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Local communities could help shape the future of Early Years’ provision



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New proposals which would give members of the community the chance to shape the future of Early Year’s provision in their area have been tabled.

 

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has put forward a possible new way of working after listening to initial feedback from residents and head teachers as part of a consultation on changes to the service.

 

The local authority has today written to all primary school head teachers to ask for their views on introducing nursery education and early intervention services that would be specifically tailored to local needs.

 

Under the plan, the city council would work closely with partners including schools, health providers, parents and governors as well as other key organisations to draw up and implement the most suitable provision for a particular area.

 

Each group of partners would aim to create the best balance of family support and nursery education for their community.

 

City councillor Alan Dutton, cabinet member for education, said: “We want our children to have bright futures and to achieve all that they are capable of achieving. No one knows what is best for young people better than their parents, teachers and members of the community that they live in. That is the message that we have been receiving loud and clear as part of the consultation into Early Years’ provision and it is why we have taken another look at the proposals.

 

“We have listened to residents’ views and as a result believe that any decisions on how Early Years’ provision is provided should have a major input at a community level. Every area has different needs and local services have to reflect those needs if they are to be effective.”

 

The proposal would mean that a more flexible approach could be taken in relation to the two options that have already been put forward.

 

The consultation has so far focussed on:

 

·         Maintaining the status quo whilst saving £1.7 million from the council’s early intervention services

 

·         Providing 15 hours of nursery education for all three year olds (with the possibility of additional provision to meet agreed need, such as special educational needs) and re-investing the money saved into additional support for those who need it most, more targeted working and increased support to help parents fulfil the vital role they have in their children’s development

The city council would still need to find efficiency savings in the Early Years’ budget from April 2013. However, a proportion of the predicted Dedicated Schools Grant underspend could be used to maintain current early years’ services throughout 2013-2014, with the agreement of the Schools Forum.

 

This timeframe could give each area the chance to identify its priorities and to form strong partnerships capable of shaping the service, in future years.

 

It is proposed that the cabinet will consider recommendations in January. The city council is still aiming to be in a position to ask parents to nominate places for their children in the spring term 2013.

 

For more information on the Early Years’ consultation visit Stoke.gov.uk/earlyyears

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