Dear Early Years friends...

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Dear Early Years friends,

I wanted to write to you to express the pride I feel to know you, to work alongside you, to stand with you, in such a fantastic, diverse, crucial but overlooked part of the education sector.  The unwavering support you have shown to our children and their families in these strange times has been remarkable. Despite your concerns, you continue to work tirelessly to support them.  Many of you are feeling increasingly anxious and overwhelmed, wondering how long you can keep going. There seem to be more and more plates to spin and balls to juggle. But always know you are not alone. We stand together and if you need to reach out- please do. There are so many friends ready to listen and offer a reassuring word whenever needed. Just look on Twitter or join Keeping Early Years Unique on Facebook to find us. We are there.


For those of you working in the PVI sector, I share your disgust, anger and frustration at how again you have been overlooked, whether it’s the expectation to open fully whilst school settings around you are closed to most children, the lack of testing and omission of the workforce in the vaccination programme or the lack of financial protection needed to keep your doors open.  I am afraid I cannot offer vaccines, tests or financial support- but I can offer you my commitment and a promise that I will stand with you and keep shouting out your names very loudly. We are a sector united and cannot be divided.


As exhausted and frustrated as we feel right now, we must hold on to the power that we have and the power our actions can have. I ask you to join with me, take action and be a part of the change we need so desperately- not just for now- but also for the future. Sometimes we may wonder if we can be this change as we work in our classrooms, nurseries, church halls or our homes. Know that we can.  To quote Ryunosuke Satoro: “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean”.


It was just 3 years ago that our open letter condemning the OFSTED Bold Beginnings report was published in the Guardian. So much of the mess that the EYs is in and especially the Reception year is down to this piece of fatally flawed “evidence”. A report whose agenda was, clear. More formal learning. More information learned from books and less play! We rallied the troops then and we must rally them again now.


Let’s get to work! Please join me in taking the following four actions today.


  1. Join this campaign. You do not have to be in the NEU or Unison- but I would urge you all to join a Union. Sign the petition. Send the letters. Join the groups and meetings if you can.


  1. Schools will now no longer have to submit their Reception year EYFS Profile this summer. That’s something. BUT- the plans to introduce the EYFS reforms in September 2021 are still going ahead. This means a new EYFS for us all, with significant changes.  We have had NO cpd. We have had NO time to plan for the changes needed. Those who signed up to early adopt it this year; will not even have had the full opportunity to “road test” it.   The EYFS reforms MUST be halted. They MUST be reviewed after a turbulent time for our children- does this new EYFS really provide what children need? NO. Watch our film and sign the petition here:


  1. Along with the EYFS reforms-, the Government also plans to bring in its appalling baseline test for 4/5 year olds. This has always been a dreadful idea from day one. The evidence and our experiences tell us this. The plan to bring it in this year, when we will either be just out of a global pandemic and still in one? Absurd. Sign here to say no.


  1. Finally a message of hope. As we look towards the light at the end of the tunnel - we need to stand back and take a good hard look at the education we offer to our children. Is it good enough? Put simply NO. This government do not understand children’s development and have no interest in working with those who do. Let’s look around the world to nations who are getting early education right. Let’s demand an EYFS from 0-7. Let’s demand an EYFS that is fit for purpose. Let’s demand an EYFS for the future and not accept one that is stuck in the past.



If you are still reading one word: Thank you.


Thank you for all you are doing in these dark days.


Thank you for standing with me, shoulder to shoulder to demand better.


Thank you for being you.


Don’t ever doubt yourself. You are enough. You are stronger than you know and our children are blessed to have you.


Please rest, recharge and be kind to yourself. This audio book is a great place to start. It’s the beautiful “The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse. It’s perfect. I promise.


Sending you love and solidarity,



*Leave your messages of support to our EYs family in the comments boxes below*


Write a comment


  • Nicola Milton (Sunday, January 17 21 10:23 am GMT)

    So proud of the Early Years sector and what a wonderful advocate you are Elaine.

  • Donna Pearse (Sunday, January 17 21 10:31 am GMT)

    We are the foundation for the children in our care. Let’s unite and give them the childhood they deserve. The current curriculum is so outdated ... let’s do this !!

  • Sam Sollash (Sunday, January 17 21 10:35 am GMT)

    Sending love and positivity to everyone doing their best in these scary and uncertain times

  • Patricia Dovey (Sunday, January 17 21 10:48 am GMT)

    Thank you for your heartwarming message of solidarity. All petitions signed 👍

  • Sue Searson (Sunday, January 17 21 10:58 am GMT)

    Hope, respect & solidarity ✊🏻🌈

  • Amelia Massoura (Sunday, January 17 21 11:15 am GMT)

    Thank you Elaine. I am new to early years having qualified as EYTS just this year. I am passionate about what we do. Being a newby I have learned so much from you and am so relieved that my own values align with so many others in the sector. I sign the petitions, write to MPs and join the APPG early years meetings with a hope that I can help influence change. You are a huge inspiration, thank you for all you do for the sector.

  • Sue Palmer (Sunday, January 17 21 12:55 pm GMT)

    Terrific letter, Elaine! Upstart Scotland stands beside KEYU - shoulder to shoulder - in saluting the dedication of the EY workforce and vowing to continue working towards developmentally-appropriate education and care for the under-7s.

  • Jane Pescow (Sunday, January 17 21 01:15 pm GMT)

    I am so happy AT LAST we have to say, out loud, what we are prepared to accept and not. This pandemic and the ensuing treatment since January has indeed been overwhelming. We cannot afford to be overlooked again and controlled so shamelessly again. It is a relief to read this. I feel a little less overwhelmed today. Going forward they’re clearly coming for our children, first us now them Enough. You’re a star. Thank you!

  • Jane Fisher (Sunday, January 17 21 01:35 pm GMT)

    Thank you Elaine for your tireless support. The information you post regularly helps me ensure I have read and seen all I need to be updated on. Your leadership is inspiring and invaluable. Thank you and take care of yourself too. Jane

  • Sarah Clarkson (Sunday, January 17 21 01:37 pm GMT)

    Amazing words Elaine...inspirational as always. Sending of love to my fellow Early Years comrades xx

  • Lesley Clapham (Sunday, January 17 21 02:57 pm GMT)

    This is just what my team and myself needed to hear. Let’s stand together, work together and move forward.

  • Di Chilvers (Sunday, January 17 21 04:37 pm GMT)

    Thanks Elaine as ever finding the right words to explain how those of us in the early years sector feel. We do need to stand together and be strong to deal with the circumstances right now and the future of the EYFS post Covid. The strength, dedication and commitment you all have now for young children and their families is also paving the way for a strong and united early years sector for the future. Please can I add my Thank-you's as well to KEYU :)

  • Diane Wilkinson-Best (Sunday, January 17 21 04:57 pm GMT)

    You are, as always, an inspiration and a huge support to many. Thank you x

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