Ofsted Early Years – Self Evaluation Forms no longer needed

Ofsted Self Evaluation Forms are no longer needed.

The Ofsted SEF or self-evaluation form, as produced by Ofsted are longer a requirement for Early Years Providers.

This is great news, although many providers have been producing their own evaluations linked to their planning and outcomes for some time. The SEF was undoubtedly a good management tool for creating information about the setting and giving practitioners a place to be reflective about their practise.

We are often involved with early year’s providers in action planning, assessments, outcomes for children and management and governance. For many, this will come as welcome news and in the long run I am sure that this is the case. Settings who have become reliant on all the information needed for the Ofsted inspector being available in the SEF will now need to use other tools in their toolkits.

One of the best methods we suggest is to integrate the Action Plans across the setting and the curriculum into a document that can be translated into overall planning. Using a RAG system can easily identify and provide a timeline for actions needed and indicate systems and procedures which are working well.

You can always be bold, and use gold or silver to show that expectations are exceeded!!

In Nursery World, 9.2.18, it states that from 1st April 2008, the online SEF will cease to exist and quote,

While managers and staff of childcare settings need to be able to evaluate the care and activities their setting provides, and how well they are meeting the learning needs of children to an Ofsted inspector, they do not need to fill in the SEF. This is clarified in the inspectorate’s myth-busting campaign.

Ofsted says that it hopes the removal of the form will help to reduce burden on early year’s providers.”

The Pre School Learning Alliance also mentions that the need for the SEF is part of the myth busting campaign from Ofsted Early Years teams and that by no longer needing to complete the SEF this will enable managers and practitioners to reduce some of the administration burden and be more focussed on the delivery of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

I wonder how many settings will stow away their SEF into the bottom of the cupboard and how many will already have developed their own systems and happily send the SEF to the famous filing cabinets!

Sue Martin  Early Years Consultant



Increase in childcare entitlement from 15 – 30 hours per week.

Image 1Children and Young People Now have published the latest from the government in doubling free universal childcare entitlement.

The government is to fast-track legislation to double free universal childcare entitlement to 30 hours a week. David Cameron says one of the first things his government will do is legislate to increase childcare provision.

In a speech in Stockton-on-Tees yesterday Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed that the Conservative Party’s manifesto commitment to expand the free entitlement to early education from 15 hours a week to 30 hours a week, will be included in the Queen’s Speech this month.

He said: “One of the first things we are going to do is to make sure that we legislate to help with childcare.

“I think for so many families in our country it’s absolutely essential that they get that help with childcare, so that people who want to work and want to work more hours or longer shifts, or more shifts to bring home more money, are able to do that.” ‘

SmithMartin Partnership – working to achieve good quality childcare.

Summer redesign…

SmithMartin LLP, project design and delivery...
SmithMartin LLP – taking a refreshing view of your project…

As the summer holidays become a memory in 2013 we have brightened our Autumn reading by installing and loading a fresh new design and layout for ChangeThinking, the news and reflection website for SmithMartin LLP.

We hope we have made browsing the range of our content on the main page easier, with a much more prominent Read more… button to take you to the full articles that interest you.

The individual articles still offer our usual suite of images and downloadable content wherever applicable.

Don’t forget you can check out our other core services at the Partnership, which we have listed below. As the Autumn gets busier and the projects in hand become more pressing as budget finals loom in the Spring, don’t forget that our range of expertise will have some professional support for your social business, school, charity, young people and children’s service or community web need.

SmithMartin LLP:

Project management and development expertise, helping devise governance and management strategy for social business and community projects of all sorts. We have strong expertise in evaluation, social business planning and governance in both charity, education and business settings.


Our community web business, strong in ethical design, hosting and content creation for charities, schools, education settings and social businesses.


You can buy retail children’s books on-line here. We also devise, procure and install all equipment and books for school and community libraries. We can also offer, through the baskets of DolphinbBookShelf , a great way to encourage reading, volunteer engagement and fund raising in any setting. Ask us how.

Books go Walkabout:

Our international authors and young people project. Using new technology to have real time conversations with writers and illustrators across the globe. See more here…

BgW is now a publishing house in its own right – we are always looking for authors with new writing, or  traditional print back-catalogue, coming out of licence, who wish to explore e-publishing and how to get their work into the electronic eco-systems of the major online retailers. Our current theme for 2013/2014 is Writing about AfricaAsk us about eBook publishing here…

Just a flavour of what our Partnership can offer and how our skills mix can help you deliver a development project, capital or revenue. We are alway happy to be the LLP which helps you see your project with new eyes, without any initial commitment.

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A Better Beginning:
Easing the Cost of Childcare

eveAn interesting report from The Social Market Foundation explores a new way to support the affordability of formal childcare for working parents.

It is based on a similar approach to the student loans model and aims to spread the load of childcare costs over a longer period of time.

The advantages for parents would be that the significant costs of childcare would be lessened immediately, and may well enable parents to continue in working arrangements without the worry of escalating childcare costs.

For the government there would be no cost and it would bolster incentives to work, helping to make work pay, as well as the drive to ensure the access to high quality early years care and education.

This would seem to be a solution to families who are in long term employment and have a foreseeable future in their careers. It could be a positive step in ensuring that childcare costs can be calculated into their budgets over time.

It will be interesting to see if it is an option for part time and casual employment, or is an incentive to start looking for work in an environment where being unable to pay in the short term is the main driver to making the decision to return to work or not.

Image 2Download a pdf copy of the document here.

The Social Market Foundation, a think tank developing innovative ideas on social and economic policy.

Sue Martin

Creating a more equal and productive Britain

25th Anniversary Lecture Daycare Trust


Don’t blame families, support them and help them to achieve better outcomes.” Sir James Heckman

By special invitation from Daycare Trust, the leading economist and Nobel Prize winner, Sir James Heckman of the University of Chicago, gave an outstanding lecture, delivered in the Churchill Rooms at the Treasury.

He argued that there is great economic benefit through the investment in supporting families and provision of good early years experiences, and this far outweighs the benefit of more costly programmes at a later stage.

In economic terms the long term benefit to society has a much higher return than the cost of projects such as for eg. support for those aged over 16 not in employment, education or training, reducing criminality, single, young parenthood, and concerns with issues of social disadvantage. He provided much evidence to support this and called for prevention programmes to be in place instead of remediation.

He called for professionals to work together and for the measurement base to be broadened with a focus on social or family policy rather than separation in to education, health and social care.

Sir James referred to the development of non cognitive skills as being a fundamental determinant in the longer term cognitive skills.

As an example he looked at some research from Hart and Risley, 1995, on the vocabulary of children. At the age of 2 in working class families in the US children had a vocabulary of 616 words, whereas in professional families the vocabulary increased to 2553 words.

Much to think about. The research gives credence to the belief that we have in our partnership,  that our work, which delivers support to children and families in social and economic disadvantage, clearly helps change community landscapes.

More information will be available on the Daycare Trust website and as a trustee of Daycare Trust,  immensely proud to be part of a campaigning organisation leading change for improvements for the lives of families.

SmithMartin Partnership LLP – engaging with communities and broadening horizons



Early Years Funding – Free Entitlement

eyThe increase in the free entitlement from 12.5 hrs to 15 hrs a week (when delivered in term time) is already being implemented in some local authorities.

Its intention is to improve access to good quality early years provision and to support all young children’s development and understanding. It also is a great help and support to parents in the growing needs of young families and in enabling some parents to be able to access work related opportunities more easily.

There is a need for flexibility to be built into the programme so that parents can have a range of options to chose from. These should include access on a termly basis or through the year.

Schools and also private, voluntary and independent (PVI’s) settings generally have very different abilities to offer a range of flexible options. But these can be achieved and within areas or neighbourhoods there can be a number of ways of offering the extra time that will best meet the needs of the majority of parents. Some effective consultation is the best way to discover parental needs.

The pathfinders and local authorities that are already successfully delivering the scheme have been asked to have all settings offering 15 hrs by September 2010. Other local authorities now have until September 2011.

There is some helpful information on the DCSF website and includes research and findings from Sheffield and Cambridge.