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Nursery News December 2022

Queen Consort Camilla has given nursery children Paddington Bears which had been left as tributes for Queen Elizabeth II after her death and ate marmalade sandwiches with them at a Paddington Bear-themed picnic.

Children at Bow Nursery & Bow Nursery Centre received toys which had been left as tributes including Paddington Bears which had decorated the gates of Balmoral, Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace after Elizabeth II’s death.

The Queen Consort’s equerry Captain Edwards Andersen handed out the bears, which had been professionally cleaned.

Camilla told the children to put tiny boots on their Paddington Bears, ‘otherwise, he won’t be able to go outside’.

The Queen Consort shared marmalade sandwiches with around 40 children during the Paddington Bear picnic which she hosted.

Invited guests included Hugh Bonneville and Madeleine Harris who acted in the Paddington film.

Hugh Bonneville, who plays Mr Brown in the movie, read Bond’s story ‘Paddington Takes A Bath’ to the children.

13 October marked the 64th anniversary of the publication of the first Paddington Bear book.

Karen Jankel, the daughter of author Michael Bond, for whom he wrote the Paddington Bear stories also attended the picnic.

More than 1,000 bears have been donated by the royal family to Barnardo’s.

Nursery News December 2022

A nursery owner has spoken out in support of messy play saying it boosts childrenv’s self-confidence and gives them “the freedom to investigate independently” after a poll found two-thirds of parents don’t like messy play because of the clean-up required.

Credit: Mama Bear's Day Nursery group

The survey by nursery chain, Busy Bees, found 63 per cent of parents don’t regularly take part in messy activities such as painting or playing in the mud because of all the cleaning up they have to do after.

Tony Driffield, who started Mama Bear’s Day Nurseries with his wife Bev in 2004, believes it is important children are given the opportunity to take part in messy play, saying: “A child’s urge to experiment and discover new things reflects their constant natural drive to learn and offering them messy play is a fantastic way to support their development.

“I’m definitely talking about them getting their hands dirty here – playing with mud, gloop, foam or paint for example. We have edible paint at Mama Bear’s because paint does have a habit of getting everywhere.”

He calls messy play a “fulfilling hands-on sensory experience” and thinks children grow in confidence when they take part in it as it gives them responsibility for directing their own activities.

“It gives children the freedom to investigate independently and if they need any encouragement, we’ll ask a question like: What happens if you mix it/shake it/squeeze it? Or what happens if you add some water?” he said.

Research into the early years sector shows messy play offers special benefits for children with visual impairments, for whom sense of touch is especially important, and also for children with autism who can find it helps hand-eye coordination as well as improving social skills such as communication and cooperation.

Tony Driffield said: “Investigating cause and effect during messy play is fantastic for helping children to build their concentration and develop prediction skills.

“What’s more it can stimulate all their senses, encourage them to use their imagination and promote hand-to-eye co-ordination and development of their motor skills.

Credit: Mama Bear's Day Nursery group

“Obviously we take sensible precautions by providing aprons or overalls and washing hands when we’ve finished, but we encourage our parents to send children into nursery wearing clothes they won’t mind them doing messy play in.”

He also warns that messy play sessions don’t always end up with something physical for the children to take home and show their parents.

But he says: “The experience is so rewarding and we’re always happy to share ideas with parents so they can also pursue favourite messy play sessions together at home.”

Jenny Shaw, academic lead at Busy Bees, commented on the creative play research carried out by Busy Bees, saying: "Children are learning all the time when they’re playing, and any time a parent spends playing with their child is beneficial to their learning.

"Playing with your child doesn’t require a lot of time or expensive resources. There are tons of immersive things you can do with simple objects from around the home, with many fun and developmental activities needing no resources at all."

Welsh Government announces almost £100m funding for childcare in Wales

The funding will go towards improving improve childcare and funding free part-time places, as well as additional Welsh language provision.

Julie Morgan MS and Siân Gwenllian MS announce Welsh Government's £100m funding for childcare at Cylch Meithrin nursery in Abergele

Almost £100m of funding has been allocated by the Welsh Government to improve childcare and fund free part-time places. The investment will also go towards additional Welsh language provisions.

The Welsh Government says the funding is part of a plan to expand early years provision for two-year-olds in Wales, emphasising strengthening Welsh-medium provision. This policy was a commitment in the cooperation agreement between the Labour-led government and Plaid Cymru.

Out of the £100m provided; £26m will go towards the expansion of part-time Flying-Start childcare; £70m will go towards improvements and maintenance of childcare buildings and £3.8m will go towards improving Welsh-language provision.

The announcement was made by deputy minister for social services Julie Morgan and Plaid Cymru designated member Siân Gwenllian at Cylch Meithrin nursery in Abergele, Denbighshire.

Mrs Morgan said: "Our continued investment in the childcare sector is helping to provide exceptional facilities for children across Wales as well as supporting long-term, positive impacts on the lives of children and families through the Flying Start programme.

“It is clear that high-quality provision in the early years supports child development and plays an important role in ensuring that every child has the best start in life and enjoys learning, expands their knowledge and fulfils their potential. I am particularly pleased to invest in Welsh language provision to grow both the number of Welsh medium settings and the number of Welsh speakers within the workforce.”

Ms Gwenllian said: "International evidence suggests that ensuring access to early years education and care is one of the most important steps we can take to give children the best start in life. By moving forward with the expansion of free childcare, as part of a phased approach to extend this to all two-year-olds, we can make a real difference in children’s formative years across Wales.

“Children learn and benefit so much from high-quality childcare provision – what looks like simple play is actually an important educational experience where children learn and socialise in a supportive and nurturing environment. We look forward to continuing to work together with the Welsh Government to deliver this important commitment for all our communities.”

Expansion of Early Years Provision

1. What are the plans to meet the Programme for Government commitment to deliver a phased expansion of early years provision to include all 2-year-olds, with a particular emphasis on strengthening Welsh medium provision?

The first phase of the expansion, started in September 2022, and includes all four elements of Flying Start: funded part-time, high-quality childcare for 2 year olds; parenting support; enhanced health visitor support; and support for speech, language and communication.

During the first phase around 2,500 additional children (aged 0-4 years) will benefit from all four elements of Flying Start.

Families newly eligible for Flying Start will be contacted by their local authorities.

Phase 2 will focus on investing £26m to deliver the high-quality childcare element of Flying Start to even more two-year-olds during 2023-24 and 2024-25.

2. Why should people take up the phase one offer?

Those eligible will receive 12.5 hours of funded, high-quality childcare per week for 39 weeks of the year. The Flying Start childcare workforce is qualified to support children’s development and supplement the nurturing traditionally provided by parents / carers.

Children under four and their families, living in the expansion areas, will be able to benefit from the enhanced health visiting programme and access to support from the highly trained Flying Start Speech, Language and Communication workforce, where needed.

Parents / carers will also be able to take advantage of the programmes support packages to enhance their parenting skills in supporting their child’s development, care and wellbeing.

3. Do you expect all beneficiaries in the first phase to receive all four components of Flying Start?

Yes, local authorities are expected to deliver all four elements of Flying Start during the first phase of the expansion, though some transitional arrangements may be needed while the necessary systems are established and the workforce recruited to support full Flying Start Services.

4. Why aren’t you going to the most deprived communities?

Welsh Government expansion guidance has encouraged local authorities to target the expansion of Flying Start towards communities, in more deprived areas, that aren’t already part of the Flying Start programme.

5. Why are all local authorities receiving additional funding to expand Flying Start in phase one when there are clearly different levels of deprivation across Wales?

We want every local authority to receive financial support to start to expand Flying Start provision as we work towards universal coverage. That way there is a fair and systematic rollout across Wales.

6. What are the plans for further rollout of the expansion to meet the Programme for Government commitment?

Phase 2 will commence in April 2023. We will be offering the childcare element of Flying Start during this phase. £11.650 million will be invested in 2023/24 and £14.3 million in 2024/25. This investment will allow the reach of Flying Start childcare provision to expand significantly, supporting long-term, positive impacts on the lives of the most disadvantaged children and families across Wales.

We will receive regular feedback and intelligence from across the sector about how phases 1 and 2 are being delivered. This will help to inform the third and final phase of the expansion which we expect to commence from April 2025.

7. Is the purpose of the expanded Flying Start childcare provision to help parents into work?

The primary objectives for expanding Flying Start to approximately 2,500 additional children and families are:

  • to ensure children get the best possible start in life;

  • to tackle poverty and deprivation; and

  • to increase the provision of childcare services and of Welsh medium childcare places and settings.

However, the provision of funded childcare places for two year olds may also enable parents to work or access training and education opportunities that may not have otherwise been possible.

8. What benefit is Flying Start childcare to full time working parents when it only amounts to 12.5 hours per week?

The main benefits are set out above (Q.7). In addition, those who work full time are able to have some of their childcare costs paid through this provision.

9. Why isn’t the Childcare Offer for 3-4 year olds being used to meet the commitment to provide universal childcare for 2-year olds?

As one of the overarching aims of this early years expansion programme is to tackle poverty and deprivation, Flying Start is a more appropriate vehicle for delivery. Research tells us that high-quality childcare produces greater longer-term benefits for our children and strongly influences their future life chances. The right childcare can help tackle some of the more entrenched issues that result from living in deprivation, including low skills and poor health which will take time to overcome.

10. How will the extension of childcare to two year olds benefit a child / a family?

Research shows that children who attend quality early years settings are more independent, concentrate on their play for longer and, on entry to school, are more cooperative and better prepared for the challenges they meet.

In Welsh-medium early years settings, children have access to the added benefits that often come from being bilingual, such as an increased ability to focus, higher cognitive function and improved social and cultural relations. Children that are able to switch between languages, can often develop more flexible approaches to thinking through problems.

Children will benefit from spending time in a safe, nurturing environment with their peers.

11. Who is eligible?

During phase 1 we aim to reach up to 2,500 additional children under four by increasing the Flying Start areas in every local authority in Wales.

By the end of phase 1, all parents and carers of children under the age of four living in those areas will be eligible for Flying Start services (health visiting, speech and language and parenting support (where needed)) with those aged two to three eligible for Flying Start childcare.

12. How do people apply for it / access it?

Families who live within the new Flying Start expansion areas have been notified by their local Flying Start teams.

13. How does this work with / compliment the childcare offer already in place?

The childcare available through Flying Start is for two to three year olds. It includes 12.5 hours a week, for 39 weeks of the year, of funded high quality childcare. It will be available in specified settings in the first phase of the expansion.

The Childcare Offer for Wales provides 30 hours a week of funded early education and childcare for eligible working parents of three and four year olds for up to 48 weeks a year. From September the Childcare Offer is also available to some parents in education and training. During term time (39 weeks of the year) the Offer builds on the existing universal commitment to early education which provides all three and four year olds with a minimum of 10 hours per week of provision. For the remaining nine weeks the Offer funds 30 hours of childcare per week.

Flying Start and the Childcare Offer together form important aspects of our long-term vision for Early Childhood Education and Care across Wales.

14. Will my child automatically move to Early Education/the Childcare Offer when they turn three?

A child who is accessing Flying Start childcare will be able to transition (by way of an application) into the early education element of the Offer when they reach the relevant age. This is usually the term after their third birthday. However, the exact timing differs between different local authorities.

Children of eligible working parents, and of some parents in education and training, will also be able to access the childcare element of the Childcare Offer from this point. More information can be found on the Childcare offer for wales campaign page.

15. Will funded childcare services be available to all parents / carers of two year olds in Wales?

In time, yes, however in Phase 1 of the expansion we aim to reach up to 2,500 additional children under four in specified areas in each local authority.

Phase 2 begins in April 2023. From that point a further £26 million will be made available for the expansion of Flying Start childcare.

16. How will this offer (Phase 1) be rolled out, and when will it be available to everyone?

The roll-out will be gradual.

The criteria for Phase 1 of the expansion is focussed on deprivation and increasing Welsh language provision (places and settings).

The first phase began in September 2022.

The second phase will begin in April 2023.

You can read the full guidelines here.

If you are looking for childcare for your baby or toddler in Swansea then contact us today on 01792 46 44 45. Our friendly and professional team will answer any questions you may have and can arrange a time for you to come in and meet with us.

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