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Early Years

Page last updated: 16/09/2020


​​Access to high quality Early Years provision is vital to improving the educational progress of children in care by ensuring they have the best possible start to school. 

It is vital that all young children in care have access to high quality Early Years provision. This improves the chances of the children making rapid progress. Giving them the best possible start to their schooling.


Research indicates that high quality early learning is essential for young children. A solid start is crucial to achieving better outcomes in school and beyond. Children who experience high quality provision develop better social, emotional and cognitive abilities. Poor-quality provision does not support children's learning and development long term.


The Ofsted Early Years Annual Report 2015 stated that “While it is encouraging that outcomes for children from disadvantaged backgrounds are rising in line with the peers, there is no sign of the gap narrowing in any substantial way. Early education can make a fundamental difference to life chances, but only if the child receives high quality early education at a young enough age". Can't alter this as it's a quote.

There is evidence to suggest that providers must teach well, to the specific needs of each child.


Since April 2015 the Early Years Pupil Premium for children in care is from aged three years and one term. They can access their free entitlement through the universal offer.


Early years providers with children in care must:

  • complete an Early Years Personal Educational Plan (EY PEP1) for each child in care.
  • post it to the Virtual School.
  • complete the EY PEP1 every term in order for the setting to receive the Early Years Pupil Premium.

For approved settings Welfare Call can be used to electronically and securely create a PEP online. Please contact for access to Welfare Call​.

Early Years Personal Education Plan and Pupil Premium Grant.

The Virtual school Early Years and Primary advisers

Jane Mills-  

Yvonne Daniel -  

Further information relating to Early Years can be found on the dedicated Early Years Website​


The Impact of Early Trauma on Children's Learning in the Early Years

Children in Care will have experienced distress, loss and trauma which may have an effect on their development and education. Many children will be unable to trust adults. Practitioners have a vital role to play in helping children ‘catch up’ emotionally, socially and educationally. Building a relationship with the foster carers as well as the child is key to establishing the child’s trust and enabling them to see home and setting working together. Children will struggle to learn anything if they are not emotionally safe, loved, cared for, responded to and happy.

  • ​Emotionally children may be less mature than their peers and may have attachment difficulties.
  • Some children may be over anxious to please, others may be withdrawn.
  • For some children, leaving their primary carer may be difficult.
  • Neglect, abuse, trauma or pain may result in severe defiance, aggression, controlling behaviour, attention seeking, lying, stealing, and much more.
  • Snack/meal times may be traumatic.
  • Toileting problems can be an issue.
  • Some children may have heightened sensory perceptions.
  • Some children may need extra stimulation.
  • An abused child may be uncomfortable removing clothing or changing for PE.
  • Some children will appear to be coping well​

As an Early Years Practitioner, what can I do?

  • Plan for the child’s Induction to the setting. Be aware that a Child in Care may need more support when they start at a setting. Practitioners should gather as much information on the child in order to get to know them and support them to settle quickly into the setting.
  • Ensure that the child’s knows their key person before they start. A photo book of the setting including a photo of the Key person will support the child’s induction and ensure that they feel safe and secure.
  • The child’s key person should always be available to the child especially in the beginning when the relationship is forming. Ensure the staff rota allows this.
  • Have a second key person/ buddy who learns all about the child, and builds a trusting relationship so they can take over when the child’s key person is absent.
  • Ensure that everyone gets to know the child. Building positive relationships is crucial but may take time and patience.
  • Greet them by name.
  • End each day on a positive note.
  • Ensure that the child has time to explore their feelings. Observe young children’s body language to interpret their thoughts and feelings then name and validate them “e.g I can see you are sad/ happy”
  • Observe any patterns of behaviour and identify any triggers.
  • Ensure that all staff in the setting are consistent and use positive behaviour management.
  • Create an environment which makes the child feel comfortable, included and safe. Ensure that they have their name on pegs/ drawers etc.
  • Create an environment which offers places of calm to retreat if needed.
  • Offer re-assurance as you play alongside and with them.  
  • Give praise often. Be specific when you praise, describe what the child is doing well such as: how the child concentrates, tries different approaches, persists, solves problems, and has new ideas. This allows the child to be very sure about what they are doing well and enables them to build self-worth by repeating behaviour that gains praise.
  • Plan for change. Changes to routine need to be supported. You may want to use a visual timetable to support with change.
  • Be aware that unstructured time may be difficult.
  • Identify the child’s starting points on entry to the setting, so practitioners can begin immediately to focus on the child’s individual needs. Identify the child’s next steps and then plan the provision accordingly so that the child is able to meet their next steps.
  • Ensure that the Early Years Pupil Premium is used effectively to address any gaps in attainment and ensure that the child makes progress.  
  • Ensure you have good communication with carers and social workers.
  • Work with carers to help promote the child’s learning at home.
  • Ensure that information from Carers about the child’s interests and achievements is included in a child’s learning journey.
  • Plan in advance for a child’s transition to another room in the setting or into school, as this will involve a change in Key Person and the child will need additional time to support this transition.   
  • Keep transitions to a minimum and always warn the child when change is about to happen. The child may find any change however small unsettling due to previous changes in their life.

Secure Attachment

Developing a secure attachment with babies and children is the foundation on which all learning and development is built. The development of a secure attachment takes time and commitment and needs to be a priority above all else when a child starts with you. Many looked after children will have developed insecure attachments in their early years due to an inconsistent response to their needs. Early attachment experience provides the foundation for the child's ability to feel empathy, compassion, trust and love in future life.


When young children have a loving caregiver consistently responding to their needs, they build a secure attachment. This lifelong bond affects growth, development, trust and the ability to build relationships. A child with a secure attachment is generally more competent, more sociable, more self-confident, and inquisitive.​

Insecure Attachment

If a child is not provided with consistent loving care, insecure attachments form. Children with insecure attachments have learned that the world is not a safe place. They don’t have the experiences they need to feel confident in themselves and trust in others. Insecure attachment shows itself in many different ways. Children may have trouble with learning, may be aggressive and act out, be excessively clingy, have difficulty making friends, suffer anxiety or depression, or be developmentally delayed.

Having a key person helps children to form a secure attachment and is a

statutory requirement of the EYFS. The key person role is based on the work of the theorist John Bowlby who saw that young children need to be emotionally attached to a very small group of adults in order to then be able to make relationships with others, this is because of the trust that is built up by having a primary care giver. This close relationship makes it easier for babies and young children to cope with unfamiliar situations, tasks and experiences.

Having a secure attachment to a key person means that the child feels secure and confident so that if anything goes wrong, if anything upsets them, someone is there who knows how to sort things out and make them feel better again - not just comfortable but happy and contented deep down inside​.

What to expect when...

Quality Matters in Essex

Exemplary Practice for children in care in Early Years.

​Training programme 2017-18​

Early Years and Childcare (EYCC) are pleased to announce new learning and development​ opportunities for you this term and next. Following your feedback and to meet local demand, further courses will be added throughout the year so keep an eye out on our website for new courses as they become available. ​​