1998 EARLY YEARS DEVELOPMENT PLAN
The Bristol Early Years Partnership and the Early Years Joint Sub Committee of the City Council agreed in October 1997 that work on the Section 19 Review required under the Children Act (1989) and on the Early Years Development Plan should be combined and a joint document produced. This document, approved by the Local Authority and endorsed by the Early Years Partnership is attached.
This summary outlines how the Bristol Early Years Partnership produced its review and plan, the principles which underpin the early years strategy and answers the key questions posed by the DfEE with respect to Early Years Development Plans. Our full Action Plan is also included as are the main conclusions of the Review.Background
Bristol has a rich heritage of early years provision across all sectors. This variety enables Bristol to offer a range of services - education, child care and family support - to parents/carers and children, but also poses challenges in shaping future services to meet changing needs. The City Council is a new unitary authority formed on 1 April 1996. It has actively pursued a policy of increased co-ordination of early years services. It has approved a draft `vision for Early Years which includes an integrated early years service, strategic directions for Early Years and is promoting a number of joint education/social services initiatives e.g. Hartcliffe Integrated Early Years Centre and family support based in primary schools.
Partnership & consultation on the Plan
The Bristol Early Years Partnership has developed from the City Council Early Years Joint Sub Committee. It has grown with very active involvement from private and voluntary sectors as well as the Local Authority and umbrella groups such as the Pre School Learning Alliance (PLA), Avon Parents Network (APN) and The Bristol Childrens and Young Peoples Services Network (CHYPS). Both the voluntary sector and private sector have held meetings to select representatives and receive feedback and the full partnership has a membership of thirty five people. The partnership itself has met on three occasions to supervise and approve the production of the Plan. It has further meetings planned to work on the implementation of the review and plan and to review its own operation.
The development plan and review of current provision was carried out by a series of working groups. These working groups contained representatives from all sectors (and some parents) and met to consider key issues which form the sections in the main report. Given the short timescale these open working groups were very successful and have made the production the Bristol review and plan a really collaborative venture.
A draft review and plan was produced and presented to a consultative conference on 10 January 1998. This conference was well attended with over 150 people from all sectors, including parents/carers. Three inspirational speakers set out the pioneering history of Early Years in Bristol and enthused all those present. The main themes emerging from the conference were:
There have also been four focus meetings with parents, in different settings, across the four districts of Bristol, to gain a sample parent perspective. A total of some fifty people attended these meetings. They helped ground the Plan in the reality faced by parents - but also illustrated the diverse range of expectations across the city.
The consultation process generally endorsed the proposals set out in the Plan. It has not produced any major new proposals but has influenced the order of priority given to points in the Action Plan and sharpened the focus in certain areas.
The Interim Bristol Early Years Development Plan identified three key themes and these are still relevant:
The Bristol Partnership has adopted the following statements as working principles:-
A fuller statement of principles was contained in the Bristol Childrens Services Plan 1997 and included in the Interim Early Years Development Plan.
This section aims to summarise how the Bristol Plan will meet the DfEE published evaluation criteria for assessing Early Years Development Plans. Each answer also provides the reader with a reference into the main report and action plan for detailed information, where relevant.
A The Bristol Early Years Partnership has already established dates for meetings in March and April 1998 to review its own operation and implementation of the Plan. Annual reviews will be conducted by co-ordinators of working groups assessing progress in specific areas and reporting to the Partnership. The City Council will monitor the number of places and providers and with Avon Parents Network, assess information, costs and accessibility. An annual Early Years Conference is planned.
A Yes - we can give that guarantee now. Most of these places are full time and in reception classes, but there are also a variety of places in the private and voluntary sectors to facilitate parental choice. Bristol will seek to promote a quality early years curriculum in reception classes, and to extend the associated childcare provision.
A The LEA has a nursery admissions policy drawn up on the establishment of Bristol in April 1996. The Education Committee is in the process of consulting on a revised admissions procedures to maximise the places available for 3 and 4 year olds. Bristol has a three year infant education programme with a single point of admission for Reception class at the start of the Autumn term. Social Services have established local allocation panels for Children in Need under the 1989 Children Act and these could form the basis for future admissions across more settings.
A Details of Providers recognised under the Plan are attached to the review and plan. The Partnership will, through Avon Parents Network (APN), seek to increase the information to parents on the issues to consider e.g. the cost, vacancies etc. All private, independent and voluntary providers must offer a minimum of one free place to be recognised. This place must be kept open for the first three weeks of term before being released.
A Partnership and co-operation have been very much in evidence through the process of developing the review and plan. There are a number of proposals in the action plan which reflect these eg. local providers networks, parents panels, affordable child care initiatives. In addition the City Council has worked closely with the Pre School Learning Alliance, Avon Parents Network and The Childrens and Young Peoples Network (CHYPS) as well as the broader voluntary sector and individual providers.
A The plan contains a number of initiatives to promote quality through developing the curriculum, co-ordinating training and staff development and promoting the Bristol Standard. The Bristol Standard is a self evaluation tool for providers across all settings which promotes improvement in ten dimensions of quality. There are plans to co-ordinate training across sectors and early discussions have taken place about involving qualified teachers (early years specialists) in all settings by September 1999.
A The whole report was circulated to members of the Partnership and endorsed on 22 January 1998, the relevant minutes of this meetings are attached.
The Local Authority approved the Plan on 27 January 1998, the relevant minute is attached.
A The City Council will undertake the payment of funds through procedures agreed with recipients. It is intended to gather further information as part of this process (total numbers; extent of provision; date of birth, postcode etc) as well as audit spot checks to verify participation. We have already managed under the interim Early Years Development Plan a system for gathering estimates and headcount returns.
A The Bristol Partnership has adopted Bristol City Councils Integrated Equalities Policy as one of its underpinning principles. All working groups were required to consider an equalities perspective and there are a number of action plan points which refer specifically to equalities issues eg. Bristol Standard, establishment of database for Special Needs/disabilities, provider networks and the need for more Black childminders.
A All providers (recognised by the Early Years Development Plan) - and their representatives on the Partnership - will work to the Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs. The LEA is currently exploring how it can best offer support and guidance to voluntary and private providers as well as reviewing its own provision with a view to adopting a more inclusive approach. There are some specific initiatives (Joint Finance Funded) to promote inclusion of disabled children in mainstream provision.
The Education Committee has recently adopted a policy for Inclusive Education. We also recognise the needs of children from Traveller communities and minority ethnic communities.
A There is already LEA provision for approximately 65% of three years olds in Bristol. Further information is being gathered on the private and voluntary sector provision to identify how many of the additional 1,700 children already have provision. Initial calculations would suggest that the Partnership will be able to guarantee a place for all 3 year olds (across sectors) by Spring 1999.
Some small growth may be needed. Steps to identify cost effective opportunities for development are being identified in advance of national guidance on funding.
A The Partnership has reviewed existing provision and noted that there are a number of existing settings which work on an integrated model - mainly in the private and voluntary sectors. The plan acknowledges the need to create greater flexibility in school provision and contains a number of initiatives which will pilot the wider development of an integrated and affordable child care strategy. The Partnership and LEA intend to submit bids by 16 February 1998 under the DfEE Grant Funding for Childcare project.
A There are a number of proposals to ensure that information is widely available about all aspects of early years services. The city council already funds Avon Parent Network to provide information and it will confirm this work and extend it to include information about the plan. There are proposals for an Early Years Newsletter for all providers. It is planned to produce a short version of the review and plan for parents/users following approval by DfEE. We hope that this information will be available electronically (through a website) within the first year to further increase accessibility via Libraries and Community Access Points.
A The review and plan includes information about family support and contains proposals concerning parent education and family learning. The report also covers ongoing involvement / consultation of parents regarding service development and recommends the establishment of parent/carers panels to advise the Partnership.
Just as this Plan complements the Councils own Education Development Plan (Achievement in Bristol) and the Social Services Action Plan, so the need to develop prioritised Action Plans for types of settings (Day Nurseries, Reception classes, community nurseries etc) over the first year is identified. The development of a strategy for under 3s, and for facilitating Local Area Networks (cascading excellence) also require further work to develop a full childcare strategy.
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.