I Audit of Need and Provision
i)Overall the number of children aged 0-8 is declining over the next few years, although the rate is subject to revision. This does not seem to be occurring evenly across the city and there are some notable exceptions eg. Stockwood and Bedminster.
ii)There is a need to better reconcile the forecast number of children and the number of children actually receiving services as there are a number of areas (population; transfer across boundaries; non-Council settings) where more work is needed to secure accurate data.
iii)Central District has the lowest numbers of 0-4 year olds however, it also has the highest percentage of children in lone parent households and almost one third of children are of non white ethnic origin - these factors need to be taken into account when planning services.
iv)Bristol boasts a high level of education and childcare provision across all sectors, especially the Local Authority eg. all children have the opportunity to benefit from 3 years infant education, there are also 2,615 FTE nursery education places and Social Services annual expenditure on day care for Children in Need is ,2,778,704 1998/99.
v)This relatively high level of provision is not provided consistently across the city because of the geographical distribution of resources eg. the level of Local Authority provision in East Bristol is low and many of the LEA nursery schools and classes are oversubscribed. Social Services has only just established an outreach project and in East Bristol the level of private sector provision is relatively low.
vi)There are some parts of the city where choices for parents are limited to one sector eg. many of the wards in North Bristol have no LEA nursery provision but there is a high number of private providers, conversely some wards in South Bristol are well served by the LEA but have no private sector provision.
2 Quality Curriculum & Training
i)The Bristol Standard has attempted to provide a common framework for improving quality across all settings. The existing variety of inspections is hindering this development as settings are subject to different, and occasionally conflicting, expectations. National developments regarding differing inspection regimes are awaited eagerly.
ii)The Bristol Standard is recognised as an excellent starting point for encouraging settings to promote quality. There is now the opportunity to promote its use and consider its application across the age range in all settings.
iii)Widespread concern has been expressed as to how to ensure that qualified teachers with Early Years expertise are involved in all settings from September 1999. Concern has been expressed about which model should be adopted and the limited availability of suitably qualified teachers. However, there is a considerable amount of existing expertise within a range of Early Years settings in Bristol and it is expected that, with further work and local networking a model can be adopted which will promote quality.
iv)The audit of existing training provided across early years settings in Bristol revealed that extensive opportunities exist. However, there were a number of issues raised primarily concerned with the lack of co-ordination, difficulties for some settings accessing training and the duplication of courses.
v)It was recognised that there were some positive models of staff from different settings coming together to share expertise and training. This is currently organised on an ad hoc basis and would be a key role for the integrated early years centres planned in Bristol.
vi)The existing LEA early years curriculum for 3-5 year olds was drawn up by the previous Avon County Council and needs revision and extension to include under 3's and to take account of educational development work needs to continue to differentiate the Early Years curriculum fro from school curriculums.
3Family Support, Parent Education and Under 3's
i)There are a whole range of family support services and parent education initiatives across the city - it is not always possible for parents/carers to access those services most appropriate to them. Many of these services are meeting the needs of families with very small children well and their informality needs to be preserved. However, parent education initiatives, in particular, could benefit from increased co-ordination, direction and extension (e.g. Books for Babies programmes).
ii)Although Social Services retains a responsibility to provide support for families with Children in Need, it is important that such services are provided in non-stigmatising settings, (ie. by mainstream agencies) where possible and in a way which empowers families.
iii)There is a need to ensure that services are appropriate for, and involve, black families and families who have disabled children. Some specific efforts have been made in this direction which have resulted in increased usage of these services by these groups eg. The Unity group for mixed parentage children and their families at Fulford Family Centre in Hartcliffe and the resource worker post at Southmead Day Nursery working with disabled children.
iv)Links with Avon Health Authority are developing more positively than in the past. However, there is a need for more active involvement from the Health Authority.
4.Special Educational Needs
i)The general principle of inclusive education and child care is supported by all providers across Bristol. There are many examples of creative practice and innovative projects to encourage the inclusion of disabled children and children with SEN in mainstream early years provision. The majority of providers are now examining how they can provide more effectively for such children.
ii)Consideration needs to be given to the most appropriate means of supporting settings in meeting the needs of disabled children and children with SEN. Appropriate training needs to be made available with co-ordinated multi-agency support systems.
5.Integration and Affordable Child Care
i)Despite a high level of provision within Bristol it is often organised on a separate service basis and child care and education are not always well integrated. There is a need for greater flexibility and integration to meet the needs of children and their families.
ii)The drawing up of the Early Years Review and Development Plan has created many opportunities for different providers of early years services to share ideas and ultimately to bring services together. There is now an opportunity to involve local employers in planning and support child care.
iii)It is recognised that localities have differing profiles of needs and histories of service provision and that different models of integrated provision will need to be developed to reflect local needs.
iv)Bristol has a long standing history of providing a wide range of out of school provision which is well co-ordinated by the voluntary sector. Any initiatives developed as a consequent of new government funding need to build on these services and, in particular, ensure their future viability as well as carefully assessing implications for other services.
v)Bristol has benefited from a number of training/childcare initiatives funded from SRB or EEC. These projects have demonstrated the importance of co-ordinating economic and social policies as well as drawing together agencies from a wide spectrum to deliver services.
vi)Bristol has a small number of community nurseries providing affordable day care for low income and working or training parents. These nurseries are dependent on significant Local Authority funding and some sort of subsidy needs to continue if they are to remain viable. There are other parts of the city which would benefit from such assistance (eg Hartcliffe/ Withywood where the Gatehouse Centre has nursery facilities but insufficient funding).
6 Consultation & information Services
i)Consultation for the current Early Years Review and Development Plan has been restricted by the imposed timescale. However a broad range of individuals, agencies and providers have been involved in the preparation of the plan. A conference and district meetings have been held to consult on the draft. The draft Plan has been widely circulated and a significant number of written contributions made.
ii)The preparation of the Early Years Review and Development Plan has confirmed that the issues of consultation and information are strongly linked. The efficient dissemination of information about services and developments will ensure that a broader range of people are involved in consultation.
iii)The report acknowledges the difficulties of developing a parent perspective and input. Some parental input has been achieved in working groups considering particular issues but structured efforts will need to be made to ensure that parents views are incorporated into all levels of planning, service delivery and evaluation. It is important to make special efforts to involve parents/carers often excluded by consultation processes eg. disabled people, parents for whom English is a second language. Information needs to be disseminated through appropriate groups and those services producing the information need to be more proactive in ensuring it reaches the target audience.
iv)A wealth of information is currently produced and distributed by various early years service providers within Bristol and there is a need to develop a more co-ordinated information service which could include sharing good practice and the exchange of ideas as well as distributing information about services.
Forward A:Introduction B:Background C:Early Years in Bristol D:The Partnership & Consultation E:Audit of Need & Provision F: Quality & Inspection G: Curriculum & role of Qualified Teachers H: Training & Staff Development I: Family Support/ Parent Involvement & Under 3's J: SEN K: Integration L: Affordable Childcare M: Information Services Conclusions Annexes Executive Summary/Action Plan Supplementary Info
or questions or information for inclusion.