It’s a great pleasure to have James Hempsall returning as my guest blogger. In this blog, James gives an update on the Government’s ‘Achieving Two Year Olds’ incentive. James is Director at Hempsall’s and is the National Support Director/Central Region Lead regarding the provision of support for ‘Achieving Two Years Olds’ to local authorities.
“Achieving Two Year Olds: the statutory duty comes into force – an opportunity for providers to develop new provision to reach the least advantaged two year olds and their families.
Now seems a great opportunity to update everyone on two year olds. September 2013 saw the statutory duty on local authorities to provide up to 15 hours per week of early learning for the 20% least advantaged two year olds. We are pleased to report progress has been growing steadily over the past 12 months. Local authority confidence in delivery has been high overall for 2013 and this is reflected in the current numbers of children funded.
We have seen tremendous progress since funds have been available to local authorities in April in advance of the duty coming into place in September 2013. In April, the Achieving Two Year Olds self-evaluation forms estimated 70,000 funded children in April 2013, we expect this to have risen gradually in summer term, as we believe around 30,000 more children are funded each term, which is in line with targets. We will be asking LAs for the numbers of children funded in October.
Most places for 2013 have been found in unused capacity, remodelling of settings’ routines, rotas, staffing, and spaces. This has mainly meant that the existing workforce, with some modest growth and response has been able to meet the new demand. In many LAs, new online systems have been developed. This builds on the pioneering work as part of last year’s trial programmes. These enable parents to check their eligibility and administrate their applications independently.
Some new provision has been developed and this will grow further towards September 2014, and training and recruitment activities are underway across the country. Involving schools and childminders will again support such a need. The focus for 2014 will be to also respond to the growing interest in schools, children’s centres and childminders offering two year old places.
Capital funding has started to be used too – mainly in small capital projects such as equipment or minor building adaptations. We have seen many LAs starting to work with providers and launch their grants schemes as this funding will have greatest impact on September 2014 capacity. To prepare for this LAs have been looking at the areas where they have low capacity and high need and have been using this to strategically deploy childcare development staff, or prioritise their grant criteria for these geographical areas. This is a very sensible way of using their resources. The key outcome for spending this funding is to create the spaces needed in the locations where eligible two year olds are in September 2014.
At A2YO we have been able to spread lots of good practice and ideas (through regional and national network meetings, and our online knowledge hub). A2YO are also running a series of FREE provider roadshows this year for settings, schools and childminders to find out more and outline how to get involved. This aims to complement the efforts of LAs. The dates and locations are: 25th November 2013 – Newcastle; 26th November 2013 – Birmingham; 3rd December 2013 – Nottingham; 5th December 2013 – Dorset; 6th December 2013 – Leeds; and 11th December 2013 – London.
More information or to book a place on a roadshow contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Providers should make contact with their local authority early years officers to find out local terms and conditions and opportunities to get involved in creating places or attending training.
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There has been lots of training and this will be a key issue for the next twelve months. It has ranged from general awareness of the programme to specialist topics such as: Working with vulnerable families; Business remodelling; Child development: Two year olds; Transitions; Parental engagement; Family support; and Two year old learning.
James Hempsall, Director – Hempsall’s and National Support Director/Central Region Lead – Achieving Two Year Olds.”
Thanks James. This is a very timely reminder for us all.
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