Early Years update

Email dated 14.01.2021

Dear Early Years Settings, 

Following the extremely challenging start to the term and numerous Government guidance updates we wanted to take the opportunity to thank you all for your incredible resilience and your continued commitment to your children, families and staff. We acknowledge that the current situation is putting immense strain on Early Years settings financially, operationally and emotionally.

COVID updates and support

There are clear priorities that we are continuing to raise at higher levels in the council on behalf of the sector. These are access to testing, access to PPE and most importantly access to vaccinations. The LA were reassured to hear on Monday that asymptomatic testing was to be rolled out across the country and that Vicky Ford, minister for children and families, had requested that those working with children were a priority. It was announced last night that PVI’s and childminders will have priority access to NHS testing as opposed to being given access to home testing kits. The LA is currently gathering further information with Public Health officers and will issue further guidance as soon as possible.

We have been made aware by NHS Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Groups of a text scam concerning vaccinations. The message is causing some distress and confusion among some members of the public, we would therefore like to draw attention to this scam.

NHS Bristol stress that “there is an increase of scams around vaccinations and please be aware that no payment or card proof will be associated with vaccinations.”

In the last couple of hours, the LA has received an update relating to Early Years funding during COVID and will issue further information once any changes and implications for the sector are fully understood.

The Lead Teacher team, Area Leads and Childminding Support Team would like to remind you that they are available to support you throughout these extremely difficult times. We know most PVI settings will have met with their Lead Teacher recently to discuss the QIF visit note but we wanted to reassure all settings (Nursery Schools, PVIs and Childminders) that you can get in touch with your Lead Teacher, Area Lead or the Childminding Support Team at any time. This may be just a quick email query, or you may prefer a telephone call or a Zoom meeting to enable a more in-depth conversation. We are not assuming that we have all the answers but we are here to listen, to offer as much support as we can and to help you navigate the current landscape. Please do get in touch.

We would also like to encourage you to join local cluster groups that are facilitated by Lead Teachers such as PVI managers meetings or support for childminders through Zoom gatherings. These meetings enable you to stay connected with others, support each other and share practice as well as hear about updates and sources of further support.


We are aware that wellbeing will continue to be a priority for all of you and that many of you will also be trying to support learning at home for some children who need to isolate. Please see information below about support that is available to you as well as advice around SALT referrals and some Ofsted updates.

Stay at home learning

We have updated our Stay at Home Learning page on the Bristol Early Years website Stay at Home Learning | Bristol Early Years .

These resources are available to support any home learning that may be required if children are isolating or if settings need to close some provision due to staffing capacity during lockdown 3.

You will now find an overview (attached) of the prepared resources for you to share with families as well as useful links to support further research and local and national organisations offering support. We will keep adding to these resources and collecting best practice ideas from local settings and schools. Please get in touch with your Lead Teacher if you have examples that you can share to support practice in Bristol so that we can add to this growing resource.

Bristol Children’s Centre Hubs

Your local Children’s Centre has a wealth of vital information for families from support with home learning, online groups for babies and toddlers, health and care, cooking and feeding support, food clubs and local support groups. There are also contact details for any family that needs one to one support.

Each Centre also hosts a Facebook Page as an online community for parents and carers with further signposting, storytelling videos with family support team members, etc.

Find out more:



North  https://northbristolcc.org.uk/





East https://www.eastbristolchildrenscentre.co.uk/





South https://www.southbristolcc.org.uk/





Central http://stpaulschildrenscentre.co.uk/




Support for mental health and wellbeing

It is important now, more than ever, that we look after our own mental health as well as that of our staff and children and families.

There are helplines available for practitioners and families:

  • Bristol City Council helpline for people in Bristol 0800 0126549
  • national Mind InfoLine on 0300 123 3393 (Mon to Fri, 9.00am – 6.00pm).



Wellbeing of staff and children in Early Years Settings

Don’t forget the Wellbeing materials for staff & children on Bristol Early Years website which have lots of ideas and signposting.  https://www.bristolearlyyears.org.uk/networks/area-networks/

Useful links:




Domestic Abuse

Domestic Abuse has been on the rise during the pandemic and it is important to know that support is still available. https://nextlinkhousing.co.uk/

Next Link Domestic Abuse telephone helplines are open 10am – 4pm Monday to Friday 0800 470 0280


Racism & Equality

For advice and support  https://www.sariweb.org.uk/

For advice and support about Hate Crime in Bristol https://www.bhcds.org.uk/


SALT referrals 

The Speech and Language Therapy team have requested that we highlight the SALT Early Support Request form with Early Years Settings. (attached)

The main route into the SALT service is by parents ringing the telephone drop-ins and referring themselves for advice and support. The team are aware however, that some families, for whatever reason, are unable to do this so there is an additional route for settings to refer.

You would need to ask a parent for consent and then once the referral is received the SALT team will get in touch with the family directly.

Any professional can use this form for children up to preschool age (i.e. not Reception Year). It’s aimed at families where there is a concern around communication and where families may need support to engage; or where the family will struggle to access  universal services independently. 


Ofsted have confirmed that all planned inspection activity will be carried out remotely until after the February half term.

The crucial piece of information for Early Years settings however is that:

It is not possible to provide the necessary level of assurance of early years providers without an on-site inspection of the premises, so early years assurance visits will be paused until after the February half term’.

We will continue with our vital regulatory work in early years and children’s social care. This work will sometimes require on-site visits, which will be risk-assessed based on the nature of the premises and the urgency of the work’. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ofsted-inspections-to-be-done-remotely-until-half-term


New Ofsted reporting of significant events online

From the end of January 2021, childminders, nurseries and all other childcare providers must use an online notification form to tell Ofsted about significant events. (you can no longer phone or email). https://www.gov.uk/government/news/childcare-providers-telling-ofsted-about-significant-events

This is the same page that you would use to report a COVID positive test in your setting or if you need to let Ofsted know that your setting is closing due to COVID.

Ofsted will confirm receipt, which you can download, as evidence that you have notified them. The list of notifications that you must make to Ofsted are on page 15-17 of Early years  Early years: Ofsted compliance handbook (publishing.service.gov.uk)

Best wishes and stay safe,

The Early Years Team


Deborah Brown - (General Enquries)
Dawn Butler - (General Enquiries)
Nicola Theobald - (General and Nursery School Enquiries)