EE Leads and workplace support
EE Leads were asked about support they had received in their role from setting leadership, their local authority and from informal networks. The Leads reported feeling supported in their roles.
Case Study 3 (linked to HSC Standards 1.30 and 1.31)
Kelloholm Nursery is provided by Dumfries and Galloway council and provides a daycare service for up to 60 children aged from 2 years to those not yet attending primary school. The service operates from a dedicated nursery space within Kelloholm Primary School.
The service was last inspected 5 February 2020 when it was graded as good across all quality themes. This was a marked improvement on the evaluation one year previously when the service was graded as weak across all quality themes. Both the manager and staff attributed this to the combined contribution of a seconded primary one teacher and the EE Lead. These two senior members of staff worked together in leading pedagogical practice, empowering staff to improve outcomes for children. They also helped engage parents/carers as valued partners in planning for their children.
Kelloholm's EE Lead Dorothy Dundas told us, 'Working in this role, I was given the time and flexibility to support and build relationships with the children, families, staff and also the wider community. I was able to further research issues or topics which in turn ensured we could offer individualised support when needed."
A particular initiative that worked well for the children and families at Kelloholm Nursery was the Peers Early Education Partnership (PEEP) project. The EE Lead worked collaboratively with the school family learning worker and the local authority adult learning worker to deliver the PEEP programme. Dorothy explained: "through this initiative, parents were becoming more confident; confident to recognise different communications techniques with their children, confidence in themselves as their child's first educator. If we can support the parents to be more confident, then everything else will fall into place." The PEEP project supports parents and children to learn together so that everyone is included and achieving. This meant parents were progressing their own learning journey, thus increasing their future chances of accessing employment.
Staff felt very well supported by the EE Lead. They participated in professional development activities including formal training, professional reading and peer to peer learning to ensure everyone had a grasp of the theory underpinning their practice. Dorothy highlighted the positive impact the role of the Equity and Excellence Lead had on the staff team: "Supporting staff to understand practice documents allowed for everyone to develop their practice and understanding. The time to effectively support staff has not only increased their knowledge but has allowed us, as practitioners and as a team to be reflective on all we do, resulting in continued improved outcomes for all our children."
Table 7 shows all 37 said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the support from their setting leaderships, while 34 out of 37 were satisfied or very satisfied by the support from their local authorities.
|How satisfied are you with the support provided to you by your setting leadership?||How satisfied are you with the support provided to you by your local authority?|
Similarly, Table 8 shows 35 out of 37 Leads said they had been able to access informal support networks.
|Have you been able to access informal networks of support (e.g. peer mentoring with other EE Leads)?|
Leads were further asked: what have you found most useful in terms of local authority support? Responses mentioned training opportunities and regular meetings with other Leads as useful for their development. Answers included:
'I have found this very useful as the local authority has provided training and support for the equity and excellence lead through network meetings and training programmes in order to bring this back to demonstrate and show the staff'.
'…That we meet as EE leads from across the authority. The support of my EE peers and that the authority model supports this'.
'The meetings we have had with other EEL's and the early years team have been useful. Also networking meetings with other authorities has been beneficial in supporting me in my role'.
'EE lead focus groups and improvement methodologies workshops (once a month) PDSA (Plan Do Study Act) Action group (once a month) Networking support'.
Case Study 4 (linked to HSC Standard 2.27)
Stobhill Primary School Nursery is provided by Midlothian council and provides a daycare service for up to 32 children aged from 2 years to those not yet attending primary school. The service operates from a dedicated nursery space within Stobhill Primary School.
Kristina Robb has been in post as the EE Lead at Stobhill Nursery for two years. Her role has been determined by Midlothian's holistic approach to establish a reduction of the attainment gap, support pedagogy and upskill fellow practitioners. The values of Stobhill Nursery are to establish the role of the whole team, supported by the EE Lead. This ensures that continued support for disadvantaged children is embedded in practice and improves outcomes for all children and their families.
Work with the Early Years team initially focussed on the environment, which was a key factor in addressing the needs of all children in the setting. Through professional reading and discussion, visits to other settings, and examination of the children's use of spaces, the environment was changed significantly to address the needs of learners.
Kristina shared an example of how they had developed the environment to improve outcomes: "We wanted to promote our block play and engage all the children with the opportunity to further develop their skills in problem solving, curiosity and mathematics. We added natural materials and interesting loose parts and changed the position of this area of play to a central part of our nursery environment. These changes resulted in an increased flow of traffic to the block play area, and we found the gender mix improved, and children were engaged for longer periods of time. These changes have enhanced curiosity and creativity learning outcomes for all the children."
Alongside the enhancement of the environment, the EE Lead developed a plan for upskilling the practitioners through the development of the learning cycle, addressing specifically observation and planning. Through training both with specialists from the Early Years central team, and in-house with the EE Lead, the team developed a system of observation and planning that evidenced learning and builds on children's strengths to develop learning further. As a result, observations are clearer and focused on the learning of the child, with identified next steps as appropriate.
Kristina told us: 'My aim was to empower the staff by increasing their confidence and allowing them to independently identify priorities in learning. I used a modelling and coaching approach in pedagogical strategies. The results were fantastic and outcomes for all the children have improved due to the staff having further developed their knowledge of on the whole planning cycle and having gained a shared understanding of our pedagogy'.
Case Study 4 (cont.)
Kristina shared other positive aspects of her role and told us: "While identifying learning priorities and engaging with the team in planning, it became apparent that the team were not confident in their knowledge of numeracy and other STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) based outcomes." She accessed training for the team, which she co-delivered with a Principal Teacher from the Early Years central team. The team also took part in 'online STEM training' during lockdown.
Further to these training opportunities Kristina confirmed the improvement in staff understanding and delivery of this area in the curriculum, she told us: "The difference was instantaneous, there is no fear of STEM anymore, staff knowledge, skills and understanding has developed to the extent that staff are now competent and confident within this area of learning which has significantly improved outcomes for the children." Following on from this, an initiative involving older children within the school, in the delivery of STEM experiences to the younger children won the setting an Early Years Innovation award from the Scottish Government.
The Head teacher Margaret Sikes told us of the value of the role within the nursery: "The Equity and Excellence Lead role has been beneficial in developing the pedagogy of play across the Early Level at Stobhill'. The Lead gave a presentation to the senior leadership team, Early Level teachers and learning assistants to engage them in a process of thought and discussion, which resulted in the P1 teacher implementing play as part of the daily learning cycle in the classroom. She has supported and advised through classroom observation and discussion, this project is ongoing and will develop further throughout the school year."