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spacer image Early Years Essential - Edition 6 January 2021 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. 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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Happy New Year

Welcome back to 2021 – and what a start it has been!

Back in March 2020, we never imagined that we’d be in a new national lockdown this January.  However, we know that you and your teams will face the next half term with your usual resilience, flexibility and courage.

We understand that the DfE will be issuing new guidance to Early Years settings and schools in the next couple of days. 

Please remember that you can contact your Key Educational Contact (KEC) for support and advice, especially if you have any concerns, problems or anxieties. 

The KEC for Early Years is Belinda Woodcock –  01908 254929 or 075 865 542 79.

If you are unable to contact Belinda, please contact Jennifer Bargrove – 01908 254071/254509 or 075 573 135 37.


Preserving staffing levels

Settings and schools cannot operate effectively without staff.  At this difficult time, we need to work together to preserve the integrity of staffing levels and reduce the potential for operational closures.

Please make sure that your setting or school offers critical worker places to the children of all school staff who need them.  By working together, we can ensure that all staff are available to work across our educational system.

Please also think carefully about which staff need to be onsite and which can productively undertake their work from home.  We appreciate that this is a very difficult balancing act.  We also know that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ model.  But insisting that all staff be on site (where this is not necessary) is likely to negatively impact on your setting’s ability to reduce transmission of the virus.


Risk assessments and control measures

Please remember that you need to update your risk assessments.  You should continue to follow the guidance outlined in:

Our risk assessment template might support you in undertaking an audit of risk. This can be amended to use in settings.  This is offered as a supportive tool:* there’s no expectation that you use this specific template.  However, we do urge you to reflect on the content.  It’s also important to revisit individual risk assessments for staff or children who need them.

We recommend that you share your risk assessments with union representatives if you are asked to do so.


DfE guidance

Vulnerable children

Vulnerable children are expected to attend school full time. Settings are expected to remain open for all children.  The DfE has said that settings, schools, colleges and local authorities should prioritise their attendance.

If vulnerable children do not attend, you should work with social workers (where applicable) to explore the reason for absence, discuss concerns of the parents/carers and try to find ways to encourage the children to attend.

These discussions should focus on:

  1. the welfare of the child
  2. whether the child has access to remote education and appropriate support for this at home (schools)


Children of critical workers

Children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker are eligible for a place at a setting or school during the national lockdown. Please note: it’s not necessary for both parents to be critical workers.

The list of critical workers has been updated to include new workforces where roles are critical following the end of the EU transition period.

It’s important to ensure that you provide places at setting or school for all the eligible families who need them.


MKC services

MKC covid19forschools webpages

Following the government’s announcement about the new national lockdown, we’ll be updating our webpages (including Early Years) to ensure that these are all aligned to current national guidance.  In parallel, we will continue to provide information on the webpages about local initiatives and ways of working.

As you know, we don’t receive information from government any sooner than you do. We do therefore need a bit of time, when new guidance is issued, to review and summarise it accurately on your behalf. Government guidance, EY funding and any changes you need to know about will be published in the weekly EYE.


Free wellbeing training and support – for settings and schools

Feedback from attendees of the Wellbeing for Educational Return webinars was very positive. Planning is now underway for the next stage of the project. Based on the views of colleagues who attended the initial sessions, we’ll be focussing on anxiety and staff wellbeing.

We’ll share more information about this soon.

For those of you who missed the initial webinars, we’ll be re-delivering them on the following dates:

Webinar 1: Whole school resiliency during the pandemic - a psychological approach - Tuesday 19 January (4.00pm - 5.30pm)

Webinar 2: An individualised approach focusing on bereavement and loss - Thursday 4 February (4.00pm - 5.30pm)

You can book places via MKPDC online using the keywords ‘wellbeing for education’


Useful info

Consultation on school term dates 2022-2023

School term and holiday dates are set by the council for our community schools, voluntary controlled schools and maintained nursery schools.  Governing bodies set the term dates for foundation schools, voluntary aided schools, free schools and academies.

The consultation for our proposed term dates for 2022-2023 is now live.  It sets out two possible term date options and seeks to gather views on the preferred option.

We know that it's helpful for families and staff if terms dates align locally and, where possible, within neighbouring areas.  So please have your say and encourage staff to respond too.

Responses can be sent by completing the online form or alternatively you can send us your views by emailing

The consultation closes on 12 February 2021.  Feedback will be considered by the Cabinet Member for Children and Families during the spring term.


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


MKC contacts

Please contact EY Enquiries 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 EYE newsletter to relevant colleagues.  You can also contact 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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