Mayor's Early Years Summit harnesses parent power

Early Years Summit, Mayor John Biggs -6 web

Tower Hamlets Mayor, John Biggs, hosted an Early Years Summit on 30 November to hear from parents, partners and professionals to help shape future services.

Held at the Professional Development Centre in Bethnal Green, the summit set challenging targets for how the council’s range of early childhood services will ensure children and families have the best outcomes for life.

Parents, education, childcare, health and social care professionals, local policy leaders and the voluntary and community sector came together to discuss and plan how services can be more effective in areas such as health and employment.

Feedback will be used to develop a new early years strategy and provide the support parents and families need from ‘early childhood’, education, health and social care services.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets said: “The summit was a way to explore how we can further improve our borough’s early years offer. The science is clear - adversity in a child’s early years dramatically affects health and education outcomes for life. Our task is to disrupt those adverse childhood experiences, encourage learning from an early age and give our children and their families the best possible start in life”.

Councillor Danny Hassell, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Young People said: “The summit has been an opportunity to look at building employment opportunities and developing early education to support all parents to get the best outcomes for their children. Ninety-seven per cent of the borough’s early childhood education and care places are graded ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. We need to build on this early education offer and also make sure everyone can access universal services in children’s centres.”

Parents at the summit made clear that they want the high quality birth to five services in the borough to be reinforced by a stronger health offer from health services in the borough.

Parents told the council that they want children’s centres to become true family health hubs. They valued the improved availability of health checks and the support from specialist training and employment advisers, which is now available through children’s centres.

They asked the council to:

  • Ensure all organisations attending the summit provide more meaningful information, presented in ways parents can access more easily – using smart phones as a platform, and focusing on specific apps, for example, around the availability of childcare places.
  • Develop a stronger focus on early language development. They requested that hospitals make speech and language therapy available through children’s centres for our youngest children.
  • Provide more pre-natal and maternity services run by hospitals through children’s centres.
  • Create more support for childcare for children with additional needs.
Posted on Thursday 10th January 2019