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Sandwell Early Years and Childcare Newsletter Spring 2012 edition • Issue twenty seven

In this issue: Early Learning for Two’s Children’s Disability Register Happy Birthday Bookstart Changes in Tax Credits

Time to say goodbye At the start of 2002, I was working for Wolverhampton City Council, completing a dissertation for my degree and preparing to celebrate my 50th birthday. In the September, an opportunity arose for a secondment to Sandwell MBC to write the 2003/04 delivery plan for the Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership (EYDCP). I grasped the opportunity because it was something I felt I could contribute to, in a meaningful way. Then, over the course of seven days in November, I experienced anticipation, grief and achievement when I transferred to Sandwell formally but also had to attend my brothers’ funeral and graduate from Worcester University with a BA in Education (1st Class Honours). With that degree, I met the Person Specification for the permanent post of Manager of the EYDCP which I secured in February 2003 and the rest, as they say, is history.

Lynn Beckett, Strategic Manager, Early Years and Childcare Unit

I have often reflected on where my motivation to support the childcare and pre-school sectors comes from. I have only ever come up with partial answers though. In 1969 (yes, the 1960s) when I was accepted onto the NNEB Course at the College of Food & Domestic Arts in Birmingham (now University College Birmingham), I worked for the Public Health Dept in Inner City Day Nurseries. I see that I had ambition then to nurture and educate children, rooted in my family where I naturally took to caring for my siblings, as the third of five and then six children. As a working class family, living in a council house in Kingstanding, I have come to the conclusion that my first hand experience of inequalities at an early age created a need to challenge, which I have sought to give expression to, since that time.


Early Years and Childcare Unit • News & Information

The start of my career in childcare What changed the face of childcare of course, was that key period of the Labour Government’s changes to education and social policies (1997-2010) which led to the launch of a National Childcare Strategy in 1998; with the explicit intention of providing access to affordable childcare and early year’s services, supporting child development and removing barriers to parental employment and alleviating child poverty. With targets set to include creating two million new childcare places by 2006 (1.8 million achieved by 2004); 2,500 Children’s Centres by 2008; backed by budgets of c.£400m each year from 2001/02 to 2003/04 plus; additional resources of £770m by 2007/08 compared with 2004/05 ~ this was a serious investment in early childhood services. What I discovered, was that this financial investment lifted a Cinderella vocation into the spotlight, a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve the status and quality of childcare workers and the nurseries and pre-schools they worked in, often on minimum wages.

postgraduate qualification at doctorate level; so, no excuses from anyone about it being too late to enjoy learning and to gain a higher qualification! Through my attendance at University, I have met and kept good friends and one of them is integral to the setting up of a Not-forProfit Company (check us out on www.gcainternational.org) initially to fund visits to Nigeria in order to support teachers in rural schools. We work in partnership with Nigerian and UK colleagues and UNICEF to improve functional literacy as part of the Millennium Development Goals. Having the experience of comparative international research, has given me another perspective on life and made me focus on the advantages I have had, rather than the disadvantages; something I have wanted to catalyse in others. So no, I won’t be spending all my time pottering around garden centres and taking things easy as I prepare to celebrate my 60th birthday! There are still so many things I want to do, so many things that still bother me that have to do with inequality, and so many wonderful things yet to experience. I still want to change the parts of the world I disagree with and I am going to continue developing my strategy with friends and colleagues who wish for the same. Whatever the next 10 yrs brings, it is time to say goodbye; ‘Con te partirò’, which literally means, ‘With you I will leave’.

During my time in Sandwell, I have worked with some outstanding colleagues. Some I have managed, some have been in the voluntary sector and some were in schools and other areas of the Council. All these, together with partner organisations and agencies created a sense of camaraderie that I will miss, which together with the laughter, success, change and sharing of frustrations has helped shape me into the person I am today. My job has taken up a great deal of my week-day life and sometimes, evenings and week-ends. My home life has consequently had to adapt and on occasion, the situations, events and relationships that have impacted negatively are the things I won’t miss but understand they are part of life. My career has spanned 42 yrs (so far) and has been as diverse as it has been interesting, including being a Mom to my three fantastic children. I know that the past 10 yrs have been the most exciting and paradoxically ~ the most and least rewarding. What has focused me and spurned me on through the highs and lows has been my ambition to improve the life chances of children and families who face economic, social and educational disadvantage. So what’s next? I have been studying at the University of Birmingham for 6 years and I plan to complete my research into the quality of childcare in disadvantaged areas. I will be able to focus on writing my thesis to gain a

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1981 My children: Martin (5) Sophie (1) Benjamin (7)

What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us ~ Helen Keller


Early Years and Childcare Unit • News & Information

Children and Young Adults Disability Register Sandwell Family Information Service now have the responsibility for the Children and Young Adults Disability and Special Needs Register which was previously held by Social Care. The Local Authority has a duty under the Children's Act 1989 to hold this Register. It is parental choice as to whether or not they wish their child/children to go on the Register. If you engage with families who have children and young adults with disabilities and special needs who would like to join this Register to receive regular information on services, events, activities etc please refer them to: Sandwell Family Information Service Training and Development Centre Popes Lane Oldbury B69 4PJ Tel: 0121 569 4914 Email: family_information@sandwell.gov.uk

Changes to Tax Credits from 6 April 2012 Changes to tax credits are happening from 6 April 2012. These include a lower income limit for Child Tax Credit. For couples with at least one child, there are new working hours rules for Working Tax Credit.

Child Tax Credit payments depend on your circumstances and income. At the moment, you can usually get some Child Tax Credit, as long as your income is not over the limit of £41,300. From 6 April 2012, this limit will be lower for most people. From 6 April 2012, the income limit for you will depend on your own situation. But as a very rough guide, you might not be able to get Child Tax Credit from 6 April 2012 if: • you have one child, and your annual income is more than around £26,000 • you have two children, and your annual income is more than around £32,200 But it's important to know that: • this is a rough guide • the income limit for you may be different, as it depends on your own circumstances You could still qualify from 6 April 2012 if your income is above these amounts. For example, if you pay for registered or approved childcare, are disabled, or have more than one or two children.

Couples with children - new working hours rules for Working Tax Credit At the moment, if you're responsible for at least one child and working at least 16 hours a week, you can get Working Tax Credit. From 6 April 2012, the rules for couples with at least one child are changing. In most cases, to qualify for Working Tax Credit your joint working hours will need to be at least 24 a week. This will mean: • if you both work your joint weekly hours must be at least 24, with one of you working at least 16 hours a week • if only one of you works, that person must be working at least 24 hours a week If neither of these apply, your Working Tax Credit will stop from 6 April 2012. But there are some exceptions to the new rules. You can increase the hours you work, so you would still be entitled to Working Tax Credit.

If you require further information regarding the changes to the Tax Credits, contact the Tax Credits Helpline 0345 300 3900 3


Early Years and Childcare Unit • News & Information

Early Learning for Two’s in Sandwell Sandwell has funding for supporting families and children in the borough who meet the following criteria. If you know of anyone who would benefit from this programme and meets the requirements below please contact us for more information and an application pack.

What is the offer? The offer is 15 hours of high quality early years provision with the added benefit of Family Support and Home Learning Support. The offer will be delivered through children’s centres and access to the offer will be through a referral process. The providers of the 15 hours Nursery time will have to have an Ofsted rating of good or above and are in the process of completing EYQISP. (Early Years Quality Improvement Support Programme)

Who can claim the 15 hours? All families accessing the pilot must be in receipt of one or more of the following: • Income Support • Income Based Jobseekers Allowance • Extra Working Tax Credit • Child Tax Credit • Pension Credit • Home Office letter (for Asylum Seekers) In addition to these, families must also meet at least one of these locally set factors:

Parental Characteristics • Asylum seeking • Families in need or crisis (This may include teenage parents, families that are/or have experienced domestic violence or substance misuse issues) • Parents with health issues • Environmental factors that are affecting the development of the child such as housing

Child characteristics • • • •

Children with communication needs Children on a children in need or child protection plan Children with developmental or learning delay, disabilities or experiencing emotional and behavioural problems There may be other factors not listed that you have identified

What are the benefits for a child? • • • •

15 hours of quality nursery time Opportunities to meet other children and play Language development Improved learning outcomes

Who can refer? • • • • •

Health Visitors Social Workers Children’s centre staff Other relevant professionals Voluntary Sector Agencies working with families • Sandwell Family Information Service

How can you refer? Practitioners will complete an expression of interest (Referral Form) with the family. This form will then be passed onto the Early Years, Childcare Unit . Proof of eligibility will have to be seen by the Children’s Centre Manager or designated officer before the family is offered the 15 hours

For more information regarding eligibility or the referral process & an application pack please contact Sandwell Family Information Service 0121 569 4914.

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Early Years and Childcare Unit • News & Information

Happy Birthday Bookstart!

Our 'Young Carers Advocacy Project'

In February a nationwide campaign to celebrate 20 years of Bookstart was launched. This year we are asking Bookstart supporters to pledge to share 20 books with children in 2012. (Of course, we'd love you to share more if you can!).

Sandwell Advocacy’s ‘Young Carers Advocacy Project’ supports children and young people (5-18 years of age) who provide regular or on-going care and emotional support. This could involve a family member or individual who may be affected by a physical impairment/learning difficulty, mental health condition, drug and/or alcohol addiction and any other long term illness or condition.

Making the pledge is a simple way for people to get into the habit of reading with their children and show their support for Bookstart. The routine of sharing books, stories, songs and rhymes with babies helps to build preliteracy skills as well as providing a unique opportunity for parents and carers to build a strong and loving bond with their children. Please promote Bookstart20 to your parents/carers in your settings and ask them to make the pledge. The pledge postcard is available in libraries and children's centres in Sandwell as-well as nationwide. The public can also pledge online at www.booktrust.org.uk/bookstart20 Twenty well-known faces - including HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, Coleen Rooney and War Horse author Michael Morpurgo have made a pledge to share 20 books in 2012 too. Along with their pledge, the celebrities have also revealed their favourite books to share with children, which range from Dickens' classic Great Expectations to classics-in-the-making like Andy Stanton's Mr Gum series.

The support we provide works within a person centred, but family orientated approach, whilst facilitating access to our integrated package of support that includes crisis intervention and long term advocacy provision.

For more details contact the Early Years Library Team on 0121 544 3888 or bookstart_libraries@sandwell.gov.uk

A Young Carers Advocate will provide one-to-one support and enable young carers to engage with the education and welfare system, social networks, activity breaks and health and social care services. We take referrals directly from the individual themselves, an agency or a third party these are all taken via: the telephone, Email and face to face. If you would like more information, would like to us to come and talk about what we offer to you and/or your team or wish to discuss making a referral our contact information is:

Sandwell Advocacy Young Carers Advocacy Project 28 Wood Street, Tipton West Midlands. DY4 9BQ Tel: 0121 520 8070 Email: sandwelladvocacy@btconnect.com Web: www.sandwelladvocacy.org Volunteer Enquires: volunteering@sandwelladvocacy.org Registered charity number: 101779

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Early Years and Childcare Unit • News & Information

PRIVATE FOSTERING “Somebody else’s child” – everybody has a responsibility Sandwell Local Authority is urging people across the Borough to help ensure the safety and well-being of children who are being cared for by someone who is not a parent or direct relative. The campaign aims to raise awareness of private fostering and the responsibilities of private foster carer’s, parents and other professionals.

WHAT IS PRIVATE FOSTERING Private fostering is when a child who is under 16 yrs (under 18 years old if they are disabled) is being cared for by someone other than a parent or a person with parental responsibility or a close relative, for a period of 28 consecutive days or more.

DEFINITION OF WHO CONSTITUTES AS PRIVATELY FOSTERING Close relatives are defined as grandparents, brother, sister, aunt, uncle or a step parent (that is not a private fostering arrangement). A non relative who is caring for a child or young person will include a friend, neighbour, great aunt or uncle, great grandparents or cousins are defined as privately fostering. An arrangement made between the parent or the person with parental responsibility and the carer. “Somebody Else's Child” raises awareness about the laws that govern private fostering arrangements which are in place to protect children and young people”. If your child is being privately fostered or you know of anyone who is looking after someone else’s child in Sandwell. You are legally required to notify Sandwell Local Authorities. Please do not ignore it. Can you ensure everything is fine? While most privately fostered child or young people will be well cared for, some may not. Remember we all have a duty of care to ensure the safety and well-being of the child and young person. Let’s not have another baby P or Victoria Climbie Private foster carer’s also miss out on support services which include advice on claiming benefits and help, in bringing families in crisis, back together.

WHO ARE THE CHILDREN PRIVATELY FOSTERED • THEIR PARENTS HAVE GONE OVERSEAS TO VISIT THEIR FAMILY AND THE CHILD OR YOUNG PERSON IS LIVING WITH FRIENDS SO THEY CAN CONTINUE WITH THEIR EDUCATION • THE YOUNG PERSON IS STAYING WITH FRIENDS DUE TO FAMILY BREAKDOWN. • THEY HAVE BEEN SENT TO THE UK FROM OVERSEAS TO STAY WITH EXTENDED FAMILY, OR MAYBE FOR EDUCATIONAL REASONS. • THERE COULD BE OTHER REASONS WHY THE CHILD OR YOUNG PERSON IS NOT LIVING WITH THEIR IMMEDIATE FAMILY.

WHAT ACTION TO TAKE IF YOU ARE OR KNOW A CHILD WHO IS BEING PRIVATELY FOSTERED. It is a legal requirement by law that the parent/carer must notify Sandwell local authority of this arrangement.

For more information and to notify Sandwell local Authority of a private fostering arrangement, please call the Contact Centre team directly and in confidence on: 0845 351 0131

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Early Years and Childcare Unit • News & Information

Growing Opportunities Garden Programme for Schools Growing Opportunities at Ideal for All offers an exciting year round programme of garden and community based activities. The work we do is aimed at promoting healthy lifestyle, wellbeing, healthy eating, learning and fun. We have two beautiful gardens, Malthouse Garden in Smethwick. Salop Drive Market Garden in Oldbury, a three acre community garden which produces fresh fruit and vegetables. We have also started work on regenerating a derelict site in Barlow Road, Wednesbury. We offer schools an opportunity to learn through school visits to our gardens and also through outreach if you can’t come to us. The community agriculture scheme run by charity Ideal for All is a featured case study in the Food Growing in Schools report launched nationally this month (in March 2012) by Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Caroline Spelman.

School visits Schools visit the gardens for a stimulating environment supporting all curriculum topics. Over 1,200 children each year visit and participate in hands on gardening activities.

Ready, Steady, Grow™ Ready, Steady, Grow is a planned educational programme providing training in gardening, cooking, tasting and eating for key stage 1, 2, and 3 pupils. The programme is especially popular with primary schools. Children take a seasonal garden tour, harvest produce, and participate in gardening

work. They taste freshly picked fruit and vegetables, and learn about seasonal produce. Developing an understanding of healthy eating and the role of fresh produce in a balanced diet is central to the visits.

Outreach If you can’t come to us, we can come to you. You can book one of our horticulture therapists to come and deliver fun, education, hands-on garden workshops at your school, college, youth group or community centre.

Vocational Training in Horticulture for 1416 year olds We offer vocational training in horticulture for 14-16 year olds. The courses are offered to meet the need to train workers for the ‘green’ jobs of the future and to provide practical, high-quality training for students wishing to follow a less academic route into employment.

About us The Growing Opportunities team is part of the Health and Wellbeing Service at Ideal for All, a Sandwell charity run by disabled people for disabled people. Ideal for All offers a variety of services to help people with a range of disabilities. To find out more about the schools programme please contact Veronica or Helen on 0121 558 5555 or by email info@idealforall.co.uk Address:

Web: Minicom: Text:

Ideal for All, Independent Living Centre, 100 Oldbury Road, Smethwick, West Midlands, B66 3RU www.idealforall.co.uk 0121 565 7967 07535 209 711

Keeping your children safe with Blinds: In the media there has been incidents regarding child safety in regards to raising awareness of possible dangers surrounding corded blinds. If there are blinds installed in the home or childcare environment, here are a few tips to keeping them safe: • Install blinds that do not have a cord, particularly in a child's bedroom • Do not place a child's cot, bed, playpen or highchair near a window • Pull cords on curtains and blinds should be kept short and kept out of reach • Tie up the cords or use one of the many cleats, cord tidies, clips or ties that are available • Do not hang toys or objects that could be a hazard on the cot or bed • Do not hang drawstring bags where a small child could get their head through the loop of the drawstring • Make sure all cords and chains are secured out of reach • For further information contact your BBSA (British Blind & Shutter Association) or visit www.makeitsafe.org.uk

Congratulations Congratulations to the following childminders for receiving a ‘Good’ in their Ofsted inspection recently: • • • • • •

Amanda Wareham Joanne Hughes Sarah Davies Clare Cramp Daniella Kiddle Kim Chilton

Share this information with everyone to raise awareness to keeping children safe.

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Early Years and Childcare Unit • News & Information

Qualifications and Training Access to Early Years Professional Status (EYPS) • Completed the Early Years Foundation Degree and have obtained 240 credits at level 5. • GCSE (or equivalent) English and Maths level C or above, this is required. Equivalency tests in relation to the GCSE requirement for English and Maths are available via Universities; Equivalencytesting.com also provides the appropriate online certificate at a cost. The following pathways are available via University of Worcester and Newman University, the qualification may be delivered on alternative sites, e.g. Halesowen College:

Graduate Practitioner Pathway - required to have full honours degree, applicant must be employed as a Childminder or as a practitioner within a private, voluntary, independent or maintained day care setting. This pathway is 6 months and you are required to have 6 contact days. Cover money is available directly from the University for the setting to release the practitioner. Undergraduate Practitioner Pathway (UPP) - This has 2 parts UPP and UPP 2. • UPP is a practitioner who has a foundation degree or HND and this route provides top up modules funding. • UPP 2 a practitioner who is employed within a setting but has a degree in a different subject area, they must have 12 months experience of working within the sector. This pathway is 12 months and would require day release to attend classes. Cover money is available directly from the University. Other options are available for people wishing to enter the workforce who already have a degree, these all require a commitment to gaining practical experience. Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) have restricted the places and will target practitioners living in areas of deprivation or having children who attend the provision living in areas of deprivation. Maintained sector practitioners working in Schools or for the Local Authority in any capacity will not be funded via CWDC, these are classed as self funders. The University has to have so many self funders to run the course. Student loans are available for these students.

Training updates Level 4 Progression Modules The level 4 progression modules have received a high level of interest. A total of 80 practitioners from early years and childcare provision across Sandwell have accessed one or more of the 3 modules; Understanding Challenging Behaviour, Cerebral Palsy or Child Development.

If you are working in an early years and childcare setting within Sandwell and would like to complete a progression module course providing a snap shot into a full foundation degree, contact Sarah Carder on 0121 569 4967 or email sarah_carder@sandwell.gov.uk . The progression modules are only available to the Children’s workforce.

Recruitment If you receive any enquiries or know someone who is interested in an early years and childcare career, signpost them to FIS on 0121 569 4914 to access a recruitment information pack.

If you are looking to recruit new staff, Sandwell Early Years & Childcare Unit can advertise your vacancy via our email job bulletin, contact Sarah Carder for further details on 0121 569 4967.

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Early Years and Childcare Unit • Day Nurseries & Children’s Centres News & Information

Great Barr & Hamstead Safari Trip As part of our half term activities Great Barr Hamstead Sure Start Children’s Centre arranged a trip for our families to The West Midlands Safari Park. The trip was subsidised by the Children’s Centre to ensure it was affordable for a range of families. The trip took place on Tuesday 14th February 2012 departing from Great Barr & Hamstead Children’s Centre at 9 am. There were 70 seats available and all the seats were taken, we started the journey at 9.15 am arriving at the park at around 10.15 am. We then went on the safari tour, where we saw white tigers, lions, rhinos, giraffes and lots more. For some of the children this was their first opportunity to see the animals up close and they were very excited. After the tour families were given free time to go and have lunch and to explore all the activities on offer. Everyone was back on the coach for 3 pm and we were able to start back on time. We left Safari Park at 3.15 pm and arrived safely back at the centre at 4.30 pm. The feedback we have had has been very positive, where some of the families commented that “the price of the trip helped us to go as a whole family, which we would not normally be able to do; It was great to go on a trip with the support of staff at the centre who were really helpful; my children had a great time and we are looking forward to the next one.

Fruit Carving and Conversational ESOL a hit at Wednesbury North Children’s Centre Wednesbury North Children’s Centre and The Bangladeshi Islamic Centre joined forces in September 2011 to deliver a Fruit Carving course for local parents and the response has been overwhelming. 23 parents have accessed the course to date, learning new skills, meeting new friends and producing an array of stunning decorations. In addition, the two organisations started a Conversational English for Speakers of Other Languages course in February 2012. The 12 week course has been a huge hit, with 14 parents whose first languages include French, Slovakian, Chinese and Bengali coming together to improve their conversational English skills led by a qualified ESOL tutor from The Bangladeshi Islamic Centre. The parents will be undertaking a trip on the Metro to Birmingham, hosting a party and visiting a museum as part of their course.

For more information contact Wednesbury North Children’s Centre on 0121 526 5571

Finding a Spider at Sunny Skies Day Nursery A spider was found during outdoor play and this lead to a wide range of activities for the children within the Rainbow Room (3-5 years). They all made their own spider picture and talked about what they could see. They then changed the words and made their own actions up to Incy Wincy spider and the children had great fun – all from finding a Spider.

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Early Years and Childcare Unit • Day Nurseries & Children’s Centres News & Information

Great Barr & Hamstead Arty Party Sessions During the last session we decided to have a little party and celebrate what the parents and children had achieved. One of the parents brought in a home made cake she had made with her daughter. The parents all took away a memory box to use at home and lots of art work. We received very positive feedback and comments from the parents. “It’s been lovely sharing art experiences with my child, but also being able to produce something for me.” “I have learnt lots of new things that I have never done before and this session has been very valuable for me and my children.” We already have a list of parents who are interested in attending the next course. Following consultation with the team we decided to run a programme around art and being creative which was targeted at the whole family. When we first advertised the Arty Party sessions, we were pleasantly surprised by the high up take for places on the course. We felt that the parents who showed an interest were very positive about Arty Party and we ended up having 8 parents booked on to the first course. In planning the Arty Party sessions we sent out letters to confirm the parents and children’s places and to tell them any additional information. This course was free to the families with the aim to encourage parents to be creative. The Arty Party sessions took place at Great Barr and Hamstead Sure Start Children’s Centre and ran for 5 weeks. The Arty Party programme was run by Jules Mitchell (The Creative Arts Teacher) and Alex Woakes (Early Years Manager at GBHCC). This was a free programme for parents, which was designed to explore arts and craft and to make things from everyday objects. On the first week the parents and children got messy and creative and their parents made memory boxes out of everyday objects, and then decorated them. As the weeks went on the parents got more creative and daring, their growth in confidence was nice to see. There were a number of activities taking place and a range of toys available for the children to play with. In the last week of the Arty Party sessions the parents were making comments and saying “Can we have one more week?” “Arty Party needs to be longer.” “Can we do this again?

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Chick, Chick, Chicken at Sunny Skies Nursery

Sunny Skies Day Nursery children have been learning all about life cycles with the help of ten little eggs. They arrived on Monday 5th March and everyone both young and old waited eagerly for their appearance. Monday afternoon there was lots of pipping to be heard and excitement ensued throughout Tuesday as two chicks had hatched over night and as the day went on six more hatched. Wednesday saw the final two hatch. The children have taken part in a wide range of activities and discussions have been plenty, along with helping the staff to feed, water and clean the chickens.

Babes on The Move at Hillside Following funding from the Aiming High project a weekly session was set up at Hillside Children’s Centre to promote physical development in children from 6 months. Through a range of soft play equipment along with a variety of sensory experiences the aim is to encourage and provide opportunities for gross motor skills. The session is regularly attended by children and adults and fun is had by all.


Early Years and Childcare Unit • Day Nurseries & Children’s Centres News & Information

Safari Park Sure Start Smethwick Uplands and Londonderry 15th February 2012 Three coaches of families travelled to the West Midlands Safari Park during February half term. A wonderful fun day was had by all. Quotes from parents: ‘very enjoyable, saw the Sea lion Show and small animals’. ‘we enjoyed our trip. Saw lot’s of animals and went on lot’s of rides’. ‘we went everywhere and loved every minute’. ‘yes we enjoyed it. Went on the rides had something to eat had a good time.’ ‘Sure Start very helpful. They give us all the information before we got off the coach. Also very supportive.’ ‘went on rides, won a teddy.’ ‘everything was great!’

The Gap Centre Towards the end of 2011, 5 members of the Gap team have been working towards their Level 2 in Equality and Diversity, at a team social evening last this month they were presented with their certificate. The Gap Centre, which was the first in Sandwell to achieve its accreditation in Quality in Play, continues to strive towards excellence practice, although they would be the first to admit they still have lots of work to do. They have established a small network of out of schools provisions that have a desire to develop partnership working and share good and best practice; they call it “The Centre of Excellence”. The group meet every half term to support each other and to share skills and policy. They have since their establishment last year already planned and delivered to great joint events the first to celebrate National Play day in August 2011 when we saw 3 provisions coming together to play, the second was our Christmas event which saw 4 settings gathering at Space hoppas west Bromwich, in excess of 120 children had a whale of a time. Membership to the Centre of excellence ranges from £15 for individuals to £45 per year for statutory and private organisations. For more information about Centre of Excellence contact Andy at bridgingthegap04@yahoo.co.uk

Congratulations to Smethwick Cape Hill and Windmill Sure Start Children’s Centre Ofsted rated Smethwick Cape Hill and Windmill Sure Start children’s centre as OUTSTANDING in all standards. “The centre is ‘now a centre of excellence at the heart of the community,” as quoted in Inspection Report, 1-2 February 2012 The centre is the only centre in Sandwell so far that has been rated OUTSTANDING in all areas of inspection. Inspectors heard one parent say ‘Here they don’t just talk about things, they actually do something.’ Inspection report states that ‘Cape Hill and Windmill Children’s Centre provides outstanding level of support for children and families. This is because the welfare of the whole community, whatever the individual or group needs are, is at the heart of the centre’s work.’ Mr Aynols Reid, parent chair of the centre’s partnership Board said “we are delighted that inspectors have seen that the centre is making a difference to the lives of so many people living in Smethwick Cape Hill and Windmill area. The centre is a bedrock of support for families who believe that the centre is truly their centre.”

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Early Years and Childcare Unit • FIS News and Information

School Holidays – What’s on in Sandwell Sandwell Family Information Service have taken over compiling the School Holiday Information for Parents in Sandwell. All the information we receive is inputted into our database, and then this information will be sent out to parents who request a Holiday Pack and will also be available online. We are also setting up a School Holiday Information webpage www.sandwell.gov.uk/holidays on the Sandwell website and will be advertising that we have School Holiday information through various channels.

If you have any playschemes, activities or events that are running during the Summer Holidays please send the information to family_information@sandwell.gov.uk

ASK FIS? I am finding my child’s behaviour very challenging, what support is available? The support available will depend on the age of your child and the type of behavioural problems. However there are agencies that you can contact for support: Positive Parenting Triple P programme Children Centre’s (Children aged 0 - 5 years) School Parent Support Advisors Barnardo’s Sandwell Family Support Head 2 Head

Further information on all the above services can be obtained from Sandwell Family Information Service 0121 569 4914 or family_information@sandwell.gov.uk

School Term Dates & Holidays Summer Term 2012

Half Term Holidays

From: Monday 16 April To: Friday 20 July

From: Monday 4 June To: Friday 8 June

Bank Holiday

Summer Holidays 2012

Monday 7 May

From: Monday 23 July To: Monday 3 September

For further information on any of the above please contact Sandwell Family Information Service on 0121 569 4914 or email family_information@sandwell.gov.uk

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Early Years Spring Newsletter