A Christmas Message

To All Early Years and Childcare Providers,

It is hard to believe that it is December already and nearly time for Christmas. It has been a busy year for those working within Early Years with many changes to take on board.

In Devon we had the Funding Formula Review which has now resulted in an increase in the hourly rate to £4.02 from this September and this will increase again next April to £4.06. Thank you to all of you who were involved in the consultation events or responded to the survey.

We all know how important the early years are in laying the foundations for our children’s learning and later outcomes. It is their experience of high quality early years care and education which gives each child the best start in life.

IT IS THANKS TO ALL OF YOU that in Devon  we have 97.9% of our providers graded as good or outstanding, which is higher than the national average .

The greatest development for all of us has been the move to the extended entitlement for working parents (known as the 30 hour entitlement). We do not underestimate what a massive undertaking this has been for all of you in terms of thinking about your model of delivery, what parents locally are wanting and the financial implications of delivering this.

Thank you to all of you for getting on board with this, we know that the majority of our providers are offering this to our families. This has involved many of you in extending your hours, thinking about how you can provide the early years entitlement across the whole year rather than term time only or linking up with other providers to have a partnership approach. We are in the very early stages of this and I am sure that there will be challenges ahead as this rolls out and the take up increases but we have made a very promising start. I would like to extend  a BIG THANK YOU to each of you for making this happen.

We have also achieved a high level of take up for our two-year-olds, which currently stands at 88.1%. This is significantly better than the national average of 71% (October data). This is so important because it gives younger children the opportunity to experience a longer period of early education within a high quality setting.

2018 will no doubt bring further challenges. We want to see how we can increase the take up of Early Years Pupil Premium so would appreciate any efforts you can make to engage parents to sign up for this to improve the resources for your settings.

The Foundation Stage Profile results were mixed for Devon. Our key focus had been on improving the gap between disadvantaged and others and we are very pleased that we managed to do this. In Devon, the percentage of children on Free School Meals achieving a Good Level of Development increased from 53.2% to 56% and the gap between the most disadvantaged and others decreased by 4%. This was a significant achievement.  Alongside that however the Good Level of Development dropped from 72% to 71%. We are keen to focus our attention, working with Babcock, on how we can support settings and schools to improve this in the coming year.

For now, I am sure you will all be busy with Christmas parties and end of term events. Once, through all of this, I do hope that you can all enjoy a relaxing and peaceful Christmas and have some sense of rest and renewal before the new year and the beginning of the spring term.

Thank you once more to all of you, we are very proud of our Early Years Providers in Devon.

With very best wishes

Claire Rockliffe