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

So it’s back to school. Back to the grind after a summer spent leaving charity shops with a strange assortment of toys, tackling people trying to throw cardboard out, and planning creative play sessions from your sun lounger. Bliss

Now that we’re almost a month back into the term, why not take five minutes to kick back, relax, and read your monthly dose of the most important early years news from Famly.

29 hours

Just kidding. We’re still talking about 30 hours.

This last month has seen the controversial government scheme come into action for the first time. Leading nursery chains Busy Bees and the Co-Operative Childcare have both said they are placing restrictions on the entitlement and charging for extras. Meanwhile Labour have continued to attack the policy despite childcare chiefs warning that their own promise of universal free childcare is a ‘huge challenge’.

++ There are concerns that the extended entitlement is widening the gap in social mobility. A report by The Sutton Trust claims that a number of other initiatives, including axing financial support for graduate training, has left the UK with childcare policy that emphasises quantity over quality. Worryingly, this is a situation that will affect the most disadvantaged children more than anyone.

++ Leading think tank The New Economics Foundation has warned that to make the 30 hours viable, many nurseries would need to pay their staff less than minimum wage.

++ New figures report that childcare costs have gone up at double the rate of wages since the conservatives took over in 2010.


After the latest results of the phonics screening check in England showed that the gap is widening between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ pupils who meet the expected standard, there have been calls for phonics to be introduced in early years.

Mark Lehain, the Director of Parents and Teachers for Excellence has recalled how often 3 year-olds are able to pick up the ‘building blocks of reading’, suggesting that by tweaking the approach to creative play in the early years, an understanding of phonics can be introduced at an earlier age.

++ Not everyone is on the same page. A report from two years ago suggested around a third of teaching staff think that the DfE puts too much emphasis on phonics.

Where are the Level 3s?

A number of awarding bodies and training providers have come out against the ‘significant strain on the sector’ they believe is being caused by the drop in those qualifying with a Level 3 between 2014 and 2016.

The drop came after GCSE requirements were introduced in 2014, creating a barrier for entry to many. The requirements were removed in March this year, but not before the number of practitioners qualifying with Level 3 halved.

++ In other training news, two early years teaching courses, at Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Sunderland respectively, have had their EYITT courses rated as ‘requiring improvement’ by Ofsted two years in a row. Neither university had planned to carry on teaching the course before the Ofsted ruling came out.

Nursery leaders in poorer areas

A report by a coalition of more than 80 organisations has recommended that settings in deprived areas should be led by a Early Years Teacher by 2020.

Calling on the government to ensure that these settings have the appropriate funding to recruit and retain the right staff, the Fair Education Alliance is tasked with reporting on the progress in closing the gap in social mobility between the richest and poorest children.

Making sure you’re found online

We’re not against a little bit of trumpet blowing over here at Famly, and this month we’ve got an article of our own to share.

We sat down and analysed all of the most important websites for any nursery setting or group to be on, and ran through exactly what you need to do to make sure you can be found by prospective parents online. Give it a read.

Child development studies

A short rundown of all the news that matters this month

++ If at first they don’t succeed, babies try and try again. A study with babies between 13 and 18 months at the Boston Children’s Museum, found that infants who had seen adults persevere with a difficult task and then succeed, were more likely to show perseverance with a completely different toy.

++ Not enough reception pupils are prepared for school, according to 83% of headteachers across the country, primarily with regards to speech and language skills.

++ SATs for seven year-olds are to be scrapped – but the DfE are looking to bring in tests for four year-olds instead. The move has already been called ‘misguided’ by a leading early years charity, claiming that labelling of children at this early stage can be problematic for their development.

Sliding into danger

Do you ever take young children down a slide on your lap at the playground or out on day trips? You might want to reconsider – it’s often more dangerous than letting the child slide down on their own.

Changes to the ELG

The government are planning to revise the Early Years Learning Goals, as well as reduce the number that are assessed in the EYFS profile.

They were outlined in the formal response to a 12 week review of primary assessment, although not yet explained in any detail. There has been some confusion from the early years sector, particularly around the usage of both ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ approaches to learning that has left many unclear which side will win out in the changes.

Business as usual

A few bits and bobs that have happened in the world of nursery business this week.

++ French nursery chain Les Petite Chaperons Rouge (LPCR) has continued its expansion into the UK market after buying the 20 setting UK chain Kiddi Caru. LCPR already runs 300 nurseries in France.

++ Nurseries in Scotland got a boost this week after Scotland’s Finance Minister announced they won’t have to pay business rates from April 2018. There’s no such change on the horizon for Welsh or English nurseries.

++ The world’s largest nursery setting has opened in Singapore. Located across 15,000 sq metres and over 7 floors, the nursery has places for 2,100 children.

In other news…

++ Tatler has released their prestigious list of the top private day nurseries in London.

++ A nursery in Cambridge has decided to train practitioners in the practice of babywearing.

++ Wondering what names you’re going to be saying over and over again in the next few years? No need to wait.

++ Worried that robots are coming for your jobs? In Japan, they might just be…

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