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spacer image Early Years Essential - Extra Edition 7 December 2020 spacer image
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left menu image spacer image spacer imageImportant information and updates during the Coronavirus pandemic
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Dear Colleagues,

I hope you find the information in this edition of EYE useful. I hope you find the information in this edition of EYE useful. As always, please contact me if you need advice or guidance regarding EYFS.


If you have a confirmed case of Covid - 19, please contact me as the Key Education Contact for settings on 01908 254929 or 075 865 542 79.

If you are unable to contact me, please ring Jenny Bargrove on 01908 254071/254509 or 075 573 135 37.


Best wishes


Belinda Woodcock

Improvement Partner for Early Years

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In This Issue
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tag spacer image spacer imageImportant information and updates during the Coronavirus pandemic spacer image spacer image
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Christmas holidays

We understand that some staff in schools have been asking about the possibility of making changes to ways of working at the end of this term. For example:

•          finishing term early and adding days on to the spring and/or summer terms

•          moving to remote learning rather than providing education on site

•          bringing forward INSET days that were planned for later in the year

The government has made it clear that they don’t expect any of these actions to take place.  They expect educational settings to stay open in order to prioritise the education of children and young people, especially for those who have been most adversely affected by the pandemic.

This is why the COVID-19 Winter Plan says that “nurseries, schools and colleges should not change their Christmas holidays or close early this term.”

It’s important to understand that the DfE can intervene if an educational setting decides to make changes to their end of term plans.  This can include a direction to stay open being issued under Schedule 17 of the Coronavirus Act 2020.  This can be backed by an injunction through the courts.


Ofsted news - phased return to inspections

Ofsted has confirmed their plans about re-starting inspections in settings, schools and further education providers.  The plans include information about inspections and regulatory work in early years and social care.

Ofsted’s return to inspection in 2021 will happen in phases. There will be no graded inspections planned for education or social care providers before the summer term.

From January 2021, Ofsted will start to reintroduce some inspection activity.  They will resume monitoring visits focusing on those most in need of support, in particular requires improvement, inadequate and new providers.  The visits will look at the provider’s progress against specific weaknesses identified at their previous inspection or against standard themes for new providers.


New contingency framework

The DfE has published an updated Covid contingency framework for education and childcare settings.  This replaces the previous four-tier Contain Framework.

The restrictions outlined are only for use as a last resort.  They can only be initiated following ministerial decision making on a case-by-case basis.  Educational settings shouldn’t implement the contingency framework without the explicit agreement of the DfE.

The framework should not be used to address operational challenges, including staff shortages.  Instead, settings that are worried about their ability to safely remain open to all pupils should speak to their Key Education Contact as soon as possible.

Key points of the new contingency framework include:

•          Early years settings and primary schools will usually be expected to remain fully open even if the continency framework is implemented.

•          Secondary schools would only be able to allow vulnerable children, the children of critical workers, pupils in years 11 and 13 and other pupils due to take external exams this academic year, to attend.

•          Special schools should continue to allow pupils to attend full-time.

•          AP provision should continue to allow all pupils to attend full-time.

•          Wraparound care, breakfast clubs and after-school clubs can continue, but only for children or young people who are eligible to be in school full-time.

•          FE providers should allow daily attendance only to vulnerable young people, the children of critical workers and priority learners (for example, those in exam or final assessment year groups or who are unable to complete their educational programme remotely.)

Please note: The framework is not a guide to operational management of education in local areas or individual settings.  The government hope that they never have to implement the restrictions set out in the framework.


Guidance for education, childcare and children’s social care settings

The DfE guidance was updated last week to reflect the end of the national restrictions. Also, to align it to how education, childcare and children’s social care settings should operate under the local restriction tiers.

The guidance can be accessed using the links below:


Ofsted’s Annual Report 2019-2020

On 1 December, Amanda Spielman (HMCI) launched this year’s Ofsted Annual Report on education, children’s services and skills. You can find out more by:


MKC Services

DfE Weekly Attendance Data

There are some changes in respect of the DfE Thursday weekly attendance data.

The DfE have confirmed there will be no data collection on 24th and 31st December, but collections on the 10th and 17th December will continue as normal.

It is encouraging to note that the data collection from 7th January 2021 will moving to fortnightly returns from that date.

Thank you so much for your returns which you tirelessly submit weekly; we really appreciate your wiliness to help in this task.


MK Recycling Department

The MKC Children’s Recycling Resources webpage offers access to:

•          free Christmas recycling activities and resources

•          the free Mini Eco Warrior Scheme (EYFS and KS1)

•          the free Eco Warriors Scheme (KS2)

These resources, developed by the MK Recycling Department, could be useful for pupils working in bubbles at school or those working remotely from home. 


Useful Info

MKC covid19forschools webpages (and settings)

We’re glad that our webpages continue to be helpful.  Please remember that they contain more information than we can include here.

Please continue to forward this newsletter to relevant colleagues.  You can also contact the EY Enquiries if you wish to add any colleagues.

For weekly video updates from Council Leader Pete Marland, plus weekly data slides, please visit our Covid Outbreak Control page.


DfE COVID - 19 guidance

The DfE has grouped their Covid - 19 guidance into ‘collection pages’ to make information easier for different users to access. 

These can be accessed using the links below:


MKC contacts

Please contact us if you would like any additional colleagues to receive copies of this regular update.

For general schools queries: Sufficiency and Access Team 01908 253338 or email:

EY Enquiries:  01908 254071 or 01908 254509 or email:

Safeguarding: 01908 253169 or 01908 253170

SEND Team enquires, support, advice and information 01908 657 825 or email:

Early Education Funding: 01908 254522


Please continue to forward this newsletter to relevant colleagues.  You can also contact the Early Years Enquiries if you wish to add any colleagues.

By working together and keeping each other well informed, we can reduce anxiety and workload across the MK education system.


Thank you

Belinda Woodcock

Improvement Partner – Early Years


We want to ensure that this newsletter reaches the correct individuals.  Please email   if you would to subscribe or unsubscribe.

EYE is a quick way of accessing both local and national news. It is published regularly as early years updates become available and is part of the core offer to schools and providers.

Disclaimer: Milton Keynes council accepts no responsibility for the actual content of any materials suggested as information sources in this publication, whether these are in the form of printed publications or on a website. Their use should not be interpreted as an endorsement of particular companies or their products.

The websites referred to in these materials existed at the time of going to print. Please check all website references carefully to see if they have changed and substitute other references where appropriate. Also, check all signposted training (whether MKC or independent) meets the needs of your setting.

Your email contact details will only be used to send you copies of EYE. If you no longer want to receive EYE, please contact to remove your contact details from out mailing list.

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