ECF Meeting Notes


 Newsletter 3 - December 2020 

Dear Members of the Early Childhood Forum, 

Following the second COVID Lockdown and as we draw near to the Christmas Holiday period this third Newsletter brings you an update on the various initiatives and important aspects of the Early Years that ECF has been involved with. The most recent General Meetings have included presentations by: 

23October 2020 Dr StellaL ouis provided Anti-racistTraining to ECF members,“Let’sTalk about Race–an incompleteguide”.This was an excellent training session which provided us with information about Anti-racism and,mosti mportantly,food fort hought about our own practices.We were also asked to think about and share some of our past experiences,and to consider,'Why is it that you findit difficult to talk about race?’ At times we were made to feel quite uneasy especially when thinking about our possible unconscious biases.


10 November Zoom Meeting at 14:00 - Sally Hogg: ‘Babies in Lockdown’ 

Sally Hogg shared research findings about the effect of Lockdown on babies and their families, especially their mental health, the impact of fewer Health Visitors and the results of funding cuts in the last ten years. Other points made were that: 

  • • There is no universal provision for children from birth to two years across England. 
  • • It is hoped that the abolition of Public Health England might provide the opportunity to get Health Visitors back under National Government. 
  • • COVID has resulted in little antenatal care, visitors not allowed into hospitals and very little postnatal care. 
  • • We should be talking about recovery “not catch up”. 
  • • The lack of help and legislation linked to Parent and Toddler groups 
  • • Andrea Leadsom is leading Early Years Healthy Development review which it is hoped will lead to the establishment of a cross-party consensus. 
  • • ECF membership of the first 1001 days movement is welcomed so that EY settings are represented. 


Letter in the Guardian 

Early in November, Melian Mansfield (Chair of ECF and London Play) wrote to the Guardian about the importance of play and playgrounds, particularly in inner city areas. Expressing concerns that many play facilities will not be available for children during the second lockdown. She stated that ‘children have a right to play and have already suffered disproportionately from the impact of corona virus restrictions. The full letter, published on 5 November, is available online. 

17th November 2020 – Zoom meeting with Kate Green MP, Shadow Education Secretary and Tulip Siddiq MP, Shadow Minister (Education) 

Prior to the meeting members of the ECF Steering Group were asked to provide a question for the MPs about a specific topic. The topics were: 

  • • Outdoors and SEND 
  • • The importance of higher qualifications in the Early Years 
  • • Finding for Maintained Nursery Schools and their importance 
  • • The Impact of COVID 19 on young children 
  • • The PVI Sector 


Kate Green and Tulip Siddiq (TS) gave a brief outline of their respective careers and current roles. Our questions were addressed in turn and both ministers provided very positive replies about their hopes for the future of the Early Years, the funding and the hope that the childcare provided will put the needs of the children first, then the needs of the parents. Sure Start was mentioned as having been very good in relation to the support that young Mothers and babies had received. 

Covid-19 was acknowledged as having exposed and worsened underlying problems. Although, lockdown had forced many to work successfully from home, using Zoom etc it was thought this form of working might continue. Employers need to continue to build in a degree of flexibility. TS stated that they would continue to communicate with ECF outside the meeting as time is limited now, and ECF’s practical experience is very useful. Therefore, another meeting in February may be arranged. 

As a follow up we have shared some of the information and research data referred to during the meeting with both Kate Green and Tulip Siddiq; they responded favourably and encouraged us to stay in touch and communicate issues of concern. Melian also highlighted our current campaigns to extend early years up to the end of Key Stage 1 and to abolish all testing of young children next year and beyond. 

ECF is committed to supporting the UNCRC and the work of Children’s Rights Alliance of England 

Thirty years ago, England, along with all UN member states, apart from the USA , ratified the 54 articles in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Every five years each Government has to send a report to the Children’s Rights Committee to explain how they are implementing the Convention. 

At the same time a report is sent from non government organisations, co -ordinated here by the Children’s Rights Alliance for England, following consultation with many different organisations with an interest in children.. This year 90 organisations including ECF have contributed to and supported the report. Usually a group of children also go to meet the Committee to give their views. 

The Committee , after receiving both the Government and NGO reports send their Concluding Observations to the Government, identifying what needs to change.( see This time this will be in 

February 2022. To date successive English Governments have made little progress. The expectation is that the Convention is embedded in domestic law but that has not happened here. 

The Convention can be seen on the UNICEF website ( 

Early Years Coalition – Birth to Five Matters. 

Early Education and Members of the ECF Steering group have been extremely busy over the past few weeks amending the 2012 Development Matters document. They are working to a very tight schedule, the first draft will be circulated widely via members of the coalition during the week of 14th December 2020, surveys will be sent out to a wide audience to assess thoughts about the amended guidance. Please engage your members in responding to this important survey. The completion date for completion of the project is March 2021. 

Dates and topics for next General meetings: 

27 January 2021 via Zoom at 14:00 – Peter Moss will speak about this recent work in the field of Social Pedagogy 

3 March 2021 via Zoom – Maggie Fisher will report on current issues concerning health visitors in England. 

Further details will be circulated nearer the time. 

Season’s Greetings and Best Wishes for 2021 to you, your families and colleagues. 

Tricia and Barbara 

On behalf of the Steering Group, Early Childhood Forum 



 Newsletter 2 – September 2020 

Dear Members of the Early Childhood Forum, 

Return to the Classroom 

In our first meeting of the Academic year we invite you to share in experiences of leaders and practitioners as they tackle “the new normal” when welcoming children back into Early Years settings, nurseries and schools. Lisa Fern (Grandpont NS, Oxford), Elaine Bennett (KEYU) and Michael Freeston (Early Years Alliance) will share theirs and the children’s classroom experiences. Please Join us on Friday 25 September 2020 at 10.30, via ZOOM.


Black Lives Matter agenda 

During our last meeting in July we invited members to contribute information about resources available to support anti-racism practice, diverse and inclusive practice. In addition to the information shared on the day and in the minutes of the meeting, we have received ‘Eradicating Racism in Early Years Sector’ article from Dr Sharon Curtis and Jane Lane ( The full text can be found in Nursery World 

Dr Stella Louis has been invited to provide anti-racist training to the ECF members on 23 October 2020 meeting. 

Importantly we are seeking ways to extend the ECF membership to make it more inclusive and representative of the Early Childhood sector. Please, do contact us, by email, if you know of an organisation that would be interested in joining at 

Early Years Coalition news 

Whilst traditionally August is a holiday month, the steering group was kept busy working with Early Education and the Early Years Coalition on the response to the revised  Development Matters document. Please find attached the full statement. We have committed to support the commissioned alternative version of the document because we believe that the Early Years Sector deserves to be supported by a well-researched and evidenced document which enables practitioners to guide babies, toddlers and young children towards meaningful nursery and 

reception experiences in line with their developmental and cultural trajectories reflecting the society of today. 

Recently published 

We would also like to share with you recent publications by Peter Moss and colleagues 

New book Transforming Early Childhood in England: Towards a Democratic Education, edited by Claire Cameron and Peter Moss and published by UCL Press. Read online for free at & read the blog at For information about the book webinar go to 

Peter Moss and Mathias Urban, ‘The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s International Early Learning and Child Well-being Study: The scores are in!’, in Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, downloadable at 

Peter Moss and Pat Petrie on 'Education and Social Pedagogy - What relationship?' in London Review of Education, 17 (3), downloadable at 

We continue to support the 1001 days project initiative and will explore their work with parents and babies in our ZOOM meeting on 10 November. We are particularly aware of the impact of the recent pandemic on families of young children and will therefore focus on mental health. 

Associated Webinars 

We would like to alert you to the What About the Children Webinar Conference running through September – to get more details please see 

Please share this newsletter with your members. We very much look forward to seeing you all at our next ZOOM meeting on Friday September 25 and are keen to share your news with our members in future newsletters – do let us know what is new in your organisation. 

With best wishes 

Trisha and Barbara 

On behalf of the Steering Group, Early Childhood Forum 


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.