The Early Years team at Bucks County Council have won a national honour for their work in coping with a huge increase in demand for childcare across Bucks.
The council team picked up a Government Childcare Works award for forecasting a surge in demand, identifying where more childcare providers would be needed, and working with providers to meet the demand head-on.
James Hempsell OBE, a consultant with the Department for Education presented Jane Nicholls, Bucks County Council’s early years and childcare commissioner, and her team with an engraved plaque.
The team demonstrated they were well-prepared for the Government’s introduction of the expansion to 30 hours per week provision for Early Years children in 2017, and had developed reliable demand and supply forecast data to ensure a smooth introduction.
The secret to the team’s success was apparently in building a supply-and-demand forecast, creating ‘heat maps’ across the county to show where there might be a shortage of places.
The council then targeted these areas to alert providers and stimulate the supply of places to satisfy forecasts over the coming year.
Regular feedback from Early Years providers and detailed tracking against forecasts by the team enabled them to keep on top of supply and demand to ensure parents had places where they were needed.
Jane said: “It’s five per cent inspiration and 95 per cent perspiration!”
“Our team worked incredibly hard to interpret the data so that we could understand different market needs and all our providers have worked with us so well to supply the extra places parents needed.”
Tolis Vouyioukas, executive director for children’s services said he was delighted the commitment and hard work of the Early Years team to meet ambitious Government targets had been acknowledged.
Mike Appleyard, cabinet member for education and skills paid tribute to the team and said he regularly meets Early Years providers.
Mike said: “I love the passion of those working with Early Years and I believe it’s incredibly important that we get things right for your youngest children.
“This way we can support them to be ready for school at five, and grow through childhood into resilient, happy and successful adults.”