Early Years Education
Decision Maker: Education Scrutiny Committee
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Overview of provision across
The Chair welcomed Paul Duckworth, Acting Head of Service for Education, Quality and Performance; Mel Foster, Operational Delivery Lead (Business & Early Years); Kate Dewhurst, Childcare Sufficiency Team Leader and Andrew Good, Head of Service Financial Management (Development and Schools) to the meeting.
The report presented provided information about Lancashire's providers of funded early education for 2, 3 and 4 year old children, including an update on the take up and the quality of provision.
Following the presentation of the report to the Committee, the following had been noted:
The take up of funded Early Year Education in Lancashire was above the national average and the take up remains high among 3 and 4 year old's.
It was reported that all Local Authorities have been advised of the Department for Education's (DfE) goal to halve the percentage of children leaving reception year without the communication, language and literacy skills they would need to thrive by 2028.
The Committee was informed of the next steps in providing Early Funded Education, as detailed in the report.
The Chair invited members' of the Committee to raise any questions on the information provided and the following had been clarified.
It was reported that due to the decline in number of children leaving reception year with a lower Good Level of Development (GLD) than the national average, the council had put several strategies in place to address the decline, both internal to the council and nationally.
In terms of the strategies internal to the council, this included:
· Working more closely with the council's Early Education Consultant's team.
· More focused work in priority areas.
· The 1000 days Morecambe project, which works with families before birth and until the child is 2 years old.
· The Healthier Fleetwood project, which works to ensure a child is school ready.
In term of the national projects, the council had accessed various projects such as:
· The PACT (Parents and Children Together) project.
· Working with the EasyPeasy App, which allows parents to promote learning while at home.
· The Hanen programme, which is a language speech therapist and communication specialist.
Following a concern raised regarding the take up of the funding entitlement for eligible children the Committee was informed that the following work had been carried out:
· A targeted social media campaign to encourage take up of places; and
· Writing out to the families eligible for a place but who hadn't taken up a place, to make sure they were fully informed of the benefits the places could offer.
In relation to sufficiency of places, it was acknowledged that parental choice is a significant factor. However, the sharing of good practice to assist schools with capacity is currently being considered. The Committee requested more information on the sufficiency of places in the districts to be provided to all councillors to help to support and encourage parents to consider schools where there is capacity.
Further to this, it was suggested that taster sessions could be considered through the libraries and open days at nurseries with places to raise awareness and promote schools with capacity.
At this point in the meeting, County Councillor Munsif Dad declared a non-pecuniary interest that he is a Trustee on Adventure Hyndburn.
i. The information contained in the report be noted.
ii. The next steps be outlined be noted.
iii. All county councillors be provided with details on the local offer of early year's places for all districts including service planning areas to support the service and parents in the consideration of early year's providers where there is capacity.
Report author: Stephen Belbin
Date of decision: 22/07/2019
Decided at meeting: 22/07/2019 - Education Scrutiny Committee