The aim of the ‘Starting School Together’ project run by the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) is to help improve children’s transition from early years to reception class.
In particular, the project - which starts next month - will focus on disadvantaged children and those from black and minority ethnic communities (BME), who research shows are more likely to be behind their peers when they start school.
It is in reaction to findings from a survey by PACEY last year, which identified that children’s transition to school is a key concern for parents. Settings also say that more support is needed to enable collaborative working between childcare practitioners, schools and families to help children become ready for school.
The project, which is being funded by a grant from the Department for Education, will initially take place across four pilot sites in Cambridgeshire and North Yorkshire from next month to the end of the children’s first term in reception.
It will see childcare practitioners, teachers and families work together to prepare children to start school. The goal is to work with at least 100 children.
Families will be supported with toys and resources, face-to-face meetings and online support, while information about how well children are progressing will be shared via a secure online site.
Following an independent evaluation of the project by the UCL Institute of Education (IOE), PACEY plans to roll out the approach as a model of best practice to encourage greater partnership between early years settings and schools across England.
As part of this, the association, along with those who took part in the pilot, will develop a new toolkit that supports nurseries, childminders and schools to work collaboratively on getting children ready for school.
PACEY’s chief executive Liz Bayram said, ‘We are hoping the pilot will prove collaborative working improves children’s transition to school, and this will encourage settings and schools to work together that don’t already.
‘The project is also a fantastic opportunity to build on the excellent practice of nurseries, childminders and schools who already work together to ensure children’s transition into reception class gives them the best start at school.’