meetings
  • EYFS statutory safeguarding and welfare requirements.

The team completes an annual safeguarding audit with providers to ensure their policies, procedures and training are up to date and in line with the latest guidance, and supports with action planning to address any areas identified for development. The team provides the Local Safeguarding Partnership with an annual report with regards to these audits. Throughout the COVID pandemic, to support the most vulnerable children, the team have monitored how settings have ‘kept in touch’ with vulnerable children not attending the setting, through a process similar to that followed by our schools.

How does the Early Year support capacity building and encourage networking across the different types of EY providers?

In Telford and Wrekin eight Early Years and Childcare hubs have been developed across the borough which provide a forum for all local providers of Early Years education and childcare to work together to provide a cohesive and high quality offer for parents. The hubs have 4 key functions: the first is to bring partners together from across the wider Early Years workforce to form collaborative relationships and to break down any professional barriers, the second is to develop the quality of provision across all providers through the sharing of good practice and reach a local agreement about what ‘school readiness’ means and how all can contribute, the third is to ensure that there is a sufficiency of childcare provision in the local area so that parents can access the childcare they need. This could be through a blended offer if available where a parent could use more than one provider to secure the hours they need. The fourth is for the group to work together on key priority for their area, for example through sharing CPD and expertise. The Agenda for the group is decided locally by practitioners so that the work of the hub responds to local need. Each hub is attended by a member of the Early Years team who will support where needed and provide information about borough wide priorities. Anyone can attend and if you would like to find out where your local hub is please click the link below:

View information about talking training for early years childcare professionals.

Does the Early Years team offer an income generating service?

In addition to the functions above the Early Years team does provide an incoming generating offer. Download the Continuing Professional Development for Schools course booklet 2020/2021. Courses are also regularly advertised on the Education Noticeboard. Courses for Private Voluntary and Independent sector are offered via a termly schedule:

The team offers in house bespoke training for individual settings and can complete Environmental audits (ECERS -3, ITERS-3 and SACERS)

Each year packages of support can be purchased by schools, settings and childminders, these are flexible to meet your needs and can include

  • learning walks
  • review of learning environments indoors and out
  • pre- Ofsted inspection guidance
  • forest school guidance
  • support team meetings
  • extending provision
  • voluntary management/trustee support.

Additional SEND support/support with report writing can be purchased for children within the reception year where needed.

How does our Early Years team influence national policy and priorities?

The Early Years team leader is part of the Ofsted Early Education Curriculum Forum which reflects on new pedagogical approaches and implementation into practice. The team attends DFE, National Early Years organisations and OFSTED briefings and training for local authorities, and has termly conversations with our Early Years HMI and the DFE Early Years adviser, in a similar way that the local authority has these links for schools.

The team is also closely affiliated to PACEY, the team leader is currently a member of the steering group for the PACEY DfE funded project ‘Together For Twos’ which focuses on the funded 2 year old take up. These links ensure we are kept up to date with national developments and initiatives and also that we can feed back any local priorities or concerns.

Everything you need to know about Early Years funding

How is the amount available for early years in Telford and Wrekin determined?

Telford and Wrekin get money for Early Years provision from the Department of Education (DfE). The grant we receive is called the Dedicated School Grant and it is made up of four blocks, The school block (for school age provision), the high need block (for SEND provision), the Central School Services Block (for statutory services provided by the local authority for schools) and the Early Years Block (for Early Years Provision). The Early Years block in 2021/22 for Telford and Wrekin is £12.7m.

The allocation is calculated by the DfE using the number of children in funded places in January. Each hour of 3 and 4 year old provision in Telford and Wrekin is funded at £4.50 per hour and each hour of 2 year old provision at £5.36 per hour. Different rates apply to different local authorities depending upon geographical location (e.g. some London authorities receive over £8 per hour for 3 and 4 year olds), levels of deprivation and historical funding levels.

How is this funding used?

It is all allocated to support children in early years.

This table shows the budget is deployed as follows:
  Budget Location of where the allocated budget goes to
3 and 4 year old funding formula £10.30m Goes to all EY settings
2 year old funding formula £1.83m Goes to EY settings with 2 year old provision
Funding for early years high needs £0.20m Goes to EY settings either via the EY Inclusion Panel or through allocation to specialist early years provision
Central early years support £0.19m Held by Local Authority to fund the Early Years team, the cost of maintaining the early years portal, carrying out the annual sufficiency survey etc
Early years pupil premium £0.12m Goes to EY settings, where pupils are eligible
Disability access fund £0.06m  Goes to EY settings, where appropriate
Total £12.7m  

How does this pattern of use compare to DfE rules?

The DfE requires local authorities to pass through a minimum of 95% of the funding to providers. Telford and Wrekin is budgeting to pass through over 98% of the funding to providers so we give a higher amount of funding to providers than the minimum.

How does this pattern of use compare to other local authorities?

The most recent benchmarking data that is available relates to 2019/20, as local authorities weren’t required to submit 2020/21 data in the context of COVID-19 impacts (although Telford and Wrekin did so). The DfE reports early years expenditure compared to the population aged 0 - 17. This showed that Telford and Wrekin’s expenditure on the Local Authority Early Years team and other central costs in 2019/20 was £6 per head. This is significantly lower than the England average of £14 per head.

How is the amount retained for central early years support decided?

Each year the Schools Forum votes to agree the amount retained for central early years support. Representatives from Early Years Providers (i.e. proprietors and Schools (Headteachers) in Telford and Wrekin sit on the school forum. The Local Authority convenes the meeting but it is chaired by a member of the forum. Forum members will ask questions about how money has been spent and what it will be spent on to determine how much is allocated to settings and how much is held back by the Local Authority to fund its teams. View information about the school forum.

School forum also vote for central services via the school block to fund for Local Authority (LA) statutory services. Aren’t they double funding the Early Years team by also allocating funding for central Early Years Support via the Early Years Block?

No, when school forum vote and agree for the Local Authority to have funding for central service for the school block this is to pay for school based provision from reception onwards. 

What would happen if school forum decided not to allocate funding to the Early Years team from the Early Years Block?

All local authority’s are required to deliver on its duties, under the Childcare Act 2006. If the forum decided not to allocate funding for these duties the local authority could appeal to the Secretary of State for Education.

How can I find further information about the work of the Early Years team?

View information about all of our work on our talking early years and childcare page.

Or alternatively you can contact:

Last updated: 30/01/2024 13:05