Magazine December 2019

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Welcome to the December edition of the Parenta magazine!

Winter has definitely arrived, complete with its dark nights and frosty mornings…but don’t let that put you off having fun with the children in your setting! There are so many wonderful things you can do in the winter which will leave them (and you!) feeling invigorated. In this month’s magazine, we’ve put together some of our favourite activity ideas for both inside and out.

The new Education Inspection Framework (EIF) from Ofsted is just about to enter its fourth month and many settings have already had their first inspection under the new changes. Parenta assessor and setting owner, Fiona Spencer, runs one of those nurseries that has received a visit from an Ofsted inspector; she gives us a summary of her experience, plus some interesting top preparation tips!

Issue 61






sensory spaces

10 ways to

empower children

The perfect musical

Christmas for littlies!

+ lots more


miss our

insight into a

new EIF Ofsted


page 22

Understanding what is meant by

curriculum and


What comes to mind when we use the term curriculum? A framework or document

that supports our practice? The EYFS or a programme of study or educational scheme?

Tamsin Grimmer discusses this further on page 28!


Hello and welcome to the December edition of the Parenta magazine!

Winter has definitely arrived, complete with its dark nights and frosty mornings …but don’t let that put you off having

fun with the children in your setting! There are so many wonderful things you can do in the winter which will leave

them (and you!) feeling invigorated. In this month’s magazine, we’ve put together some of our favourite activity ideas

for both inside and out. Turn to page 8 to get the most out of these next few chilly months.

All over the world, families are getting ready to celebrate the Christian festival of Christmas, marking the birth of

Jesus, approximately 2,000 years ago. We take a look at how different Christmas traditions have evolved globally over the

centuries in a variety of cultures, and also explore how we could take a more sustainable and ethical approach to many aspects of the

festive season.

The new Education Inspection Framework (EIF) from Ofsted is just about to enter its fourth month and many settings have already had their first

inspection under the new changes. Parenta assessor and setting owner, Fiona Spencer, runs one of those nurseries that has received a visit

from an Ofsted inspector; and on page 22, gives us a summary of her experience, plus some interesting top preparation tips!

With the new inspection framework, comes some new terminology, some of which we discussed last month. Two words which have been

longstanding in our industry and are definitely not new to us, are ‘curriculum’ and ‘pedagogy’. Industry expert, Tamsin Grimmer, digs deep

into what we perceive as the difference between these two terms which are regularly used within early years education, yet not always

defined or interpreted from an early years perspective.

Joanna Grace’s article in the September magazine has once again won her our guest author competition. Her article entitled “Ambitious &

inclusive sensory stories” gave us a glimpse into how you can use sensory stories to increase access to new experiences. We’re always on the

lookout for new authors to contribute insightful articles for our magazine. If you’ve got a topic you’d like to write about, why not send an article

to us and be in with a chance of winning a £50 voucher!

Please feel free to share your Parenta magazine with friends, parents and colleagues! All our news stories, advice articles and craft activities have

been written to help you with the efficient running of your setting and to promote the health, happiness and wellbeing of the children in your care.

May we take this opportunity of wishing all our readers, ‘Season’s Greetings’, and hope that you have a wonderful festive holiday, filled with

laughter, joy and peace!



Last month, Joanna

Grace busted some of the

myths about multisensory

rooms. This month she

gives tips on how to

create multisensory

spaces on a budget.


Stacey Kelly shares 10

top tips on how you can

empower the children in

your care and give them

the best start in life.







Tamsin Grimmer explores what is meant

by ‘curriculum’ and ‘pedagogy’ and

shares the 5 main points that, to her,

constitute an effective early childhood

curriculum and effective pedagogy.




18 Paper plate wreath

31 Write for us for a chance to win £50!

31 Guest author winner announced

32 What our customers say


4 Apprentice of the Year shortlist for Parenta


5 Hale nursery becomes first in region to achieve

Plastic Free status


8 Winter activities

12 Christmas celebrations and traditions

16 Ethical and sustainable Christmas ideas

20 What to do with Christmas leftovers

22 An insight into a new EIF Ofsted inspection

26 The importance of insurance in a childcare


38 Radicalisation and the Prevent Duty – all you

need to know


10 10 ways to empower children

14 Recognising and supporting children with slow

processing speed in your setting

24 Alternative sensory spaces

28 Understanding what is meant by curriculum and


35 The perfect musical Christmas for littlies!

An insight into a new EIF Ofsted inspection 22

Ethical and sustainable Christmas ideas 16

Radicalisation and the Prevent Duty 38

Check out our craft - make an easy, paper plate wreath 18

Apprentice of the Year shortlist

for Parenta learner!

Apprentice of the Year

shortlist for Parenta learner!

Hale nursery becomes first in first region in region to achieve to

achieve Plastic Free status

Plastic Free status

Parenta Training apprentice, Kira Alakija, finishes 2019 on a high, having been shortlisted

in this year’s Northamptonshire Business Awards, in the category of Apprentice of the Year.

Elmscot Hale Day Nursery & Nursery School has become the first setting in Trafford to

achieve Plastic Free status through the Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) scheme.

Kira’s Parenta assessor, Alison Rowe,

has worked closely with her during

her time at Noah’s Ark in Duston,

Northants - supporting her throughout

her learning journey.

She said; “Kira began her level 3

apprenticeship with Parenta in 2018

and has made steady progress

through to her completion in November

2019. She has a huge appetite for

furthering her knowledge within early

years to enable the children in her care

to achieve the best possible outcomes.

In addition, she has completed a

number of our CPD courses at the

same time as completing her level

3 childcare qualification, that’s no

mean feat! Kira has always balanced

her studies with her work well.

She has had good attendance and

been punctual and coped with the

demands of meeting deadlines. She

began working with a small group of

key children and quickly made good

relationships with them and their

families. Kira is now working towards

her level 5 and I am so proud that

Parenta has played such a key role in

her successful learning journey so far.”

It took her completely by surprise when

she was shortlisted for the Apprentice

of the Year award. She said; “When

the judges came to visit me at Noah’s

Ark in Duston, they told me that I was

the first nominee ever to come from

an education background – that made

me so proud! I love what I do and I

couldn’t have done all of this without

the support of my Parenta assessor

and my managers at work. The award

ceremony itself was fantastic and I

was really overwhelmed by the whole

occasion. The organisers made a point

of recognising all the apprentices

and their achievements and said that

this year, it had been really hard to

choose one overall winner. It was an

experience I will never forget and a

great way to end my apprenticeship.

Noah’s Ark Manager, Charlotte

Buckley said; “Kira is a natural with

children. She volunteers with the

Brownies and has a strong desire

to study to be a teacher. She is fun,

energetic and has a passion for

learning. She now supports new

members of staff and leads some

really fun, engaging pre-school yoga

sessions. The children adore these

sessions and it has really enriched

the provision we offer. Kira took

responsibility for developing the

maths area and chose resources to

enhance the teaching and learning.

Kira is adaptable and can think on

her feet. She is always flexible and

willing to support staff/children where

necessary, as no two days are ever

the same!”

Deputy Manager, Heidi Robertson,

said; Kira is always striving to improve

and it is wonderful for us to support

her through this journey. Kira is a

true asset to Noah’s Ark and we are

so pleased that her commitment and

achievement was recognised at the

Northamptonshire Business Awards.”

SAS is a UK environmental charity

that is dedicated to protecting our

environment, making it safer for

wildlife and surrounding communities.

The organisation runs a number of

campaigns aimed at guiding individuals

and businesses to start their Plastic

Free journey.

Elmscot Hale has followed the Plastic

Free Nursery objectives over a number

of weeks and is committed to further

expanding their efforts. The five

objectives they successfully completed

involved teaching the children about the

problem of single-use plastic, gathering

together for litter picking sessions and

establishing where changes can be

made to reduce the requirement for

single-use plastic within the setting.

The nursery staff now uses washable

tabards instead of single-use aprons

at mealtimes and for nappy changing,

single-use aprons have been replaced

with PVC aprons that can be sanitised

after each use. Fresh milk is now

delivered from a local supplier in

traditional glass bottles rather than

plastic, which has made a huge

impact on the amount of singleuse

plastic coming into the nursery.

All food shopping is now delivered

without carrier bags and the use of

plastic gloves has been reduced and

traditional methods reintroduced.

Stacey Thompson, Nursery Manager

at Elmscot Hale Day Nursery and the

person who has been leading this

campaign within the nursery, said: “This

has been one of the most interesting

projects we have been involved in and

it’s made us see how much single-use

plastic is being used in day-to-day life.

“A number of permanent changes have

already been made, but we will now

seek to further reduce our use of singleuse

plastic throughout the nursery.”

Elmscot Hale Day Nursery is part

of Elmscot Group, which provides

outstanding childcare and education to

over 1,800 children across Cheshire.

4 December 2019 5

Parenta Trust news


CPD eLearning courses

With the festive season upon us, and thoughts of charity and those less fortunate than

us at the forefront of our minds, we take a look at how our charity, Parenta Trust,

changes the lives of hundreds of children who attend Parenta Trust schools in deprived

areas of the world.

It’s hard to believe, but in so many third

world countries, pre-school children are

denied a basic education. In the poorest

of areas, children are sent out to fetch

water, carry out domestic chores and

look after their siblings. Very often, this

means that they miss out on not only a

pre-school education, but subsequent

additional education throughout their

childhood…and beyond..

It doesn’t sound much to you

or me, but for as little as 56

pence a day, a child’s life can

be changed – meaning they can

look forward to a much brighter


The Parenta Trust sponsorship

programme gives disadvantaged

pre-school children the chance to lay

the foundations for their learning in a

safe and loving environment. Having a

fundamental education means these

young children can break out of the

cycle of poverty and look forward to a

much more positive future.

Sponsorship plays a huge role in

shaping the lives of young pre-school

boys and girls across the world. With

the support of their sponsors, the

children are given an optimistic start

to their life and receive a pre-school

education, with its effects lasting a


Each sponsored child benefits from a

pre-school education, a school uniform,

a daily hot meal, school supplies and

the knowledge that someone really


Sponsor a Parenta Trust child and make

their future brighter... today.

Other ways to support the

work of Parenta Trust

The Parenta Trust holds many

fundraising activities throughout the

year, the highlight of which is a highoctane

car rally from Maidstone via the

Alps to Monaco. During 2019, the Trust

raised over £20,000 through a variety

of these events, from making pancakes

to breakfasts and even pub quizzes!

Not forgetting of course, the main event

of the year, the rally.

Find out how you can support the work

of Parenta Trust and keep up-to-date

with the latest events by following

@ParentaTrust on social media.

“Sponsoring a Parenta Trust

child is so rewarding. To

know that our support gives

hope to a child and that we

can change their lives for

the better, is incredible. You

form a special connection

with your sponsored child

and are able to share in their

milestones as they grow. In

fact, you’ll soon find that your

sponsored child feels like a

part of your own family! Each

year, we receive a couple of

letters from them as well as a

card at Christmas time.

The children that we sponsor

love to hear from us! One of

the most rewarding things

about sponsoring a child is

when that letter arrives and

you hear about what they’ve

been up to and how you have

helped them. It fills you with

pride and happiness!”

Allan Presland, CEO of Parenta and founder of Parenta

Trust explains how sponsorship saved Bridget’s life...

We met Bridget on a trip to Uganda in 2014. Nothing could’ve prepared us

for her story but, sadly, her case is not a one-off. Bridget was rescued from a

shrine where she was about to be sacrificed by her parents. Saved at the last

moment from a shocking fate, she now attends one of our pre-schools where

she can lead a happy and safe life. She is cared for, has a sponsor and has the

education she needs to brighten her future. There are many more vulnerable

children like Bridget who need your help. By sponsoring a pre-school child, you

make a real difference to their lives.






Whether you are a

manager looking

to support your

staff by enhancing

their knowledge, or

looking at developing

your own career,

when you study one

of Parenta’s online

CPD courses, you

study in your own

time and at your own

pace – all from the

comfort of your own


Our full list of

eLearning and eBook

courses can be found

on our website:





Study at

your pace


No classes

to attend

Winter activities




It’s winter! The days are drawing in; it takes 15 minutes to scrape a heavy coating of ice off

your windscreen in the morning; and you start to wonder if you’ll ever see the sun again!

But don’t despair! And don’t let the winter blues get you down. There are plenty of fun and

exciting activities to share with your children in these colder climes, which will leave you

invigorated, rejuvenated and celebrating the winter months with glee!

We’ve put together some of our favourite ideas for inside and outside, when there’s snow and

when there’s not! So, read through the list and make the most of these special winter months.

Outside – snow

Love it or hate it, there’s no mistaking that kids love snow! And if you’re lucky enough to get some snow this year, get outside

and have some fun using the ideas below. Just make sure you wrap up warm with coats, gloves, hats and scarves!

Write letters in the snow – get the children to

practice their mark-making using the snow. You could

use sticks, fingers, feet or make some spray bottles

using coloured water and see just how creative

children can be.

Build a snowball tower – making snowballs is fun.

Whether you allow the children to throw them is up to

you, but you can always make a snowball tower and

see how tall you can make it. Why not build it using

different geometric shapes at the base, to see which is

the most stable?

Snow angels – if you are lucky and can find some

pristine snow, then making snow angels is a must.

Try making some interesting patterns too by getting

the children to face in different directions or line up in

height order.






Build a snowman, snowwoman or snow dog! This

is a great way to introduce some new stories to your

classes too, such as “The Snowman” by Raymond

Briggs. You could read the story and then make your

own snow family. Just don’t be alarmed if they move in

the night!

Do some science – leave some bottles outside that

are filled with different liquids to see which ones freeze

in the snow. Try plain water, salt-water, and fizzy pop

for starters.

Build a snow house or mini igloo – ever wondered

how Eskimos keep warm? Try building a simple shelter

in the snow to find out.

Make some home-made sledges – experiment with

using some household items to see what slides well on

the snow - perhaps a tray, a bin bag or a large piece

of cardboard? Help your children explore and come up

with some answers for themselves.

Outside – no snow

Even if you don’t get any snow this winter, there’s still lots of fun to be had exploring the great outdoors with some warm clothes

and some wellies!








Inside – toasty warm!

If it’s too cold, wet or windy to go outside, then let the winter winds blow and try some indoor activities to

celebrate winter instead.






Natural winter art – collect some colourful items such as leaves, twigs, pinecones,

conkers etc. and use them to make some artwork. You could create animals,

environments or anything else using these natural resources.

Go on a festive walk – increase the physical activity of the children by taking them on

a winter walk. You could make it a treasure hunt or look out for local landmarks. And

remember to jump through the leaves and in muddy puddles too!

Deliver some winter food parcels – winter can be difficult for some people,

especially if they are elderly, homeless or infirm. Why not organise a collection

of non-perishable food items, decorate some boxes and then deliver them

in your local area?

Track animals – you can often see animal footprints more easily

in winter than summer due to the muddy conditions. Go on a

hunt for some common British wildlife and see if you can spot

and identify the signs of hedgehogs, birds, badgers, foxes or

rabbits – or anything else that lives in and around your setting.

Plant some winter flowers – winter does not need to be a time

without gardening. There are some wonderful winter pansies,

cyclamen and spring bulbs to plant that will keep your garden full

of colour.

Make a bug hotel – your local wildlife will appreciate a bit of

care this winter too, especially if you give them somewhere to

hibernate. Use rotting leaves, twigs, straw, old tiles and stones to

create a layered ‘hotel’ for our insect friends.

Visit your local library – encourage a love of reading early on by taking a trip to your

local library. Many offer storytime sessions for toddlers too or you could check your

‘What’s On’ listings to see if there are some festive events you could attend.

Decorate windows – make some paper snowflakes,

snowmen or Christmas trees to decorate your

windows. If you use coloured tissue paper, they create

colourful patterns when the sun shines.

Make some marshmallow or cotton wool snowmen

– this is the warmer version of the real thing but can

be just as much fun. You can use spaghetti or sticks to

hold them together.

Feed the birds – make some winter feeders using old

plastic bottles, nuts, seeds and berries.

Have an indoor snowball fight – make some

pompoms using wool or use softballs to either play

catch or have a ‘dodge the snowball’ competition!

Create a winter weather mobile – make snowflakes,

clouds and sun shapes to hang around the setting to

show the different weathers you can get in winter.



Decorate some biscuits with

winter themes – make some

biscuits and cut them into

winter shapes, then decorate

them with some festive ideas.

Think about usual ideas such

as bobble hats, gloves and


Learn some new winterthemed

songs – how

about “Here we go round

the mulberry bush”, “The

north wind doth blow”

and “Look out, look out,

Jack Frost is about” for


10 ways to

10 ways to empower children

empower children

7. Teach them gratitude

8. Show them they are


What a child consistently hears, sees and feels creates a blueprint for how they view

themselves, the world and their place within in. We are all programmed in our early

years with beliefs and values that then silently influence us throughout life. If we want

children to grow up confident, have self -esteem and to become empowered adults,

we need to make sure that our actions and words are programming them with these

qualities when they are younger. Here are 10 ways to empower children and to give

them the best start in life:

1. Be present

In this fast-paced world, it can be

very easy to get distracted. We all

have a million things on our todo

lists at any given moment and

it can mean that we rarely stand

still. It’s important for children to

feel heard and valued, and a good

way to do this, is to make sure that

when we are with them, that we are

truly present. By taking away any

distractions and giving children our

full attention, we are showing them

that they are important and that we

want to hear what they have to say.

4. Allow them to fail

Failure is a part of success and

it’s important for children to learn

this. A person that sees failure as

a stepping-stone to their goal will

achieve far more than someone

who lets failure define them. It can

be hard to let children fail as we

want to protect them. However,

if we want them to succeed in

the future, we need to build their

resilience and learn that failure is

a part of life.

2. Teach them about body


It’s important for children to know

that their body is theirs and for them

to learn how to set boundaries.

Quite often with friends and family

members, children are asked to give

hugs goodbye. If they don’t want to,

it is common for us to try to cajole

them into doing it, but is this the

right thing to do? If we want children

to know that their body is theirs, we

need to teach them this when they

are younger, and by simply allowing

them to not give a hug if they don’t

want to, we reinforce this message.

5. Choose your words


The words that we use are

powerful. If we want children to

feel empowered and confident,

we need to make sure that the

language we are using around

them is instilling these values.

3. Allow them to take risks

We all want to protect children and

it’s important to keep them safe.

However, there are times when we

can overprotect them. By allowing

children to take small risks like

climbing the ladder to the slide

without us reaching out our hand,

we show them that we trust them

and this, in turn, builds their selfbelief.

Of course, we will be there

to catch them if they fall, but by not

helping them in the process, you

are showing them that you believe

in them.

6. Respect them

Quite often we can hold children to

a higher standard than we can live

up to ourselves. If we were in the

middle of a task and engrossed,

how would we feel if someone

just came up to us, told us it was

dinnertime and took what we were

doing away without any warning?

We’d be so annoyed! I think it’s

important to ask ourselves how

we would feel if we were on the

receiving end of our actions and

to extend the same respect to

children that we would expect


We teach children to say thank

you, but we rarely teach them

about gratitude. Studies show that

practising gratitude on a daily basis

reduces stress and anxiety and

increases happiness. By teaching

children to be grateful about the

small things, we will support them

to be happier and empowered

because they will see the beauty in

life. Download your free gratitude

pack here.

9. Allow them to be their

authentic self

We are all unique and it’s important

for children to feel accepted for who

they are, not who we think they

should be. Children have their own

minds and each one has different

skills, abilities and ways of doing

things. We need to nurture children

to become their authentic self

and to know that it is okay to be


We all have different strengths and

weaknesses and it’s important for

children to learn that they are good

enough as they are. We don’t have

to be perfect all of the time and

great at everything. Children will

be far happier in life if they realise

this and learn to accept and love

themselves even with their flaws.

10. Give them choice and

explain yourself

Nobody likes to be controlled and

the same applies to children. Of

course, we have to guide them and

there are times that we need to

take control, but it’s important for

children to learn that they have a

voice. We can give children choice

and still control the outcome. For


• Put 2 outfits out and let them

choose what to wear

• Give them 2 lunch options

• If they need to do something

for safety, like holding your

hand, ask them if they’d prefer

to hold your hand or for you

to hold the bag on their back


It’s also important to explain things

to children. Quite often, we tell

children to do something without

explaining why. It may seem

obvious to us, but children are not

always developmentally-equipped

with the ability to join the dots and

by explaining things, it will help

them to understand why you are

doing what you are doing.

Stacey Kelly

Stacey Kelly is a former

teacher, a parent to 2

beautiful babies and the

founder of Early Years Story

Box, which is a subscription

website providing children’s

storybooks and early years

resources. She is passionate

about building children’s

imagination, creativity and

self-belief and about creating

awareness of the impact

that the early years have

on a child’s future. Stacey

loves her role as a writer,

illustrator and public speaker

and believes in the power of

personal development. She is

also on a mission to empower

children to live a life full of

happiness and fulfilment,

which is why she launched

the #ThankYouOaky Gratitude


Sign up to Stacey’s premium

membership here and use the

code PARENTA20 to get 20%

off or contact Stacey for an

online demo.







10 December 2019 11

Christmas celebrations and traditions



and traditions

Christmas is coming and families

around the world are getting ready to

celebrate the Christian festival marking

the birth of Jesus, approximately 2,000

years ago. Over the centuries, different

Christmas traditions have developed

in response to cultures, circumstances

and ideas, so read on to find out more.

The spirit of giving

According to Christians, the

greatest act of giving was

that of God, who gave his

only son, Jesus Christ, to

the world at Christmas; so

that, according to the bible,

“whoever believes in him

shall not perish but have

eternal life.”

Since Christians are

celebrating Jesus’ birthday

at Christmas, presents

are traditionally given to

mark this. In the gospel of

Matthew, three wise men

or Magi, visited Jesus in the

stable when he was a baby,

bringing him gifts of gold,

frankincense and myrrh, so

our Christmas presents derive

from this act of kindness and


However, whilst this could

be said to have started our

Christmas present tradition,

many pagan rituals held

annually years before the

birth of Christ, had a tradition

of feasting at the winter

solstice (called Yule) to

celebrate the birth of a new

year, and the exchanging of

presents was common there


Father Christmas

Father Christmas or Santa

Claus is based on the reallife

figure of St Nicholas

of Myra who was an early

fourth-century Christian saint,

well-known for his deeds of

kindness and for secretively

giving money to the poor. St

Nicholas’ Day is celebrated in

many countries on December

6th and children often leave

out their shoes in the hope of

receiving a present from him.

Over the years, and

especially during the 19th

century, Saint Nicholas’

bishop’s robes transformed

into the now familiar red

suit with a white, fur-trim;

and his persona into that

of a rather rotund and jolly,

elderly gentleman. This idea

was further enhanced by

successful 1930s Coca-Cola

adverts, which promoted and

standardised this image of

Father Christmas over many

years in the 20th century.

Whatever he looks like, the

idea that he enters and

leaves by the chimney, gives

presents to ‘good’ children at

Christmas, and likes a mince

pie or two, is an enduring


Christmas trees and

Christmas cards

In many places around the

world, evergreen trees have

been used in mid-winter to

decorate houses, ward off

evil spirits and remind people

that spring will soon return.

The Romans used fir trees

even before Christianity, so

it’s no surprise that as the

religion grew, the tradition of

decorating a ‘Christmas tree’

developed out of this ancient

custom. It is thought that

the Germans were the first

to bring whole trees indoors

and attach candles, edible

treats and glass decorations

to their branches. However,

it was not until the 1830s

that Christmas trees were

introduced in Britain, and in

1841, Prince Albert set up a

tree in Windsor Castle. After

an 1846 sketch showing

the Royal family standing

around their Christmas

tree was published and

circulated, every household

in the country wanted one.

Nowadays, between 6 and 8

million real Christmas trees

are sold in Britain every year.

As a token of their

appreciation for Britain’s help

to Norway during the Second

World War, the city of Oslo

has sent an annual gift of a

20ft Norway Spruce tree to

stand proudly in Trafalgar

Square each year since

1947. There is a tree lighting

ceremony on the first Thursday

in December, attended by

thousands of people.

The Victorian era was also

responsible for promoting the

sending of Christmas cards

to mark the season, and

nowadays, charity Christmas

cards raise millions each year

for good causes.

Advent and advent


The weeks immediately

before Christmas are known

as Advent, beginning on

the fourth Sunday before

Christmas and ending on

Christmas Eve. In Latin,

Advent means ‘coming’ so

during this time, Christians

prepare for the coming of

Jesus and remember the true

meaning of Christmas - a

reminder to love everyone

- amidst all the commercial

preparations, visits to Santa

and pre-Christmas sales!

It is thought that advent

started as early as 567 A.D.

when some Christian monks

were ordered to fast during

December in the run-up

to Christmas. Today, some

Orthodox religions fast for 40

days, starting in November.

Many churches use 4 advent

candles to count down the

weeks, lighting one candle

each Sunday until Christmas


Today, a popular way to count

the days until Christmas,

is by using a paper advent

calendar consisting of 24

or 25 small windows, one

to be opened each day in

December. A variation of this,

which has become popular in

the last 30 years, is to have

chocolate behind each door

rather than a small message.

The 12 days of


We all know the song…

well, at least up to the

seven swans-a-swimming

part, and then it can get a

bit ropey towards the end

as we wonder if the pipers

come before the drums or

the leaping lords

are before or

after the


ladies! Despite this, the

12 days immediately after

Christmas are an integral part

of Christmas celebrations in

many countries. These days

mark the 12 days between the

birth of Christ and the coming

of the Magi, which was on

Epiphany or Three Kings’

Day, now the 6th of January.

Whether you are given a

myriad of poultry and enough

people to populate a small

hamlet or not, most people

use this time to see friends,

relax and visit extended

family. In some countries, like

Spain, presents are not given

until 6th January.

In the UK however, Twelfth

Night marks the end of the

Christmas celebrations, and

most people take down all

their Christmas decorations

by this date. Legend has it,

that you will receive a year’s

bad luck if you don’t, so

better be careful if you want

to avoid upsetting your year


Whatever you do at

Christmas, it is a time for

spreading love, bringing joy

and giving – and the best

gifts are often impossible

to wrap, those that involve

giving your time and your


12 December 2019 13

Recognising and

Recognising and supporting children

with slow processing supporting speed in your


children with slow processing speed in your setting

Have you ever noticed a child in your setting that is capable of doing tasks

but takes a lot longer than others, or a child that you have said something

to and they respond to it a few minutes later? It may be that this child needs

extra processing time to take in what has been asked of them.

Processing speed refers to

how long it takes someone to

receive information, process

it and respond to it. Everyone

needs processing time, however

for some, this takes longer

than others. Children with slow

processing speed may take a

lot longer to perform tasks than

their peers, they may find it hard

to follow instructions that have

more than one step and they can

become overwhelmed by too

much information at once.

Slow processing speed can

cause feelings of anxiety for a

young child because they are

aware that they are not doing

things as quickly as their peers.

Likewise, though, anxiety can

also add to the slow processing

speed therefore it is important

that, as carers, we try to figure

out which came first and support

the child as best as possible.

So how can you support a child

with slow processing speed?

processing speed, however there

are ways that you can support

a child through accepting and

accommodating their need.

• Minimise stress – this is a

huge factor for supporting

children with slow processing

speed, and often one that

needs to be explained to

parents. The stresses of

family life can make it difficult

for parents to allow a child

to take a long time over

everyday tasks. It is essential,

though, that the parent

realises that this child needs

a little bit longer in order to

not feel stressed as this can

in turn make their processing

speed even slower.

• When you give an instruction,

say it once and then wait.

Don’t keep repeating it. If

you repeat yourself then you

are likely to use a slightly

different tone of voice and

this is confusing – particularly

for someone on the autism

spectrum. The child could

hear it as a completely

different instruction and

therefore have to begin their

processing again. Give an

instruction and then wait.

Wait to see if they do, in

fact, process what you have


• For the same reasons above,

ask one question at a time

and don’t give too much

information at once. Simple,

one step instructions or

questions are best for this


• Keep to a routine – as far as

possible, if things take place

at the same time each day

then the child has the chance

to practise a task and has

a much better chance at

becoming efficient at it.

• Allow lots and lots of time for

tasks – I know this is difficult

but, where possible, allow

enough time for the child to

complete their task so that

they can feel proud of having

finished it within the allotted

time rather than feeling


• Using visuals here is very

handy because they don’t

change, and they don’t have

tone of voice. A child can look

at them and take their time

understanding what they

mean. You could use photos,

drawings or visual symbols

to represent what you are


As you can see, understanding

the child’s need is the number

one key to being able to help

them. If you can become aware

of any child in your setting that

may have a slower processing

speed than others, and make

other staff aware, then you

have already gone a long way

towards supporting them.

Gina Smith

Gina Smith is an

experienced teacher with

experience of teaching

in both mainstream and

special education. She

is the creator of ‘Create

Visual Aids’ - a business

that provides both homes

and education settings with

bespoke visual resources.

Gina recognises the fact

that no two children are

the same and therefore

individuals are likely to

need different resources.

Create Visual Aids is

dedicated to making visual

symbols exactly how the

individual needs them.



Unfortunately there isn’t a simple

answer to increasing someone’s

14 December 2019 15

Ethical and sustainable

Christmas ideas

Ethical and sustainable

Christmas ideas

Christmas - time for feasting, celebrations, meeting up with family, and remembering

what the true meaning is – love, peace and goodwill to all.

And then there’s presents, trees,

stockings, turkey, stuffing, mince

pies, wrapping paper, decorations,

sixpences in puddings, cardholders,

advent calendars, pigs in blankets,

reindeer food, secret Santas, carol

singers, sherry, fairy lights, “Santa

stop here” signs, tinsel, party dresses,

loo roll embossed with snowmen,

table runners and those oversized

plates that you put the real plates on

(!?!)..……the list is endless!

STOP!…too much - and it’s

still 4 weeks to go!

The truth is that the stresses we

face at this time of year can often

put real strains on our health,

families, finances, relationships, and

increasingly, our planet. So, what

if you took a more sustainable and

ethical approach to it all this year –

not just in terms of the resources you

use, but also to your own health and

wellbeing? Might we all start 2020 in

a decidedly more peaceful place?

The true cost of Christmas

According to UK statistics:

• Households spend an average

£500 more in December than

other months 1

• We waste 54 million platefuls of

food during December 2 and 70%

buy far more food than we need

• We’ll use 227,000 miles of

wrapping paper - enough to

stretch nine times around the

world 3

• Other waste includes 125,000 tons

of plastic wrapping and 10 million

items of turkey packaging 3

As concern about excessive

consumption, un-needed packaging

and our effect on the planet

increases, here are some ideas to

help make your Christmas more

ethical and sustainable this year.

Cards and wrapping


We all like to send and receive cards

but buying charity cards will help

ensure your money goes to good

causes as well. To help save trees,

consider sending e-cards instead,

as these save paper and can be

animated and audio-visual too.

If you do send real cards, make sure

they are sourced from sustainable

forests, such as those carrying the

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

mark, guaranteeing the paper has

been produced sustainably and

ethically. Find cards made from

recycled sources, and then ensure

you recycle them effectively too. Some

types of wrapping paper contain

non-recyclable materials, so be

careful what you buy. A quick test is

to scrunch up the wrapping paper: if

is unfolds on its own, it may contain

unrecyclable materials, but check with

your local recycling centre if you are


You could also:

• Cut up old cards and make them

into gift tags, cards or place

names for next year

• Make new Christmas decorations

such as mobiles, or keep cards for

craft activities throughout the year

• Use fabric instead of paper which

you can reuse

• Reuse bows and ribbons

• Use gift bags to hold several

presents instead of wrapping

things individually

• Buy gifts that don’t need

wrapping – like experiences and


Christmas trees

In the UK, we buy approximately 8

million Christmas trees each year,

creating a lot of potential waste. Fake

trees last longer but can be energyexpensive

to produce and dispose of.

One idea gathering momentum is the

idea of renting your Christmas tree

from a garden centre or local nursery.

Some even deliver and collect them

afterwards, and the living tree gets

to continue growing as well. If you

do buy a real tree, make sure it has

been grown sustainably by looking for

either the FSC or Soil Association logo.

You could also grow your own tree

in a pot and enjoy it all year round.

Some good examples of ‘alternative’

Christmas trees include yucca, apple,

bay, pear, maple, firs, holly or just

some painted sticks in a pot.

When it comes to recycling trees, most

local tips and recycling centres will

take them and many councils arrange

a local drop-off point. Recycled trees

can be rotted down for compost or

used for mulch with a lovely pine

smell. Alternatively, chop it and create

a habitat for insects and birds in your



Don’t buy more decorations – reuse

the ones you already have or make



1. Simplify – less is


2. Make things – it’s

more personal and


3. Reduce, recycle and reuse

4. Source local goods

5. Use what’s around you

in nature – it’s free!

6. Car share with friends when


7. Check for sustainable and ethical

third-party endorsements

8. Don’t overbuy – most shops

open again on Boxing Day!

9. Stop and give yourself a break

– you deserve it

10. Remember that Christmas is more

about giving your time and your love

than it is your money – the people you

care about will appreciate it much more

than an extra



your own. Use natural resources

such as tree cuttings, pine cones,

conkers, and dried fruit/flowers to

make stunning displays and table

decorations. Why not use old books

as a centre piece, or create a mini

forest scene with some branches

in oasis? Use salt dough (flour, salt

and water) to create some miniature

figures such as snowmen and Santas.

Children love to make and paint

them, and they are cheap and

biodegradable too. Just make

sure they know they can’t eat



Who doesn’t like a bit of sparkle

at Christmas? But can we add

glitter to decorations and

cards in an ethical and

sustainable manner? The

answer is yes - you can

now buy biodegradable,

plant-based glitter which

degrades over time, so you can add

that bit of sparkle without feeling

guilty. There are even make-up

versions so you can let your little ones

really shine in their nativity plays as

angels and stars!

Christmas crackers

Make your own crackers using the

inside of a kitchen roll. Fill with

sweets, a joke and a homemade

paper hat, and cover with some

recycled paper, old maps,

newspapers or children’s paintings/

drawings. Or recycle jam jars, paint

the outsides with Christmas images

and fill with goodies!

Ethical gifts

There has been a burgeoning of

ethical and different gift providers

in recent years. Nowadays you can

buy goats, chickens, food, footballs,

water, seeds, tools, and bees. The

recipient gets a card and a wonderful

feeling; and disadvantaged people

from all over the world receive

something that could make their life

just that little bit easier.





16 December 2019 17

Paper plate wreath

Paper plate


You will need:

What to do with Christmas leftovers

What to do with

Christmas leftovers

Once upon a time, if you didn’t buy enough milk before Christmas, and then ran out on

December 25th, you’d have to endure Christmas pudding without custard, no eggnog,

and black coffee for 3 days until the shops opened again on the 28th!

Nowadays things are different – the

main supermarkets may shut for one

day, (not all do) but there are open

mini-markets and petrol stations up and

down the country, selling everything

you could possibly need, often 24/7!

So why do most of us stock up at

Christmas as if we were stocking up

for a siege? We invent creative ways

to chill food and drinks outside, stack

the fridge so high that it blocks out the

interior light, and can never find the

lemon that we know is somewhere

on the bottom shelf, for the welcome


Feasting at Christmas is part of the

festivities, but with a little more thought,

we can help our communities, our

planet, and our bank balances too.

Food leftovers

The first stage in dealing with food

waste, is to not overstock your

cupboards in the first place. We all

have a few extra things in, just in case

an extra couple of guests drop by on

Boxing Day, but ask yourself if you are

really planning and budgeting your

food efficiently. Do you really need 10

lbs of potatoes – just in case – or do

you only really need 6?

If you’ve planned well and still have

fresh food left over after Christmas,

there are many recipes on the internet

that offer some tasty options for dealing

with Christmas dinner leftovers. Some

of our favourite ones are on the BBC

Food website here including a turkey

and ham pie, sprout remoulade and

a German-inspired potato dish, called


Secondly, try to clear out your freezer

in the run up to Christmas so you can

easily store your food and leftovers to

enjoy later. Many food items can be

frozen and stored for between 3 months

and one year. Make sure you let the

food cool down to room temperature

before putting it in the freezer, and

ensure you pack and wrap it properly,

labelling it with the contents and the


If you have tins, bottles, cans or dried

goods which have not been used, think

about making a difference by donating

them to your local food bank. You might

even want to add a couple of extra

things to your initial shopping basket

too, as many supermarkets have dropoff

points where you can donate things

directly to the food banks or local pet

rescue centres.

Unwanted presents

We all occasionally get an unwanted

present that we either don’t like, doesn’t

fit or we just can’t use. We don’t want to

hurt the other person’s feelings, but we

know that it’s just not us. Estimates vary

on the value of returns each year, but

it’s generally in the £100 million.

So, if you get an unwanted gift this

year, here are some suggestions.

1. Return it (usually you will need

the receipt or gift receipt).

2. Swap it – either with the shop

for something else, or your friends/


3. Sell it – sites like eBay, Gumtree,

Wish and Depop are places where

you can sell unwanted things from

vouchers to clothes. You can also

try your local car boot sales which

also offer good value for picking up

bargains after Christmas.

4. Donate it – give it to a local

charity or your local hospital/

children’s home and allow others to

use them. Charity shops also help

others too, because people can buy

things at a reduced price, or items

can be shipped to other countries

by the charity and redistributed

to disadvantaged people who

need them instead. Some charity

organisations, such as the BHF, will

come and collect your unwanted

bags, furniture and electricals for

free, so it’s worth checking if you

can’t actually transport the things

you want to donate yourself.

5. Recycle it – make it into

something else or recycle parts of

it. If you have toys that you don’t

feel could go to a charity shop or

be donated to a local hospital or

children’s home, then there are

some great ideas on the internet

for turning some of your old plastic

toys into decorative or useful items.

Many settings are trying to limit

the amount of plastic they have in

their setting as part of developing

a greener philosophy and practice,

so why not think about turning

some of those old plastic dinosaurs

into plant pots or coat hooks? The

children in your setting will love the

uniqueness of them and you’ll be

saving them from going into landfill

too. There are some great ideas at covering recycling

plastic toys, glass bottles and


6. Regift it – this is when you pass

it on as a gift to someone else.

7. Bin it – we don’t recommend

this one since there will be

someone, somewhere, who could

usually make use of it, unless it

is damaged or faulty. Even then,

the recycling centres are now

expanding what they recycle, so

check with them and your local

council too.

Do you have any leftover


Not everyone has family and friends

to visit, and Christmas can be a lonely

time for many. Could you donate any

‘leftover’ hours and make someone’s


Crisis at Christmas runs every year

and needs people to help run their

Christmas shelters for the homeless

over the festive season. They need lots

of people to cover the shifts at centres

around the country, and they also need

people with particular skills such as

counselling or entertainment skills.

If you fancy doing some volunteering at

other times too, is a database

of UK volunteering opportunities.

You can search more than a million

volunteering opportunities by interest,

activity or location and then apply online.

Whatever you do with your leftovers

this year, spare a thought for the planet

and see if you can’t do something more

interesting with them before you head

for the bin!

20 December 2019 21

An insight into a new

An insight into a new EIF Ofsted

EIF Ofsted



The new Education Inspection Framework (EIF) from

Ofsted is just about to enter its 4th month and many

settings have already had their first inspection under the

new changes. Parenta assessor and setting owner, Fiona

Spencer, runs one of those nurseries that has received a

visit from an Ofsted inspector; she gives us a bird’s eye

view and summary of her experience.

Inspection day – a summary

of a few highlights

• Questions were asked regarding

the numbers on roll, in particular

numbers of 2-, 3, and 4-year-olds.

• Policies were available on request;

and the inspector took a brief flick

through them, taking in the titles


• Safeguarding – there were 3 case

studies to respond to and all

information was to hand.

• Checks and discussions around

DBS and core training were had

- certificates were viewed and

the DBS number noted for each

member of staff.

• We had a good discussion about

training, above and beyond the

core early years training.

• We discussed our staff CDP

training and the inspector was

very interested in the fact we

promote self-study, learning

and development within our

setting. The inspector looked at

our supervisory roles and how

training should be researched and

delivered by staff-to-staff as an

extension to training courses.

• Because Ofsted scrapped its

self-evaluation form (SEF) in

2018 we didn’t have to prepare

any specific paperwork for the

inspection. Instead, the inspector

asked questions on what we have

done to improve since the last

inspection and how we plan to

move forward in the future.

The Learning Walk

During the learning walk, Ofsted

inspectors will probably want to see a

well-considered, flexible daily routine

that meets the needs of the children on

the day.

• We started in the foyer and we

demonstrated to the inspector

what and why everything was

there. For example, the relevance

of our posters, Mr Bump forms,

achievement box etc. We were

questioned in some detail about

Mr Bump forms (accident reporting)

and also about our security and

opening procedures.

• We then went into the cloakroom

and were questioned about the

height of hooks for coats, and

observed children washing hands.

The self-registration board with

names on was discussed too.

• The inspector looked at the room

overall, asking how we covered

all areas of learning - which is

what was to be expected during a

learning walk and observation.

Top Tip!

Prior to Inspection

Did you know you that you can

find previous inspections online

that your Ofsted inspector has

carried out? This is a great tool

when looking for clues as

to what that particular

inspector focuses on.

© Chris Dorney 123RF.COM

• We discussed how we used the

jigsaws in our setting and we

explained about the relevance of

developing fine motor skills, cooperative

play and using different

jigsaws for different development

stages and talked about how we

use examples of tadpole to frog

for growth, decay and changes

over time.

• The children have a choice with

some of the toys so we showed

the inspector our Mega blocks

- used for building, counting,

and to encourage thinking and

planning i.e. building bridges for


• We showed the inspector our toy

cars and garages – used for next

steps for positional language for

a child who loves cars, and to

encourage co-operative play, and


Test your


Test your knowledge of the

new Education Inspection

Framework in our quiz here

– just for fun!

• Free role-play – we demonstrated

how Build-a-Blox encourages

imagination, building skills,

planning, working together and

language - and we had a member

of staff there to support (the child

had even drawn a plan of what he

wanted to build on a chalk board!)

• We showed our Tuff Spot on

floor with flour, sticks and pine

cones – all natural equipment -

to encourage mark-making for

those who didn’t like pencils and

paper, showing how we encourage

the development of gross and

fine motor skills. We also had a

discussion about literacy outside –

water on wall, sticks in mud, chalk

on the floor.

• We have some paper on the

floor near our ‘car mat’ which

was questioned, and again we

were able to explain its use - to

encourage mark-making by

continuing the roads on the mat on

to the paper – the children love it!

• We gave the children the chance to

do a baking activity that they don’t

necessarily do at home (tapping

into cultural capital). This particular

activity was looked at in detail with

questions to the relevant member

of staff.

• Our additional ‘free role-play’

resources were questioned – and

we were able to demonstrate

that this gave the children

independence, and to extend their


• We also showed the inspector our

maths table with bears – this helps

the children with colour matching,

counting, sizing and weighing.

• In our outside area, we were

again able to demonstrate that we

understand what cultural capital

is in the new EIF. Not all children

get to experience outdoors, so

we showed our monitored freeflow,

talked about playing in the

immediate area during session, the

larger area with the whole group,

and in particular, our walks around

the nearby fields, in woods, taking

a picnic and to the local park.

Joint observation at snack


During the joint observation, we were

asked about our daily routine and

talked about healthy snacks and selfhelp

skills. We were questioned if our

juice is sugar-free and had discussions

about a child left waiting for quite some

time at the table as they didn’t know

what to do next. Suggestions were

given to help with this confusion, we

were asked what the children do with

their dirty bowls and cups, and were

able to demonstrate they take them to

another table when they had finished.

A useful suggestion was made to put a

washing bowl in that areas so that the

children could put their pots there (as

some may do at home) and that we put

a small food compost bin by the side

to put leftover food in with recycling

written on side – again, tapping into

cultural capital.

Discussions about key

worker/child relationships

We talked about age, start date,

parents, family and culture. We

needed to show that we had in depth

knowledge of the child but the inspector

was happy with what knowledge we

showed, especially when we referred

to notes on next steps. Language skills

were discussed - what she liked to

play with, how she learnt through the

characteristics of effective learning. We

talked about the partnership we have

with parents and how we work together

for the improvement of the child - in

this case showing care and concern for


All in all, a very positive and

encouraging experience of the

new Ofsted Education Inspection


22 December 2019 23

Alternative sensory spaces

In my last article, I did a little myth busting around the phenomena that is multisensory

rooms. Our understanding of the benefits of multisensory rooms is very skewed by the

influence of advertising, many an unverified promise is made about the powers of the

rooms. Pushing aside all the propaganda, each one of us knows that there is something

in it, children adore a multisensory room. Perhaps you have a budget of thousands and

thousands of pounds and can afford to install a room. If not, don’t worry!

If planning a multisensory room,

be sure to research what aspect

of the room will be beneficial

to the children you support. Do

not simply pick resources out of

a catalogue or accept a room

designed for you by people who

have not met the children you

support. Multisensory rooms

should be designed around the

people who will be using them.

If you haven’t got a pocket full

of money, fear not, alternative

sensory spaces might not look as

impressive but they can be just

as magic, if not more so, than the

super-expensive, sensory rooms.

Recently I completed an 18-month

research study that looked into

the use of multisensory rooms

in the UK currently. As part of

this study, I asked practitioners


sensory spaces

to identify what aspects of

their multisensory rooms gave

them their power. Together, we

identified 12 features of effective

multisensory rooms; many of

these features can be replicated

in improvised spaces for a

fraction of the budget.

Two of those features identified as

being critical to the effectiveness

of people’s multisensory rooms in

my research, were darkness and


Darkness – participants

in my research sited the

ability to achieve blackout

in a multisensory room as

underpinning much of the focus

and attention and calming

responses they saw within their

multisensory room.

Control – the fact that

multisensory room users were

able to control the sensory

experiences they experienced in

a multisensory room themselves,

was cited by participants in my

research as being critical to the

success of the rooms. Control

does not have to be a hightech

thing. Control can come

from amazing remote-controlled

effects, electronic buttons, or it

can come simply from holding a

torch oneself or from banging on

the space blanket and changing

the way it looks and sounds for


Alternative Spaces

During my research, I began

collecting examples of alternative

sensory spaces and I have been

keeping an archive of some of the

more fantastic ones (including

one made entirely out of old milk

bottles!) in this photo album.

Here are three examples of

improvised sensory environments

that you could set up which would

enable people in your setting to

experience control and to have

their focus supported by reduced


A pop-up tent

Throw a blanket over the tent if it

is not a dark colour, to create a

dark space. Be careful not to let it

get too stuffy; have air vents.

Black out the room

Buy blackout curtains or Magic

Blackout to stick on the windows

and black out a whole room.

An umbrella

Quickly overcome any

superstitions you may have about

putting up an umbrella indoors

and pop one open; its canopy

can be a small hideaway. Dangle

things of sensory interest from

its prongs and you have a little

sensory world you can explore.

Add into these environments

objects that fluoresce in UV light

and a UV pen torch – these can

be purchased for under £5 - and

you will have created immersive,

sensory worlds that support

visual attention and curiosity.

Now you’re started on your

adventures with improvised

sensory spaces, do not hold

back…perhaps you could create

an autumn-themed umbrella,

perhaps you could put the

sounds of a forest into your tent

together with some exotic fruits

to taste. What about using a UV

banknote pen to draw a pattern

on your face to be revealed in

the blackout of the room when

you switch your UV torch on!

The possibilities and sensory

adventures are endless and do

not need to be expensive!

Readers curious to know more

may be interested in Joanna’s

book: Multiple Multisensory

Rooms: Myth Busting the Magic

published by Routledge

Joanna Grace

Joanna Grace is an

international Sensory

Engagement and Inclusion

Specialist, trainer, author, TEDx

speaker and founder of The

Sensory Projects.

Consistently rated as

“outstanding” by Ofsted,

Joanna has taught in

mainstream and specialschool

settings, connecting

with pupils of all ages and

abilities. To inform her

work, Joanna draws on her

own experience from her

private and professional life

as well as taking in all the

information she can from the

research archives. Joanna’s

private life includes family

members with disabilities and

neurodivergent conditions and

time spent as a registered

foster carer for children with

profound disabilities.

Joanna has published three

practitioner books: “Sensory

Stories for Children and Teens”,

“Sensory-Being for Sensory

Beings” and “Sharing Sensory

Stories and Conversations with

People with Dementia”. and

two inclusive sensory story

children’s books: “Voyage to

Arghan” and “Ernest and I”.

Joanna is a big fan of social

media and is always happy

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24 December 2019 25

The importance of insurance in a

childcare setting

The importance of


in a childcare setting

Running a nursery is certainly an invigorating experience - 101 decisions to make and

1001 things to think about! But there are also those moments of calm, when the doors

close after a long day, or when the children are all asleep for an afternoon nap and

calmness descends. Those are the times when you can take stock in peace.

Claim your FREE no obligation

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By quoting this unique offer code MMPARENTA2019 you will be entitled to a FREE insurance

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Moments of peace are perhaps rare

in childcare. Your nursery is never

going to be still and calm for long.

With that in mind, your insurance

shouldn’t be left to stand still either.

As your nursery changes and grows,

there are some potential insurance

pitfalls to watch out for, to ensure you

have the cover you need to maintain

your peace of mind.


You need to know that when you

claim on your insurance, the payment

you receive will be enough to put

things right. After all, that is what

you are paying your premium for.

However, if you are not careful, you

can find yourself underinsured; that

is, paying the premium appropriate

for less valuable assets.

For example, the market value of your

property might change dramatically

over time, but if your premium was

not updated, you may only be insured

for the original value. Another easy

mistake is to insure the market value

of your property instead of the cost

of rebuilding, which may be much

more. If this happens, in the event of

a claim, your insurance company may

apply a modifier to your payment,

meaning you do not receive as much

as you need.

You can avoid underinsurance by

keeping your insurance company

up to date with the value you need

to cover. It can be a good idea to

periodically have your property

professionally valued, including a

rebuild cost.

Claims occurring vs

claims made

Another potential pitfall that is worth

double-checking, is the basis on

which some kinds of insurance are

provided. In particular, whether it

is on a ‘claims made’ or ‘claims

occurring basis’. For the most part, a

‘claims made’ basis is all you need,

but in some cases, such as cover for

abuse, you may want to consider

‘claims occurring’ instead.

All this means is that rather than your

insurance only covering claims made

while you have the policy, the cover

will keep running into the future. This

ensures that if a historical allegation

is made, perhaps decades from now,

both your interests, and those of the

person making the allegation can be

properly protected, giving you peace

of mind.

Managing your excess

Finally, it is worth making sure you

are familiar with the excess that may

be applied to your insurance claims.

When taking out insurance, it is all

too easy to get into a mindset that it

will never be used, and this can mean

details like excess falling through the


As part of your financial planning,

it is always advisable to read your

policy documents carefully and speak

to your insurance company about

anything you are not sure about. That

way, if you need to make a claim,

you can ensure you maintain enough

money in your emergency reserves to

get everything up and running again

as quickly as possible, minimising the

disruption to your setting.

In a hectic sector, taking the time

to make your way around common

pitfalls, will help maintain your peace

of mind, and that is what insurance

is all about. In an ideal world you will

never need to claim, but – when the

unexpected is always a possibility

– it is good to know it is ready and

waiting to step in and save the day.

For more information visit www.

You can also contact the Morton

Michel team on 020 8603 0944 or

email nurserycare@mortonmichel.











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Understanding what is meant

by curriculum and pedagogy

curriculum and


What comes to mind when we use the term curriculum? A framework or document

that supports our practice; The EYFS or a programme of study or educational scheme?

Is it subjects like maths and English or perhaps areas of learning and development; a

timetable or daily routine?

Words like curriculum and pedagogy

are regularly used within early

childhood and education yet not

always defined or interpreted from

an early childhood perspective. For

example, the new Ofsted Framework

talks about, “…deciding what

we intend children to learn and

develop, how we will implement

the curriculum so that children

make progress in the seven areas

of learning and then how we will

evaluate the impact of the curriculum

by checking what children know

and can do.” The term curriculum is

used here, but Ofsted do not define

what they mean by the phrase. They

do, however, state that they do not

endorse one particular teaching

method over another, suggesting that

we are free to interpret this phrase

for ourselves.

The word curriculum comes from the

Latin meaning ‘to run a course’ and

considers the content of the learning

in terms of the knowledge, skills

and values that we want children to

learn. So within this definition, we

would be looking at the content of

the EYFS. However, when it comes to

early childhood education we may

also want to consider using the term

pedagogy which comes from the

Greek and means ‘to lead the child’.

I like the thought of leading a child…

but not in an authoritative manner,

more in a gentle way that scaffolds

their learning and presents them

with opportunities to explore within

a stimulating and enabling learning

environment, full of curiosities.

Understanding what is meant by

Pedagogy thinks about what we do

as pedagogues, or teachers, to lead

our children. It refers to the teaching

strategies we employ, the way we

tap into children’s fascinations and

interests and take into consideration

their needs, backgrounds and

strengths. So we could think about

curriculum in terms of what we

intend to do and pedagogy in terms

of what we actually do and how we

implement it!

When we think about our curriculum

with the children in addition to our

intended and offered curriculum, we

also have the received and hidden

curriculum. Our intended curriculum is

what we want for children during their

time with us and is demonstrated

through our ethos, policies and

medium and long-term plans. It

might be outlined on our website and

discussed with parents and carers

as they visit our provision for the first

time. The offered curriculum, on the

other hand, is what adults actually

do, so is the interpretation of plans

and provision and how this translates

into practice on a daily basis.

Hopefully, there isn’t much difference

between what we intend and offer.

But do we ever stop to think about

the received curriculum? That is, what

the children are actually getting out

of it. How they are responding to our

interactions and provision and what

they are learning in reality. And lastly,

we have the hidden curriculum, or

the messages that children receive

through the way we do things. We

could think about it as the things we

don’t say or the messages that are

implicit through our ethos, values and

the way we do things.

As we are on the lead up to

Christmas, I want to share a story

from my past about when I got the

curriculum a little wrong and worked

in a way that wasn’t very mindful of

the children’s own needs and wants!

I had planned for children to make

Christmas cards for their families.

Instead of offering the children

open access to the resources, I

had seen a lovely idea for footprint

Rudolph pictures and thought that

the children would enjoy making

these as they loved messy play.

So my intended curriculum was for

children to demonstrate their love for

a family member by making them

a card. The offered curriculum was

about making a card and creating

footprints with paint, however, the

received curriculum was that the

children learned to wait for their turn

to walk across the paper, and they

had to do it several times because

the first few just looked like splodges

not actual foot prints… In turn, this

meant that the hidden curriculum was

also actually teaching the children

that it’s only the perfect footprints

that were good enough and the end

product is the important thing. So

on reflection, I didn’t actually meet

my intended curriculum at all and

instead gave the children negative

messages! It would have been better

to offer the materials to the children

and invite them to create their own

card if they wanted to, which would

value the process more than the end

product. While we were creating, we

could have had a lovely conversation

about celebrations and people who

are special to us which would have

met my intended curriculum. Instead

I ended up feeling stressed and the

language I used with the children

revolved around – ‘Stand here, no

here!’ and ‘Don’t touch anything

– you’re covered in paint!’ What a


So when we consider the

curriculum we need to think

about what we intend children

to learn, what we actually teach

them, what they actually learn

and also take into account any

implicit or hidden messages

arising from our pedagogical

methods, ethos and values. With

all of this in mind, I have come

up with 5 main points of what,

for me, constitutes an effective

early childhood curriculum and

effective pedagogy. It:

1. Should be underpinned by

our ethos and values;

2. Builds on what children

know, can do and how they

learn best;

3. Links to the EYFS – enabling

environments and positive


4. Is sensitive and responsive

to children’s needs

and supports children


5. Asks how can we improve

on our current best?

So my first point is that our curriculum

needs to be underpinned by our ethos

and values. This is often how we show

our hidden curriculum too and should

underpin our practice and inform our

policy. Our values are just that – what

we hold dear and value with regard to

education and also with regard to life

in general. Sometimes our values are

implicit in what we don’t say or don’t

do as well as in what we do say and

do. Our policies should reflect this

and outline what we actually do in

practice. So whether we like it or not,

our ethos and values, which make up

our pedagogical approach will impact

on how we organise our provision and

how we engage with the children.

This is also our unique selling point!

Our curriculum should build on what

children already know, can do and

how they learn best; and this is also

what Ofsted is really focusing on. We

do this by observing the children and

responding to these observations,

which is often referred to as formative

assessment. Our observations provide

the basis for our planning their next

steps – hence looking at what we

intend children to learn in the future.

Our observations are also part of

our evaluation of the impact on the

children. Have the children learned

what we hoped they would (received

curriculum)? Has this sparked their

interest in something else? What

could we provide or do to enhance

their learning further?

However, this is not about ticking off

what children can and can’t do – it’s

not about highlighting on a copy of

development matters or having a

tick list; instead, it’s about starting

with the child and using observations

to inform our planning, instruct us

about where the curriculum should

be heading and how we should be

interacting with the children in order

for them to get there. You could think

about it as opening gateways or

offering opportunities within which

children can flourish.

An effective early childhood

curriculum also links with our

statutory framework. At this point

I want to mention the consultation

that is currently considering the

proposed changes to the EYFS. It is

really important that as many early

childhood educators as possible

respond to this. Several early

28 December 2019 29

childhood sector organisations

have worked together to provide a

literature review of evidence relating

to the changes. This is available

to read here. In addition you can

respond to the consultation from the

foundation years website here.

Linking with the EYFS is not just

about the areas of learning and

the characteristics of effective

learning but also in terms of what we

provide for children – our enabling

environment – and how we interact

with children through positive

relationships. Through considering

this we are keeping our children at

the centre of our practice – we are

holding them in mind. We are also

enabling children to grow positive

dispositions towards learning, like

perseverance, resilience and a cando

attitude which will help to lay

the foundation for future learning


Our curriculum must be sensitive

and responsive to children’s needs,

and provide a supportive emotional

environment. It is really important

that our provision gives children a

clear message that they are loved,

respected and valued for who

they are. We need to provide a

predictable and secure environment

in which all adults support children

by reflecting on and meeting their

individual needs, acting as a role

model and providing activities and

opportunities that support children

to recognise and articulate their

feelings and emotions.

Lastly, an effective curriculum is

a reflective one that asks how we

can improve on our current best. It

reviews and evaluates practice and

provision, celebrating what we do

really well whilst striving to be the

best we can be. We can find out the

views of everyone involved in our

setting, from children to parents and

cleaners, and ensure that everyone

is clear about our curriculum and

pedagogical values; and then

be mindful of these different

perspectives when we shape future


Let’s define our curriculum and

develop a pedagogy which keeps

children at the heart of what we do

and enables them to be confident,

competent and motivated to engage

in learning. We don’t know what

jobs the children in our care will

grow up to do, in fact, many of their

jobs won’t even have been invented

yet! So it is difficult to teach them

the knowledge they will need to do

these things. The good news is that

we don’t need to, because if we can

teach them to use their initiative,

or to persevere when they meet a

challenge, or present them with

activities in which they can become

fully involved, immersed and focused,

they will know how to concentrate on

a task. So our curriculum can teach

them to be good at learning.

Tamsin Grimmer

Tamsin Grimmer is an

experienced early years

consultant and trainer and

parent who is passionate about

young children’s learning and

development. She believes

that all children deserve

practitioners who are inspiring,

dynamic, reflective and

committed to improving on their

current best. Tamsin particularly

enjoys planning and delivering

training and supporting

early years practitioners and

teachers to improve outcomes

for young children.

Tamsin has written two

books - “Observing and

Developing Schematic

Behaviour in Young Children”

and “School Readiness and

the Characteristics of Effective







Winners of “Calling all

Superheroes” announced!

Winners announced!

A word from


“A special thank

you for the great

ideas to all those

who entered. I’m

so pleased that

superhero play is

embedded in lots of


Thank you to everyone that entered the competition, we recieved

some really wonderful examples of superhero play!

We are pleased to announce the winners are... *drumroll*

• Aneesa Jangharia - Sunning Hill

• Lisa Gibbons - Denmead

• Sharon Grunberger - Little Explorers

To the lucky winners - your books are on their way to you!


Subscribe to our newsletters and follow us on social media to make sure you don’t miss out on any

future competitions!





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The perfect

musical Christmas

The perfect musical Christmas for

littlies! for littlies!

This month I thought we could take a slight detour on the skills and benefits

to improve little one’s musical experience and use it all to have a little fun!

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Guest author winner announced


Joanna Grace

Congratulations to our guest author

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Joanna Grace’s article in the September edition

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Well done, Joanna!

A massive thank you to all of our guest authors

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You can find all of the past articles from our

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During my years of delivering music in

different venues, some groups have

preferred a more traditional list of songs,

whilst others have wanted easier tunes

that have had words (lyrics) changed

to suit the occasion. There will be those

who feel that there are enough old and

new Christmas songs to warrant that

lyrics need not be changed. After all,

we already have “Away In A Manger”,

“All I Want For Christmas (is my two front

teeth)”, “Frosty The Snowman”, “Twelve

Days of Christmas”, “Here Comes Santa

Claus”, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”!

A closer look at these songs shows that

these can be really tricky for littlies, either

because there are many notes close

together, or because the range between

the lowest and highest notes is too large

for new singers. Being a pragmatist,

I have had situations where singing

Christmas words to familiar tunes

(melodies) has been the best option,

improving confidence of both parents

and littlies, and giving families practical,

interactive ideas to take home and use.

Because of this experience, I

personally feel that both traditional

and new, purpose-written or rewritten

songs have their place in the

Christmas season. And depending

on child experience and family

preference, all of these songs may be

suitable at any age. If, for example,

family gatherings usually involve

everyone bringing or picking up the

nearest instrument, along with a

makeshift choir of 4-part harmonies,

it is likely that you will have quite a

long list of have-to-sing songs. If a

background CD/playlist is your more

usual pace, you may like to start with

these fun numbers. Here is my Top Ten

list of Children’s Favourite Christmas

Songs! (My complete Top 25 List of

Songs is also available on YouTube, on

the Musicaliti channel!)



Reindeer Cokey

This is a great movement song

to either start or end a festive

party. The Reindeer Cokey uses

reindeer body parts (hands

stuck out like antlers on your

head etc.), and also develops

the musical ideas of diminuendo

(getting smaller) and crescendo

(getting bigger) as the circle

moves in and out in the chorus.

You put your antlers in, you put your

antlers out

You put your antlers in, and you

shake them all about

You do the Reindeer Cokey and you

turn around

That’s what it’s all about

Oh, Reindeer Hokey Cokey,

Oh, Reindeer Hokey Cokey

Oh, Reindeer Hokey Cokey

Knees bent, arms stretched, raa,

raa, raa!

Twinkle, Twinkle (Christmas changes)

At number 10, this is a lovely little song to sing with the lights

off and a tiny torch light to follow on the ceiling.

Twinkle, twinkle, Christmas star

How I wonder what you are

Shining high up in the sky

Show the shepherds where Christ lies

Twinkle, twinkle, Christmas star

How I wonder what you are


Guess Who? (Mary Had A

Little Lamb)

This is a great song to sing with a

picture or toy Santa. Use scarves

or hide him behind your back as

you sing the tune, and uncover

or bring him out for the last line!

Guess whose beard is long and


Long and white, long and white?

Guess whose beard is long and


It’s Father Christmas!

Guess whose suit is red and white?

Red and white, red and white?

Guess whose suit is red and white?

It’s Father Christmas!

Guess who comes on Christmas Eve?

Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve?

Guess who comes on Christmas Eve?

It’s Father Christmas!

You put your hooves in…

You put your fluffy tail in…

You put your reindeer body in…

34 December 2019 35

Santa (She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain)


Are You Sleeping? (Frere

Jacques / Where Is


There are a few Christmassy

variations of this old traditional

tune that range from bell

accompaniment to peekaboo

scarf or puppet play! Anticipation

is a common technique used

in music that helps to keep

the audience interested whilst

telling the story of the song.

Are you sleeping? No more peeking

Or I’ll tell, or I’ll tell

Santa Claus is coming, Santa Claus

is coming

Hear his bells, hear his bells

Where is Santa? Where is Santa?

Here I am, here I am

Merry, merry Christmas

Merry, merry Christmas

Ho ho ho! Ho ho ho!

Santa’s coming, Santa’s coming

Sleigh bells ring, sleigh bells ring

It is Christmas eve, it is Christmas eve

Ding, ding, dong, ding, ding, dong

Father Christmas, Father Christmas

He got stuck, he got stuck

Coming down the chimney, coming

down the chimney

What bad luck, what bad luck



The original tune is so familiar that this will be a great sing-a-long

tune, mainly because of the repetition. The health benefits of singing

together are becoming more and more well-known, meaning that this

will more than likely be an easy hit number!

He’ll be driving nine brown reindeer

when he comes

He’ll be driving nine brown reindeer

when he comes

He’ll be driving nine brown reindeer,

driving nine brown reindeer

Driving nine brown reindeer when

he comes

Singing ho-ho! Merry Christmas all!

Singing ho-ho! Merry Christmas all!

Singing Merry Christmas, Merry


The Lights On The Tree

(Wheels On The Bus)

This old favourite also allows

children to “practise” the

excitement of Christmas

day, while also allowing for

new verses to be invented.

The lights on the tree go blink,

blink, blink … all Christmas day

The presents at the house go rattle,

rattle, rattle … all Christmas day

The mum at the house goes bake,

bake, bake … all Christmas day

The dad at the house goes snore,

snore, snore … all Christmas day

The grandma at the house goes

hug, hug, hug … all Christmas day

The grandad at the house goes

kiss, kiss, kiss … all Christmas day

Ho, ho! Merry Christmas all!

He’ll be piled up with presents

when he comes …

We will ring those Christmas bells

so loud and clear …

We will ring those Christmas bells

so quietly …

We will ring those Christmas bells

so fast and loud …


Father Christmas Land

This is THE song that I end all

my sessions on because of the

way it goes down so well. As a

circle dance, it is interactive and

engaging, whilst using considerable

repetition so that even if it is a new

song, it is easily learnt. Actions may

be changed to be more appropriate

to the group, e.g. older children

may prefer disco land, break

dance land, Pokémon land etc.

I travelled far across the sea

When Father Christmas came to me

“Ho, ho,” he said, “where do you live?”

And this is what he told me,

Come with me to clapping land,

clapping land, clapping land

All who want to live with me, come

with me to clapping land

Come with me to stamping land,

stamping land, stamping land …

Come with me to jumping land,

jumping land, jumping land …

Come with me to twirling land,

twirling land, twirling land …

Come with me to tickling land,

tickling land, tickling land …


When Santa Got Stuck Up

the Chimney

Despite being a fairly tricky tune

(many notes close together, wide

variety between the lowest and

highest notes), this very popular

Christmas song is a great favourite

with children and nurseries alike!

When Santa got stuck up the


He began to shout

You girls and boys won’t get any toys

Until you pull me out

My beard is black, there’s soot on

my sack

My nose is tingly too

When Santa got stuck up the





Jingle Bells

It was tricky to choose a

number one, as Jingle Bells

is known and loved far and

wide, but reluctantly, we settled

on this in the number 2 spot.

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all

the way

Oh, what fun it is to ride

On a one-horse open sleigh, hey

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all

the way

Oh, what fun it is to ride

On a one-horse open sleigh!

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer

And the number one favourite of all children’s Christmas songs has to be …

You know Dasher and Dancer and

Prancer and Vixen

Comet and Cupid and Donner and


But do you recall the most famous

reindeer of all?

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer

Had a very shiny nose

And if you ever saw it

You would even say it glows

All of the other reindeer

Used to laugh and call him names

They never let poor Rudolph

Play in any reindeer games

Then one foggy Christmas Eve

Santa came to say,

“Rudolph with your nose so bright

Won’t you guide my sleigh


Then all the reindeer loved him

And they shouted out with glee,

“Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer

You’ll go down in history!”

Frances Turnbull

Musician, researcher and

author, Frances Turnbull, is

a self-taught guitarist who

has played contemporary

and community music from

the age of 12. She delivers

music sessions to the early

years and KS1. Trained in the

music education techniques

of Kodály (specialist

singing), Dalcroze (specialist

movement) and Orff (specialist

percussion instruments), she

has a Bachelor’s degree in

Psychology (Open University)

and a Master’s degree in

Education (University of

Cambridge). She runs a local

community choir, the Bolton

Warblers, and delivers the

Sound Sense initiative aiming

for “A choir in every care

home” within local care and

residential homes, supporting

health and wellbeing through

her community interest


She has represented the

early years music community

at the House of Commons,

advocating for recognition for

early years music educators,

and her table of progressive

music skills for under 7s

features in her curriculum


Frances is the author of

“Learning with Music:

Games and Activities for the

Early Years“, published by

Routledge, August 2017.

36 December 2019 37

Radicalisation and the

Prevent Duty and the – all you

need to know


Prevent Duty

all you need to know

Prevent Duty is a law which was introduced back in

2015 and is part of the UK Government’s wider counterterrorism

strategy. The law asks for all employers,

including schools and registered early years providers, to

have due regard to the need to prevent vulnerable people

from being drawn into terrorism. As part of this strategy,

the Government requires staff to be vigilant and spot any

issues, such as changes in normal behaviour, or any other

concerns about a child’s wellbeing, which may indicate

that they are susceptible to radicalisation.

As someone who works in a setting,

you’re ideally placed to be able to flag

any concerns about the children you

spend time with. To fulfil your duties

under the Prevent Duty, you must be

able to identify children who may be

vulnerable to radicalisation and know

what to do when they are identified.

We’ll cover this in more depth later in

the guide.

What’s the difference

between extremism and


Extremism is ‘vocal or active

opposition to fundamental British

values, including democracy, the rule

of law, individual liberty and mutual

respect and tolerance of different

faiths and beliefs’.

Extremists accept violence as a

legitimate way of achieving political

goals without necessarily exercising

violence themselves. E.g. calling for

the deaths of members of British

armed forces.

Radicalisation is a process whereby

a person is drawn into supporting

terrorism and extremist ideologies.

One of the most widely known

terrorist organisations which has

gained increasing media attention

in recent years is Daesh (also known

as ISIS or ISIL). However, the UK also

faces terrorist threats from extreme

right-wing terrorism, including those

who idolise Adolf Hitler and Nazism

(Neo-Nazis) and also Northern Ireland

related terrorism (NIRT).

On 3rd June 2017, we were reminded

that the threat of terror on UK soil is

ever-present when three attackers

used a van as a weapon to plough

into pedestrians on London Bridge.

They fled on foot before launching

a knife attack in nearby Borough

Market. Eight people lost their lives

that day and many more were injured.

The men responsible for the attack

were shot dead by police, who arrived

on the scene within 8 minutes.

Responsibility for the attack was

claimed by the so-called Islamic State

and the men were reported to have

been shouting “This is for Allah” as

they carried out their violent rampage.

Who may be at risk of being


Terrorists have many different means

to persuade people to join their cause

and it’s important to note that this

can happen both online and offline.

Social media sites provide a platform

to contact people who may be useful

in furthering the organisation’s goal.

Propaganda videos posted online

idealise their terrorist group’s lifestyle

and give false promises about what

will happen once a person joins.

Through a combination of

peer pressure, ‘bonding’ and

indoctrination, terrorists can convince

people that violence is the right way

to respond to perceived wrongdoings.

As part of their recruitment process,

terrorist groups may target those who:

• Feel discriminated against in

some way

• Feel an aspect of their identity is

under threat, such as their culture

or religion

• Have a personal grievance

• Are looking for excitement

Studies have shown that those who

have been radicalised are often

looking for a sense of belonging, or

searching for identity and meaning

in their lives. This is why children

and young people are particularly

vulnerable to this process.

There are additional factors that

may have a bearing on someone

becoming vulnerable to radicalisation

such as: being bullied, domestic

violence in the family, emotional

trauma such as bereavement, low

self-esteem, substance abuse or

mental health issues.

Children at risk of radicalisation may

display changes in behaviour which

are unique to them and may even

seek to hide their views. You should

use your professional judgement to

identify children who might be at risk

of radicalisation and act accordingly.

Even very young children may be

vulnerable to radicalisation by others

(for example, if their family unit

exposes them to extremist views) and

can display concerning behaviour.

How are young people


The process of radicalisation is

different for every individual and can

take place over a varying time frame.

The internet and social media have

become key tools in helping terrorist

groups make contact and recruit

people to their cause.

The Terrorism Act 2000 and 2006

made it illegal to either possess

or share information that could be

deemed useful to terrorists. However,

since 2010, there have been over

300,000 pieces of terrorist material

taken down from the internet. Sadly

though, it’s easy to set up several

‘dummy’ social media accounts which

are hard to track or trace the owner

of. As quickly as these accounts are

taken down, they can be started up

again elsewhere.

Millions of children use social media

to share content and connect with

people every day, but it’s important

to note that radicalisation can occur

offline too. Extremist views held by

family members, friends, people in

places of worship or other community

meeting places make young people


Read the full article!

The full article can be read here

and contains invaluable information

about what can be done to tackle

radicalisation, what the government

expects of childcare providers,

how this all ties in with Ofsted

inspections, and how you can

promote good practice in your


38 December 2019 39

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