Children encouraged to focus on speaking and listening to avoid low achievement

Children encouraged to focus on speaking and listening to avoid low achievement

Early years settings around the nation have been invited to take part in ‘No Pens Day Wednesday’, which takes place on 24 November.

The aim of the day, organised by the children’s communications charity, I CAN, is to encourage children to focus on speaking and listening for the day and comes at a time when the number of calls to the I CAN's enquiry service has massively increased. Over a six-month period, the charity has received over 600 calls – compared to 482 over a whole year pre-COVID.

A spokesperson for I CAN said, “In early years, language levels at age two predict reading, writing and maths ability when starting school. They also predict later ability to regulate emotions and behaviour. Good spoken language skills are a strong predictor of academic success. Children with poor language skills at age five are at high risk of low achievement.”

You can sign up to take part in No Pens Day Wednesday here.

Read the full story, as reported by Nursery World here.

New children and families minister commits to SEND review in open letter

New children and families minister commits to SEND review in open letter

Children and families Minister Will Quince has written an open letter to all parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities to talk about his ambitions for them and their children.

In the letter, he describes his commitments to the SEND review and publishing this in the first quarter of 2022. He has published the list of the members of the steering group and the contact details for the group.

The steering group:

  • informs the development of, and feedback on, the Review’s problem diagnosis, identifying opportunities and potential solutions, helping to think through choices and trade-offs associated with potential options
  • shapes and provides steers on policy solutions, tests the robustness of proposals to deliver systemic improvements, and offers advice on deliverability and unintended consequences of options
  • supports the development of robust implementation arrangements informed by the evidence of what has worked elsewhere, and advises on arrangements for tracking implementation and success
  • advises, and supports delivery of, the Review’s communications and stakeholder and user engagement, identifying opportunities for shaping content of the green paper
  • supports development of consultation products, including the green paper itself, and robust, accessible and inclusive consultation arrangements

As far as possible, the group will seek consensus on proposals that will deliver for children and young people. Mr Quince goes on to say that he knows the importance that the reforms:

  • reduce local variation
  • improve early intervention
  • make clearer the support and services everyone should be able to expect
  • have funding and accountability systems in place which support this
  • make sure changes we propose are supported and understood across health and care services, as well as education providers

He ends by stressing that he will be visiting more education providers as well as meeting with SEND organisations and experts across education, health and care to listen to their views. If the SEND review goes according to the newest plan it will be issued as a full consultation in the Spring 2022.

The open letter can be read in full here.

Education Secretary puts climate change at the heart of education

Education Secretary puts climate change at the heart of education

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi has promised to put the fight against climate change "at the heart" of education in England. During his speech at the recent COP26 in Glasgow, he spoke about plans for a new 'model science curriculum', due to be in place by 2023 as well as his vision for "all children to be taught about the importance of conserving and protecting our planet".

Teachers will be supported to deliver world-leading climate change education through a model science curriculum, which will be in place by 2023, to teach children about nature and their impact on the world around them. Children and young people will also be encouraged to get involved in the natural world by increasing biodiversity in the grounds of their nursery, school or college by taking small steps like installing bird feeders. They will be able to upload their data onto a new, virtual National Education Nature Park – which will allow them to track their progress against other schools in the country, increase their knowledge of different species and develop skills in biodiversity mapping. They will also be able to undertake a new Climate Award in recognition for their work to improve their environment, with a prestigious national awards ceremony held every year. The Climate Leaders Award will help children and young people develop their skills and knowledge in biodiversity and sustainability and celebrate and recognise their work in protecting the local environment. Pupils and students will be able to progress through different levels of the award, ‘bronze’, ‘silver’ and ‘gold’, in a similar way to the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “We want to deliver a better, safer, greener world for future generations of young people and education is one of our key weapons in the fight against climate change. Empowering teachers in every school to deliver world-leading climate change education will not only raise awareness and understanding of the problem, but also equips young people with the skills and knowledge to build a sustainable future.

“And it goes beyond the classroom – the National Education Nature Park and Climate Leaders Awards will let pupils get hands on experience of understanding, nurturing and protecting the biodiversity around them.

Today’s measures will also build on government’s pledge for every new school delivered under the Department’s school rebuilding programme to be cleaner, greener and net-zero in operation.”

In addition, from December 2021, all Further Education (FE) teachers trained via an apprenticeship will be required to integrate sustainability into their teaching, through modelling sustainable practices and promoting sustainable development principles in relation to their subject specialism.

These measures, brought together in a draft sustainability and climate change strategy, will be built on over the next 6 months in collaboration with young people, educators, sustainability experts and environmentalists before the final publication of the strategy in April 2022.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: "We firmly believe that children and young people should be at the heart of tackling climate change and improving the sustainability of our planet, and so we welcome the news that this vital issue is to receive a greater focus within the Department for Education.

"There is no doubt that the early years has a crucial role to play in ensuring that the next generation has a strong sense of social and environmental responsibility, and we know that many nurseries, pre-schools and childminders are already leading the way when it comes to climate and sustainability education.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “We welcome the Secretary of State’s announcement putting climate change at the heart of education. Nurseries across the UK and their practitioners already do an awful lot of work with children encouraging them to respect and care for nature, understanding the importance of recycling and learning about the environment they live in. “It’s so important for our youngest members of society to learn how to care for our planet and grow into responsible adults.”

Read the full news story on the government website here.



Road Safety Week

Road Safety Week

This is a vision of the world from Brake, the national charity who promote road safety, campaign for safer roads, and look after those who have been adversely affected by accidents on the road.

Every 20 minutes, someone is killed or seriously injured on UK roads. Alarmingly, road crashes are the leading cause of the death of children and young people worldwide, and in the UK, more than six children under the age of 15 are killed or seriously injured on roads every day, mainly while walking or cycling. These events are preventable with proper education and a change in our behaviour and attitude towards road safety. (Statistics from Brake website).

Road Safety Week is the UK’s biggest road safety campaign and each year, millions of us heed the call and try to raise awareness about the issues and campaign for safer roads either nationally or locally in our own areas. It is coordinated annually by Brake, and this year, the week runs from the 15th to the 21st November and actively encourages schools, nurseries and childminders to get involved in the events and educate our children about road safety. The theme for 2021 is Road Safety Heroes, which aims to celebrate the heroic work of all road safety professionals, thanking them for their efforts and acknowledging the important part they play in keeping us all safe. There are a lot of people involved in road safety and it isn’t just the obvious ones such as the police, fire and ambulance crews who attend accidents. There are many unsung heroes up and down the country who help too: from the crossing guards who assist near school crossings, the people who design our roads in the first place, to those who keep watch over us from traffic control observation centres, and the people who clear up and fix the roads in the event of an accident. Each one is doing their bit to keep us safer and helping us take responsibility for own safety and that of other people.

Road safety for early years

It’s never too early to start teaching our children about road safety and the organisers of Road Safety Week have come up with some specific resources and advice especially for early years educators which help make the topic fun and exciting. They are mindful that when it comes to talking about road safety for this age group, they need to get the messages across without scaring children, so the content has to be sensitive and age-appropriate. To this end, they have produced a short video about Road Safety Heroes which is tailored towards early years and KS1 children, and a number of different resources which can be downloaded from their website after signing up. These include things like:

  • A Road Safety Heroes card game with simple matching and counting games to introduce these heroes
  • Fact sheets to help you talk about the different people who are Road Safety Heroes
  • Lesson plans for English/PSHE/Citizenship and Art
  • An assembly presentation with ideas of how to run a Road Safety Heroes awards ceremony at your school or setting (you can purchase special stickers and certificates on the website)
  • Posters, colouring and activity sheets
  • Postcards to colour and send home to parents
  • A recipe for traffic light biscuits

You can access these at a dedicated part of the Brake website called Zebras so you won’t be stuck for ideas or resources.

Brake has identified the key messages to get across to early years children, which are:

  1. Always hold hands with a grown-up when walking near roads
  2. Always cross roads at safe places and hold a grown-up’s hand
  3. Always sit in a child seat when travelling by car

The best way to teach these messages is through play, modelling good behaviours and using the 5 senses to help children remember the messages, so using songs, role-plays, rhymes, stories and actions are all good kinaesthetic learning styles to adopt at this age.

Remember to educate your staff too

As early years practitioners, it is also vital that you ensure your staff are fully aware of their safeguarding responsibilities when it comes to road safety and that you always have adequate staff: children ratios when walking outside of your setting. This is where risk assessments come in and you should make sure that you have conducted robust risk assessments and planned your routes carefully whenever you take children out on the road. Being prepared and leading by example is important and there are a number of risk-reducing actions you can take when walking or cycling including:

  1. Wearing high visibility jackets
  2. Wearing cycling helmets when on scooters or bikes
  3. Staying on footpaths and using the safest routes even if they are longer (e.g. underpasses and bridges)
  4. Finding a safe place to cross (Pelican crossing, zebra/pedestrian crossing)
  5. Stopping and waiting until it is safe to cross a road
  6. Looking and listening out for traffic each way before crossing

Other ways to get involved in Road Safety Week

  • Invite a road safety expert into your setting to give a talk
  • Hold a Road ‘Safe-Tea’ Day by inviting people to your setting for tea and cake or a coffee morning. You can raise money for Brake or use it to raise awareness of road safety issues in your area
  • Fundraise for Brake to help people adversely affected by road traffic accidents
  • Hold a dressing up day encouraging everyone to dress up as their favourite Road Safety Superhero
  • Campaign for better road safety in your area by writing to your MP or local councillor

Road safety matters, and by engaging children and young people with key road safety issues and working together in your local communities to improve road safety, we can create safer spaces and mobility for all, be that walking, cycling, in a private vehicle or a public bus; we can help create safer, greener environments, encourage active and healthier lifestyles, and prevent road traffic tragedies to ultimately save lives.


We want a world where everyone is free to move in a safe and healthy way, every day. We work to stop road deaths and injuries, support people affected by road crashes and campaign for safe and healthy mobility for all.” - Brake website

Mackerel pate

Mackerel pate

You will need:

1 mackerel fillet (tin)
½ lemon or lime
12 fresh chives
2 tbsp. sour cream/Greek natural yoghurt/soya yoghurt



1. Squeeze the lemon/lime to remove the juice. 

2. Flake the mackerel using a fork into the mixing bowl (check for bones).

3. Cut the chives using the scissors. 

4. Mix the chives, lemon/lime juice and cream with the mackerel. 

5. Mix thoroughly. 

6. Spoon into your serving bowl. 

7. Serve with oat cakes, carrot sticks, cucumber sticks and/or celery. 

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