Parents to be given new freedoms to run their local children's centres
- Published on Tuesday, 20 September 2011 11:47
- Posted by Scott Buckler
Parents and communities are to be given the freedom to run their local children's centre, under new plansannounced by teh Department for Education
The Government will consult in the autumn on changes to children's centres, including proposals that will enable parents and community groups to apply to their local authority to run a children's centre in their local area. Under the plans, local authorities, not the Government, would have the final say on whether projects go ahead.
The Government also confirmed today that a further 18 local authorities will trial payment by results for children's centres. Together with the first wave announced in July, 27 local authorities will be testing rewards for reaching the most vulnerable families, improving family health and wellbeing and raising attainment of children at age five.
As part of wider reforms to the core purpose of children's centres, the Government wants to see a clearer focus on reaching the most disadvantaged families and more work to help narrow the attainment gap between wealthier and poorer children that is evident from as early as 22 months.
Children's Minister Sarah Teather said:
Children's centres are at the heart of community life. New proposals to enable parents and communities to help run children's centres will give local people more control and influence over the services they use on a daily basis.
We know many children's centres are doing fantastic work, but there is still more to be done to reach the poorest families. Children's centres are a powerful tool in tackling social inequality and we want to make sure they are giving children, regardless of background, the chance to develop well and be ready for school.
That's why I'm pleased to announce a further 18 areas will be trialling a new way of working – looking at how we can reward children's centres for improving outcomes for families. We are putting a particular focus on disadvantaged families getting the help they need in children's centres, and on ensuring that every child develops well and starts school ready and able to learn.
To help children's centres improve their outreach services, the Department for Education will be working with the National College to recruit three regional outreach leaders. The leaders will work alongside the National College's Foundation Years Associates, to support and advise children's centres across the country. Their role will be to help share best practice and advocate effective approaches to targeting the most disadvantaged families.
In July, the Department published a new vision for Families in the Foundation Years, which set out plans to reform children's centres. This included funding for new ‘early years teaching centres' to help strengthen the early years workforce.
The Government can today announce that 16 children's centres and nurseries have been selected as ‘early years teaching centres'. Pen Green Research Base in Corby will be leading this work. The centres will aim to raise standards and improve children's outcomes, working with foundation years providers within their local area. The Department and the National College will work closely with Pen Green to ensure learning from these 16 centres is shared widely.