This year has been anything but normal, but here at PACEY we wanted to share some of the key achievements, and thank our members for their continued support and trust in PACEY. For a more detailed roundup of how we have impacted policy in 2020, take a look at the latest policy blog.
This year began with the Duchess of Cambridge launching the 5 Big Questions early year's survey. This survey contained five questions and aims to spark a national conversation on the early years to ultimately help bring about positive, lasting change for generations to come. It gave people across the UK the opportunity to provide their view on raising the next generation and get involved in the conversation using the hashtag #5BigQuestions.
February saw the publication of the Spring 2020 issue of Childcare Professional, which focused on the benefits of active outdoor play, as well as thinking about how to manage the isolation childcare practitioners can sometimes experience, plus exploring loose parts play and thinking about the importance of safeguarding.
In March, right about the same time as the first national lockdown began, we launched our new, free, innovative online training platform EY smart. Made possible thanks to a grant from Ufi Trust's Voctech Impact programme, the platform now has over 26,000 users signed up. The training platform is packed with things an early years professional needs to know with a variety of courses, that can be done in as little as 10 minutes on any device, at any time. At the same time, we launched our new EY smart Facebook group, which is a space to share ideas and #DoOneThing. It now has over 2,000 members.
Recognising the sudden and massive impact COVID-19 and the first national lockdown would have, we created our Coronavirus spotlight pages, to bring together the latest information and advice and to keep members up to date with ongoing resources. We know it’s been incredibly valuable to tens of thousands of people – it’s been viewed more than half a million times. We update the information on a near-daily basis, and are pleased to see that our support, information, advice and guidance is so valued across and beyond the sector.
Speaking of the wider sector, we joined colleagues at NDNA to call on the Chancellor, to offer more support urgently to all childcare providers affected by COVID-19, including childminders as self-employed providers.
In Wales, the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan AM, shared a letter thanking the childcare sector in Wales for their continued hard work and professionalism. She paid tribute particularly to those who stayed open to care for the children of critical workers as well the most vulnerable children and stated ‘providing safe care for those who need it at a particularly challenging time has played a big part in supporting our response to COVID-19’.
In a month where the focus was on celebrating the heros helping us through the pandemic, we turned the spotlight on the childcare sector creating our #UnsungHeroes campaign.
This month we were excited to launch the first of our digital products, England Childminding Digital Contracts. The new single-use digital contracts for childminders have proved hugely popular and mean providers can be completely digital with parents; perfect for encouraging social distancing. Updated for 2020, they now also cover enforced closures and pandemics. We later launched our Wales Childminding Digital Contracts in August. You can shop our digital business products here.
PACEY, NDNA and the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) wrote jointly to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in May, requesting urgent clarification from them about how the investigation into early education and childcare providers will be conducted and that we be included going forward. After a joint meeting with the CMA in June to discuss this, the three organisations worked closely with CMA to provide evidence and information about the complex financial issues affecting the early years sector. CMA issued an open letter in July to the sector as well as published guidance on COVID-19 restrictions and consumer law advice for nurseries and early years settings. Members can also access some common FAQs regarding this in MyPACEY.
In Wales, children of all ages and their parents came together to say a big “#Diolch” to the people that work in the early years, childcare and playwork sectors in a WeCare Wales video. Julie Morgan, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services extended her further thanks to childcare practitioners in Wales.
In Wales Claire Protheroe, National Manager for Wales hosted a ‘Re-opening’ webinar to provide support and guidance for settings in Wales around re-opening. This was attended by over 150 professionals from the sector.
We published the first fully digital issue of Childcare Professional in June, with a focus on shaping the new normal. The issue focussed on adapting to post-pandemic practice as well as thinking about the importance of storytelling, talking to children about food banks and how practitioners could support transitions.
This month, after working with the NHS to provide information and support in regards to searching for registered childcare and the use of childminders, PACEY received a lovely letter from NHS England and NHS Improvements in July, thanking us for this contribution. We passed this thanks on to our staff, trustees, volunteers and members too.
We were also excited to announce that we reached 30,000 followers on Facebook, which is amazing – thank you! We wanted to highlight how PACEY, like many other organisations, had to make a rapid change to working from home but, no matter the situation, we continue to be dedicated to providing reliable information, resources and advice to our members and the sector as a whole. We shared this image of just some of TeamPACEY and gave you just a small glimpse of who we are.
One of PACEY’s development workers, Sally, went live on The Learning Canteen – a local radio station covering the Thamesmead/Abbey Wood area of Greenwich – talking about what registered childminders do, parental confidence following COVID-19 and generally how settings and parents have coped in the pandemic. This was a fantastic opportunity to showcase the amazing work that childminders do.
Also in August, PACEY's Project Director, Annabel Hardy-King and National Manager for Wales, Claire Protheroe took part in an episode of The Voctech Podcast: learning continued series, supported by Ufi Voctech Trust and Ufi Ventures. They spoke about some of the immediate responses to workforce training through technology in the wake of COVID-19. PACEY highlighted the early years and how EY smart has been able to engage learners and support the need for accessible, high-quality training which has a long term positive impact.
In September, we added more new functionalities to SearchChildcare to help providers show the range of services they offer, including the new "out of school care" search filter, Have you updated your FREE SearchChildcare profile yet?
This month, a panel of experts including PACEY Chief Executive, Liz Bayram and PACEY President, Penny Tassoni, came together to talk about the positives and challenges that have come out of the pandemic on a Nursery World Magazine podcast. "The one thing I have taken away from this is the resilience and confidence that so many practitioners have... they know their practice and their setting best." You can listen back here.
In a follow up to our written evidence submitted in July, PACEY Chief Executive, Liz Bayram gave evidence to the Women and Equalities Select Committee in (virtual) Parliament. It was another high profile opportunity to highlight our sector’s understanding, poor pay and low levels of recognition – all of which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
And in a continued effort to bring our valued content and expertise to even more people, we started hosting Facebook Lives. One of the most popular saw us speaking with Dr Julian Grenier in our EY smart group, about the new Development Matters, what's different and how you can use it. We also hosted a popular Facebook Live with Ofsted in First Steps to Childminding where Julie-Ann Morris discussed the registration process and what to expect. We have organised seven Facebook Lives in total this year, talking to ICAN, Relate as well as Loughborough University, and we cannot wait to continue them in the New Year.
In Wales, International ‘Talk like a pirate day’ was chosen as the date for the virtual launch of the new PACEY Cymru storybook 'Pirate Puw’s Quest' developed in partnership with childminders in Wales. The purpose of the book is to showcase quality, registered childcare and to promote the role of a childminder within the sector. The story gives an opportunity for further discussions and to support further engagement with children, families and other professionals.
In an already exciting year for EY smart, we were thrilled to be selected as a finalist for the NMT Nursery Awards in the Nursery Training and Development Award 2020 category.
We are also delighted to announce that Dr Amy Page is PACEY's new Chair. Amy became a PACEY trustee in 2018 and took over from Jane Comeau, Chair since 2014, at the charity's Annual General Meeting. Amy worked collaboratively with Jane over the previous month to make the transition smooth and you can find out more about her in the next issue of Childcare Professional.
The Autumn/Winter 2020 issue of Childcare Professional focused on the constantly changing measures and how childcare providers can be agile and build business resilience. We also discussed the importance of inclusivity, explored the impact on communication and how we can support families who may be struggling.
We also squeezed in the launch of our next digital product in England, Short-Term Childminding Digital Contracts - designed for childminding placements of up to 28 days, you can shop our range of digital business products here.
In November, we published our Supporting families spotlight page in association with our Together for Twos project. This page brings together a collection of resources, inspirations and tools to help you reflect on and extend your practice when working with all families.
It’s always a thrill and source of great pride to hear that a number of our members were once again shortlisted for this year’s Nursery World Awards. A huge congratulations to all those shortlisted and we wish you the best of luck! The winners will be announced at a virtual ceremony in February 2021. See those shortlisted this year.
Lastly, the Duchess of Cambridge unveiled the #5BigInsights and findings of the biggest ever study on the early years. To launch the findings, The Royal Foundation hosted a webinar and invited early years professionals, including PACEY members. The keynote address was given by HRH, The Duchess of Cambridge, who stressed the important role that the early years plays as well as highlighting the dedication and commitment of childcare and early years practitioners. It was fantastic to see members and their little ones get involved in the day.
We hope that you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.