Today sees the conclusion of the DfE consultation on the proposals for 30 hours ‘free’ entitlement. Over the coming weeks DfE will be writing to early years’ providers inviting them to sign up for the Tax-Free Childcare scheme which will replace childcare vouchers when these are phased out in April 2018. MSA recommends that its members sign up to this scheme as it will provide support for parents of up to £2,000 a year or £4,000 a year if the child is disabled. The government has called the scheme ‘tax-free’ as for every 80p parents pay into the scheme, the government will pay 20p – equivalent to the basic rate of tax. But this will be available to parents earning jointly up to £200,000 a year.
International Symposium in Argentina on Early Education: pedagogical challenges for the coming years
1-2 September 2016
At the beginning of September 2016 both myself and Barbara Isaacs, MSN’s Chief Education Officer received a surprise invitation to attend an international symposium on early education in Buenos Aires from the Argentine Ministry of Education and Sport.
Ofsted guidance for inspectors: “inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills settings”
Ofsted issued this guidance on 23 August 2016 for inspectors working to the common inspection framework which was introduced in 2015. The title refers to early years and also to schools and further education and skills training providers. It considers how inspectors should ensure that settings are complying with DfE’s ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ – KCSIE - (NB this was updated earlier this summer and that version applies from 5 September 2016). It also links to the statutory guidance ‘Working together to safeguard children’ and the ‘Prevent duty guidance for England and Wales: guidance for specified authorities in England and Wales on the duty of schools and other providers in the counter-terrorism and Security Act 2015 to have due regard to the need to prevent people being drawn into terrorism’ (2015). It also links to the EYFS and to the Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006, which MSA consulted members about earlier this year.
For attention of all Montessori Leaders
Click to download the Commentary on Early Years funding formula consultation
The consultation explained in the above document refers to the grant funding for all three and four year olds, in a wide variety of settings, to be implemented from April 2017. As it will affect the majority of Montessori settings, it is important that Montessori managers and proprietors become familiar with the document, aptly explained by Dr. Martin Bradley (MSA Chair) on pages 1-8 of the attachment.
Just when we might have thought that the government would not announce proposals and consultations during the summer period, some important documents have been released. One, a letter to schools about the EYFS Profile for 2016-2017 was sent out by DfE in mid-August. Another, a consultation on “An early years national funding formula” seeks views on how the promise of 30 hours a week free entitlement might work – importantly including some indicative costings for local authorities. I shall be discussing this 64 page document along with the accompanying paper “Equality assessment” in a separate blog. However if one thing is clear, it is that confusions remain about the funding for early years. Back in March 2016 a survey by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission showed that of 1,000 parents of 0 to 3 year olds questioned in England, nearly 50% of first time mums did not know that the government offered help with childcare costs, or if they did know, were unclear as to how to get it or how much it would be worth. That’s hardly surprising when the pathway through funding is so convoluted.
After a fairly quiet period following the election last year, the DfE has begun to produce more proposals and changes which will affect us all. The latest update to ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ (www.gov.uk/government/publications) was published in May and contains both new requirements and a useful overview of the current guidance. It comes into effect in September and although it applies to schools and colleges, the principles are highly likely to apply in future to settings registered with Ofsted.