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The Charter

Why are we introducing a charter?

The aim of The Charter is to underpin the new Early Years and Childcare Strategy which sets out how we will help every child get the best start in life. We are introducing a charter to create a visible sign of how this will work in Essex. A badge of agreement to aspire to high-quality care for families that is recognised by providers, schools, and parents. We want families to recognise that support does not stop with one service but goes forward with the child and family on their journey through early years and into school.

What is The Charter?

The Charter is a set of minimum principles that early years and childcare providers and partners working with families in Essex should aspire to. The principles can be used as a reference point when developing or reviewing policies or practice. 

There are 4 principles with outcomes, created in partnership with early years and childcare providers and partners. The principles are based around best practice and values to support families and give children the best start in life. The Charter recognises the importance of these shared values and demonstrates how we will all work together. The Charter does not replace any duty within Ofsted, Safeguarding or the EYFS Statutory framework.


  • We commit to having high aspirations for each unique child
  • We commit to respecting parents, carers and families as our partners
  • We commit to contributing towards the early years system
  • We commit to working collaboratively with our partner and providers

Download the principles and outcomes poster as an accessible PDF (310KB)

Who is The Charter for?

The Charter is for all those working in the early years system; early years and childcare providers, schools, The Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service, Essex County Council, and organisations and professionals working with children and families.

How it works

We want The Charter to be a visible expression of how we work in Essex, so we are inviting all providers and partners to sign up to become a member. We are asking everyone who works across the early years system to commit to working towards these shared principles and outcomes and join a network to celebrate and share best practice that is happening across the county and offer peer support.

The Charter encourages providers and partners to work together in a more joined up way by signing up to a set of core principles. It recognises the need for collaboration with all those who work within early years and childcare and how together we can make a greater difference.

The Charter principles and outcomes can be incorporated in future planning of sessions or services delivered by early years and childcare practitioners. Membership to The Charter will be valid from the day your membership is confirmed until 31 December 2024.

Benefits of joining The Charter

For you

  • to join a network of peers and professionals
  • an opportunity for you to share and celebrate your success
  • receive information and news on themes linked to the principles
  • termly forums and events linked to the principles
  • exclusive access to pilot projects and training opportunities
  • recognition that you commit to our shared principles
  • a digital badge for you to use in your communications and marketing
  • a parent pack to explain your membership with families
  • a continuous professional development tool for your workforce
  • a Charter that is flexible and adaptable for you

For the children and families, you support

  • confidence that you have a badge of commitment to aspire to a minimum standard of excellence
  • reassurance that as a partner, you will work with them to give their child the best start in life
  • awareness of the shared principles and values you hold, with other local providers who care for their child

What is expected of me if I sign up to become a member?

When you sign up you will be asked to identify two outcomes from each principle to focus on. This means that as you become a member, you can immediately start to commit to our shared principles and work to enhance these outcomes in a way that works for you. You can then continue to identify further outcomes to focus on over the length of your membership, until the end of December 2024.

We will work in partnership with you to hear your progress and support you to achieve excellence. We will ask you to share with us any support you may need so we can improve our offer to you.

We will invite you to share best practice throughout your membership by attending forums, completing surveys, offering case studies and reflective accounts to demonstrate your work on the principles and, with your permission, share these with others.

As part of the monitoring and evaluation of The Charter, we will contact a sample group of members during 2024 asking them to demonstrate how they have taken forward these areas of focus. This will be in the form of a professional development discussion.

Future Plans

We are working with the Charter Steering Group members to build on The Charter over the next 5 years. This may include an optional commitment above the membership level, potentially introducing a bronze, silver and gold membership through an application or accreditation type framework. From listening to feedback from providers, we know you want a process that is meaningful and holds some accountability, but also does not involve more paperwork.