Supporting least advantaged two-year-olds to get a better start

A2YO was our four year national support contract for DfE delivered with our partners Mott MacDonald (2012-2016). This remains a key objective of the Government’s social mobility and childcare policies and offers up to 15 hours free early learning for the 40% least advantaged two year olds.

Our activities were focused on the statutory duties to fund places introduced in two phases in the Septembers of 2013 and 2014. In implementing the programme and in its continued delivery and development, there was a triple focus on:

  • Quality provision that best meets the needs of two-year-olds and their families
  • Developing places capacity in new and extended settings, and looking at new models of delivery
  • Reaching and engaging eligible families, so they know about their entitlement and are able to easily access it when they need to.

Support and challenge

Based on A2YO’s work across the country and feedback from providers and local authorities, in 2015 we compiled a set of common characteristics of areas where take-up was highest. Not all areas will show all of these characteristics, and some areas experiencing lower take-up of the entitlement may have adopted many of our suggestions.

In our guide: Learning From What Works, there are examples of how some of these factors have been used to great effect. There are plenty of useful ideas that can be pursued in other areas so the entitlement continues to reach children for whom it would benefit the most. All examples are also provided online in the A2YO Knowledge Hub group. This has been a vibrant online community where ideas and resources have been shared and debated since we started in 2012. The Knowledge Hub can be found just here.

In addition A2YO has published a range of other resources delivered through a considerable number of support plans, much of which is available on the Knowledge Hub:

Watch our growing series of films showcasing the latest two year old developments

Achieving for all two-year-olds – Learning from what works

Parents explain the difference two-year-old funding has made to their families, children and their future choices. Find out how local authorities communicated the entitlement to parents, the changes made to ensure the communication was effective and reaching the right families. The difference capital funding has made to provision is highlighted, enabling provision to adapt and provide the best resources for two-year-olds - maintaining and improving quality and outcomes for children. Good partnership working with all professionals, health visitors, and family outreach workers is also discussed.

Childminders as two year old providers

Childminders in Enfield and Barnet describe the difference accessing two-year-old funding has made to them, and to the parents who use childcare and early learning from them. In turn, parents discuss the advantages of using a childminder, and how the two-year-old entitlement has benefitted them as a family. Local authorities describe how they use the Families Information Service (FIS) to promote childminders as an equally valued option for families.

The A2YO provider roadshow programme

A number of roadshows were delivered nationally to support providers to understand the key messages of the two-year-old entitlement. This film highlights how those providers attending roadshows used the events as an opportunity to network with other providers, local authorities, and the A2YO team, to share good practice, receive key messages, share information on how they can implement the agenda, and create places especially for two-year-olds.

Schools delivering quality provision for twos

Learn how Trinity Church of England School in Wolverhampton introduced two-year-olds to their school. Find out the strategies the school used, the benefits to children, parents and the school as a whole. We look at how the school planned and reorganised their practice and space to ensure it was suitable. The planning in place between the school and parents aimed to ensure children and their families have positive experiences and are supported. Parents describe how they have been able to return to learning, complete formal education and find work whilst their child is accessing care at the school.

Peer to Peer: A provider led quality improvement programme in Somerset

Somerset County Council moved away from the established LA advisory support for schools model, and commissioned head teachers from good and outstanding Ofsted rated schools to offer peer-to-peer support. This innovative project was so successful the LA decided to disseminate the idea into the early years sector. Find out how the project was funded through the Early Years Single Funding Formula, and listen to the difference made to early years quality, the benefits practitioners identified, and the impact on parents and their children.

Delivering place development strategy for 2 year olds in remote areas in Stockton

Stockton Borough Council identified a need for early years provision in Port Clarence. Find out how working in partnership with children’s centres, childminders, a primary school and the Pre-school Learning Alliance resulted in good quality childcare provision for two-year-olds. The partnership approaches enabled everyone to share resources, training, and to set-up a panel to support the families and the children using one document and resolve problems together. The film also shows parents’ experiences about the difference provision made to them and their children.

Creating new provision as part of housing developments in Somerset

Childcare Sufficiency Assessments (CSA) are an important statutory duty for a local authority (Childcare Act 2016). Find out how Somerset County Council used the results of their CSA, along with a sound business case and evidence to secure Section 106 Funding to create a new school with nursery provision in a new housing estate. Learn how the local authority worked with developers to ensure the new building was fit for purpose and met children’s needs.

Childcare Works