The Famly Briefing
All the important nursery news, none of the fuss.

How does the Christmas period manage to be more manic than the 11 months that came before it? Every. Single. Year.

With parties to organise, decorations to put up, and themed activities to plan, it’s easy to get behind with all the important updates impacting you this festive period.

That’s what we’re here for. So put your feet up, grab a glass of mulled wine, and take five minutes to catch up on this month’s nursery news.

1. Saying no to glitter?

Tops Day Nurseries have taken an environmental stand by banning glitter in all of their nurseries. The 19-setting chain has taken the decision after discovering that glitter is a microplastic that cannot be recycled often entering the ocean, and causing serious harm to wildlife and the wider ecosystem. Interviewed on BBC Breakfast, managing director Cheryl Hadland explained that they’d made this decision in a matter of days after finding out about the harm glitter can cause.

2. The budget 2017

The budget announced this month by Chancellor Philip Hammond did little to appease those in the sector who are struggling. With no additional funding for the sector and a planned increase in both the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage, many nurseries have expressed disappointment at the announcements. Some have even claimed that their survival is being threatened.

3. Child development studies and more…

Here’s our monthly roundup of all the developments in child development this month:

  • Babies have connected vocabularies – It’s been discovered that babies as young as six months old might be able to understand language far better than scientists had originally thought.
  • Babies can use context – It’s been a good month for six-month-olds, as scientists have also found out that babies have the capacity to learn, remember and use contextual clues to direct their attention.
  • They understand hard work – This time it’s all about the ten-month-olds. A study has uncovered that babies could understand how much a person values a specific goal by observing how hard they were willing to work to get it.
  • Parent involvement matters – This study has found that increased parental involvement significantly improved a child’s home learning environment and also improved their outcomes in most cases. Which is good news, because modern parents are spending more time with their kids.


4. 30 Hours

Following the many attempts to petition Robert Goodwill which we covered last month, the childcare minister is still claiming that the 30 hours is a success, but he is ready to listen.

At the same time, many newspapers are covering the 30 hours as a ‘crisis’ in the sector, with reports suggesting that more than 1,000 nurseries and childminders have gone out of business since the 30 hours was promised in 2015. Charities have also been criticising the scheme for excluding early years foster care.

++ This month, the government have also been forced to tone down its claims when advertising the scheme. This came after a father complained to the advertising watchdog that what’s being delivered is only 30 hours over 38 weeks, and not 30 hours per week across the year as many marketing materials claim.

++ Nursery World have talked to childcare businesses big and small about their approach to the 30 hours.

5. Questioning gender in the early years

The debate around gender in early years has been getting lots of coverage this month after LEYF nurseries invited drag queens into their settings to spread messages of tolerance and kindness through storytelling and events. The DfE has also got behind a move to introduce more inclusive children’s books in Early Years to make sure they are challenging male and female sterotypes.

6. Forest schools are all the rage

Demand for forest schools and nurseries has been booming in London, with one London nursery revealing they have 2,100 children on their waiting list. At the same time, an expert from London’s UCL has called for more research on the benefits of forest schooling.

Curious about how these settings actually operate? One Famly customer tells us what it’s like running a setting that never goes inside. Speaking of which…

7. How to run the preschool of the year

This month, we had the honour of speaking to award-winning nursery manager Julie White, whose outdoor nursery recently won Pre-school of the Year at the annual Nursery World Awards.

She talks about what it’s like to run an award-winning setting, and why she thinks forest schools and outdoor nurseries are the future.

8. A busy month for Ofsted

The Ofsted Bold Beginnings report on reception class teaching has arrived, and it’s fairly critical towards reception class teaching. It calls on the DfE to review the EYFS and explains that reception class teaching is ‘failing’ a third of five-year-olds.

++ In other news, the Ofsted chief inspector has raised concerns that nurseries are removing certain equipment, including climbing frames, simply because of a culture of risk aversion. In a move that was widely celebrated in the sector, Amanda Spielman explained that practitioners should not be afraid of giving children crucial experiences simply because of health and safety fears.

9. The business bit

We’ve got all the stories from the busy early years business world this month, starting off with a brand new nursery group from some familiar faces…

  • Kidsunlimited founders start new nursery group – The founders of nursery group kidsunlimited, which sold their 64-setting group to private equity group LDC in 2008, are opening a new national nursery chain. Back to the Children Child Care will open their first setting in Altrincham next year and plan to focus on outdoor play.
  • Happy Days nursery group eye expansion – After receiving £8M in funding, the 18-setting strong nursery chain is looking to open three new nurseries in 2018, each with around 80 places. They also plan to open a further seven in 2020.
  • Kids Planet is top of the class – 19-setting Kids Planet has topped the Nursery World quality league table, which ranks the largest 20 nursery chains on their Ofsted scores. The chain has 15 settings ranked as outstanding and a further four ‘Good’ nurseries under its umbrella.


10. In other news…

++ This nursery worker was hailed a hero after she pushed three children out of the way of an oncoming car and was hit herself.

++ This Outstanding nursery has pioneered ‘emotions cushions’ to allow staff to monitor each child’s wellbeing.

++ Companies are now making toys to teach children as young as three how to code…

++ A toddler had her official nursery pictures taken in a troll costume, after a mix up with halloween fancy dress.

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