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Professional Support

Sheffield’s Best Start Strategy

We have a city-wide strategy for early years in Sheffield which has been developed in partnership by the City Council, the Clinical Commissioning Group, the voluntary sector and other partners.

It sets out the following priorities which you as childcare providers are critical partners in the delivery of.

The Best Start priorities are:

  • Babies and children have good health
  • Parents are resilient and any mental health issues are to be addressed at the earliest opportunity
  • Brain Development in Early Years is optimised by secure attachments and quality relationships
  • Children are ready for school and for life

SCC is committed to the development of high quality, inclusive, accessible and sustainable childcare services for all children and families regardless of where they live. It is important to provide children with the best possible start in life by ensuring that appropriate services are available which meet the particular needs of the child and their family. As a city we have a good range of good quality childcare. In Spring 2017 93.5% of childcare provision in Sheffield which was inspected by Ofsted was rated Good or Outstanding.

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Childcare Sufficiency

As a local authority, we have a legal responsibility to ensure that there is sufficient quality childcare provision across the City to meet parental need or demand. We can provide you with information about the number of childcare places in different parts of the City and specific information about the amount and type of existing provision within your chosen area.

Information is available on the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment Page but you can contact the Childcare planning team for more information:

Tel: 0114 2054031

Early Years Best Start Teams

In Sheffield we have 3 Early Years Best Start teams. The Best Start teams are part of the Children and Families Prevention and Early Intervention Service also known as MAST. You can download a copy of the Prevention and Early Intervention core offer here.

The Best Start teams consist of a number of workers offering support, guidance and advice to children, families and childcare providers in line with city’s Best Start Strategy.

The Best Start Teams are made up of:

  • Community Early Years Practitioners
  • Early Years Intervention Workers
  • Early Years Prevention Workers
  • Infant Feeding Peer Support Workers
  • Children's Centre Coordinators

The Early Years Quality Improvement Team

The Early Years Quality Improvement Team are part of the Learning and Achievement service and will provide a support & challenge role to assist in driving forward and securing the delivery of high quality and inclusive childcare to all children.

The EYQI Programme will be tailored to meet the provider’s individual needs and will reflect the latest Ofsted inspections recommendations or current Self Evaluation Form (SEF) priorities.  In addition, all Early Years Providers can access Workshops and request Quality Improvement audits.  You can also access a range of information here on the Sheffield Directory.

The EYQI Team prioritises work with providers that have an inadequate or Requires Improvement Judgement or are newly registered.

You can contact your EY Quality Improvement Officer for support/advice, this can be offered via a telephone call, email or a visit depending on the nature of the query.

Termly workshops facilitated on a variety of subjects, the subjects/dates and venues are circulated by email facilitated by the Sheffield Directory, to ensure you receive up to date information please keep your email contact details up to date on the Sheffield Directory.

Topics covered in the past 12 months were developed in response to trends which emerged from Ofsted inspections, topics identified were:

  • Prevent duty
  • EYFS Overview
  • Understanding 2 year olds
  • Enabling Environments
  • Leadership and Management
  • Self-Evaluation
  • Introduction to the Common Assessment Framework

Downloadable documents;

Early Years Provider Core workshop 2017/18

ILS Early Years Team

The ILS Early Years Team provide support and challenge to the schools early years sector.  This includes a traded service as well as delivering a city-wide moderation programme to ensure the accuracy of the end of year foundation Stage results.  The traded service package includes:


EYFS Conference - one free place at the Early Years conference and additional places at half price.

  • Access to Sheffield Early Years Forum
  • EYFS Coordinator Briefings
  • Special Interest Groups (SIG)
  • Up to 4 days Bespoke (these may be taken as Focus Days, Half-Days, Twilights and / or in-school support by a member of the Early Years Team) - see Pick ‘n’ Mix for ideas on page 38


In addition to this the Early Years Team undertake audits and assessments of the early year’s provision in school.  This can be either as a stand-alone audit or as part of a whole school review. 


The Sheffield Charter for Quality is used across schools to support self-evaluation and quality improvement.  The Charter for Quality also shares a register of good practice across the city. The register is made up of best practice, showcased by schools who have achieved the Charter for Quality. This register can be accessed by any early years practitioner who might want to visit a school to observe an area of practice. 


Contact Details:

Inclusion Team

We have an early years inclusion team made up of a team of Specialist Teachers and Teaching Assistants who work with young children who have additional needs.

We take referrals from parents, health professionals and nursery staff and work with children from birth to the end of Foundation Stage both in their homes and in settings.

We offer an extensive range of training for practitioners working with children with additional needs.

Support grid

The “Support Grid” and guidance and other inclusion documents can be found on the Learn Sheffield website:; (Click on Guidance tab)


 Disability Access Fund (DAF); 

From April 2017 the government has introduced a new funding measure for Early Year’s providers, the Disability Access Fund (DAF); this is to support children with Special Educational Needs or Disability (SEND).  

DAF helps children access an Early Years place by supporting providers to make reasonable adjustments or increasing the number of SEND places available.;


Read more about our Inclusion strategy here

Click here to access the SEND code of Practice

Multi Agency Support Teams (MAST) and Early Help

Our MAST teams can help families who need support. They work alongside other agencies to provide Early Help with the aim of meet the needs of families as soon as they arise to prevent them escalating into more serious problems.

Practitioners working with families who have an unmet (or new need) identified can (via an Early Help Assessment Form Part 1) refer to the Early Help Gateway Meetings for a discussion to access relevant support for the family


Telephone 0114 2037485

Email: please send your email to the area office (see map or call if uncertain



East –

West –

For more information visit the Early Help Practitioner Zone

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