The DfE are exploring the interest in a potential new project which will test innovative approaches to improving outcomes for young children in disadvantaged areas and are seeking expressions of interest from early years providers who may be interested in joining.
The aims of the project would be to:
- encourage more outstanding provision into deprived areas;
- improve outcomes for disadvantaged young children; and
- demonstrate how early years providers, working with local authorities, can use different business models to achieve this.
The DfE would like to hear from early years providers with an outstanding track record that are interested in opening up a new setting in a disadvantaged area, working closely with a local authority (who DfE are also ‘recruiting’ to the project). They are particularly keen to hear from providers who are prepared to operate on a social enterprise/not for profit basis. They are investigating whether it would be possible to secure some support for the project, whether in-kind or a modest financial contribution, to help support the start-up costs, but, in any event, we hope providers will benefit in terms of:
- demonstrating that your approach can improve outcomes, even in the most challenging circumstances;
- fulfilling any wider social or community objectives your organisation may have;
- support from a partner local authority (this could be, for example, related to help with premises in a deprived area);
- increased flexibility to enter a new market or widen your existing market base, perhaps with support from the local authority in raising awareness of the new provision amongst local parents;
- spending your Early Years Pupil Premium effectively;
- potential to support local improvement more widely, for example, sharing or promoting your continuing professional development; and
- being part of an exciting, new national project looking at how best to support disadvantaged children.
Participating providers should:
- have an outstanding track record, as demonstrated by Ofsted inspection judgements;
- be interested in opening a new setting in a disadvantaged area;
- be able to attract, train and retain staff in best practice in improving outcomes for young children;
- be willing and able to work with their partner local authority to get started quickly;
- be able to help establish success criteria for the project and contribute to the evaluation of outcomes; and
- be enthusiastic about participating and engaging in a national project at a national level e.g. by sharing learning and good practice.
The DfE are similarly approaching all local authorities to establish likely interest and early indications are very encouraging. They are looking for local authorities that want to attract high quality providers into disadvantaged areas and are willing to support rapid development of the project in their locality. For example, this might include help with premises, promoting the new provision to local parents, facilitating access to local networks or sharing good practice in spending the Early Years Pupil Premium.
The DfE think that this potential project should be particularly attractive to providers that may previously have been unsure about establishing provision in more disadvantaged areas. They hope it will also be a great opportunity to demonstrate, both locally and nationally, how high quality provision can drive improved outcomes in challenging circumstances.
The DfE would facilitate this project with a view to showcasing good practice and would welcome suggestions about how we might do this. Subject to available funding next financial year, they also hope to offer individual projects some central support to help with their evaluation and monitoring.
If you might be interested in participating in this potential new project, please drop an email to [email protected] by Friday 5 December. At this stage, the DfE are not looking for a formal commitment but simply to establish the likely level of interest. It would also be helpful to know if there are any specific areas of the country that you would particularly be interested in working in. We look forward to hearing from you.