SureStart How parents back

to help
get back
to work
810 80 ONE
Ed Balls
We talk to the new Secretary of
State for Children, Schools and
Families about his vision and
hopes for the future
New parent primer
Have questions about how to
support new parents? Read the
answers from our experts
Getting back to business
As children get older, many
parents want to get back to
work, but doing so can be tricky.
Try these ideas to help them
All systems are go
The new ContactPoint database,
set to go live in 2008, will make it
easier to find out who is working
with children in your care
Cultural connections
A bilingual support worker shares
her experience of working with
different communities and
languages in Portsmouth
Need to know: ADHD
What to watch out for and how
to support a child with Attention
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Flexible working
With a little give and take, it can
benefit both staff and employees
The latest research, facts and
findings - plus more on the EYFS
Awards and workshops, plus
books, events and great days out
Over to you
Your pages: share a tip or resource
A day in the life
On the beat with a Safer
Neighbourhood Officer
A selection from our postbag
Find out how to support
parents going back into
Welcome to our autumn issue!
As you probably know, Sure Start
now falls under a department
with a fresh new name: the
Department for Children, Schools and Families
(DCSF). It’s responsible for improving the focus on all
aspects of policy affecting children and young people
as part of the Government’s aim to deliver educational
excellence. Our features showcase that excellence
where it’s already happening. For starters, on page 10
we’ve been asking family support workers about
what really gets results when it comes to helping
families into employment. Work with children who
have English as an additional language? See page
16 for tips and strategies. And on page 8 there’s a
focus on supporting new parents, gleaned from
settings with good practice to share. Happy reading!
Sheila Scales
Director, Sure Start, Extended Schools and Special Needs Group
Editor Melissa de Villiers Art director Shirley Saphir Chief sub-editor
Jill Starley-Grainger Editorial assistant Alice Makoni
Production manager Brian Ventour Account director Tiffany Van der Sande
Editorial director Juliet Warkentin Creative director Paul Kurzeja
For DCSF: Jon Spencer
DCSF Communications Director: Caroline Wright
Director, Sure Start, Extended Schools and Special Needs Group: Sheila
For enquiries regarding the Sure Start, Extended Schools and Special
Needs Group, call 0870 000 2288
Sure Start magazine is published on behalf of the Sure Start and Extended Schools Group by
Redwood, 7 St Martin’s Place, London WC2N 4HA © Redwood Publishing Ltd, 2007. All rights
reserved. While reproduction in whole or part is prohibited without prior permission of the editor,
permission is granted to reproduce pages for the purposes of circulating information about Sure
Start, and for staff training. Opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the author, not Sure
Start. Sure Start cannot be held responsible for the contents of any third-party web pages or
reports referenced. The Sure Start, Extended Schools and Special Needs Group is part of the
Department of Children, Schools and Families.
Get in touch!
Please write to Sure Start magazine, 7 St Martin’s
Place, London WC2N 4HA or send an email to
[email protected]
Sure Start magazine is now available on tape for
visually impaired readers. For details, call Susie
Fisher on 0117 973 6013 or email [email protected]
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SUBSCRIBE OR ORDER MORE COPIES? If you work with families and children, you can subscribe free of
charge. Just fill in the form on the back cover, or go to
All the latest early years facts and findings,
plus more on the Early Years Foundation Stage
A new website from
the World Cancer
Research Fund aims to
tackle childhood obesity
by getting four- to
interested in living a
healthy lifestyle. The
website offers a range
of activities for children
to try, from healthy
recipes they can cook
to exercise games, fun
quizzes and competitions.
Couch potato kids
A new University of Leicester
study reveals that physical
inactivity among children has
reached ‘epidemic levels’.
Researchers surveyed more
than 3,500 pupils from five
inner-city Leicester secondary
schools for the study. Childcare
workers are key to turning this
around, helping reduce the risks
of young children developing
diabetes and heart disease.
Check out these key dates
to help you plan activities
Reely good
Get kids to draw
a picture of a film
like Happy Feet
to win a great prize
For National Schools Film Week
(15-19 October), the organisation
Film Education is running a Mini
Film Fan Competition to give
children aged three to seven the
chance to win some fantastic
prizes, including a Yamaha
theatre system. To enter, children
must design a poster or draw a
picture of their favourite film.
Entries must be submitted by
21 September 2007, so get
your skates on!
23 Sept – 23 October:
Seed Gathering Season
Make the most of trees with The Tree
Council’s autumn festival. Visit www.
1-31 October: International
Walk to School Month
Join in an event to promote walking.
1-31 October: Black History Month
Celebrate the contributions of black
people from around the world. Visit
1-31 October: The Big Draw
Sharpen your pencils for a month of
creativity. Visit
19-23 November:
Anti-bullying Week
This year’s theme
is ‘Community
Cohesion’. Visit
A new scheme has targeted £9 million in
funding to develop fresh ideas on how
to connect with hard-to-reach parents and
encourage them to help their children.
Proposals submitted by the local authorities
include giving parents learning diaries and
albums for their children so they can discuss
progress with professionals, and showing
parents how to use music and singing to help
their children learn to speak and listen. Other
authorities are planning to engage fathers and
granddads by recording them reading stories and
organising gardening activities.
The one-year programme – part of the Parents
as Partners in Early Learning (PPEL) project
– will provide training for early years staff
working with families in the 30 per cent most
disadvantaged areas in 41 local authorities in
England. The consultation can be accessed at
Raising Standards:
Improving Outcomes
What it’s all about?
The DCSF has just consulted on
the draft statutory guidance on
the new early years outcomes
duty being introduced under the
Childcare Act 2006.
What is the outcomes duty?
This new duty comes into force
on 1 April 2008 and requires
local authorities (LAs) to improve
the five Every Child Matters
outcomes for all young children
aged 0-5 in their area and to
reduce inequalities between
them. LAs must ensure the
delivery of integrated early
childhood services that
encourage access, particularly
for the hardest to reach families.
What’s the aim of it?
The guidance is meant to
make clear the new statutory
duties and Government’s
expectations of what LAs and
their partners must achieve.
The provisions of the Act set
out the minimum statutory
requirements, but the detail of
how these are fulfilled will vary
from LA to LA. The guidance
sets out to strike the right
balance between central
direction and local autonomy.
What difference will it make?
To ensure children have the best
possible start in life, we need
quality services integrated at the
point of delivery. This requires an
integrated approach at all levels.
Where can I find out more?
You can find the draft guidance
on the Sure Start website and
look out for the Government’s
consultation response and the
final guidance later this year at
of three- and four-year-olds are taking up free early
education entitlement, DCSF statistics reveal. Figures show
that there are now 1,130,00 children taking up places, compared
with 1
10,00 last yearr. See www.d
/ tatistics
Beep Beep! Day aims
to improve road safety
Every 16 minutes, a child is hurt on
UK roads. Now Brake, the national
road safety charity, is urging nursery
schools, childminders and preschool
groups to get involved in its Beep
Beep! campaign and raise awareness
of life-saving road safety lessons.
L To order an information pack,
email [email protected]
with your name, the name of your
nursery or playgroup, and a daytime
telephone number.
L National Road Safety Week takes
place on 5-11 November 2007. Visit
Home visits key for
early intervention
A new qualification for teens
interested in working with
children will be launched in
September 2008. The Society,
Health and Development Diploma
is available at Levels 1, 2 and 3
and will enable progression to
degree-level qualifications. Contact
[email protected]
Effective home visits are the
best way to engage vulnerable
and excluded parents in family
support services, according to
a new study involving Sure Start
local programmes. Researchers
from the Family and Parenting
Institute (www.familyandparenting.
org) also found that successful
service delivery depends on
involving parents in the planning
and delivery of services, and
that whole centre training for
staff helps deliver a more
cohesive strategy. For a copy of
the report, email [email protected]
A new programme in infant
2 massage has been designed
to meet an increasing demand
for teachers. The Touch-Learn
Infant Massage Teacher
Training Programme runs from
19 Sept 2007 to 17 Jan 2008.
EYFS: Putting you in the
picture with Ruth Pimentel
As we reported
last issue, the EYFS framework has
now been produced and is steadily finding
its way into the hands of practitioners.
This usually happens via a local authority
(LA) briefing event, but you can also order
a copy from the DCSF orderline on 0845
6022260, quoting 00012-2007PCK-EN.
Our feedback has continued to be very
positive. The high hit rate on the EYFS
website (
indicates that many of you are finding this
a really useful way to access the materials.
Summer saw a new announcement of
additional funding for the training offered
to practitioners through their LAs.
Additional funding has also now been
made available to provide supply cover
and for LAs to use to support the current
training to PVI providers. Good progress is
being made with developing the level 3
units of learning, too.
Issue 15 Autumn 2007
L More information on this is available on
the Children’s Workforce development
Council website
projects/eyfs.htm. It’s pleasing to know
that funding for these units is available
through the Transformation Fund.
We are also getting a very pleasing
response to the new ‘Letters and Sounds’
resource, an additional set of materials
that focuses very specifically on high
quality phonics teaching. It’s well worth
having a look at these materials as they
describe the importance for all children of
making a good start through the
development of speaking and listening
activities, and there is some excellent DVD
material showing the role of the practitioner.
L For more information, visit www. The
materials are available to order from the
DCSF orderline 0845 6022260, quoting
00282-2007 PCK-EN
Society still fails to recognise
3 the importance of fathers,
warns a report by the Equal
Opportunities Commission.
‘Fathers and the Modern Family’
says that men are eager to be
more involved with their children
but face barriers at work and in
public services.
4 The Department of Health
has published two new
resources practitioners can pass
on to new parents, providing
the latest advice on key aspects
of child health and having a
healthy pregnancy. ‘Birth to
five’ and the ‘Pregnancy Book’
are available at
England cricketer Freddie
Flintoff has been voted
Celebrity Dad of the Year,
according to a poll by Virgin
Money. Gordon Brown, David
and Paul
all made the
top five.
Ed Balls
all our schools, particularly around improving core literacy and
numeracy skills. Other key goals include increasing achievement
for all young people and giving teachers the kind of support and
flexibility they need in order to excel. I also want to raise the bar on
universal children’s services. We need to create a more coherent
approach so that we can identify potential problems early and
intervene more quickly and effectively when children are at risk. This
is at the core of our ‘Staying Safe’ consultation.
What’s the most fun you’ve had in your new role so far?
I thoroughly enjoyed spending a day at Banbury School in
Oxfordshire. We’d only told the headteacher and senior teachers
For the first time, there is now a Cabinet minister with
that I was coming, so as far as everyone else was concerned, I was
responsibility for children. What are the implications of
just another official visitor. It was like going undercover and a great
this change?
experience to spend a whole day there.
Quite simply, it puts children at the heart of Government, allowing us
I went to a senior staff meeting, then a staff meeting and also
to reflect their needs across a broad range of policies. We are now
talked to teachers and pupils. I was able to sit in on some lessons
in a unique position to make sure that all children and young people
and have lunch in the staff room. I was really impressed, but
fully benefit from what should be an age of
also struck by the complexity of the daily
challenges the staff faced. It helped
“I want to raise the bar on opportunity for all.
me understand all the hard work that
universal children’s services In terms of policy affecting
teachers and school staff are doing at this
excellent school.
and create a more coherent children, what’s been your greatest
achievement so far?
It’s still very early days, so I’m not sure I can
In terms of policy affecting children, approach so that we can
claim any great achievements. But I am
what does the new Department
intervene more quickly
pleased that we have started a debate about
for Children, Schools and Families
when children are at risk” the best ways to keep children safe and the
do that the old Department for
balance that parents need to strike between
Education and Skills did not?
protecting their children and allowing them to learn, explore and
The new Department structure will allow us to give a relentless
experience life safely.
focus on the needs of children. It brings together for the first time all
policy affecting children and young people, including schools and
You have three children. What about your own personal
standards, children’s health, sport, and youth justice.
experiences of family life? How do these shape your
This gives us a really exciting opportunity to develop a coherent,
attitudes to children’s services?
integrated strategy ensuring all children are supported to pursue
Like all parents, we often struggle to combine work and home life
their talents to the full, be properly looked after and helped to be
successfully and it can be pretty hectic sometimes. But what we
happy and healthy. It’s a simple but challenging aspiration, one that
are trying to do as a Government is make this juggling act easier
requires us to forge closer and better connections between schools
for families by offering more comprehensive support. For example,
and across the full range of children’s services. And that’s exactly
we’re committed to developing the Sure Start programme and want
what the new Department is here to do.
all schools to offer extended services by 2010. So we’re exploring
ways in which children’s services can collaborate more effectively to
What are the new DCSF’s priorities?
help parents and children alike.
There are many key priorities, but they all centre on providing
excellent services for all children and families, and more support
for those who need it most. We are making a huge investment in
Where to next?
early years to improve life chances for all children. We have already
L The purpose of the ‘Staying Safe’ consultation is to set out
opened more than 1,300 Sure Start Children’s Centres and we know how we can work together to help children and young people stay
that parents value them highly. Now we need to build on that work.
safe and fulfil their potential. For more information, visit
Education is vital, and we must continue to raise standards in
The Secretary of State for Children, Schools
and Families aims to offer children and
families more comprehensive support
[you ask, we answer]
A helping hand
Providing support to new
parents is vital both for their
well-being and that of their
child. Because children’s
centre practitioners have to
deal with people in all sorts of
circumstances, it can be
tricky to figure out how to
help. Our panel of experts
gives advice on assisting new
parents in those important
months after a baby is born
Our experts
Amy Semple
Policy researcher,
Trust (NCT)
Midwife, Sure
Start Denaby and
Children’s Centre
Shona Gore
Antental tutor,
teacher, postnatal NCT
leader, NCT
Head of policy
research, NCT
Breastfeeding is often an
issue for our new mums. How
can we provide the best
support for them?
AS Breastfeeding support groups mean that
mums can be shown correct positioning
while having the opportunity to talk about
problems. These can be run as part of a
post-natal group or as an informal drop-in.
Our breastfeeding counsellors train local
mums to be peer supporters. It’s also
important to make sure your centre is
breastfeeding-friendly, with quiet areas
for mums who would like privacy.
RH We set up a New Mums’ Group at our
children’s centre to offer advice and support.
It’s a fantastic formula! We offer a rolling
programme with topics including
breastfeeding and we keep the sessions
very informal. We offer one-to-one advice
too and provide videos and booklets.
Sleep is important for parents
and babies, but quiet nights
can be difficult to achieve. Is
there an easy way?
AS One potential strategy is to help new
mums develop a consistent routine of
calming activities, such as a nightly bath,
reading a story or singing a song. If a baby is
wakeful at night, she might need feeding or
a nappy change. Keep lights low and the
room quiet so she knows to go back to
sleep. Sleep-focused sessions for new
parents can be really helpful.
Post-natal depression makes
everything harder for new
mums. Any tips?
SE Running courses and drop-ins at Sure
Start Children’s Centres that help people
focus on their experience of parenthood
enables them to become more confident in
their role. We aim to discuss different
parenting styles to allow people to make
decisions about what is right for them and
ease some of fear of doing it wrong.
RH We have found that supporting women
from a range of services helps best with
post-natal depression. We offer reflexology,
Indian head massage and ‘Buggyfit’
sessions (brisk walking and toning
exercises). We also liaise with local health
visitors and GPs if anyone has severe signs
of post-natal depression so that early,
appropriate support is given.
We are making progress with
our support for teenaged
parents but want to do more.
What really works?
SG When working with young parents, it’s
important to meet their needs rather than
try to make them fit into current groups.
Allow for school or work commitments when
choosing a time to meet, and contact the
group through texts. Also try to establish
a partnership with an organisation already
successfully working with young people.The
NCT is working with Connexions to deliver
free post-natal courses, and it also offers a
Young Parents’ Toolkit for health professionals.
RH We have a high level of teenage
pregnancy locally and have found that
running separate groups for these mums
works best. We hold a Teenage Baby
Talk Café every Tuesday at our children’s
centre to offer access to support on
everything to do with pregnancy and babies
as well as on housing and benefits.
Premature babies have their
own unique needs, and it is
often impossible for new
parents to prepare for this
What really works?
eventuality. Should we be
doing more to help them?
MN Many premature babies have ongoing
problems and are demanding feeders,
which can take its toll on parents. Support
could be facilitated by a specific group or
drop-in session, delivered by staff trained
to work with parents dealing with the
practical and emotional pressures of having
a premature baby. BLISS, the premature
baby charity, provides a wide range of
information that can be made available to
parents at your centre. The NCT Experience
Register puts parents in touch with people
who have experienced the same situation as
them and can be very helpful in providing an
opportunity to share distressing feelings.
Our children’s centre is based
in a very diverse community
and we know we are not
reaching some of the most
excluded families, such as
those from small ethnic
minority groups. Any advice?
RH What works well is consulting widely
and trying to involve parents as much as
possible in designing your family support
Issue 16 Autumn 2007
services and the manner of their delivery.
Then, to keep families engaged, I’d suggest
taking advice and guidance from as many
community members and as wide an age
range as possible to ensure you reach the
different generations. It’s also essential that
staff are trained to have at least a basic
understanding in order to offer appropriate
services and avoid giving offence.
Where to next?
LInformation about the Sure Start Children’s
Centres Practice Guidance can be found on the
Sure Start website. It’s been updated to include
new sections on working with families and
children in vulnerable groups and additional
case studies from children’s centres. Visit
LContact the NCT for advice on specific issues. NCT
Breastfeeding Helpline: 0870 444 8708, NCT
Pregnancy and Birth Helpline: 0870 444 8709
LThe NCT offers training for health professionals
and Children’s Centre staff, including running
effective antenatal classes for teenagers, enabling
mothers to breastfeed for six months, and postnatal
depression: 020 8993 3441, [email protected]
LBLISS, the premature baby charity website,
offers advice about newborns:
L Offer a rolling programme of
topics for discussion during group
meetings so that newcomers can
access information and regulars have
the opportunity to revisit key issues.
L Blend group and individual
support. We can all learn from each
other, but one-to-one has its place. A
particularly effective method is to make
staff available for private conversations
after group sessions to ensure that
concerns and anxieties are dealt with.
L Make use of knowledge within
groups to enhance peer support.
This is a really valuable resource which
can boost confidence and self-esteem
as well as helping to ensure that those
who need support receive it.
L Offer needs-led services that
build on existing strengths.
While problem solving is certainly
part of the work of a children’s centre,
strength-based working builds on
existing skills, abilities and resources
to bring about positive results.
L Offer new parents with older
children the opportunity of some
child-free time. Playgroups and
crèches can free up time for parents to
focus on their new babies and find
solutions for issues facing their families.
[family support]
Parents often want to get
back into work as their
children grow up, but
they can find it difficult
getting the help they
need. Children’s centres
play a crucial role in
offering support, training
and advice, and that can
make all the difference
nemployment among
parents and carers is a
big cause of child poverty.
That’s why one of the five
Every Child Matters goals
is specifically about supporting
families to become economically
active. But what does this actually
mean in practice?
For Sure Start Children’s Centres,
attended as they are by a large
number of parents accessing services
for their children,
the potential is
“Centres can play a
huge. The centres
can provide a very role in encouraging
employers to support
atmosphere in
which parents can parents”
learn about
employment and training
opportunities, for instance, and they
Working together
can also play an important role in
“When it comes to improving the
encouraging employers to support
employability of parents, partnership
parents with flexible work
working is essential,” says Sue
arrangements and childcare.
Dessent, programme manager at
Of course, there are plenty of
Sure Start Cauldwell in Bedford. “It’s
other ways children’s centres can
about going to people like the county
help as well, but it’s clearly not easy
council’s family learning team and
to go it alone. By teaming up with
local colleges, who have the tutors
JobCentre Plus, the Learning and
and expertise.”
Skills council, local training providers
In Cauldwell, where there are two
and colleges, centres can ensure
children’s centres, about a third of
parents get the best advice and
parents are of Bangladeshi, Indian or
opportunities to learn new skills.
Eastern European origin. Bedford
College runs ESOL (English for
Speakers of Other Languages)
classes at the Peter Pan Children’s
Centre three times a week.
Language skills
“For many, learning the language is
the first step,” says Sue. That’s true of
one mum, originally from Iraq, who’s
studying English at the same time as
taking a ‘Getting Started in Preschool Practice’ course. The course
is run by parent development worker
Jane Smyth at Bedford’s Cherry Trees
Advice from
staff, training
information and
free childcare all
help parents get
back into work
A parent’s story
Mum-of-three Sarah
Hrymajlo’s life changed
after completing a range
of courses at the Cherry
Trees Children’s Centre
iin Bedfordshire
“ started off trying lots of activities
and drop-in groups at the centre
before plucking up the courage
tto try the courses, including First
Aid. Cherry Trees was offering a
ffree crèche, which was great.
After that, I did a longer ‘Getting
Started in Pre-school’ course.
“Things took off after that. I’d
left a part-time job to spend time
with my children, so when my
Issue 16 Autumn 2007
eldest started at Cherry Trees
Nursery School, which is linked
to the centre, I began volunteering
there. Staff suggested I do
another morning a week and
work towards an NVQ Level 2
qualification. I got that in 2005
before my third baby arrived.
“Now I’ve nearly completed
my NVQ Level 3. It’s made me
feel very confident as it’s the first
time I’ve done something I’m
good at. I do supply work at the
nursery and am thinking of
getting a part-time or full-time
job. That would help the family
finances and mean we could
afford holidays and other extras.”
[family support]
Children’s Centre. She has 17 mums
on the accredited course. Most are
keen to gain further qualifications or
jobs, and Jane gets a real buzz out of
seeing them blossom. Both centres
work with JobCentre Plus, the local
extended schools co-ordinator and
training providers, such as a voluntary
group that trains crèche workers.
“Multi-agency teamwork is really
helping cut local child poverty and
unemployment rates,” asserts
Dean Wood, support childcare
partnership manager, New Deal
Plus for Lone Parents. He works
with JobCentre Plus in the Black
Country and does outreach work at
Sure Start Tipton Children’s Centre.
Tipton is part of a pilot, which
means Dean can offer lone parents
financial incentives to return to work
plus extra funding for childcare.
Parents can also go to a Citizens
Advice Bureau adviser based at the
centre or benefit from an array of
courses, many of which take place at
a local primary school, says centre
manager Carol Thompson. In
addition, the centre has a learning
outreach worker, runs a successful
volunteering programme and has
What did you have to say?
Join our readers’ panel: email [email protected]
The article concentrates on urban childhood poverty, but
rural poverty raises different issues – poor public transport, for
instance, is a major obstacle. Children’s centres in rural areas that
are predominantly white can also play an important role in building an
awareness of diversity issues as they try to help parents back into
work – this way, they start to tackle the additional sense of isolation
often felt by some members of ethnic minorities in remote areas.
DIANE MALTBY, manager of Sleaford New Life Pre-school, Sleaford, Lincolnshire
Helping parents back into work is a long-term process that
starts with building their self-confidence. This can be knocked back
when they find that, by working, they can be worse off financially.
They lose assistance, such as free meals and prescriptions, and discounts
on council, water rates, etc. It can make the cost of living higher. More
incentives should be in place to ensure people who earn below a
national agreed income continue to receive financial incentives.
FOSTER DARBY, manager, Calthorpe Park Play Centre, Birmingham
training and
group sessions
are excellent
ways to help
parents brush
up their skills
good links with a council team that
works with local employers.
Employment issues
Once someone is ready to go back
into employment, there’s lots to think
about. That’s why Sue Bramley
Children’s Centre in the London
Borough of Barking and Dagenham
is hosting a Steps Back Into Work
event, a joint project between
JobCentre Plus and the local council.
The two-hour session covers
looking for jobs, filling in application
forms and writing CVs, explains Ros
Cowan, a childcare partnership
manager at Romford JobCentre Plus.
Top tips
talked to:
Sue Dessent
manager, Sure
Start Cauldwell
Carol Thompson
Sure Start Tipton
Children’s Centre
teamwork is really
helping cut local
child poverty and
unemployment rates”
Parents at the centre can also benefit
from New Deal for Lone Parents and
New Deal for Partners, programmes
that allow them to do Learning and
Skills Council-funded courses at local
colleges and receive childcare costs
and other expenses.
Team spirit
The Sue Bramley centre has a regular
JobCentre Plus presence in the form
of lone parent adviser Lynn Moor,
herself a former lone parent. She runs
a weekly drop-in and does workfocused interviews there so parents
Issue 16 Autumn 2007
don’t have to travel to the main office.
“I go to staff meetings and am seen
as part of the team even though I’m
only here once a week,” says Lynn.
The fact she’s based at the centre
makes the service more accessible
and welcoming, adds head of centre
Graham Cobb. Childcare is an
important part of the equation. The
centre has a 52-place nursery for
working parents and is helping
establish a childminder network. But
Graham knows there are many
factors, from health to skills, that can
mean someone is not ready for work.
“It can be a long-term process as
you have to start by building knowledge
and confidence,” he says. “Different
services do different parts of that work,
so it really is about working together.”
Lynn Moor
Lone parent
adviser, JobCentre
LBe patient
Helping parents back into work
and training is usually a long-term
process that often starts with
building someone’s self-confidence
and self-esteem.
LKeep it simple
Start by introducing learning
opportunities, such as talks on first
aid or healthy eating, into sessions
that parents already attend.
LMake it fun
Begin with fun activities you know
people will enjoy. These can help
sharpen someone’s appetite for
learning and be a gateway to more
formal qualifications and training.
LTry tasters
Taster sessions are a great way to
showcase training opportunities.
By offering lots of choice, you’re
increasing the likelihood of parents
finding something that suits them.
LHighlight the rewards
Most families will be better off if
parents are in work, but it’s not just
about the money. By boosting their
skills, parents can improve their
children’s lives, such as by being
better able to help with homework
or acting as a role model.
Where to next?
Graham Cobb
Head of the Sue
Bramley Children’s
L Check out for basic
information about employment rights and
benefits, training and job opportunities
L Find out more about JobCentre Plus at
L Get in touch with your region’s Learning
and Skills Council at
L The Basic Skills Agency offers resources
on topics such as family learning at
L Learndirect gives access to online
training and information about courses
L Step in to Learning is a training
programme that helps staff identify and
guide parents with language, literacy and
numeracy needs. Visit www.surestart.
[child protection]
Making contact
A new online directory aims to enable and support the kind
of multi-agency working that’s at the heart of the Every Child
Matters agenda. But how will it all work? WORDS: SUE LEARNER
ContactPoint will hold:
L Name, address, gender and
ontactPoint – set to
go live across England in
2008 – is being developed
as a key part of the Every
Child Matters agenda.
Aiming to put children and young
people at the centre of the services
they receive, Every Child Matters is
bringing about a more integrated
approach to the way services are
delivered. It’s also introduced new
ways of working that encourage
communication among professionals
from different agencies.
As family support workers know,
it’s not always easy to find out who
you need to talk to about a case,
which is where ContactPoint comes
in. The system will provide a quick
way to find out who else is working
with the same child or young person.
ContactPoint will contain only
basic identifying information for all
children in England up to their 18th
birthday, contact details for their
parent or carer and contact details
for services working with a child, so
no details of assessments or case
information will be held. This will
make it easier for agencies to deliver
more coordinated support and
reduce unnecessary duplication of
work, which is better for families
and the people working with them.
date of birth for every child in
England up to their 18th birthday.
L Name and contact details for the
child’s parent or carer, educational
setting (e.g. school), GP practice,
other services, lead professional.
L Details of whether a Common
Assessment has been carried out,
although it won’t be possible to
access the assessment itself
through ContactPoint).
Who will have access to
ContactPoint, how will
they access it and how
will this be controlled?
It’s estimated that around 330,000
practitioners in children’s services
(including education, health, social
care, youth offending and some
voluntary organisations) will have
access to the system. It will be
implemented in phases so that by
the end of 2008 it’ll be available to
all local authorities in England.
Access will be granted only to
practitioners and administrators
who need it as part of their work,
and only after they have been
through the necessary security
checks and training. ContactPoint
users will each be given their own
password and a security token. All
users must have enhanced Criminal
Records Bureau checks and will
also have to be part of a new
Vetting and Barring Scheme when
it comes into force.
What processes are in
place to ensure data is
accurate, secure and
up to date?
For ContactPoint to be a useful tool,
the information needs to be accurate
and up to date.
“The basic data needed will be
provided from a number of existing
sources, both national and local, and
the system will use sophisticated
matching technology to create one
record for each child,” says Patrick
Agius, head of the stakeholder
management and communications
team for the ContactPoint Project.
ContactPoint will be automatically
updated from these systems “so
that practitioners will not need to
manually input the same information
onto separate systems. A key aim
of the design is that it will fit
conveniently into a practitioner’s
daily work,” he adds.
Each local authority will have
responsibility for the records of
children living in the authority.
Authorised users will have to keep
their password secret and look
after their security token. Failure
to do so will lead to penalties.
How about the issue of
consent and sensitive
information control?
ContactPoint will not change any
rules governing confidentiality or
sharing information when
practitioners discuss a child’s needs.
Explicit consent will be needed to
store contact details for practitioners
providing ‘sensitive’ services relating
to sexual health, mental health and
substance abuse. However, “the
particular details of the service will
be hidden” explains Patrick.
“If people have a reason to use
the service, they will need to make
a request to the local authority
ContactPoint team. This team will
pass the request to the ‘sensitive’
service practitioner who will decide
whether to make contact,” he says.
ContactPoint will have the facility
to hide data from users in specific
cases where vulnerable children are
involved. This will be decided on
a case by case basis.
Children and parents will be able
to see the information held about
them and correct anything that is
wrong. Local authorities have
existing procedures for handling
Subject Access Requests and a
data protection officer is responsible
for making sure these procedures
are followed. These procedures
will apply to ContactPoint
How does ContactPoint
relate to the other
initiatives regarding
information-sharing and
integrated working?
ContactPoint will support integrated
processes such as the Common
Assessment Framework and
integrated frontline delivery,
including children’s centres and
extended schools. It will aid
information sharing, which is vital
in making sure children get early
intervention when they need it.
As Patrick puts it, “The trailblazer
pilots have confirmed what was
already well known: that families
often access services in different
parts of the country and across
different local authorities. The
overwhelming consensus from local
authorities and other partners we
consulted was that we needed a
single, national tool to deal with this.”
Matt Dunkley is director of
children’s services at East Sussex,
which has been trialling a local
index. He believes ContactPoint
“will help to both foster a multi-agency
approach and provide children
moving around the country with
continuity of service.”
Where to next?
G Norman,
a family
team leader,
has been
using a local
directory for
more than
a year
Pilot projects that trialle
trialled local
directories, often known as indexes,
have informed the development of
ContactPoint, and they have been
running for nearly two years.
Gail has been using a local index at
the First Start Children’s Centre in
Sheffield. “The workers use it routinely
Issue 16 Autumn 2007
here now,” she says. “It’s all very easy
and we have found it excellent in terms
of communication between workers.
It’s an internet-based site, and once
everyone understood that it was
secure, we didn’t have any problems.”
For their local system the data has
to be input manually, which Gail
admits “can be time-consuming,” but
“the benefits outweigh any extra time
it takes to put it onto the system.
When you log on, you can see all the
workers who have been involved with
any particular child’s case, and it gives
you their contact details. I think it has
helped keep workers in touch with
one another to provide properly
co-ordinated family support.”
L Find out about ContactPoint at
L For guidance on information sharing,
L Download guides for the Common
Assessment Framework at
L For more on privacy and datasharing, visit
A practitioner’s story
[family support]
Diary of an EAL
support worker
What’s the key to supporting
families who have English as
an Additional Language?
Salma Begum, a bilingual
support worker from
Portsmouth’s The Brambles
Nursery, shares her expertise
still very quiet, I’ve been
getting them to join my
‘nursery narrative’ session.
There, more reticent
children are paired with
more confident Bengali
children and encouraged to talk about
themselves and their home, maybe even
tell a story to each other. As their English
improves, they’ll join a more mixed group.
Week Two
Week One
Phew! Another hectic week. Not that
I’m complaining – I really enjoy my job,
especially as it allows me to combine my
training as a nursery nurse with my language
skills. The Brambles Nursery offers daycare
and community education to an ethnically
and economically diverse population that
includes a number of local Sylheti-speaking
Bangladeshi families.
A group of Bengali children joined us at
the beginning of term and because they are
Top tipnsmust be allowed
t in
L Child and be taugh well
me lang
their ho lish. Otherwise ur
as in E denied three o
are bein nguage and co
develop collection of
coded b
colour- nd reference
picture essential. The ing
books is e open for borro
need to . They enrich th can
by paren school days an their
children rents can read to glish
ensure p t home in both E ge.
children mily’s first langu de
and the ond books. In
se a
L Go be pes and also u lm
f music
variety o the child’s cultu age
reflectin d. Foreign lang
backgro rs are a great
e play a
r the hom
Spent time showing new parents our
facilities and dealing with all their concerns.
One Bangladeshi mum is worried about her
daughter getting wet, so I showed her our
stock of spare clothing and assured her that
any undressing happens very discreetly.
Week Three
Our weekly ‘stay and play’ session gives
staff a chance to get to know parents.
One of the
port sh
ual sup ring
d at en
be aime enjoy the max .
the se
tion in
integra arn most when
Children is used in conte on
tive com
L Effec nts is crucial ort
with pa grasp and sup e
they are and breadth of re
if they a ing that
port the
and sup xperience at ho the
gs sho
L Settin n and langua local
on offe
support – via the local
for exam tetic bilingual er
d prop
will nee ings and
ction to
introdu ms. They may n g
their sy
pport un
extra su ears provision.
The women-only language
classes are popular,
especially as we can
provide a crèche facility
mums is interested in becoming a nursery
nurse and asked me about my work. After
the session I took her to meet Sue Collis,
Brambles’ extended schools co-ordinator,
then stayed to ensure she understood what
Sue told her about local childcare courses.
Week Four
Spent a lot of time with class teachers,
helping support reading sessions. We have
a big collection of bilingual books – the
largest in Portsmouth according to the
Library Service – and I keep an eye out for
new titles all the time.
Week One
An uncle of one of the children turned up
to collect him, but as we didn’t know him,
I had to phone the child’s mother. She
spoke hardly any English and apologised
for not letting us know. I encourage
parents with limited English to come into
school for lessons. We run women-only
courses and there’s a crèche. Even a
small phrase like ‘Miss Begum, please,’
will be invaluable if they have to call.
Week Two
Our topic for the term has been
‘animals’, so we’re planning a Minibeast Week. Children will
The Nursery’s collection of
bi-lingual books make
reading sessions rewarding
go pond-dipping and searching for creatures
in our outdoor areas. I’ve already checked
any dual-language reference books we have
on the subject and have joined the teachers
to make sure that relevant posters and
equipment are labelled in Bengali.
Week Three
We were worried because we hadn’t seen
one of our regular boys for a week. I ring
his home and find out he’s been unwell. His
mum hasn’t told us as she doesn’t like using
the phone – she speaks hardly any English
– though she’s pleased to hear from me.
Week Four
Called to interpret for a mum in the New
Baby support group who wanted advice
from the health visitor on her child’s nappy
rash. I spent the next day with the speech
therapist and a mum whose daughter still
speaks mainly Bengali, but isn’t developing
her speaking skills as quickly as she should.
It’s good that parents can come here for
these appointments as it’s familiar territory.
Week One
A travelling farm is coming to the school so
I alert staff to the cultural issues they might
not have anticipated. Bengali parents will
Issue 16 Autumn 2007
need reassurance that their children will not
go near the pigs. We send out a letter to
parents, but there are still concerns and
I have to field a lot of questions about the
visit when parents drop off their children.
Week Two
We regularly have peripatetic translators
from the Portsmouth Ethnic Minority
Achievement Service (EMAS) who come
in to support our other EAL children. This
week, I’ve been showing them the ropes
and reassuring them that joining in with
children’s play is just as beneficial as the
more formal reading and writing support
they are used to offering older children.
to take their shoes off, for instance, or not sit
with their back to the koran.
These visits enable parents to fill out forms
and ask questions in the privacy of their
home. One mum was worried that her son
should only speak English at home, but I
explained how important it is that children
use their own language with English – all part
of the variety that makes this job so great.
Week Three
Where to next?
I always try to let staff know when there
are important religious or cultural events
happening, such as Ramadan or smaller
one-off festivals. There is a mela (a festival) at
the weekend, and I tell staff members about
it and encourage them to go. It’s a great way
to meet parents and children informally.
Week Four
I’ve done a lot of home visits this week.
Typically, I join a teacher and a nursery nurse
to meet the Bangladeshi parents of a threeyear-old due to join the Nursery. I’ll brief the
team so they’re aware that they should offer
L The Sure Start Practice Guidance has useful
information on supporting children with English
as an Additional Language (EAL), in particular,
Section 16: Working with minority ethnic families.
Find out more at
L Portsmouth Ethnic Minority Achievement
Service (EMAS) Early Years. The site contains a
wealth of information, particularly the ‘resources’
page with its lists of dual-language books and
publishers. Also see the section on ‘persona dolls’:
L The Bilingual Learners Early Years Work Box - a
resource produced by Westminster LA:
[need to know guide]
have ADHD, what should
you do about it?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is an increasingly common
childhood condition. How can you spot the signs? And how can
you support the child with ADHD while ensuring that you meet the
needs of the other children in your care? WORDS: JANICE BROWN
talked to:
Monica Harris
Executive Director,
ADHD Family
Support Group,
Milton Keynes
Andrea Bilbow
National Attention
Deficit Disorder
Information and
Support Service
What is ADHD?
Sometimes referred to as hyperkinetic
disorder or attention deficit disorder
(ADD), ADHD refers to a range of
behaviours associated with poor
attention span. About 1.7 per cent of
the UK population, mostly children,
have ADHD or ADD, with boys more
likely to be affected than girls. The
condition may be underdiagnosed.
Children with ADHD tend to be
hyperactive, impulsive, restless and
inattentive. They may also have
temper tantrums, sleep disorders and
be clumsy. The condition often
prevents children from learning and
socialising well and often occurs
alongside other difficulties.
What are the main
A child with ADHD will show at least
some of the following symptoms:
L Overactivity
A child with ADHD is usually ‘on the
go’ the whole time. They are unable
to sit still or be quiet, especially in
situations where calm is expected,
such as in classrooms and at
mealtimes. They may also be clumsy
and have sleep disorders.
L Inattentiveness
A child with ADHD will usually have
a very short attention span and
poor concentration. They tend to
daydream and may seem to be in
another world. They are often unable
to settle to anything and can be very
easily distracted.
L Impulsiveness
A child with ADHD tends to act
without thinking, and is unable to
follow rules or wait their turn. Temper
tantrums are a common symptom.
A child with ADHD might
also have speech and
language difficulties and
autistic-type features.
If you think a child might
A parent’s story
Mum of four, Mandy
Caukwell, knew there
was something wrong
with her youngest son
“By the time Jonty was eight
months old, I knew something
was wrong. He didn’t sleep,
hated being cuddled, often
became completely rigid and
tthrew horrific tantrums. It was
vvery hard for my older children,
who suffered too. I went to the
doctor but she just told me to
put him in a room with a mattress
and leave him. She said he’d
eventually get bored and drop
off to sleep. I left the surgery in
tears. We didn’t even try it.
“When Jonty was two, he went
to a playgroup but there was
no structure or routine and he
couldn’t cope. Neither could they.
“Then I discovered my local
Sure Start in Hastings. Once they
got involved, things happened
quickly. Referrals were arranged
and the hospital confirmed that
Jonty had ADHD. He joined a
‘Chatterbox’ group at the Sure
Start Children’s Centre and had
help from a speech and play
therapist. Sure Start funded him
for two-and-a-half days a week
at a private playgroup with a very
structured regime. They saved
our sanity. My husband says,
‘Sure Start didn’t only listen; they
listened and acted.’ ”
Small children often have boundless
energy and it’s tempting to label them
‘hyperactive’. However, there is a
wide range of normal variation and
apparently hyperactive children will
often settle once they start school.
Hyperactivity in the under-fives seems
to be distinguished by an inability
to concentrate, with a study of
hyperactive three-year-olds showing
that they did not play in sequences
of more than a few seconds.
If you are concerned that a child
may have ADHD, you should involve
the relevant professionals immediately.
Without treatment, around a third of
children with ADHD develop another
developmental problem such as a
language disorder; around 80 per
cent develop anti-social behaviour.
Monica Harris, executive director
of the ADHD Family Support Group
in Milton Keynes, says, “Early
identification is very important. The
earlier you diagnose, the earlier you
can help with learning skills, selfconfidence and self-esteem. When
a child is older, it is much harder to
change established behaviours and
to introduce the concept of learning.”
ADHD requires diagnosis by a
doctor, usually a child or adolescent
psychiatrist, a paediatrician, a
paediatric neurologist or a GP. There
is no single diagnostic test for ADHD,
so information needs to be gathered,
including a history of symptoms, an
evaluation of the child’s temperament
and personality, and a family history.
Psychologists, speech therapists,
teachers and health visitors are often
involved in the assessment.
Up to half of children with ADHD
can be helped by behaviour therapy
alone and modifying the diet may
help. Medication is unlikely to be an
option in the under-fives.
Andrea Bilbow of the National
Attention Deficit Disorder Information
and Support Service (ADDISS) says,
“Accessing specialist support in the
What did you
have to say?
Join our readers’ panel: email
[email protected]
In areas without a Sure Start
centre, the health visitor is the
best person to talk to if you’re
concerned about a child’s development.
This is our area of excellence. Getting
support for a child with special needs
can be a challenge for parents and the
support of the health visitor, who will
counsel them, speak on their
behalf, and liase with other
professionals, will be invaluable.
health visitor, Worcestershire
I’m relieved to see that I’m
looking out for the right
indicators in the children I mind.
However, in my experience, food can
play a significant part in making a
child ‘hyper’. The importance of a good
balanced diet can’t be over-stated.
Reducing or cutting out the obvious
culprits – orange squash, fizzy drinks
and so on – can quickly show results,
with overactive children
becoming significantly calmer.
childminder, West Sussex
early years means much more can be
done without resorting to medication.”
How should early years
practitioners ‘include’
a child with ADHD?
How should settings
provide for the children
with ADHD?
Children with ADHD find it difficult to
concentrate on a single activity and
generally don’t consider the feelings
of adults and other children.
Andrea Bilbow says, “A clear
routine and structured activities, with
clear boundaries and the use of
rewards, can often help. Clear oneto-one communication is key, as is
working closely with parents to
ensure that the messages and
approach are consistently delivered.”
Health professionals, teachers and
family support workers can all advise.
All settings are required to have a
written special educational needs
(SEN) policy. Settings can request
assessments from local authorities,
which have a duty to identify and
provide for children with SEN,
including those with ADHD. If this
results in a statement of special
needs, the local authority is obliged to
provide the educational support
specified. Your SENCO can help.
Issue 16 Autumn 2007
A child with
ADHD might
be hyperactive,
find it difficult
to concentrate
and be prone to
Where to next?
L Attention Deficit Disorder Information
and Support Service (ADDISS) provides
information for people with ADHD, parents,
teachers and health professionals: call 020
8952 2800;
L The Hyperactive Children’s Support
Group provides support and training:
01243 539966;
L Early Support aims to achieve better
coordinated family-focused services
for very young children with additional
needs and their families. See: www.
L Contact a Family is the national charity
for families with children with additional
needs. See:
[your career]
Balancing act
Making sure families are up to speed with what they
are entitled to may be a big part of your job. But are
you missing out on employment legislation that can
give you a better work/life balance? WORDS: KIM SULLIVAN
f you thought work/life balance
was just a buzz phrase and
something you could only dream
of, think again. Recent legislation
gives employees the right to
request flexible working to make it
easier to balance work with family life
and home commitments. To date,
more than two million people have
embraced this way of working and
now work from home, according to
the Office of National Statistics.
“There are so many positive
advantages to flexible work practices
for both sides, including the early
years and childcare sector where
many staff have young children,” says
Cathy Rogan, a Rights Advisor for
campaigning group Working Families.
Employees spend more time with
their families, have lower childcare
costs and are generally less stressed,
enabling them to give their best at
work and home.
The most effective way to negotiate
flexible working with your employer is
to plan ahead. Think through how it
could work for you, your fellow
employees and your boss, and
present a positive scenario that
clearly makes the case.
“By law, the onus is on the
employee to make a good business
case. You are far more likely to get
what you want if you come up with a
good workable plan,” advises Rogan.
Everyone’s a winner
Flexible working works very well for
the 14 staff and managers at King’s
Norton Children’s Centre. “We
understand the importance of staff
being able to balance their working
lives with their personal and family
lives, so we offer part-time and
flexible working,” says Carol Wilkes,
a manager and part of the centre’s
four-person management team. Their
policy has been extremely successful,
with high staff retention and morale
and an increase in staff motivation.
The centre’s 7am to 6pm working
day is split into sessions, making it
easier for flexible working while
ensuring children have continuity
of staff. “By looking after
our staff, they in turn offer
first-class service to our
A practitioner’s story
Emma Starr
works as the
ccook at the
Old School
House Nursery
“I was originally
employed to work
from 8.45am
8 45am to 3pm,
3p but soon found it
was very awkward to fit round my
young son, and it all became rather
stressful. I thought I might not be able
to continue with the job, even though
I really enjoyed it.
children, parents and the community.
They are more willing to be flexible in
return when we need it.”
Kelly McGrath, mother of three
young children, works 18 hours a
week at the centre as an early years
worker. “I am employed term-times
only, but I used to be here until 6pm
one day a week. I suggested
reorganising my hours, and now
I still do 18 hours, but I tend to finish
at 12.30 and top up my time when
the nursery needs me. It’s perfect”.
Susie Sugg worked full-time for
the Old School House Nursery in
Cambridgeshire as a baby room
supervisor and NVQ assessor for
in-house training. Currently on
maternity leave, she has arranged to
go back later next year for ten hours.
“I talked to my manager well in
advance of my maternity leave about
coming back with fewer hours. It’s
a question of thinking ahead and
working out what will suit you and
your employer,” she says.
Linda Baston-Pitt, director of
the Old School House Nursery,
encourages flexible working. “It’s
a win-win situation. We retain
valuable, well-trained members of
staff who are less stressed, and
they are more able to balance
their home, career and work
commitments,” she says.
Where to next?
L For free advice on flexible working and
a copy of the Right to Request Flexible
Working application form, call the Working
Families’ free helpline: 0800 013 013 or
“I was lucky because the
manager of the nursery was very
keen to arrange flexible ways of
working that suit the staff. We sat down
and discussed how I could still do the
job and keep things running smoothly at
home, which was a great relief. I said
that if I worked from 8am to 1pm, I
could still do the job well.
“It’s amazing what a difference it
makes to me and my son. It takes the
rush and stress out of the job. I can still
produce the same standard of work,
so my boss is also happy.”
Flexible working
and the law
LFlexible working can mean
a range of working practices:
part-time, flexi-time,
term-time working,
staggered hours or
shorter hours.
LParents of
children under the
age of six (or with a
child with a disability
under the age of 18) have
the right to request to work
flexibly. The request must be
made before the child is six (or
18). Many carers of adults have the
same rights.
LTo qualify for the right
to request to work flexibly, you
must have 26 weeks continuous
service by the date you make
the application. But it’s still worth
speaking to your manager even if
you don’t qualify. (This right does
not apply to agency workers).
LEmployers have a duty to give
your request serious consideration,
and must follow a set procedure.
They can only turn you down if they
can justify their decision. Grounds
for refusal can include the burden of
additional cost, and the detrimental
impact on quality and performance.
talked to:
Cathy Rogan
Rights Advisor,
Working Families
Susie Sugg
Baby room
supervisor, Old
School House
Director, Old
School House
LYour request should be put in
writing, but approach your boss
informally at first and present a
strong case for how the way you
want to work will fit in with your
employer, stressing the benefits.
Give examples, such as how
leaving earlier could be covered.
LIf you can’t come up with
an agreement that’s acceptable to
both sides, you may have to make
a formal request by completing a
DBERR form (
and giving it to your employer. Your
employer must arrange a meeting
with you to discuss your request
within 28 days of receiving it.
Issue 16 Autumn 2007
Enlightening courses, exciting events and
tons of stuff to make the most of autumn
With themed slides, tunnels, bridges
and a four-storey playframe, children of
all ages will have a wild time at this
exotic location. Fire soft foam balls at
mural targets or watch them descend on
unsuspecting friends below. Adult
participation encouraged!
When Daily
Where Haslett Avenue East, Crawley
Cost Adults £1, children from £3.95
Details 0129 361 4999,
LThe children and young
people’s services awards
These awards highlight the
excellent work being done by
workers in the children and
young people sectors. Check
out the categories on the
website and consider putting
yourself forward for one.
When 22 November
Where London
Cost Free to enter an award,
from £110 to attend the event
Details 020 8267 4042, www.
LFifth annual Sure
Start conference
Delegates from a range of
children’s services will discuss
the Government’s 10-year
Childcare Strategy.
When 20 September
Where London
Cost From £233.25
Details 020 7324 4355,
LFirst aid for parents
and carers: at home with
accidents and injury
The Parent Company provides
first aid training for carers to
empower you to respond
confidently in an emergency.
It covers the most common
accidents and injuries.
When, where On request
Cost From £45 per person
Details 020 7935 9635, www.
LSpecial needs London
This will showcase the latest
teaching resources and
product developments from
more than 130 SEN suppliers,
as well as offer professional
development seminars.
When 19-20 October 2007
Where London
Cost Free entry to the
exhibition, seminars from £10
Details 01923 690646, www.
LUsing creativity to help
disturbed children
Learn how to help disturbed
children work through their
issues with the help of creative
skills and play.
When 16 October, Manchester;
6 November, London;
27 November, Bristol
Cost £150
Details 01323 811440,
Explore your inner Picasso with a
range of art books, art materials and
work sheets for families with kids.
Draw, read or dress up for a day of
creative fun. Relax on a beanbag and
admire the children’s work, then set off
for the main gallery’s paintings.
When Tuesday to Sunday
Where The Crescent, Scarborough
Cost Adults £1, children under 16 free
Details 01723 374753,
From paddling pools to sandpits, and a
children’s village to river cruises, there’s
entertainment here for everyone. Visit
the pet area and meet your favourite
furry friends, or stroll over to the Deer
Park, home to three species of deer.
When Daily from 1 March to 31 October
Where Lower Basildon, Reading
Cost Adults £8, children aged two to
15 £5.50, under-twos free.
Details 0870 777 7160,
Plasticine moulding, floor rubbing,
jigsaw puzzles and I-Spy games are
just some of the activities on offer
this autumn. Steam trains have never
been so much fun! Children will love
trying on the themed costumes and
learning about the many uses of
water in the process.
When Tuesday to Sunday
Where Green Dragon Lane, Brentford
Cost Adults £8, children under 16 free
Details 0208 5684 757, www.kbsm.
Lend an ear
how to
listen to
or ‘tuning
in’ to what
they have to
say, is the
first and most
important step in
effective communication.
This 44-page guide,
Listening to Children in
Their Early Years (£6),
provides useful
information for parents and
caregivers on how to get to know
a child’s individual needs by
seeing things from their point of
view. Techniques covered include
child conferencing, photography
and role-play, and there are
special sections for babies
and children with disabilities.
To order, call 01785 620364
or visit
CAREER PATH Learn about an array of jobs
in What Am I?, part of Collins Big Cat series
Michael Morpurgo, Shoo Raynor
and Nick Butterworth, has
recently added 24 new titles
to its collection, including
and books cost from £2.85.
Combining fiction and nonfiction, these 16-page books
feature colourful photography
and illustrations, as well as a
‘guided reading’ section at the
back of each book for teachers
and parents to check the child’s
comprehension of the story.
To order, call 0870 460 7665
or visit www.collinseducation.
Out and about
Creating safe and exciting places
for children to play can be a
challenge, especially when there
is limited space and resources.
shopping for kit for
a newborn baby or a toddler.
To order, call 01903 828557
or visit
Speakers’ corner
Express yourself
Learning to Talk, Talking to Learn
(£9.99) is a complete guide for
early years practitioners to help
them tackle the development of
a child’s speech and language.
Alongside the 225-minute DVD
– which includes karaoke songs
for improving a child’s vocabulary,
techniques for developing
speech, information on the
importance of communication,
career advice and observational
footage – are two posters and an
online workbook.
To order, call 0845 225 4073
or visit
Children need to develop
emotional intelligence as much
as any other skill, so this fun CD,
Fabby-Dabby-Dee! It’s Good to
be Me! (£11.99), makes a great
tool for helping them understand
and express their feelings better.
Fifteen songs, with titles such as
Who Wants a Friend Like Snorty
Bull? and Nobody Loves Me,
cover a range of issues, from
bullying and falling out with friends
to ‘aiming high’, while the catchy
melodies and lyrics
will have your whole
setting singing along
in no time.
To order, call 0141
339 9211 or
visit www.
Buy the book
The award-winning Collins Big
Cat series, which contains more
than 140 books by famous
authors and illustrators, such as
Issue 16 Autumn 2007
Environments For Outdoor Play
(£18.99) is a handy 128-page
book packed with useful tips
and ideas on turning even the
smallest area into an inspiring
place to have fun. It also offers
practical advice on how to build
outdoor play spaces yourself
– anything from shelters and
paddling pools to tree houses
and adventure playgrounds.
To order, call 020 7324 8500
or visit www.paulchapman
Shopping guide
Do parents come to you for
advice on what equipment to
buy, and where best to buy it
from? The choices can seem
confusing, but the 224-page
Baby and Toddler Essentials
(£10.99), published by Which,
cuts through the jargon and gives
impartial advice on the products
to buy and those to avoid – from
car seats and toys, to prams and
nappies – making it an excellent
resource for parents who are
[over to you]
These are your pages. Air an opinion,
review a book, win a prize. Get in touch!
Childminder Shelley Farrugia from
Stratford, East London tested a frictionpowered recycling truck from WOW
Linda Lascelles is the Chief
Executive of Afasic, the UK charity
that assists children and young
adults affected by speech
impairments and disabilities.
These are her top five web picks:
The Scottish Child Law Centre
campaigns for children’s rights and
offers advice on aspects of Scottish
law relating to children and young
people. We refer to this site because
of the role the centre plays in policy
development and child advocacy.
The main BBC site (
is invaluable for all sorts of
information, but its disability section
is a fantastic resource for news
relating to disabilities.
This is Scotland’s expert legal
resource in the field of school
education. It’s a useful site because
of its particular focus on the
educational rights of pupils who are
disabled or have special needs.
The website of the Department for
Children, Schools and Families is one
we visit regularly for its wealth of
information on consultation and
research progress.
Has a useful, if brief guide to the
Education (Additional Support for
Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004.
Flip ‘n’ Tip Fred, friction-powered
recycling truck, £24,99. See for stockists
“This toy is aimed at children aged 18 months to five
years and is meant to encourage recycling. The
recycling truck has a lever-operated bucket for tipping waste,
a waste crusher and a boy and girl recycling team.
I tested it on three children I care for, aged two, four
and five. They were drawn to its bright colours, size
and realistic engine sounds, but disappointed that
the three recycling bins didn’t open. The four-yearold quickly got the hang of the waste tipper,
but the two-year-old’s interest wasn’t sustained.
It wasn’t terribly challenging as the only real
test was the manipulation of the levers. And it’s a
difficult toy to share because its size makes it hard
for more than two children to play with it at once.
Overall, though, the toy stimulated their imaginations,
and the children enjoyed role-play as members of the
recycling team. I would recommend this toy for older
children – three to five years – because it generated a lot of
questions about what recycling is and why it’s necessary.”
If you ask me...
Foundation Stage teacher Janet Kerr was
initially sceptical about teaching literacy
through phonics. Now that she’s used it
with her reception class, though, she’s
advising other schools on its merits
LLike many practitioners, I’d seen
the bad press about using phonics
with the under-fives, but I’ve been
amazed at how well Letters and
Sounds has worked at Pudsey
Lowtown Primary School, where I
teach. The children in my class were
non-readers when they started and
all have shown dramatic improvement
in reading and writing.
LTen Leeds schools, including ours,
received CLLD (Communication
Language and Literacy Development)
training last year. I was pleased to
find that although some of the
lesson plans seemed a bit dull, they
turned out to be easy to adapt and
link to children’s interests.
LWe did just 15 minutes of formal
phonics a day at first, though I’ve
recently experimented with longer
sessions. Everything is very fluid,
and there’s no paperwork.
LSome professionals feel that
phonics can lead to children losing
confidence and interest in reading.
From my experience, the children
have made great progress with this
method and are so proud of their
L Want to know more? Go to: www.
LGot a point to make? Write to us at the address on page 2
Should extra childcare training be compulsory
for all childminders? We asked four readers for their views
YE S Caryn Hornby,
More training means
the continuation of a
development and
improves their
practice. Anything that
benefits childminders
is good for the children
they care for.
YE S Vivian Holloway,
manager, Shropshire
I’m 110 per cent for it!
With the Early Years
Professional Status
(EYPS) coming in,
all settings will need
an Early Years
Professional leading
them. Training should
definitely be ongoing
and compulsory.
NO Phillipa
Quite frankly, if an
OFSTED inspection
tells you that you’re
good, which means
that you “more than
meet the National
Standards,” then why
should you have to do
yet more training?
YE S Michael
business and finance
manager, Lambeth
Early Years
It’s important for
issues like food
hygiene and behaviour
management, as well
as ensuring that
children are not merely
being minded, but are
actually learning.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Send an email to [email protected] or drop us a line at the
address on page 2. You can also join the debate online at
N educational toys worth £500!
We’re giving away £500 worth of fantastic toys from VTech,
including a sing-and-discover piano, a baby’s laptop and
a sit-to-stand dancing tower. VTech provide a range of quality,
colourful toys using advanced technologies that encourage
hands-on learning. Want to find out more? Visit For a chance
to win this great prize, send us a
postcard stating your name, address
and occupation to Sure Start
magazine, Prize Draw, PO Box
49722, London WC2N 4XA by
22 October 2007. Good luck!
Congratulations to Mrs
Michaela Stimpson from Milton
Keynes, who won £500 worth of
toys from Galt in our readers’ prize
draw in issue 15.
* PRIZE DRAW TERMS AND CONDITIONS: 1. The prize draw is open to all readers aged 18 and over, except employees and the immediate families of DCSF/DWP, VTech,
Redwood, their agents or anyone professionally connected with this prize draw. 2. The closing date for the receipt of all entries is 22 October 2007. Only one entry per person. No third
party or bulk entries. 3. Responsibility cannot be accepted for incomplete, wrongly delivered, damaged entries or entries not received for whatever reason. Proof of posting is not proof
of receipt. 4. Prize must be accepted as offered. No cash alternative to prize will be offered and the prize is not transferable. The prize consists of toys from VTech to the value of £500.
5. Winner will be notified by post within 28 days of closing date. 6. If the prize has not been claimed within three months of the closing date, a redraw will take place. 7. Winner will be
the first entrant drawn at random by an independent person after the closing date. 8. Promoter’s decision is final and binding and no correspondence will be entered into. 9. Entry
implies acceptance of these terms and conditions. 10. The promoter reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value should circumstances make this necessary. 11.
Winner’s name and county is available 28 days after closing date – send an sae to Sure Start, Redwood, 7 St Martin’s Place, London, WC2N 4HA - and will be published in a future
issue of the magazine. 12. The promoter is Redwood, address as above.
Issue 16 Autumn 2007
Francine Bates OBE, chief
executive of Contact a Family,
reviews Identifying Special
Needs in the Early Years by Kay
Mathieson (£15,99, Paul
Chapman Publishing), www.
What’s the book about? The
title’s a little misleading; I was
expecting it to explain what
practitioners should look out for
to identify problems children
might be experiencing with their
learning or development.
Instead, it takes the reader
through the various stages of
child development and learning.
Key message? It stresses the
importance of involving parents
and using observations to
identify individual needs.
Is it relevant? It has limited
relevance to those already
working with disabled children
and their families because the
book does not address what to
do if there is a concern about a
child, so I would question how
useful it is for those interested in
developing their knowledge of
disability and special needs.
Who should read this book?
It would probably be most helpful
to practitioners who are new to
working with young children.
Useful chapters? The chapter
on ‘Sharing the learning journey
with parents’ is useful as it
highlights how important it is for
practitioners and parents to work
together so concerns about
children can be identified as early
as possible.
A day in the life
Sergeant Toby McDaniel is a Safer Neighbourhood Officer in Brixton, London
As a Safer Neighbourhood
Officer in London, my
main role is to get involved
with the local community
and to deal with their needs
and problems. Crime figures
show that Coldharbour
ward, for which I’m
responsible, is one of the
most deprived and violent in
the country, yet I don’t believe
this is a real reflection of the
majority of people who live here.
Through regular contact, young
people can get to know you as an
individual rather than just a uniform.
That’s really important. It means you
can gain people’s trust and talk to
them freely. And because school is an
environment in which children feel safe
and are responsive to learning, my
officers and I visit the local schools on
a regular basis to talk to the staff and
children, from Reception right up
through the years.
Once a week we conduct lessons for
Years 8 and 9, dealing with the sorts of
issues the pupils are likely to come
across in their daily lives, and, of course,
we tie all this in with the Every
Child Matters agenda.
BITE and then I
head off with one
of my team to the
housing offices on
the large estates.
There are many
elderly people
living in sheltered
accommodation on
the estates, and they
like to be reassured
about what we’re
doing to make them
feel safer.
FIRST, I GO through all the crimes that have been
reported since I was last on duty. I then have a catch-up
with the four Police Community Support Officers and two
Police Constables on my team. We discuss what has been
going on in the area and what our day looks like. Two more
Police Community Officers are joining us soon and I’m
really looking forward to having a larger team.
an integrated Sure Start Children’s Centre on site,
which means it’s easy to involve children up to the
age of 16 in our outreach programme. The children
here are very familiar with us, but when I first started
visiting, they were a bit nervous. I don’t really treat
the three- to five-year-olds any differently to the
older children. My aim is to make them feel that they
can ask me anything that comes into their head. I’ll
answer as honestly and directly as I can because
I don’t want to talk down to them or fob them off.
Once I’ve spoken to them, I usually pop into the staff
room for a chat with the staff and the head teacher.
5pm I’VE
BIKING for years
and I really love it,
especially when I’m
out on the North
Downs. It’s so
invigorating and a
real antidote to the
ferrying around I do
for my teenagers.
They even make me
park around the
corner because I’m
so embarrassing!
Drop us a line at the address on page 2 or send an email to sur[email protected]
Have something to say? Drop us a line or email
[email protected] and share your views!
Star letter: Making inclusion work
Our nursery has recently been approached by a family looking
for a place for their son with Down syndrome. Your feature on
Down syndrome (Issue 15, Summer, Need to know guide: Down
syndrome, p18) was very useful. We are in discussions with the
family now and are trying to take the steps to ensure that we
can look after him in the best manner possible. We all feel very
strongly that including a wide range of children enriches the
lives of the staff and other children.
The writer of
our star letter
will win this
great 2GB
that holds
500 songs,
so get typing.
Please send
your letters
to The Editor, Sure
Start magazine,
7 St Martin’s Place,
London WC2N 4HA,
fax 020 7747
0859, or email
[email protected]
Money matters
A vital resource
I was interested to read your article
on the new Early Years Professional
Status (Issue 15, Summer, Status
Symbol, page 8). It’s excellent that a
new role has been created to lead
practice across the Early Years
Foundation Stage and to model the
skills and behaviours that promote
good outcomes for children. But I
understand that it’s up to individual
employers to develop salary scales
for employees. Given that it’s such an
important role, surely there should be
a proper national pay scale for Early
Years Professionals? This would really
send out the message that this is a
role to be taken seriously.
I just wanted to let you know that I
enjoy the Resources section of Sure
Start magazine and find it very useful.
As a childminder, it’s essential in
helping me find out about new
materials and workshops to assist in
my job. The Resources section (Issue
15, Summer, p22) in the last issue was
especially useful for me because I look
after a Muslim child, so when I saw
that a new booklet called Working
With Muslim Fathers: A Guide for
Practitioners was available, I ordered it.
It’s helped me understand the issues
the child and her parents face, and I
would highly recommend it to anyone
in the same situation.
Alice Weenon, Birmingham
Patricia Starley, Newquay
It’s so easy! For your FREE quarterly
copy of Sure Start magazine, or to
change your mailing details:
L Complete this form and send it to
Sure Start, FREEPOST LON13044,
London N7 9BR
L Or fill in the form online at
L Or call FREE on 080 8101 6243
Grants for pregnant
I’m an early years practitioner, and
I’ve just discovered I’m going to have
my first child. Can you tell me if I’m
eligible for the Sure Start Maternity
Grant? Where can I find more details?
Jessica Gibson, Lincolnshire
The Sure Start Maternity Grant is
made from the Social Fund and
is available from the Department
for Work and Pensions. There’s no
link between them and the Sure Start
Unit or with Sure Start Children’s
Centres. You can claim for the grant
on form SF100 Sure Start, which is
available from your local Jobcentre
Plus office. To find out more, visit
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W rth
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The good news is that you can subscribe for free
to Sure Start magazine.
Simply call freephone 080 8101 6243,
go to
or complete the coupon on page 27 of this
issue and send it back to us.
What’s more, all our new subscribers will be entered into a prize draw
to win £500 worth of educational toys, like this adorable tiger airplane,
from WOW – a fantastic range of battery-free, high quality developmental toys
that are guaranteed favourites with pre-school children.
Subscribe now for a chance to WIN!