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

Gosh is it that time already?

February has gone past quicker than you can say ‘Beast from the East’, and the snowstorm has brought with it plenty of enthralling stories from the nursery world.

We’ve got changes to the SEF, EYPP and EYNFF, and even a few stories that don’t involve any acronyms at all. We’ll cover gender stereotyping in the early years, the latest updates on free childcare and the controversy around the four-year old baseline too.

So pop your slippers on, pretend that you’ve got a roaring fire in front of you, and catch up on all the nursery news that matters this month.

1. Did somebody say ‘snow day’?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last week (and given the weather it might have been a good idea), you’ll have felt the force of two huge snow storms hitting the UK. Storm Emma and the ‘Beast from the East’ left a host of nurseries closed over the week, particularly up in worst-affected Scotland.

++ The snow might have led to closures for nurseries north of the border, but plenty of early years settings still managed to embrace the snow.

++ Interested in the impact of snow on early child development? These practitioners visited Finland and Sweden to find out more.

2. The real cost of ‘free’ childcare

A new report from the Family and Childcare Trust has revealed that average nursery costs have risen by as much as 7% in the last year. With the cost of childcare increasing at almost double the rate of inflation, many are placing the blame firmly at the feet of the 30 hours amid calls for a more simplified, effective system. Chief Executive of Pre-school Learning Alliance Neil Leitch has come out saying the government “needs to go back to the drawing board”.

++ Is the cost of childcare in the UK really the most expensive in the world? The fact checkers investigate.

++ One mother’s campaign to close a loophole in the 30 hours scheme.

++ The NDNA Workforce Survey sheds some worrying light on whether the early years recruitment crisis will put the entire 30 hours policy at risk.

3. Stereotyping the early years

Are you aware of gender equality at your early years setting? If you want to do more to promote gender equality in your nursery, take a look at our article with 12 tips on how to do just that. Promoting gender equality is also about challenging stereotypes in your setting, so here are some tips on how to do that too.

++ “You can’t break down stereotypes or change perceptions if people don’t talk to you or voice their concerns.” How one former rugby playing engineer is taking steps to change the way men are viewed in childcare.

++ Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry is calling for a new equal pay act, challenging why childcare jobs are valued less than banking ones.

4. Childcare in Scotland

The watchdog in charge of Scotland’s spending has raised concerns about the Scottish plans to run with 30 hours by 2020, warning there are ‘significant risks’ in the expansion. The watchdog is concerned that the councils will not be able to meet the staffing and building requirements to account for the increased uptake of care.

++ It didn’t look any rosier in the aftermath of the report, with Fair Funding for Our Kids revealing that the childcare system in Scotland is ‘not set up for working parents’. Their freedom of information request revealed that only one in ten council-run nurseries open late enough to cover regular office hours. In response, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that the plans are ‘on track’.


That’s a whole lot of capital letters. There’s been some changes from Ofsted and the DfE this past month, starting with the announcement that online Self Evaluation Forms (SEFs) are to be scrapped. The decision was taken based on its effectiveness and is part of a wider move to remove the troves of paperwork that face nursery managers every day.

Early Years Minister Nadhim Zahawi has also confirmed plans to change eligibility for funded two-year-old places, free school meals and EYPP. The Early Years National Funding Formula has also been released for the financial year 2018-2019 – you can find out the rates in your area by downloading the government documents.

6. Is our physical development up to scratch?

Ofsted is considering a new focus on physical development within early years, as they claim nurseries and pre-schools are not doing enough to challenge children physically. Deputy Director of Early Education Gill Jones thinks practitioners need to encourage children to take more safe risks in order to be more physically active. For ideas on how to get your little ones more active, why not check out our guide to physical development activities?

++ With 90% of children scoring well on physical development by the end of reception, the question has been raised over whether early learning goals provide an ‘honest picture’ of a child’s physical development.

7. The studies that matter

Every month, we run down the child development studies and reports that matter to you.

8. Can you hear the baseline?

A group of educational experts, teachers and parents have called on the government to abandon their plans to introduce a new baseline assessment for four-year-olds. The ‘More Than A Score’ group have produced a report entitled ‘Baseline assessment: Why it doesn’t add up’, claiming that the four-year-old baseline is based on opinion rather than research and prejudice. If, as they claim, the baseline cannot provide a ‘valid account of the learning of four-year-olds’, then it will damage the early years and the high costs are entirely unjustified.

9. The business bit

All the latest news from the nursery business world:

  • Busy Bees in China – Busy Bees is set to open 32 new nurseries in China over the next five years as they encourage the country to embrace childcare from a younger age.
  • ICP Nurseries expands – ICP nurseries, which already runs 12 settings in the UK, has bought two Outstanding settings from the Little Rascals Nurseries Group in Kent.
  • New nursery group in the midlands – A new nursery group named Small People will open in Cropwell Bishop, with plans to open two further nurseries this year. The plan will be to encourage all children to spend up to 80 percent of their day outside in the nursery’s large grounds.
  • Half a million for setting number two – A forest school in Lancashire named Adventures in Learning has opened its second nursery after receiving £500,000 funding from HSBC. The new nursery in Carleton is registered to look after 55 children.


10. In other news

++ Babies’ sleep patterns are not easy – but that’s no need to despair

++ Babies in an American setting wore a ‘talking pedometer’ to analyse the words which they were exposed to over a four month period.

++ Should babies be feeding themselves?

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