Little Tinklers

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Little Tinklers's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Little Tinklers is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
Georgina Lester, Owner
Enjoying circle time at the
local elderly care home
Having been selected to take part in a pilot scheme to
trial 30-hour funding, Little Tinklers are well placed to
assess the developments and changes within the early
years education sector. Based in Northumberland, they have
created links with a number of other organisations in the
local community, including local care homes. They have also
established positive relationships with local feeder schools to
ease the transition from a nursery setting to school. Georgina
Lester, the owner of the company, details this pilot project and
the effects it may have on the sector more widely.
We operate two private nurseries in Northumberland, which provide full daycare
for approximately 150 children up to five years old. Our first setting was established
in 2004 and has been inspected by Ofsted on a number of occasions, with the last
inspection rating it “outstanding”. Our second was opened in 2016 and has also
been graded “outstanding”.
These facilities are flanked by a range of other early years provisions in close
proximity, so competition is healthy and settings are rarely full. As more and more
schools are gaining community powers and offering additional care, our focus
on our customers is more crucial than ever. This is compounded by the extended
funded care provision for eligible three- and four-year-olds.
A pilot for extended entitlement
Northumberland was chosen to be part of the pilot for extended entitlement, with a
particular emphasis on rurality and flexibility, after achieving early implementer status
»Owner: Georgina Lester
»Established in 2004
»Based in Northumberland
»Services: Early years education
»No. of employees: 30
»No. of students: 150
Little Tinklers
Highlighting best practice
in February 2016. We were lucky to be
involved in the pilot scheme for 30-hour
funding, which gave the company time
to trial and assess different formulas
for offering funded hours. The local
authority were extremely proactive
in responding to providers’ concerns
quickly and spent time explaining what
the offer entailed and how it could
work. To assist with the administrative
burden of this project, local services
worked collaboratively to create “The
Wizard”, providing support for early
years statutory duties and business
functions. It has already been recognised
nationally, achieving the 2017 GEOPlace
Exemplar Award and the 2018 Childcare
Works Innovation Award, and is
a finalist in the Digital Innovation
category of the MJ Awards 2018.
We trialled different models during
the pilot, from full flexibility, offering
funding over 52 weeks, to set termly
sessions with paid slots in between.
There is no exemplar or best fit model
for this service. It is unique to each
setting and their customer base. The
extended offer, however, has caused
the closure of several nurseries, leaving
a potential shortfall of quality places
and a long-term gap in the market,
as the 30-hour offer has only been
guaranteed in the short term.
Private settings have had to re-evaluate
their provisions and evolve their service
to remain sustainable and competitive
in this new business market. We work
hard to impress our customers, and we
have a very clear ethos to provide high-
quality environments and activities,
offering breadth and experience across
a wide curriculum to inspire children to
engage and learn.
Embedding creativity in our
Although private settings follow the
same curriculum guidance as schools
and are inspected in the same manner,
these provisions tend to offer a more
unusual and creative service, without
the constraints and pressures of a
whole school. Daily activities include
musical movement, dough disco and
quality outdoor play. Highly stimulating
outside areas are developed to offer
creative experiences. One of these is our
“Secret Woods”, designed to develop
forest skills such as climbing, swinging,
den building and nature craft. We
have also established an “Imagination
Station”, with inspiring resources such
as pipes, wheels and wooden blocks,
and “Tinklers Shedquarters”, which
is an outdoor classroom, extending
the learning to include bird watching,
digging and learning about native
flowers andplants.
We also offer regular barefoot
days and meditation, massage and
mindfulness sessions, where children
learn the basics of yoga, heighten their
sensory perceptions and connect with
their immediate surroundings.
Open-ended play
opportunities develop
curiosity and critical
Children discover,
explore and develop
new skills in the secret
Private settings
have had to
their provisions
and evolve
their service to
sustainable in
this new
Building links with other local
Parental support and relationships
are key, and including families in our
service is actively encouraged. We have
regular secret readers – parents or
grandparents who turn up by surprise
to read a favourite book from home.
Alongside termly progress reports
and online daily journals, parents feel
welcomed and involved with their
children’s learning and progress.
We also have strong links with the
local community, particularly with
neighbourhood care homes, which
are visited once a month to enjoy
time with the residents and engage in
joint activities, such as parachute play,
craft and sensory activities, singing
Building positive links with our feeder
schools is vital. We ensure that
children are school ready through
our bespoke transfer records, which
have been developed with staff from
our setting and local feeder schools.
The information in this document is
personal to the child and goes hand
in hand with the termly progress
report, which focuses on early years
foundation stage development.
Our transition document includes
information on aspects such as
independence, social skills and eating
skills. This individual review is unique
to the child and offers an insight
into areas not necessarily covered or
weighted in the EYFS outcomes but
nonetheless extremely important to the
welfare of the child.
We undertake focused termly action
plans, covering all areas of the nursery,
including training, operations and
specific groups of children. These are
completed by the senior management
and support the nursery in assessing
and continuing excellent practice,
introducing new ideas and improving
the service we offer. We pride
ourselves on developing the future
workforce, taking on at least one
apprentice per setting at all times. The
apprentice works towards a relevant
competence-based qualification in
early years education.
Staying viable while offering excellent
care continues to be a challenge in
early years. There is still uncertainty
over what the future holds, particularly
regarding cash flow. If the 30-hour
offer is extended, it is still unclear
whether the hourly funded rate will
be increased to cover rising costs.
Similarly, we are not sure if business
rates will be reviewed to protect
private settings. We still have questions
concerning whether the 30-hour offer
is best for the individual child, and we
are anxious to hear the answers to
these pressing questions.
Maintaining a good reputation and
customer base is critical. It has also
been key to create and advertise our
brand in advance of any national
changes and in cohesion with other
local settings – this has not been a
time to remain complacent. Looking
forward, this mantra will be invaluable
to sustaining viability and offering
high-quality care.
It has also been
key to create
and advertise
our brand in
advance of any
changes and in
cohesion with
other local
settings - this
has not been a
time to remain
Small group time
fostering a “hygge”

This article was sponsored by Little Tinklers. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy