Hello to you all in these unusual and challenging times. Many of you have already or will be re-opening soon and will be seeking support and guidance in preparing for this. The Alliance have a lot of that to offer you, please take a look at our FAQ page which we update daily and look out for our email updates including our newsletter. We are also presenting a series of free Alliance Connect webinars - see full details below - to give early years providers an opportunity to share practices, concerns, raise questions and, above all, give and receive support. Please do contact us if you need any further information or support. Please use the OUR SERVICES dropdown menu above to navigate around our local services, Alliance Connect events, workshops and partnership pages.

Central England Service Hub

 


 

New Alliance campaign for an urgent coronavirus financial support package for early years providers

We know that many early years providers have faced huge financial challenges over the past few months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. With many providers reporting significantly reduced income as a result of low parental demand for places, limitations on the number of children they can care for under current government guidance, and increased cleaning and other related costs, it is vital that the government provides the financial support the sector needs to make it through this period.

With reports that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is planning an emergency Budget shortly, the Early Years Alliance has launched a new MP email campaign calling for the government to commit to a dedicated financial support package for the early years sector.

To help support this campaign, simply fill out a short online form with your details - including your postcode - and your concerns, and our campaign tool will automatically contact your MP on this urgent issue on your behalf.


Workshops, Alliance Connect and training courses in Central England — important update

Due to Covid-19 and the impact of lock-down, all our Alliance Connect events are now taking place online. We are also developing some bite-size CPD training sessionSubscribe to our newsletters, more information about this is below and more will be coming out soon. We want to ensure you still receive that important face to face support and advice from us at this difficult time. 

You can find out more about planned online events happening locally over the coming weeks under our News and Events tab on "Our Services" dropdown menu and also in our new monthly News Updates via email.

Don't forget you can still access the Alliance online training package Educare and also take the opportunity to learn about the Alliance SMARTpd our bespoke high quality early years training and professional development packages for individuals and group settings. 

See Training and Workshops on the above drop down for further information on our online workshops.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join us for our FREE interactive online Connect sessions in June, these 30 minute sessions have been designed to support you through these challenging times and are based on your feedback and our well received (free to members) resources* . 

With a key focus on connecting you with other providers, sharing concerns and key questions, sharing practice, supporting each other and looking ahead. To book your FREE place, click on the appropriate link below, which will take you to the event registration form. 

For full information and details of all dates booked for our Alliance Connect online events including links to booking your free place, please select our ALLIANCE CONNECT tab on the OUR SERVICES dropdown menu.

 

The next round of networking meetings will focus on:

Let's Talk September - Are you in limbo or at a crossroad and unsure of how to plan for the Autumn term? Join other providers in the country to look at the challenges and share ideas, The focus will be on: showcasing your setting and visits from new families; regulations, cohorts and bubbles; staffing and flexible furlough, settling in new and returning children.

  • Next session Tuesday 14th July -  10.00am and 5.00pm More dates available - see Alliance Connect Tab

SEND and Inclusion - During COVID 19 - Nicky Gibson, the Alliance's Inclusion Manager, will be joining these network events to support the conversation around SEND and inclusion during COVID19. 

  • Next session Thursday 23rd July - 10.00am 

The Challenges of Operating a Viable, Sustainable Early Years Setting - What are your palns and thoughts to enaure you remain viable? Join us to network with other providers on their concerns, issues and best practice.

  • Thursday 16th July - 3.30pm and 7.00pm - more dates and times available

Grant Funding -Thinking Outside the Box - Tapped into some funding and what to share your experience with others? or want to find out more about where to look for small grant opportunities? Sarah Ellis, Development Manager for the Alliance, will be joining us at these 2 sessions to give ideas and to facilitate the discussions.

  • Tuesday 28th July -   5.00pm
  • Thursday 30th July - 3.30pm

Focus on Childminders - All Early Years Providers are welcome to any session that we host, but we also know theat some of the challenges are differebt when you are working out of your own home. With this in mind, we are holding a dedicated Alliance Connect event for home-based childcare. Come and join other childminding providers and share your experiences and ideas.

  • Wednesday 22 July - 7.00pm  - more dates and times available

Making the most of digital marketing tio improve your sustainability - The Alliance's marketing team will be joining us to support the discussion and give practical advice on digital marketing. 

  • First session - Tuesday 4th August   - 10.00am - more dates and times available

 


Join us for story and rhyme time events to share with your children or with your families to attend with their children!

Go to our News and Events tab on the drop down menu for the full details of our sessions and how to join in, plus how to view previous and pre-recorded sessions on the Alliance YouTube page.

THE NEXT STORY AND RHYME TIME SESSION IS:

 

Friday 10th July 6.00pm

Transport Rhyme Time

Come and join Marie from the Early Years Alliance to enjoy a transport music special! See what vehicles you can make at home.

 

Please register for Transport Rhyme Time on Jul 10, 2020 10:30 AM BST at:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5891833520937798670

 

 


Please join us for an activity-packed programme offering loads of ideas on how to keep your little one happy, motivated and learning over the summer.

Please visit www.eyalliance.org.uk/lets-learn-together-home for more information.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have a range of  fun story, song and rhyme videos on our YouTube channel. Join Natalie from the Early Years Alliance for the following NEW adult foucused sessions:

 

Mathematical Babies  introducing maths to babies and young children in the home and all the benefits for your child’s development.

 

Making the most of Play Patterns understanding your child’s play patterns and how you can support and encourage learning through play at home.

 

Sharing books with your toddler and pre-school child  supporting your child at home with reading and sharing books.

 

We have a range of fun story, song and rhyme videos on our YouTube channel for you to share with your parents:  https://www.youtube.com/user/PreSchoolLA/videos


About Us

The Early Years Alliance supports an ever-widening range of early years providers and provides a united voice for all our members, as well as providing an expanding portfolio of direct services for children and families.

As the Central England Service Hub, we support approximately 1400 Alliance members in Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Milton Keynes, Northants and Oxfordshire.

Our members include pre-schools, day nurseries, toddler groups, nursery schools, child minders, children's centres and individuals. However we work closely with the other eight service hubs across the country and promote cross boundary working for members. 

We have been providing high quality support and advice to providers of early years education and childcare in the service hub areas above for many years. 

Locally, across all the Central England Service Hub, we also offer a comprehensive and up to date package of support to members, including:

  • training programme of topical high-quality workshops delivered by our team of experienced tutors, including NEW EIF workshops
  • bespoke workshops and tailored inset training packages for individual settings, including safeguarding audits, Pre-Ofsted audits and EIF packages, and management committee training  
  • a payslip service - details on our "Payslip Service" tab on the drop down menu
  • Our  ALLIANCE CONNECT which puts on events in local areas — meetings with speakers on current topics, information updates, networking opportunities - non-members can also attend and then can become a member of the Alliance at the event if they wish
  • A regular Central England newsletter via email.

To find out more about our work and services contact us by email at centralengland@eyalliance.org.uk or telephone 01908 263700

 


Workshop plus banner

Workshop plus+ Be inspired

Enhance the experience! 
 
Any training attended shouldn’t be seen in isolation – it’s there to bolster and enhance your knowledge and practise, so don’t let the learning stop at the door.  
 
For the learning process to continue, to be reflected upon, to be shared with your colleagues and embedded within your setting after the training day is over, some further work and thought may be needed.   
 
Workshop plus+ has been developed to take the learning a step further. All participants now have the option of booking additional support alongside the training workshop. 
 
The additional support can be provided in-house to:

  • reinforce the learning to the whole staff team
  • focussed support with the workshop participant on a 1:1 basis
  • to be able to answer any follow up questions regarding the concept of the training
  • to aid self-reflection and provide more practical support to draft development plans or facilitate discussion
  • or can be tailored to meet any bespoke need.

 
All Workshop plus+ support would be designed to meet your individual needs to maximise the impact and ensure your time and energy is rewarded, and all from as little as £70…. 
 
Interested? 
 
To find out more please call us on 01908 263700 or email centralengland@eyalliance.org.uk 


Feedback from previous workshops 

" i now have a much better understanding of what Ofsted define as teaching and what they expect to see" - Quality Teaching & Learning in the Early Years workshop March 2020

"Thank you for this very useful info" - Managing Your Ofsted Inspection workshop March 2020

 

Find out more about Alliance membership

Benefits of membership of the Alliance include:

  • More than 20 free Cache-endorsed online training courses for your team via online training specialists EduCare
  • Access to 24hr legal helpline Law-Call 
  • 10 issues of Under 5 magazine a year — each issue is packed with sector news, policy updates and activity ideas
  • 'EY Instant Update' emails to alert you of any policy, legislation or funding changes as they happen
  • Access to our specialist and competitively-priced insurance packages
  • On-call support from our expert advisers
  • 20% off our extensive range of books and selected publications
  • Free mini guides on various aspects of running an early years setting

 

Subscribe to our newsletter

About us

As the Alliance Central England Service Hub, we support approximately 1400 members in Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Milton Keynes, Northants and Oxfordshire. Our members include pre-schools, day nurseries, toddler groups, nursery schools, children's centres and individuals.

We have been providing high quality support and advice to providers of early years education and childcare in the service hub areas above for many years.

The type of support we offer ranges from alliance connect meetings with guest speakers, networking opportunities with other early years member groups and sharing best practice and advice. We are a credited childcare training provider and run regular courses, including Cache Qualification courses in early years, and early years workshops such as "Managing your Ofsted Inspection", and First Aid courses, from our Milton Keynes office - please see our training page for details of planned courses. We also create and deliver bespoke workshops either for individual settings or practitioners and providers to access, recent workshops have included GDPR, Pensions and Auto-enrollment, and PDN (Professional Development Network) workshops.   

Please also refer to "Our Services" for current projects and work being carried out across the service hub.

For any queries, please do get in touch with us, Early Years Alliance Central England Service Hub, as follows:

Service Manager

Helen Middleton email: helen.middleton@eyalliance.org.uk tel:01908 263700 

Service Administrator

Claire Viola email: claire.viola@eyalliance.org.uk, tel: 01908 263700

 

Our Services

News & Events

Girl at a party

Early Years Workshops


Workshops, Alliance Connect and training courses in Central England — important update...

Read more

Training & Workshops

Workshop


Welcome to our virtual classroom

Our online workshops have been designed to be delivered...

Read more

Alliance Connect

Coffee morning

Join us for our FREE interactive online Connect sessions in June, these 30 minute...

Read more

Building Better Opportunities

Enterprising People

Helping people to a better future through business start-up support, training or active job search. 

Would you like advice on funding and support accessing childcare?

If you are looking to get back into work or training this is the...

Read more

Crèche services

Baby playing xylophone

MK Crèche service is an Alliance childcare service based in Milton Keynes.  We offer crèches in the community...

Read more

Our childcare provisions

Directly-managed settings

The Alliance directly manages 75 childcare services across England. 

...

Read more

Payslip service

Baby at computer

Reduce the time and burden on your business or group by using the Early Years Alliance payslip service.

We offer...

Read more

Toy library

What ismk:toy library?

mk:toy library is a service in Milton Keynes for pre‑schools,...

Read more

Picnic in the Park, Luton, Bedfordshire

...

Read more

Contact Us

Boy on toy phone

To enquire about our services or to see how we could support you, your setting or childcare service please contact:

...

Read more

News & Events

Girl at a party

Early Years Workshops


Workshops, Alliance Connect and training courses in Central England — important update

Due to Covid-19 and the impact of lock-down, all our Alliance Connect events are now taking place online. We are also developing some bite-size CPD training sessions, for more information about please visit our Training and Workshops tab on the drop down menu. We want to ensure you still receive that important face to face support and advice from us at this difficult time.

You can find out more about planned online events happening locally over the coming weeks under Events here and also in our new monthly News Updates.


New Alliance campaign for an urgent coronavirus financial support package for early years providers

We know that many early years providers have faced huge financial challenges over the past few months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. With many providers reporting significantly reduced income as a result of low parental demand for places, limitations on the number of children they can care for under current government guidance, and increased cleaning and other related costs, it is vital that the government provides the financial support the sector needs to make it through this period.

With reports that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is planning an emergency Budget shortly, the Early Years Alliance has launched a new MP email campaign calling for the government to commit to a dedicated financial support package for the early years sector.

To help support this campaign, simply fill out a short online form with your details - including your postcode - and your concerns, and our campaign tool will automatically contact your MP on this urgent issue on your behalf.


STORYS AND RHYME TIMES:

 

Friday 10th July 6.00pm

Transport Rhyme Time

Come and join Marie from the Early Years Alliance to enjoy a transport music special! See what vehicles you can make at home.

 

Please register for Transport Rhyme Time on Jul 10, 2020 10:30 AM BST at:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5891833520937798670

 

 

 


What exciting activities we have for you!

Early Years Alliance New You Tube Recordings Week Beginning 13th July 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have a range of  fun story, song and rhyme videos on our YouTube channel. Join Natalie from the Early Years Alliance for the following NEW adult foucused sessions:

 

Mathematical Babies  introducing maths to babies and young children in the home and all the benefits for your child’s development.

 

Making the most of Play Patterns understanding your child’s play patterns and how you can support and encourage learning through play at home.

 

Sharing books with your toddler and pre-school child  supporting your child at home with reading and sharing books.

 


 

DON'T FORGET TO LOOK AT THESE RECORDINGS TOO:

Sharing books with your toddler and pre-school child  supporting your child at home with reading and sharing books

Positive Interaction with Babies discovering how you can support and develop your babies early brain development.

Family Meditation session finding ways to relax and unwind, for all the family, even the little ones!

Exploring Nature Through Play! ideas for free and fun ideas using nature to plan with your child at home

Language & Communication Through Play supporting your child’s language and communication through play in the home.

 

Don't forget you can share our YouTube channel with your parents:  https://www.youtube.com/user/PreSchoolLA/videos


 

Training & Workshops

Workshop


Welcome to our virtual classroom

Our online workshops have been designed to be delivered in our virtual classroom, giving you an interactive experience with other providers to share ideas and support you to effectively deliver your provision outdoors and to focus on managing transitions.

Each session take place over two one-hour sessions and will be delivered online by highly qualified tutors. Attendees must attend both sessions, please see below how to book.

 

Let's Talk about Change - managing children's transitions and adjusting to a new normal 

Are you concerned about welcoming children back into the setting after time away? Wondering how you can support children so they are ready for the next stage? Wondering how you can support children so they are ready for the next stage?

In these two interactive one hour sessions, we take a closer look at:

  • Building on the information you already have and re-establishing starting points 
  • Making the most of the home learning experience 
  • Taking a key person approach to re-settling children 
  • How to prepare children for the next stage 
  • Supporting the emotions of children and parents 

Dates & times: 

NB. Sessions will take place across two days, over two 1 hour sessions.

Thursday 9th July & Friday10th July at 4pm - BOOK HERE

Cost per workshop:

  • Members: £25 per person
  • Non-members: £40 per person

SPECIAL OFFER: Book both workshops and receive a 10% discount off the total cost

 


New FREE 'Wellbeing during the Coronavirus outbreak’ EduCare bundle

The Alliance and EduCare are working together to offer even more practical support to providers in this difficult time. It contains FIVE CPD-recognised courses. These specially selected courses give practical advice on ways to understand and manage anxiety, low mood and depression over the coming months. It also includes guidance on online safety.

Find out more here


FREE TO ALLIANCE MEMBERS: Good Practice in Early Years Infection Control

To help settings during this difficult time, we have made Good Practice in Early Years Infection Control freely available to all Alliance members.

Click here or log in to the Members' Area to read an online copy of the publication.


Due to Covid-19 and the impact of lock-down, all our Alliance Connect events are now taking place online. We are also developing some bite-size CPD training sessions, more information about this will be coming out soon.  We want to ensure you still receive that important face to face support and advice from us at this difficult time.

You can find out more about planned online events happening locally over the coming weeks under Events here and also in our new monthly News Updates.

If you need more information please contact us.at centralengland@eyalliance.org.uk

 


Feedback from previous workshops 

" i now have a much better understanding of what Ofsted define as teaching and what they expect to see" - Quality Teaching & Learning in the Early Years workshop March 2020

"Thank you for this very useful info" - Managing Your Ofsted Inspection workshop March 2020

 

Cost of workshops:

£35 Alliance Members

£50 non-members

Become a member of the Alliance to receive a number of Alliance benefits such as discounted workshops, over 20 free online training courses for your team via online training specialists EduCare, access to 24 hour legal helpline Law-Call  and the Alliance Under 5 magazine.


Are you, or a member of your team, wanting to undertake a NCFE CACHE LEVEL 3 DIPLOMA FOR THE EARLY YEARS WORKFORCE? 

The Alliance is endorsed by CACHE and is a preferred provider to deliver Level 3 training in Early Years Education and Care.

To find out more about this training contact Ria on 01732 363070 or email ria.clifton@eyalliance.org.uk

For more information on our training and qualifications for early years practitioners and apprentices please visit the Training Page of our national website. 

Training Centre, First Floor, Bridge House, 97-101 High St, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 1DR, 01732 363 070, training.centre@eyalliance.org.uk

 

Alliance Connect

Coffee morning

Join us for our FREE interactive online Connect sessions in June, these 30 minute sessions have been designed to support you through these challenging times and are based on your feedback and our well received (free to members) resources* . 

With a key focus on connecting you with other providers, sharing concerns and key questions, sharing practice, supporting each other and looking ahead.

The next round of networking meetings will focus on:

Let's Talk September 

Are you in limbo or at a crossroad and unsure of how to plan for the Autumn Term?  If the answer is yes, then this could be the session for you.  We may not always have the answers but together we can look at how we can navigate forward.

Join other providers in the country to look at the challenges and share ideas.  The focus will be on: Showcasing your setting and visits from new families, Regulations, cohorts and bubbles, Staffing and Flexible Furlough, Settling in children​ new and previous, Any other topic.

 


SEND and Inclusion - During Covid 19

Nicky Gibson, the Alliance's Inclusion Manager, will be joining these network events to support the conversation around SEND and Inclusion during Covid 19. 

 

The Challenges of Operating a Viable, Sustainable Early Years Setting

What are your plans and thoughts to ensure you remain viable?  Join us to network with other providers on their concerns, issues and best practice.

 

Grant Funding - Thinking Outside the Box

Tapped into some funding and want to share your experience with others? or want to find out more about where to look for small grant opportunities?  Sarah Ellis, Development Manager for the Alliance, will be joining us at these two connects to give ideas and facilitate the discussions.   

  • Tuesday 28th July -   5.00pm
  • Thursday 30th July - 3.30pm

 

Focus on Childminders

All Early Years Providers are welcome to any session that we host, but we also know that some of the challenges are different when you are working out of your own home.  With this in mind, we holding a dedicated Alliance Connect event for home-based childcare.  Come and join other childminding providers and share your experiences and ideas.

 

Making the most of digital marketing to improve your sustainability

The Alliance's marketing team will be joining us to support the discussion and give practical advice on digital marketing. 

 

Feedback from recent Alliance Connect meetings:

“Nice to see others (via zoom), good information sharing – I would attend again” Sharon, 19 May 2020

 “This was my 2nd one – nice to know others are in the same boat.  Good answers to the chat questions. The links to the packs are great – very helpful” Jane 21 May 2020

 


 

Stay connected with us

April saw the launch of our first online Alliance Connect sessions to keep in touch with providers and to give you the opportunity to come together and discuss the issues you are facing at this time.

We have had some positive feedback from our first sessions. When asked what they liked most about the event, one of our attendees said:

The only thing that’s certain is that everything is uncertain”

Following her attendance at 2 Alliance Connect events Charlotte from Buckinghamshire setting, Woolstone Pre-school, who described what she has gained from the events. Having the opportunity to hear the experiences of others reassured her that she was not alone and she started to feel less isolated.  Moving on to the prospect of opening her setting, Charlotte has been using the Welcome Back Pack which has been extremely useful – the team have used the checklist, considerations and cross checking documents. 

Charlotte said “ I would like to say that I would not have got through this without the Early Years Alliance.  I appreciate how quickly the Alliance responds to Government bulletins, that we are represented and have access to Lawcall.  I value the support immensely and would like to thank the Alliance”.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Alliance Connect?

Alliance Connect meetings offer an opportunity to meet other childcare practitioners and to explore the particular issues facing those involved in managing a childcare setting.

There will be opportunities to share good practice and to obtain mutual support.

Alliance Connect meetings are also your chance to get your thoughts and concerns shared right up to government level and to help shape national policies.

We can pass on your feedback to Alliance managers and to Neil Leitch, our Chief Executive, who regularly meets with government ministers to help shape early years policy.

 

Building Better Opportunities

Enterprising People

Helping people to a better future through business start-up support, training or active job search. 

Would you like advice on funding and support accessing childcare?

If you are looking to get back into work or training this is the project for you.

We help to support disadvantaged people into training, employment, self-employment or active job search. 

We will address the barriers participant’s face and aim to help them overcome individual barriers to support back into work or training.  Each participant will be assessed and personalised programmes monitored throughout.  For example;

  • Getting childcare arrangements through links with two/three year funding, Pre Schools, nurseries etc.
  • Training opportunities available locally
  • Individual based support, working with the most vulnerable participants to enhance life freedom.  No short term time limit.
  • Working in partnership with the Building Better Opportunities team to help tailor to individual needs. 

For more information please contact:

Emma Stace on emma.stace@eyalliance.org.uk 07808 039012

This project is match funded by the Big Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund

 

Crèche services

Baby playing xylophone

MK Crèche service is an Alliance childcare service based in Milton Keynes.  We offer crèches in the community to children centres, charity’s, local business and for events across Milton Keynes, Luton, Buckingham and Northampton.  This enables parents and carers to access educational courses, recreational activities and events either on a long term basis or as a one off crèche.

Currently due to COVID-19 we are not delivering any crèches, but we look forward to returning with this service as soon as we are able to. Please contact the office number if you wish to talk to us about our services.

Our committed, friendly and well-qualified team provides high quality care and learning opportunities for children aged between 6 weeks-8 years.  We follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) with a focus on learning through play and actively work in partnership with parents, careers and settings.

All crèche supervisors are qualified to an NVQ level 3 in the Early Years and all staff employed have an enhanced DBS disclosure.

During our sessions we promote healthy eating and have been awarded a highly commended Smile Award in recognition of this.

For further information or to make a booking please contact

Laura Wilkinson
tel: 01908 263700 or 07718404592
email:crechemk@eyalliance.org.uk

Our childcare provisions

Directly-managed settings

The Alliance directly manages 75 childcare services across England. 

Visit the Find Childcare page on the Alliance website to see the full list.

The Central England Service Hub directly manages four settings. Please contact them directly.

Payslip service

Baby at computer

Reduce the time and burden on your business or group by using the Early Years Alliance payslip service.

We offer a comprehensive, secure payslip service for pre‑schools, full daycare nurseries, out of school clubs and other community groups across England and Wales.

The service includes:

 

Enquire about our payslip service

 

Toy library

What ismk:toy library?

mk:toy library is a service in Milton Keynes for pre‑schools, childminders and parents. We love to loan out educational and entertaining play equipment to suit babies and younger children. We have lots of toys and resources to suit settings, individuals and parties, which we lend out on a three-week or weekly basis

Please note that due to COVID-19 the MK ToyLibrary is currently closed, however we look forward to opening as soon as we are advised it is safe to do so. Please contact the office number or email us if you have any queries during this period, and look out for news of our reopening here.

We have two services weekly loan of larger party/outdoor play equipment and long-term loan of Discovery Boxes.

Our Weekly Loan equipment starts from £15 for a week and includes a range of packages some with bouncy castles aimed at older toddlers and pre‑schoolers and a toddler package for babies and younger toddlers, as well as outdoor play equipment. Visit our  weekly loans page for more information. Members of the Alliance receive a 10% discount on their Weekly Loan booking.

Our Discovery Boxes are themed around a particular topic such as Space, Transport or Magnets and cost £5 for 3 weeks (minimum spend £10). These themed Discovery Boxes contain a range of games, toys, books, role play equipment or learning resources as well as ideas for extending activities. Some of the Boxes aren’t actually boxes but equipment such as larger games or physical play equipment, check out the Long-term Loan (Discovery Box) page for more information. Members of the Pre-school Learning Alliance can loan boxes for FREE.

We also have a range of specialised SEN equipment which is available for loan to families with a particular need, long‑term loan of this equipment can be arranged in person.

Visit the mk:toy library website which has an online catalogue of all our toys.

Why does Milton Keynes need mk:toy library?

The members of the Alliance believe that all children are entitled to play. Play is a valuable way to learn and the aim of mk:toy library is to allow all children to have access to a variety of different play equipment and resources.

We have a large selection of specialist SEN equipment that is available to borrow on a medium to long term basis.

Some of our most popular items come from our Party Equipment range. Whether you are throwing a party in a community centre, garden or front room we have lots of exciting toys to put a smile on your young child’s face.

Why do people use mk:toy library?

The equipment we have is available to borrow at reasonable hire charges. You have to collect and bring back to Kiln Farm. We have years of experience at knowing what children enjoy, so we can advise you on getting the most out of the equipment.

History of mk:toy library

The toy library was established in 1986 but had a grand opening event in 2000 at Greenleys Community Centre with former actress and MP Glenda Jackson cutting the ribbon. Glenda was President of the National Association of Toy and Leisure Libraries. In April 2014 mk:toy library relocated to the offices of the Alliance at Kiln Farm due to a reduction in its funding and it is now managed by volunteers. In March 2015 mk:toy library introduced online booking for party equipment and then in September 2015 to online booking of Discovery Boxes.

Glenda Jackson MP opening the Toy Library in 2000

We want to provide the best possible service to local families, childminders, pre‑schools, nurseries and schools looking after children under five. Our mission statement is ‘To help children to succeed, create childcare that families need and to build learning communities’.

Visit www.mktoylibrary.co.uk which has an online catalogue of all our toys.

Volunteering at mk:toy library

We have two regular volunteers working in mk:toy library on a Thursday morning. The volunteers sort toys, prepare marketing materials and prepare party packs. If you could spare some time we would love to hear from you.

To use mk:toy library

Please note that we only accept cash or cheque payments as we do not have credit card facilities.

tel: 01908 263700
email: mktoylibrary.help@gmail.com

visit: On Thursdays 10.30am - 12pm (term time)

Milton Keynes Service Hub

Early Years Alliance (formerly the Pre-school Learning Alliance)
2 Burners Lane
Kiln Farm
MK11 3HB

Press the buzzer for mk:toy library to be let in and we are on the first floor. Unfortunately we are not very accessible so please don’t bring a pram. Children are the responsibility of their carers whilst visiting mk:toy library.

Picnic in the Park, Luton, Bedfordshire

IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING PICNIC IN THE PARK 2020

In light of the uncertainty and increasing risk around coronavirus, the Early Years Alliance’s Central England Service Hub and Flying Start Luton have been advised by our National office to defer all activities taking place nationally and locally which bring together large groups of adults with immediate effect currently until the end of June. Therefore we have taken the difficult decision to cancel Picnic in the Park 2020 on Wednesday 24 June  at Wardown Park, Luton.

It has not been an easy decision, as in all the years our amazing event has taken place, it has never once needed to be cancelled – even due to bad weather, but in the current climate we are sure you will understand the need to make this decision now.

We really look forward to working with you and welcoming you back to Wardown Park next year for Picnic in the Park 2021, please look out for information on next years event in early 2021.

If you think you may not be on our mailing list, or require more information about the event please email claire.viola@eyalliance.org.uk to request to be added to the list.  

We have decided to mark what should have been Picnic in the Park 2020 on Wednesday 24 June by holding a virtual picnic together either in our homes (as the team at Flying Start Luton and Central England Service Hub will be doing), gardens or parks - following governmebt guidelines about numbers and distancing.There will be no prescribed time for the event on the day, but everyone is welcome to send in photos/ videos of their home picnics to Jessica Wilson, Flying Start Luton by email: jessica.wilson@luton.gov.uk 

 (Unless you state overwise, we will assume if you send in photos that we have permission to share with our followers as we plan to make a nice video/ photo collage of staff and families enjoying a picnic to mark what is usually a big day in the calendar for us)

 


 

   

ABOUT OUR EVENT

Our massively popular annual community event, Picnic in the Park, held in Wardown Park, Luton, Bedfordshire, has been running for around 20 years, and was started by the Early Years Alliance's “Luton Branch” of member groups, who met for a picnic in Wardown Park. As the years passed, the event got bigger and bigger, and much more popular, so the branch asked the Alliance’s county office to organise it for them. By then event had turned into a community fete style event, where local childcare settings were invited to hold stalls to raise funds for their setting and to also provide a free activity for the children who attended.

In later years, we were able to secure sponsorship and organising support from the local authority, which were extremely welcoming, as by then the event was huge! Local partners and charities were also invited to promote their services in Luton. However in 2015, the Alliance became the sole organisers again, as our partners were unable to support us.

Each year we have a theme, and ask our stall holders to support the theme through either their stall or free activity. Previous themes have included Celebrating Fathers, Keep Luton Smiling (highlighting the importance of oral health), Keeping Luton Tidy and Communication and Language; Luton’s Little Voices, and last year was Think Safe, Stay Safe in Luton,  focusing on the prevention of accidents in the home and also when out and about. The theme was heavily supported by the Safe at Home, Luton, Scheme and in this year replaced their annual Safety Roadshow. We highlighted the key safety messages covered in the Child Accident Prevention Trust’s Child Safety Week (6-12 June 2016) which included warnings about the safety of e-cigarettes and refills, ensuring the same precautions are taken as with household cleaning products and medicines.

We largely self-fund the event from charging a stall fee and for car parking on the day (the event car park is in Popes Meadow, Old Bedford Road). There are a total of approximately 40 stalls, along with entertainment from a local children’s entertainer, Cheeky Dog, who has supported us for many years. Luton Library staff also provide regular story telling sessions, and Active Luton provide soft play facilities whilst promoting fitness programmes for all the family which is available in the town. Some of the stalls provide food, following our healthy eating guidelines. The fire service support us and bring along a pump for the children to explore, along with the police, who try to attend and have in the past brought a van with a cell in it, and great fun was had by all by locking children in!! The one and only time they will try this out!!

Feedback is collected each year following the event and every year our stall holders are amazed by how many families they are able to reach on the day, which they would normally never manage to do so.

In 2011 we also celebrated the 50th birthday of the Alliance, and in 2012 we were honoured to be joined by the Alliance’s CEO, Neil Leitch as our guest, he also managed to pop in last year after attending a local meeting, and in 2017 we were delighted to be joined by Dr Jason Wong from NHS England, the Vice Chair of the Healthy Teeth Happy Smiles Oral Health Promotion Partnership Board. 


Wednesday 26 June 2019 

The theme for our last event in 2019 was Think Active, Be Active’  and visitors to the event learnt about ways to engage as a family by thinking actively and being active in our every day life. We know that exercise helps our physical health but it also helps our mental health, and we invited families to join in with the fun activities on offer and to enjoy being outside in the beautiful surroundings of Wardown Park. There were lots of activities around the theme, including very active "Zumbini" taster sessions provided by Active Luton, and song time sessions from staff members from the Flying Start Children's Centres in Luton. We were joined by our key Flying Start partner agencies, who as well as activities, are here to provide information about services available to Luton families and local childcare settings. We also provided a free activity trail with a free prize to claim, and our entertainment programme also included very popular sessions from Cheeky Dog Entertainments, along standing supporter of our event, and story telling sessions from the lovely team at Luton Library.  

Luton’s Mayor, Cllr Tahir Malik opened the event and spend a lot of time walking around the 30+ stalls attending the event, talking to stall holders and learning about their organisations or settings. The event was also visited by Robin Porter, Chief Executive, Luton Council and Sophie Ross, Chair, Board of Trustees, Early Years Alliance who spent time walking around the event, and who both were incredibly impressed with the community spirit and positivity of both stall holders and families attending. 

We received lots of positive comments from families who attended the event, with many amazed by the amount of useful information available to them, and the variety and amount of fun, free activities for their children to participate in. Our stall holders were equally positive about how many families they were able to engage with and share information about their services or settings. The Library Service told us: "We received lots of positive comments about libraries. Bookstart books we gave out were gratefully received. Everyone seemed to enjoy our rhymetime sessions. We had some comments about our theatre shows for the under 5's which was great! There was lots of interest in the Summer Reading Challenge too. It was great to catch up with some families we had not seen in a while." 


 

Planning an early years event?

Read our blog on the Early Years Alliance's main website about planning an early years event.

Contact Us

Boy on toy phone

To enquire about our services or to see how we could support you, your setting or childcare service please contact:

Service Manager — Helen Middleton by email: helen.middleton@eyalliance.org.uk

2 Burners Lane

Kiln Farm

Milton Keynes

Bucks

MK11 3HB

Tel: 01908 263700

Email:centralengland@eyalliance.org.uk

Childcare

Central England Service Hub
2 Burners Lane
Kiln Farm
Milton Keynes
Bucks
MK11 3HB
United Kingdom
Tel: 01908 263700