ECF Meeting Notes


Newsletter 1 July 2020

Dear Members of the Early Childhood Forum,


We are delighted to bring you the first of our regular newsletters.  This is one of our new initiatives as we reflect and develop ways of communicating with ECF members post lockdown.

In our first online Zoom meeting, held on 9 June, Sue Palmer shared with us the work of Upstart in Scotland.  We learned about the significant successes Upstart has had with the extension of early years up to the age of seven.  Her experiences were particularly helpful as this is also the focus of the ECF campaign for this year.  Please share the flyer we produced with your members. 


ECF future meetings

Participants felt that the meeting was of good length, it started at the usual time of 11am and lasted for about an hour. As we do not anticipate the current situation will change significantly, and, as we appreciate that many of you may not be keen on travelling to London, we are proposing holding virtual meetings during the next academic year.  Each meeting will present a specific theme which may be introduced by one or two invited guests.

We have made initial plans for the next three meetings; the exact dates and speakers will be finalised soon.  We will try to stay with Tuesdays for our meeting days.

Our proposed themes are:


July (21July tbc)

The EYFS review and the new Development Matters – Speaker Nancy Stewart

September (preferably last week of the month)

            Returning to Early Years Settings/school– sharing experiences of practitioners

November (provisional date 10th November tbc)

            Babies’ and Mothers’ mental health – reporting on 1001 Days


We hope to bring you the finalised dates in our next newsletter;  and we would also like to know if there are any topics or themes you would be keen to explore as we go forward into 2021.


ECF Membership

The need to increase the membership fee was discussed in the March meeting, when the Steering Group made the recommendation for a significant increase.  The reasons for this increase were explained during the meeting and therefore our 2020/21 membership fee will be £120.  The invoices have already been sent.  We would like to assure members that we have not taken this step lightly and have already started to reduce expenses relating to the Steering Group meetings by conducting them virtually.  We are also actively searching for new members and we would welcome any suggestions you may have to extend the membership. The fact that we are not planning for face-to-face meetings during the next academic year should also contribute towards the general expenses for your organisation’s membership in the Forum.


Please notify George Solly, email address: -  our administrator whose support we very much appreciate, of any events or publications you would like to share with the members. You can also contribute to future newsletters by suggesting topics for discussion or links to information relevant to our group. In short, help us to make the newsletter interesting. 

With our best wishes to you all as we gradually emerge out of lockdown and are able to connect with friends, colleagues and families.


Tricia Johnson and Barbara Isaacs

on behalf of the Steering Group



ECF meeting summary for KEYU:

General Meeting held in London 6 June 2019

Fiona Evans - School Programmes for the National Literacy Trust:

The NLT undertake the largest survey of children’s views on reading and writing.

They create and provide unique programmes of literacy. For example, in early years these include:

Early Worlds Together


Everyone Ready for School.

These are providing home learning and support for families to improve social mobility funded by the DfE and its partners who are charities, companies etc. They describe these as a “creative antidote” to government agendas.

Their Twitter account links to their regular newsletter and free research and down-loadables.

They are trying to reframe phonics as a ‘silver bullet’ resulting from the APPG on phonics with the help of Kate Nation, Jessie Ricketts and Jean Gross.

Working on upskilling teachers and practitioners as to language delay especially in impoverished areas of the country.  The ‘word gap’  is now believe to be increasing by 60% of secondary teachers whilst others believe it is an experience gap.

NLS believe it will only improve when the following exists:

  • Sustained government leadership
  • Multi-agency long term planning and support and provision for children
  • A focus on oral communication as the serve and return model and exposure to a wide range of words, songs, rhymes, books and stories. Language development is crucial for developing reading fluency and oral language provides the underpinning of comprehension, fluency, turn taking, shared narratives and cultural capital.
  • 160,000 11year-olds left primary school not at the expected level nationally. There is a link to poverty and the decline in children’s centres.
  • The “Chat, Play, Read” campaign funded by the DfE is helping practitioners and parents to key messages and modelled ideas printed on nappies and other essential young children’s products to reach every family.
  • accessible via the NLT provides simple videos using accessible language for families to access on-line.

Jill Robinson More than a Score:

Linked with Save our Schools.

  • Aim to disrupt ingrained thinking, critique it and take-action via different communication channels – traditional media headlines, social media as a means of testing for a response and an email action network.
  • Baseline campaign has 28,000 signatures
  • Defend Digital Me-the DfE has not yet addressed the use of data about children and how it is being used. A lawyer in Manchester is trying to get a judicial review as there are insufficient measures to protect the children who are taking part.
  • 2/3rds of teachers want the nonsense word test to end.
  • SATS is another area of campaign 
  • Any boycott has to be national and union laws now mean this is challenging.
  • Concerns about behaviour and the report by Tom Bennett the Behaviour Tsar.


Helen Moylett- Cultural Capital:

  • Based in Bourdieu’s research and Marxist ideas. Very complicated sociological context.
  • Culture is a very complicated word which is greatly contested as to its complexity. Values, beliefs, norms , taste, knowledge and skills all affect how it is interpreted.
  • Cultural capital must also be set against the context of policy, austerity, Brexit, academies and the changing role of Ofsted.
  • Short term reactions are about deficit models of children and families, the pressure of Bold Beginnings failing children and a GLD, the creation of scores to rate children, teachers and schools.
  • Ultimately we must think about what we want for children, how they learn and what they bring with them. There are lots of questions…. The role of the keyperson is critical but you must understand your own cultural capital as well as that of others. Does everyone have to become middle class? What do children and their families bring?


Ali Jaffer-Social Mobility Commission:

  • 13 commissioners who advise the government on education from early years to Higher Education. It establishes the context, gaps and how they are measured.
  • State of the Nation Report reported that inequalities exist before birth. This goes on with measures of GLD and FSM. Results correlate to those in the US, Canada and Australia using central themes.
  • Workforce-recruitment and retention varies between types of setting, geography, reputation. There is unclear progression, qualifications and pay. Urban/rural, deprivation/affluence all impact geographically too. EY is founded on negative images of only working with young children which ignores the complexities of child development and learning.
  • 30hour childcare offer is creating a danger that those who need it most cannot access it because of eligibility, area pressure on places and the most vulnerable lose out.
  • Government not inclined to extend the eligibility but in order to work it needs to be universal by extending the lower income level and improved marketing and research into ethnic community uptake.
  • Home learning is an area of innovation and new funding but will it reach those who need it most with the closure of children’s centres etc.
  • Future concerns and research- Reception Baseline. ‘T’ levels in childcare and qualifications 2020, EYFS reform and Pupil Premium.