Yesterday Lesley Kelly, dissemination officer for the Growing Up in Scotland survey, gave a presentation about the finding of the survey to staff in Mid & East Lothian with particular reference to readiness for learning and supports for parents.
Lesley gave an overview of the findings from the survey and there was a lively discussion at the end of the session.
For me one of the key findings presented by Lesley was the type of supports that were utilised by parents whose children were not experiencing difficulties. It was clear that parents that were accessing a range of informal and community based supports were also experiencing less health, social and emotional problems in their children. In other words parents using community and family based support seems to support the resilience of children. Strengthening the capacity of community and family based support for parents along with supporting parents who are experincing difficulties to access this type of support seems to me to be good value for money, but will it be be valued an protected in the current climate. The childrens commisioner has released a press statement which raises concerns about how supports for parent can be maintained and enhanced when the pressures are for service reductions.
The other key finding for me was that parents / carers who spend time playing with and reading to their children can influence the childs readiness to learn independant of their income status. So often the message from statistics about health, education well being can seem negative. If you have a low income the dice can seem to be stacked against you statitistically speaking. Here is a different story – it doesnt matter if you are on a low income you can still make a difference for your kids
Sometimes large amounts of public money can be spent with minimal return – but sometimes very small sums can free the creativity of staff and parents to make a difference. The enclosed evaluation was sent to me earlier today. Its an evaluation report on a piece of work taken forward by staff in Prestonpans that made me think wow all that happened because of £600.
Service champions for Support from the Start have access to a small ‘simple rules’ development fund. The idea behind the fund is to provide a resource for champions to test out ideas that might lead to service redesign that will contribute to tackling health inequality in early years.
Helena Reid wanted to build on work that the integration team had been developing on supporting parents whose children are in transition from nursery to primary school. Being ready for school and the school being ready for the children that they are to educate is, to my mind, a key area where services can support parents and children to help themselves. There is no doubt that the more a child can take advantage of educational opportunities the more likely it will escape poor health in later life.
The enclosed evaluation of a summer transition programme gives an exciting glimpse of how services can support that transition process for children that may have difficulties and engage parents who may need support in getting their children ready for school.
Creating Confident Kids is a whole school approach to emotional wellbeing, initially developed by Edinburgh schools. It is being championed by Sheila Laing head teacher and a service champion for Support from the Start.
Schools in the Support from the Start target areas in East and Midlothian are adopting this programme. An evaluation programme is built into the development which should in years to come give an idea of how well the programme is working.
Teaching about emotonal well being it is now part of the outcomes for the Curriculum for Excellence as outlined in Shielas presentation below, which was given to schools in Midlothian.
We all intuitively know that communities have a vital role to play in children’s development and learning. Science is increasingly pointing to the importance of the pre-school years to the child’s capacity to learn, as well as their future health and well being. Yet we don’t measure or assess what communities contribute to their children’s development and learning pre school. If we don’t measure it, how can we change it?
The Early Development Instrument (EDI) is a way of measuring children’s development and readiness to learn by the time they reach formal schooling – it was developed in British Columbia and has been adopted around the world. East Lothian is to pilot EDI in a Scottish context in partnership with the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health. The instrument is a community level tool, it does not measure individual performance, but rather how many children in a given community are developmentally vulnerable on one of five domains. In effect it measures how well a community is supporting its early years children. Where it has been used in other countries it has allowed for a community to become more actively involved in supporting early years issues.
A small group has been established to organise the testing of the tool on a small scale and training staff in its use before rolling out accross East Lothian. A wider stakeholder group(s) will be brought together to once this initial work is completed to look at the information that is developed from the instrument and how it might be used.
Dr Rosemary Geddes prepared this presentation on EDI for the Support from the Start planning board held in July
Service mapping has been one of the goals of the test site in East and Midlothian – this has been focused on the ten medium term outcomes for the test site. These outcomes draw on existing service planning for health and social care services and were agreed as part of the logic model for the test site by the planning board for Support from the Start. The objective of the maps is to represent the path to achieving the agreed outcomes – what is that we are already doing that helps us achieve the outcome we are aiming for and what are the gaps.
Janice Macleod (School nurse manager and Leisa Randall (educational psychologist are now leading on the mapping of an attachment pathway for East Lothian. This work has been generated by discussions in the service champions action learning sets and Janice’s indefatigable enthusiasm for early intervention and the role of attachement
A session has been organised to bring ‘stakeholders’ together to map out what is already happening to support the identification of attachment issues and how children and parents who are having difficulties with attachment are supported and access services. The output from this session will help to inform what interventions need and can be developed to shape this area of work in the future.
Professor Aline Wendy Dunlop was the third presenter at a seminar on readiness for learning held on the 6th May at the McSense centre in Mayfield, Dalkeith.
Professor Aline-Wendy Dunlop is a Chair of Childhood and Primary Studies; responsibilities include providing leadership in applied educational research and teaching and learning. She is also Lead Director of the National Centre of Autism Studies which houses the Scottish Autism Service Network.
In a fascinating presentation Professor Dunlop spoke on the theme of :-
What does study of early years transitions tell us about readiness for learning?
A key learning point for me was thinking about ‘transition’ in terms of opportunities for parental engagement. Transition from home to nursery or nursery to school can create anxiety for both parent and child; but it can also be a time when parents are particularly amenable to engagement with agencies who they perceive as being able to support them in that transition.
How well do services support parents in these transitions? Do we ptovide enough information early enough? Do we make the best use of these periods to both support parents but also engage them with service agendas?
Professor Dunlop closed her presentation with a slide on attunement – which refers to a concept within ‘attachment theory’ that examines how adult parental figures attune their responses to that of their child – she uses the idea of a dance where the partners movements are attuned to each others. How well attuned are services to the needs of parents and children during these transition – or do we just make them dance to our own steps?
Dr Christine Stephen of the Stirling Institute for Education provided the second presentation at the readiness for learning seminar held on the 6th may at the Mcsense centre in Mayfield, Dalkeith. Christine spoke on ‘Readiness for learning – what is it and how do we improve it?’
I really enjoyed Christine’s presentation, perhaps more so because I am not from an education background. A key point I took out of it was that early years children are ready for learning – in fact they are programmed for learning, and will learn almost in spite of anything that adults do or don’t do – it just matter of what and how well. That very much chimed with my own experience as a parent – suddenly my kids could do things – that tricky journey of guiding a spoon from bowl to mouth suddenly happened, or from first looking at words and pictures to suddenly seeing them racing through books. Naively, perhaps, I think I saw learning as taking place in the gaps between play – but I can see now that the play was most of the learning and probably most of my attempts at instruction were really tiresome interruptions to learning.
Christine looked at what schools and parents could do to be ready for children’s desire and innate drive to learn – reminding us that readiness for learning is about how the child is supported to learn and that it is the adults and the adult world that might have to do things differently to improve readiness for learning not the child.
On the 6th may a seminar was held at the McSesne conference centre in Mayfield, Dalkeith – looking at the concept of readiness for learning. The seminar was attended largely by Support from the Start service champions for Mid and East Lothian, but also by a number of headteachers and other interested professionals.
The remit of the Collaboration is: to identify key areas of opportunity for developing novel public health interventions that equitably address major Scottish health problems; to foster collaboration between government, researchers and the public health community to develop a national programme of intervention development, large-scale implementation and robust evaluation; and to build capacity within the public health community for collaborative research of the highest quality which will have maximum impact on policies, programmes and practice.
Dr Geddes opened the session with a presentation on the health implications of ‘readiness for learning.
A further two posts will follow with the other presentations from the seminar