SECTION D - THE EARLY YEARS PARTNERSHIP AND CONSULTATION
This chapter sets out how the Bristol Early Years Partnership has been drawn together, how the plan has been developed and the consultation process.
Development of the Early Years Partnership
The development of a Partnership has inevitably involved commitment from the Local Authority but Members and Officers have also been assisted by the very active co-operation of umbrella groups such as CHYPS (The Bristol Children=s and Young People=s Services Network), the Pre School Learning Alliance, Avon Parents Network (APN) and individuals in the different sectors. A report was presented to the Early Years Joint Sub-Committee summarising the draft DfEE guidance and making recommendations as to how Bristol=s Partnership should be established. The proposals were fully debated by members of the Committee and representatives of various organisations. It was decided that City Councillors would have a significant role to play in leading the development of the Partnership. In Bristol the Local Authority is a very significant provider of services.
The first Early Years Partnership meeting was convened for 21 October 1997 and proposals for membership, terms of reference and working protocols were approved. The membership of the Partnership was agreed as follows:
Prior to the Partnership meeting members of both the voluntary sector and independent sector had met to select representatives. Both these sectors have chosen to divide themselves so that different interests can be represented eg. Private day nurseries, private nursery schools, non profit making nurseries etc. The City Council has assisted both these groups by mailing details of meetings and attending some meetings. All representatives on the Partnership (with the exception of parents) regularly meet with groups they represent. A membership list of the Early Years Partnership is attached in the appendices.
The terms of reference and working protocols for the Partnership are attached in the appendices. The Partnership has met three times to prepare the plan. It has two further meetings already planned when it will need to review its operation in order to ensure implementation of the Early Years Development Plan and Review.
Development of the Plan
There has been little time to set up the Early Years Partnership, write up a plan and consult upon it. The Partnership therefore set up a number of short life working groups to consider different aspects - this was in order to achieve wide involvement from all agencies and settings in the creation of the plan. A co-ordinator was appointed for each group and asked to provide a summary report. Each working group was given a specific remit and asked to consider certain questions, groups were free to amend or add to their report. The groups are listed below:
Notes of meetings, list of contributors to each group and detailed reports are available on request.
Consultation Process for Early Years Development Plan and Review
The process for drawing up the Plan and Review has attempted to be as inclusive as possible as part of a policy by the Partnership to achieve wide ranging involvement. The very short timescale has reduced the opportunities for consultation on the draft plan.
A conference was held on 10 January 1998 to which a wide range of providers, agencies, staff and members of the public were invited. The programme is included in the appendices. Over one hundred and fifty people attended. Apart from opening addresses the majority of the time was spent in workshops discussing all aspects of the plan. A summary of the comments are:
In addition to the Conference, four consultation meetings were held in different settings, across the four districts. Over fifty people attended these meetings.
Main comments from these meetings can be summarised as:
Other Recent Consultation Processes
The production of this report was informed by other consultation processes which have taken place in the relatively recent past.
1 1996 Day Care Review
Consultation was undertaken fairly widely in the production of the 1996 Day Care Review. Findings were summarised as :
2 Children=s Services Plan
The Children=s Services Plan was also widely circulated and a one day Consultation Conference was held in February 1997. This resulted in amendments to the Early Years section about:
3 Choices for Bristol
This was not strictly a consultation process but was an exercise designed to encourage citizens of Bristol to participate in planning for the future of their city. A number of events were hosted, resulting in over 300 adults and young people working together on statements about plans for Bristol in the next 10 years. Those relevant to Early Years are:
The partnership has considered the wide range of existing mechanisms for consultation and wishes to reinforce good practice. There are a number of organisations in Bristol which seek to ensure consultation is an ongoing process - very often this is by involving parents / users in decision making processes eg.
Other groups have ensured that parents / carers can participate in service development although decision making responsibility may lie elsewhere.
Finally, there are a number of mechanisms whereby individual children and families are consulted e.g.
Whilst there are a number of mechanisms for ongoing consultation it remains difficult to achieve a representative parent perspective. Each exercise tends to generate its own consultation process and while large public meetings are not always well attended (unless a specific issue is identified), meetings based on particular settings can build in a preference bias towards the service already provided.
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.