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Best Practice Forum –Early Learning Communities and Support
The general response to Learning Communities is positive. People like the idea of being able to share information with others and build on the support that we have had to date. Training is an important part of development and the Learning Communities offer a chance to continue developing and improving practice through a network of like minded people. Interacting with other Early Years professionals has benefits for all. However, there remain reservations regarding how they will work in practice. In order to feel part of an early years community childminders raised the following points which they would like to see considered:
- Childminders would use children’s centres and would visit the centre to look out for forthcoming early learning community events. This seems like a good place to advertise and would need to be in each locality. This only works for those who attend children’s centres and many do not.
- Some children’s centres have made it clear that they do not want childminders attending sessions (Woodside was given as an example where childminders have been asked not attend family sessions). As this can be an important way of communicating with parents this feels as if childminders are being excluded. This also highlights that not all children’s centres are fully on board with the early learning communities if they are unsupportive of childminders.
- Early years community sessions were deemed a good idea because it allowed people to mix with people from other areas of the community. On some occasions it will allow people to attend or discuss training that they may not be able to attend otherwise. However, because of the issue below some of these sessions need to run in the evening or at weekends to allow childminders to be a well represented part of the early years community.
4. CHILDCARE ISSUES
- the events proposed to run at children’s centres could be poorly attended by childminders if they have to bring their minded children with them. Crèche’s are a solution to this but some parents are unhappy at the idea of their child being put into a third party childcare provider when they have chosen a childminder for this job. It would be difficult to focus on sharing or receiving information if a childminder is still working during the session. We feel that other Early Years professionals would not be expected to bring the children in their care along so would be at a greater advantage. There is a paragraph in the EYFS (yet to be determined) that suggests you have to be able to see or hear the child in your care at all times. If this is a requirement of the EYFS then even crèche’s may not be a solution to this issue.
- childminders would be glad of the opportunity to run voluntary sessions targeting childminders/early years professionals in order to integrate in to their local children’s centres
6. EARLY YEARS CONFERENCE MODEL
- in the past Early Years conferences that invited all members of the community to one place allowed for interaction and sharing of best practice in a well managed way. This approach is something we think would work well within the Learning Communities and we hope that the success of these conferences can be built on with the new communities.
7. LEARNING COMMUNITY EVENTS
- it was suggested that a list of speakers and trainers was put together with a price hierarchy so that community members had an idea of what was available and could then group together to arrange their own sessions. If this cannot be done by the council the CCMA would look to take this role on.
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