The delivery of ELC is underpinned by the central elements and values of GIRFEC, one of which is that professionals must work together in the best interests of the child. Partnership working should operate both: at the individual level, with relevant professionals cooperating to support the needs and development of a child; and at a system level that involves inter- agency collaboration to drive improvement and innovation that will generate wider benefits.
At the individual level, we are putting measures in place to ensure that appropriate data on children’s progress is shared between professionals working with children from the early years onwards. The Children and Young People’s Information Sharing Bill currently before Parliament is amending the information sharing provisions in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 in response to the Supreme Court ruling to bring consistency, clarity and coherence to the practice of sharing information about children’s and young people’s wellbeing across Scotland. The Bill makes explicit the steps that practitioners must follow when considering whether to share information with, or by the Named Person service. This will ensure that the sharing of information is compatible with current law (Data Protection legislation, ECHR and law of confidentiality).
This new approach will provide a legislative prompt for information sharing that will underpin the effective operation of the GIRFEC approach and the provision of the Named Person service across the country so that children and families get access to the right support at the right time if they need it, regardless of where they live. In addition, we will provide clear and easy to understand guidance on information sharing to support and illustrate good practice as requested by many practitioners and parents. By explaining how data can be shared in accordance with current law, this should offer health visitors and ELC practitioners guidance on how to ensure that any developmental concerns, highlighted at the 27-30 month review, can be shared with ELC settings to support the needs and development of a child.
Cross-professional working is an important feature of the Children and Young People Improvement Collaborative ( CYPIC). This brings together the Early Years Collaborative and the Raising Attainment for All programmes to deliver quality improvement throughout the child’s journey, from pre-birth to 18 and beyond. Through a team of Scottish Government Improvement Advisors, national and local learning sessions, training activities and a quality improvement awards programme, local services are supported to test, measure, implement and spread new and better ways of working to make services more effective and responsive to the needs of children and families. Improvement Advisors from CYPIC are working with ELC settings, local authorities, health visiting teams, third sector organisations and families to improve the uptake of the offer to eligible two year olds. This has involved improving access to information and services, joint working to ensure that families who stand to benefit are made aware of the offer, and simplification of the application pack.
The annual CYPIC learning sessions allow practitioners from a range of services to come together to share and learn from one another. The sessions are an opportunity to build stronger connections and partnerships and to work collaboratively to scale up and share those improvements that are proven to work. We will continue to encourage ELC practitioners to engage in CYPIC and continue to strengthen the ELC content of the learning sessions within the 3-18 curriculum focus of these sessions.
We are aware of a number of ELC settings that are demonstrating innovative or exemplary practice that has had a positive impact on quality of provision and outcomes for children. Some of these examples have already been shared on the National Improvement Hub. We recognise that even more can be done to encourage others – not only to experiment with new approaches but to evaluate impact and share what they learn – and to celebrate improvements and innovations that are successful in supporting particular types of outcomes (such as, closing the gap in speech and language development, supporting progression across transitions; outdoor learning, community engagement and nurture approaches) or supporting children facing complex challenges.
Action 13: We will identify ELC settings that have demonstrated innovation and impact in some aspect of their practice and establish ways to share this nationally and, where appropriate, support them to evidence and enhance their understanding of impact on children.
The shared learning would highlight the journey of improvement for the setting and staff – emphasising how to achieve on-going improvement as much as how to adopt a particular type of practice. This would result in a deeper understanding of how an ELC setting can set about improving and potentially transforming their setting for the benefit of children and families. As well as being provided with support to showcase practice, the settings would be provided with a resource to help evaluate impact and consider how to further enhance this. We will issue a call for interest in April 2018 and build material on the centres over the next few years as we implement the expansion.
Driving improvement through inter-agency collaboration is one of the primary purposes of the new Regional Improvement Collaboratives being established in partnership with local government.
Regional Improvement Collaboratives will ensure and enhance the educational improvement support for teachers and practitioners through dedicated teams of professionals. These teams will include, but not be limited to, Education Scotland and local authority staff and will provide sector, and subject specific advice to practitioners to drive improvement.
The Regional Improvement Collaboratives will support wider collaborative working across the ‘system’, including working with education, social work, health, Community Planning Partnerships and others to ensure that, together, we ‘get it right for every child’. A coherent focus across all partners will be achieved through the delivery of a regional improvement plan and associated work programme aligned with the National Improvement Framework. The first round of regional improvement plans will be delivered in January 2018.
A Joint Steering Group (co-chaired by the Scottish Government and Local Government) to support the development of the Regional Improvement Collaboratives has defined a set of guiding principles which should be core to all of the Collaboratives. One of these principles is that activity should not be restricted to schools alone, but encompass the range of learning environments that are experienced by children and young people, including all ELC providers delivering the funded entitlement.