16 April 2015 Extension of Environment Rating Scales Programme

Officer delegated decision
Decision due: 16 April 2015
Extension of Environment Rating Scales Programme for Registered Early Years and Childcare
Wards: All
Report Authorised by: Carolyn Dwyer, Delivery Director
Contact for enquiries: Alex Webber, Workforce Development Manager (Early Years),
Preventative Services, [email protected] 020 7926 8783
Report summary
Our aim is to
• build capacity for self improvement in the maintained, private and voluntary childcare and
early learning sector
• Increase high quality provision for funded 2 year old early learning places.
A+ Education Ltd provides specialist training in the use of Environment Rating Scales (ERS).
ERS are evidence based tools for improving the quality of early years provision. We seek a
waiver to extend the current one year contract with A+ Education for another year. A+ Education
delivered this service for us in 2014/15 (after the 3 quotes process). Their quote represents the
best value as they provide a bespoke service, including helping us to involve the sector as part
of the project. A+ Education is the only capable supplier available and therefore it is
demonstrably in the best interest of the Council to engage them again.
Finance summary
The planned one year extension to the current contract will cost £113,522.
This cost will be met from Trajectory Funding for Two Year Old places to support the
development of high quality funded early learning places for two year olds. This will also ensure
the appropriate use of unspent grant funding. Additional costs are for venues and administration
to deliver the training to the sector. This will come out of the service training budget for 2015/16,
funded from the dedicated schools grant (DSG). Officer time is from the central staffing budget.
No capital funding arises from this report.
As required with extensions, the supplier has agreed to cost reductions of at least 5%.
(1) To waive the Contract Standing Order requirement for competition.
(2) To extend the Environment Rating Scales programme for registered early years and
childcare providers contract with A+ Education Ltd for 1 year from April 2015 for £113,522.
It is government policy to provide funded early learning places for eligible two year olds.
In Lambeth there is a good take up from parents but insufficient high quality places
available. The local authority is committed to strategies to increase the capacity of
popular settings and the number of high quality places with other providers. This
includes improving the quality of existing providers.
The local authority advisory team supports all early years providers to be good or better,
depending on their level of need. The ERS is a tool which providers can use
independently to evaluate and improve their own service. In 2015/16 we propose to
expand the current programme with a focus on providers who are graded by Ofsted as
Requiring Improvement.
References to the Community Plan 2013-16: our service is committed to improving the
availability of high quality early learning and childcare, especially to disadvantaged
children and families (“All young people have opportunities to achieve their ambitions”).
Availability of childcare is also crucial to parents, especially mothers, being able to stay
in or re-enter paid work (“People achieve financial security”).
Childcare providers are mainly small businesses in the private and voluntary sector and
self employed childminders. With 122 nurseries employing over 1,500 staff and 300 plus
registered childminders in Lambeth, they are also a significant part of the local economy
(“Lambeth plays a strong role in London’s economy”).
We have developed the project cooperatively with the childcare sector and other
stakeholders. We have set up a Steering Group, with a stakeholder majority, to make
decisions about the project (see Section 5 for more information).
This is a Procurement Single Report
Proposal and Reasons
We propose to extend the contract with A+ Education Ltd to July 2016.
Since the start of this project in July 2014, A+ Education has trained 25 Children’s
Centre teachers and local authority advisers to support the use of the Environment
Rating Scales. Seven of them have also trained as moderators, so they are able to
participate in the training and reduce costs.
The current one year contract provides training for up to 160 managers/leaders (from 80
nurseries) and up to 60 childminders. The feedback from course delegates has been
extremely positive to date. By the end of the current contract in July 2015, we will have
provided this training to about half of all nurseries.
We have noted an increase in PVI nurseries moving from the Requires Improvement
and Inadequate categories to at least Good, following inspection by Ofsted. The project
commenced in July 2014, therefore it is too early to ascertain to what extent this
improvement is due to this particular intervention.
The proposed waiver would ensure that the majority of early learning and childcare
settings in Lambeth had been trained in the ERS which should equip them to improve
the quality of their provision.
The project extension will provide sufficient training places for a further 160 delegates,
prioritising nurseries which require improvement and schools which are developing
places for 2 year olds. There will also be training for a further 80 childminders, targeting
those that require improvement.
The contract extension will also provide continuing professional development and
updating for the local authority advisers and Children’s Centre teachers responsible for
supporting providers to use the scales.
We still need to enable all eligible two year olds to take up a suitable free early learning
place. All children benefit from the increase in improving settings. Most settings which
require improvement are in the more disadvantaged areas of the borough. Therefore
this investment can potentially help narrow the gap. Significant resources have already
been invested in this project (both funding and officer time). We want to build on this to
make the maximum gains.
As part of our benchmarking activities we considered alternative quality improvement
tools. We know that some local authorities buy in sector quality improvement schemes or
have developed their own scheme. This is a costly, time-consuming approach which
typically only engages the most motivated providers. It depends on the availability of
local authority staff to operate the scheme and is not owned by providers.
The ERS have the advantages of being evidence based and are internationally
recognised tools for improving the quality of the learning environment. The correlation to
child outcomes is stronger than with Ofsted grades: see “Improving Quality in the Early
Years” (2012), http://www.education.ox.ac.uk/research/fell/research/improving-quality-inthe-early-years/. We also preferred the ERS as it supports self-assessment and
reflection by practitioners and by leaders/managers, rather than relying on external
inspectors, local authority advisers or sector experts. This is in line with the local
commitment to co-production and offers better value for money. For further
benchmarking activity see 5.3.
The funding for the first contract was from the 2013/14 Trajectory Funding for Two Year
Old places (grant funding). This funding can be used to address workforce development
needs of the sector, to enable providers to offer suitable high quality places for funded
two year olds.
The requested extension will use the same funding carried forward from 2014/15 (cost
centre: D13202) to pay the training provider. Other costs (e.g. training venues) will come
out of the annual training budget for the private, voluntary and independent (PVI) sector,
paid from the the dedicated schools grant (DSG). Officer time is from the central staffing
The training service for early years and out of school providers has improved efficiency
and productivity in the last three years with the switch to an on-line booking system, online payment for any charges and the introduction of a fee to access training.
Legal and Democracy
The Council has delegated the authority to enact this report’s recommendations to a
Director or Strategic Director. Before exercising that authority, the approval of the
Procurement Board should be obtained.
The Contract Standing Orders contain provision allowing officers to waive the
requirement to competitively tender contracts valued at £100,000 and more where,
among other things, there is only one provider capable of performing the Council’s
Under the Public Contracts Regulations 2006, contracting authorities may negotiate
contracts without prior publication of a notice in the Official Journal of the European
Union where the subject matter of the contract can be supplied only by a particular
economic operator.
The Council’s Constitution requires that all key decisions, decisions which involve
resources between the sums of £100,000 and £500,000, and important or sensitive
issues, must be published on the website for five clear days before the decision is
approved by the Director or Cabinet Member concerned. Any representations received
during this period must be considered by the decision-maker before the decision is
Consultation and co-production
The project was initiated with a planning workshop in July 2014 to which all Early Years
Sub Group (EYSG) representatives, Children’s Centre teachers and managers and
service representatives were invited. Discussion groups identified many benefits such as
the development of a shared understanding and approach in relation to quality provision.
The training was launched at open sector meetings in October 2014. Some childminders
questioned aspects of the Family Child Care ratings scales. In response we organised
an open meeting for childminders with an A+ Education director who is a leading
authority on the ERS. The debate was open and constructive. As a result we changed
the message to childminders about the purpose of the scales, making it clear that they
can be used to “evaluate and improve your whole service, not just what you do in your
own home”. In addition childminder representatives became very good ambassadors for
the training, so that the first childminders’ course was over subscribed.
As part of our benchmarking activities, we benefited from several discussions with other
local authorities using the scales. For example, we spoke at length to Tower Hamlets
local authority, which used the same supplier to deliver a similar scheme with good
We also hosted the England wide ERS Local Authority Network meeting in December
2014. This helped develop our understanding of the ERS and how we could make best
use of the training in Lambeth.
As a result of the planning workshop and using the cooperative approach, we
established a project Steering Group. It includes representation from all areas of
Lambeth and from different types of provider, to reflect the diversity both of the sector
and of Lambeth. The Steering Group directs the ERS project, with local authority
A majority of the members are non-local authority representatives, including early years
managers from the PVI and maintained sectors, childminders, schools, Children’s
Centres and NHS representation.
Table: membership of the ERS Steering Group
Job title
Julie Warner
St Michaels Pre school (voluntary sector)
Alex Webber
Workforce Development
Preventative Services, LB Lambeth
Anne Jacobs
Preventative Services, LB Lambeth
Christine Shoruna
Doreen Barton
Early Years and Quality
Improvement Team Leader
+ moderator
Owner/ Manager
Fatemeh Mozaffari
Children's Centre teacher
Clapham Manor Primary School and Children's
Centre (Children’s Centre)
Katalin Ladoczki
Hedgehog House
EYSG representative: childcare on domestic
Lynnsey Fitzgerald
Kathryn Shaw
Nursery Manager
Head of EYFS and
St Patricks Montessori (private sector)
Preventative Services, LB Lambeth
Rachel Palmer
Nursery Manager
Henry Fawcett Community Nursery (Not for profit)
Sandra April
Health Visitor Nurse
Health Visitor Team Leader
CC Strategic Partnership
Yolandie JacobDavid
EYSG representative
Ludmilla Rajnath
School and Education
Improvement Consultant
Preventative Services, LB Lambeth
Jo Smith
Children's Centre teacher
Woodmansterne Primary School and Children's
Centre (Children’s Centre)
Viveen Ashman
Tom O'Flynn
Little Angels (private sector)
Early Years Sub Group (EYSG) representative
Hitherfield/ Primary School and Children's Centre /
maintained sector and EYSG representative
Nicola McGarrell
EYFS lead
Wyvil School (maintained sector)
The Steering Group has met twice so far and has enabled us to define the project goals and
address current issues. The next meeting of the Steering Group will address project evaluation
and impact assessment.
Risk management
The main risk is that we have insufficient officer time to support the embedding of the
use of the scales by the sector. This risk is mitigated by training Children’s Centre
teachers as well as LA officers, to increase the capacity for support and work with
childcare providers.
There is also the risk that the programme will not have the desired impact on quality
improvement, even if we achieve the project goals as defined by the Steering Group.
This risk is mitigated by evidence that the tool has been effective in addressing quality
improvement in other boroughs.
There is a risk that the settings most in need of improvement will not attend the training
or participate in the programme. This will be addressed by the local authority team
charged with supporting settings which require improvement (as identified by Ofsted or
the team).
The Steering Group enables us to have a better understanding of the concerns of the
sector and different ways to respond to them. The training provider is willing and able to
be flexible in their delivery according to our local needs. For example we are considering
offering a course specifically for group settings which require improvement and have not
yet attended the training.
Equalities impact assessment
LBL Full Equality Impact Assessment Report (2013) Outcomes-based budgeting – All
young people have opportunities to achieve their ambitions. Services in this workstream
include: Improving the quality of early years provision in the private, voluntary and
independent sector. The procurement of this training will improve the quality of early
learning and childcare provision in the private, voluntary and independent sector.
Community safety
There is no negative impact on Community Safety.
Organisational implications
Environmental - None
Staffing and accommodation - None
Demonstrable Best Interest
This is demonstrably in the Council’s best interest as A+ Education Ltd have been found
to be the only supplier capable of delivering the required service to our specification. An
internet search for training providers at the time of the original commission only found A+
Education Ltd. They have a good national reputation in part because one of the
company directors is a leading researcher in this field at Oxford University. They have
also supported the development of a national network of local authorities and other
organisations which use the Environment Rating Scales.
Further enquiries were made via the London local authority training network and other
training providers to get two more quotes. There were substantial differences between
the quote from A+ Education and the other two suppliers in terms of value for money. A+
Education trainers have significant vocational and academic experience.
Health – not applicable
Timetable for implementation
Procurement Board
Raise POs to pay for work; supplier to invoice so funds accrued to 15/16
March 2015
Agree new work plan with stakeholders / Steering Group
Agree new contract with supplier
May 2015
Commence planned work
July 2015
Review contract progress (after 90 days)
October 2015
List of measurable aims and outcomes with the date by which they should be achieved.
Our aim is to build the capacity for self improvement in the maintained, private and
voluntary childcare and early learning sector
1. An increasing number of Lambeth settings are using an Environment Rating Scale
as an evaluation tool
2. An increasing number of Lambeth settings are using an Environment Rating Scale
as a way of improving the quality of their setting
(ERS Steering Group 27/01/15)
3. All course evaluations are at least good or better, with evidence from participants or
advisers about the positive impact of the programme on settings.
All above outcomes to be achieved and reported on in January 2016, when the project
will have been running for 18 months.
Delivery will be managed by the Workforce Development manager as follows
Monitor take up and attendance (by checking online booking system and course
registers) - monthly
Monitor written course evaluations and any informal feedback – after every course
Meet training provider to review progress and address any problems – at least 6 monthly
or sooner if needed
Refer any significant issues to the project Steering Group – meets half termly.
Audit trail
Carolyn Dwyer
Delivery Direcor CHE
Stella Clarke
Vikram Lall
Mike O’Hora,
Wayne Chandai, Democratic
Services Officer
cluster/division or
On behalf of
Strategic Director /
Delivery Cluster
Programme Director,
Associate Director,
Business Partnering
Enabling: Integrated
Enabling: Corporate
Councillor Jane Pickard
Internal Officer Board
Procurement Board
Project Steering Group
Date Sent
Date of meeting
Report history
Original discussion with Cabinet Member
Report deadline
Date final report sent
Report no.
Part II Exempt from Disclosure/confidential
accompanying report?
Key decision report
Date first appeared on forward plan
Key decision reasons
Not applicable
Not applicable
in para:
4.1, 4.2, 4.3
Background information
Policy doc: Lambeth Council’s Community
Plan 2013-16
Government advice: Free early education and
childcare: https://www.gov.uk/free-earlyeducation
I confirm I have consulted Finance, Legal, Democratic Services and the Procurement
Board and taken account of their advice and comments in completing the report for
Signature ______________________________________ Date ________________
Post: Alex Webber
Workforce Development Manager (Early Years)
I approve the above recommendations:
Signature ______________________________________ Date ________________
Post: Sue Foster, Strategic Director - Delivery
Any declarations of interest (or exemptions granted):
Interest declared