Barnardo’s look to reorganise children’s services

Barnardo’s have hinted that there may be great organisational change in their future, as it seeks to work with local authorities on managing children’s services.

The new chief executive of Barnardo’s, Javed Khan, has told sector publication Children & Young People Now that he hopes the children’s charity will develop into a more strategic organisation, working with local authorities to manage, and commission children’s services.

They have already announced that they will be involved in training children’s centre staff in a new “five to thrive” programme which supports early years practitioners in helping parents to engage with their babies in activities that boost social and emotional development. The programme uses play, touch, and communication to support early brain development.

Barnado’s currently delivers local children’s service, but this may be set to change over the next few years as the organisation develops. Khan says that Barnardo’s may work within a consortium, and could be in a position to support other voluntary sector organisations in delivering services that have been hit by funding cuts and increased demand.

In the interview, Khan said:

“The future has got to be about how you invite an organisation like Barnardo’s to the table of the thinking, the planning, the rethinking and then service commissioning.

“It is organisations like Barnardo’s that are big enough, experienced enough, knowledgeable enough about what the right thing to do is from the frontline that can be part of that right at the start as a strategic partner.

“But we might want to be within a consortium, a much more team-based approach alongside other charities and voluntary sector organisations, and the private sector might be included too”.

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Improving Futures Learning Event Booklet

In February 2014 the Improving Futures projects came together to share their progress, lessons and impact. This booklet summarises the key learning from the event, including: highlights from the Year 1 Evaluation Report; a summary of the lessons learnt from the Discussion Groups, including Evidencing Outcomes and Working with the Whole Family; a Family Testimonial from one or the families supported by a project; and the results from the Stakeholder Survey showing how the projects are working in partnership with local services.

English                                                            Cymraeg

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Foundation phase having positive impact on early education in Wales

A review of the Welsh Government’s Foundation Phase early learning scheme has shown the results to be varied, but positive.

The evaluation is being carried out by WISERD (Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods) with the University of Cardiff to assess the effectiveness of the Foundation Phase on primary pupils.

The programme involves learning through play and has been shown to have a positive impact on how children learn, although concerns have been raised about whether or not it prepares children for regular exams in later education.

The programme works with early years and primary pupils aged three to eleven, with a ‘learn by doing’ approach that encourages children to find their own solutions to problems

Since being introduced to the Welsh education system in 2011, the Foundation Phase has had mixed successes but fares well in the government-commissioned review. According to the report, “overall, the practitioners/key stakeholders interviewed and surveyed reported that the Foundation Phase was having a positive impact on children and learning”.

The report also highlights some inconsistencies in the programme, noting that practices can vary considerably across different schools, age groups and areas of learning. There were concerns also around the availability of educators as children may be relying too heavily on high adult-to-child ratios.

The learning style promoted by the programme was found to be particularly effective with children with learning differences, those who had Welsh or English as a second language, and boys in general.

Education minister Huw Lewis commented on the findings, saying:

“The message that we’re getting from these reports is that those delivering the Foundation Phase feel that our popular early years initiative is making a real difference – especially for children from deprived backgrounds and those with Special Education Needs.

“But there are lessons to be learned. The reports do tell us that we need to do more to ensure a consistent experience for all learners across Wales. At present there is too much variation for learners from class-to class and from school to school. This must stop. Consistency is key if we’re to deliver the same positive outcomes for our learners.”

Read the report, “Evaluating the Foundation Phase” (WISERD).

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