Monday, 3 June 2013

Engage for Education, Strategy in Scotland 31 May 2013

Referring to the article below, full of management speak and spin, the approach to early years which Naomi Eisenstadt from Sure Start warmly welcomes is the collaborative approach which invariably involves incremental improvements on the small scale, tested and shared amongst participants. She does say that a collaborative is a promising methodology for ensuring a shared vision. It`s the SHARED VISION that is the important part. There`s still some resistance to this idea in England.

But who is to do the collaborating? It is the key players in the system who will all be collaborating together to arrive at the shared vision which those who set up the collaborative are after; the aim is that it will be supported and owned by all levels of the system.  In other words by the time those who are driving the changes have finished no-one will be quite sure how it happened. We know that Community Planning Partnerships involve the police, social services, health and education. The move towards Police Scotland and the break up of the separate police forces is in the same direction: integration and centralised planning.

This is LIKELY to result in improvements in early years services, we are assured by Naomi Eisenstadt.  No guarantee of course, because there are problems with what to measure, knowing what makes a difference, and over-bureaucratic recording systems. By the looks of things the shared vision is also likely to demonise parents and grandparents.

Naomi Eisenstadt asserts that it is parents who are responsible for getting into poverty and so must get the skills and jobs to get out of poverty. Never mind that there are not enough jobs offering a living wage for families and that many working families also require benefits to stay afloat. Meanwhile the child care provision gap which results when parents eventually find a job is better NOT managed by grandparents because they pass on disadvantages and should be out working too. So says Naomi Eisenstadt. The emphasis here is on children`s rights after all.  They are better left with strangers.

Here is what the Education Endowment Foundation has to say about early childhood interventions:
Early years or early childhood interventions are approaches which aim to ensure that young children have educationally based pre-school or nursery experiences which prepare for school and academic success, usually through additional nursery or pre-school provision. Many of the researched programmes and approaches focus on disadvantaged children. Some also offer parental support.
In most studies, the impact on attainment tends to wear off over time, though impact on attitudes to school tends to be more durable. There is no established amount of time where the fade takes place, rather there is a pattern of decline over time. Early years and pre-school interventions are therefore not sufficient to close the gap in attainment for disadvantaged children
There are a number of systematic reviews and meta-analyses which have looked at the impact of early childhood intervention. Most of these are from the US however, where children tend to start school at a later age. Evaluations of Sure Start in the UK do not show consistent positive effects and indicate that some caution is needed when generalising from exceptionally successful examples. However, overall the evidence supporting early childhood intervention is robust.
See Early Education in Childhood and Care 2011

Naomi Eisenstadt, Sure Start   

rsz_naomi-eisenstadt-profile-278x300"Naomi Eisenstadt, Senior Research Fellow, Oxford University and former Director of Sure Start, visited Scotland to see and comment on our work on the Early Years."
"During my visit I attended an Early Years Collaborative (EYC) meeting in Ayrshire. The EYC is a very promising methodology for ensuring a shared vision for babies and young children, and a reflective, peer led system for continual improvement in public services aimed at young families."

"Participation of health in such endeavours in England continues to be challenging."


  1. Below are our recommendations for action. They are listed here in full and are repeated in the relevant sections of the report.


    The Scottish Government should: use the European Commission’s Communication on Early Childhood Education and Care as a policy framework for Scotland, ensure that responsibility for an integrated, universal system of Early Childhood Education and Childcare (ECEC), from birth to the age at which children start school, rests with one Cabinet Secretary.

    ... move all responsibility for curriculum and practice development, and all inspections for Early Childhood Education and Care to the newly established Education Scotland, following the policy lead of such European countries as Sweden, Norway, Slovenia and Finland. This would mean, for instance, closer cooperation between

    Education Scotland and the Scottish Social Services Council to promote the Childhood Practice award.

    4 Early Childhood Education and Care: developing a fully integrated early years system

    Year 2011

  2. The above commentary is from the report produced by Scottish Government 2 September 2011.