Check back here regularly to find out what's going on at Keeping Early Years Unique.

KEYU has just  Early Childhood Forum - see Kathryn Solly is the KEYU rep on this influential Early Years body.

The first meeting  KEYU attended as was on 7 March 2018, and here is Kathryn's report:


Early Childhood Forum Summary of General Meeting for Keeping Early Years Unique.

March 7th, 2018:


Tracy Brabin, MP for Batley and Spen who is the Shadow Minister for Early Years provided a clear, well-informed talk.


She described the National Education Service from cradle to grave which will be launched later this year. It is based upon the principle that people will need to adapt their careers throughout life and the thrill of education is central to learning with no cut off for ongoing curiosity and discovery.

The Early Years with what we now know about brain formation and development is central to the policy. Universal child care and education from birth to age 7 will have high enough funding rates to ensure high quality for all and close the attainment gap via social justice


If a Labour government get in YR will continue to remain as part of the Foundation Stage, Baseline Assessment will not go ahead, ability grouping, downward pressure of assessment generally from such things as IELS (Baby PISA) will also stop. Assessment will be emboldened by teachers. Labour will insist on graduates in all settings to enable quality.


Beatrice Merrick of Early Education gave a brief update on the APPG meeting for Maintained Nursery Schools with the next meeting taking place on April 24th. The numbers attending remain high whilst the numbers of MNS continue to decline.


Charlotte Lynch gave an update on the work of Save the Children’s project on early years provision for children living in disadvantage. She stressed that the undue complexity and cost of the child-care system, which is the number one barrier to parents going back to work. She stressed the need for a quality workforce and also talked about the Early Years teacher qualification which although it is valued and is seen as beneficial only half of EYT recommend it.  Visit to access her PowerPoint presentation.


The Wonder words project to build positive parent and child interactions at home was also explained by Charlotte.




Bold Beginnings was discussed by ECF members whilst Amanda Spielman was actually being questioned by the Education Select Committee. She was quoted as saying that Ofsted “probably could have done a better job. Many of the organisations present have contributed concerns, research, evidence and commentary about the dangerous impact that the document could have.  These include NEU, Early Education, TACTYC, NAPE, NAHT, NCB.  Ofsted had described the core purpose of YR as being reading via synthetic phonics.  Alongside this was the teaching of numbers and counting fluency as well as learning to write with a sound pencil grip.


Julie Ann Morris from Ofsted’s registration team then described Ofsted’s myth busting campaign. She also explained that from April 1st, 2018 there will be a removal of the requirement for Early Years providers to complete a written SEF. They will still need to self-assess effectively as they still will be required to demonstrate strengths and weaknesses through a verbal discussion during the inspection process. The schedule and handbook will be re-written. The maintained sector will retain the written SEF.


The EY inspectors are now back in house and thus there is more consistency due to training across a wider range of experienced backgrounds. This will be regionalised later this year.


There are still difficulties in creating a common inspection framework which works across all areas of EY including childminders to maintained nursery schools and classes.


Childcare registrations using the MORE project will be simpler and quicker as registrations will soon be possible via Facebook.


The film of Bold Beginnings produced with Early Excellence is now online.

No news of Children Centre inspections.

Many issues about fraud now concerning Ofsted in regards to child care, tax credits and milk.

Suggested we invite the DfE to our next meeting.


Pam Jarvis from Leeds Trinity University then gave the attached presentation on Baseline Assessment. She is very concerned about the links between Bold Beginnings, Baseline and the formalisation of YR. A rich discussion about early brain development, the need for play based learning, increasing formality, inequality, teaching to the test and the need for high quality in teacher training in the early years followed.

Visit to access her PowerPoint presentation.


IELS (baby PISA) was discussed as the trial with 32 schools and 453 children has now been completed in England. There is no data of the tablet-based assessment which England, Estonia and the USA have signed up to yet but it is expected soon. We should be asking WHY this is taking place.

Early Childhood Forum General Meeting 8 June 2018 Report


This meeting took place at the beautiful new premises at the Montessori International Centre.


Firstly, we received an update on Ofsted developments from Wendy Ratcliff HMI.

  • Ofsted have removed the requirement for completing a SEF but ECF members felt that many are searching for alternatives as evidence still needs to be available and thus a question list approach might be useful as video clips on the Ofsted site. Inspectors will still expect to undertake a conversation about: What is it like to be a child in each setting? What works well and you are proud of? and What needs to improve?
  • The Early Years Inspection Handbook was republished at the end of April with minor changes.
  • The Early Years Compliance handbook has also been republished for regulatory activities. E.g. Inspectors check compliance rather than investigate.
  • The myth busting campaign continues
  • The next framework update will occur for September 2019. There will be a consultation early next term and formally into 2019.
  • Strong messages again were fed back by ECF members about the harm caused by Bold Beginnings.
  • Educational Psychologists are seeing very different practices in Early Years settings and schools- they are very stretched as many SENCo’s are not fully trained, Health Visitor checks via the Integrated Review not occurring and the huge impact with the demise of the children’s centres.


George and Teresa Smith gave us a full account of the Sutton Trusts “Stop Start” report on children’s centres.

  • CC have had a 20 years development from 1998-2018 from the beginnings with Norman Glass initiating 500 local programmes.
  • There were 3,600 in 2004 and 2010 was the zenith. Those which remain have been ‘hollowed out’ and provide a reduced offer and range of services. This shift from universal to targeted is not easily reversible.
  • There is also imposition by government of what it deems to be important for families and communities.
  • The National Audit office has monitored the impact on costs of closures of the children’s centres resulting in young people seeing the state as hostile to them with resulting impacts via crime etc.

The Sutton Trust's full research report, Stop Start can be viewed at:



After lunch we received an exciting and energetic presentation entitled “From Require Improvement to Outstanding” by KEYU member Leah Morris. This was really valued by ECF members as it came from a grassroots practitioner describing her powerful experiences teaching young children whilst coping with the demands of Ofsted, curriculum planning etc. Thank you again Leah.


Finally, representatives of member organisation gave a brief summary of their organisations and possible speakers were suggested for the next meeting.


Sue Allingham  / Early Years Out of the Box

has been nominated as a finalist in the EY Excellence Awards' 'Inclusion Expert' category for her  'Watch Read Do Review'.  

Sue was one of the original founding members of KEYU and has presented at several KEYU conferences.