IU’s whirlwind Early Years tour of Britain

September 17, 2010 at 3:32 pm 2 comments

By Simon Bracken

Innovation Unit’s Transforming Early Years team, including myself, have just embarked on a cyclonic two-day national tour including Knowsley, Essex, Corby and Bradford. Not having a Father Christmas’ sleigh and reindeer set-up- nor presents to hand out for that matter – I was unable to make it to all these disparate locations in two days. However, collectively the IU team made a crisscross pattern across Britain aided by reliable and reliably inconsistently-priced rail network (£85 return for a 2 hour round trip to Corby no less).

This round of workshops was aimed at collaborating with interested parties from each locality’s Early Years sector – this included health practitioners such as midwifes and health visitors, Children’s Centre and education professionals/employees, local council members, parents and third sector organisations – to come up with a ‘reconceptualised challenge’ for early years services in their area. On top of this we also worked together to create 6 ideas of possible services/solutions that both looked to tackle the new challenge that we had developed, and which was informed by the local ‘big problems’ and ‘opportunities’ that had been recognised by the group.

The workshops that I attended were both lively and fruitful – the day was packed with activities aimed at gaining insights and pooling information on the early years set-up in the local area and finding out what families lives are really like. We at the Innovation Unit are bringing a methodology developed from our research on Radical Efficiency to this project. We are encouraging localities to spend a considerable time on developing a new approach to the challenge of improving the lives of families with young children in the area – as this re-conceptualisation was characteristic of all the examples that we found in our research.

The activities were also aimed at getting the creative juices flowing in the direction of solutions which we hope will start to evolve further down the line. In the case of the workshop we attended in Corby, the creative process was aided by the arrival children from the crèche and crèche employees, swiftly followed by toys to guide the youngsters away from using up too many of our post-it notes as mini-canvasses. That the workshop still ran smoothly was a great credit to all involved who managed to skilfully organise the chaos.

From here, Innovation Unit will be helping to support the 6 localities on the project to sift their ideas and to articulate proposals that will both improve the quality of early years provision in their local area as well as cut costs. These will then be prototyped with an eye to finding a new Radically Efficient solution which can get up and running by March 2010. This will be a massive challenge and yet, from my experience this week, it is one that the all involved are ready to meet.

To find out more about the Transforming Early Years and read our previous blog post.


Entry filed under: Education & Children's Services, Local Authorities, Local Innovation, Radical Efficiency, Research, Social Innnovation.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Amie Joof  |  September 20, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Need to learn more about eplc.

  • 2. Claire McEneaney  |  September 20, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Thanks Simon – the workshops I attended were also excellent and full of really exciting ideas and opportunities.

    These sites have worked really hard in getting out of their comfort zone, and coming up with new insights into their users (and non-users) and the challenges that they face.

    I’m really looking forward to seeing how these ideas move forward through the service design and prototyping phase – new ground for the IU!


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