Investing in Greater Manchester's Early Years Workforce
The early years (EYs) workforce is key to unlocking the potential of our children in Greater Manchester (GM) and we need to do more to support multi-agency staff working across the sector and provide the best training and development possible.
The GM Early Years Delivery Model (EYDM) recognises the first 1,001 critical days which set the foundations for an individual’s cognitive, emotional and physical development. Successful implementation of the GM EYDM requires input from a wide range of professionals, including early years practitioners, childcare workers, health visitors, midwives, teachers, family support workers, volunteers and those in specialist health and social care roles; but also the wider workforce who may not have direct responsibility for a child’s outcomes but play a key role in the planning and delivery of services for them.
Our GM School Readiness Programme has a priority to invest in the EYs workforce. The ability to work in a multiagency, multidisciplinary context is a crucial skill to ensure effective working with wider services that support children, their parents and the wider family; with the ultimate aim of improving outcomes for children and their families.
Introduction to the Workforce Competency Framework
Greater Manchester has a priority to support a multiagency, integrated early years workforce to support the ambition of improving outcomes for children and families from conception to age 5 and the early years workforce competency framework will help us achieve this. It is a significant investment of an innovative tool into this key sector. The framework will enable practitioners to carry out a self-evaluation of their skills, knowledge, abilities and characteristics around a number of competency statements relating to early years practice.
Why are we doing this?
- It will give team, locality, organisational and GM leaders a strong understanding of the skills and experience of the early years workforce with the ability to compare historic and recent data to identify trends in workforce need.
- It supports the creation of a continuous learning culture, providing a shared, easy to access resource, where users can get trusted information to inform their practice.
- It will provide a baseline for new people starting work in the sector, helping them to identify their own strengths and areas for development.
- It will enable training providers to easily align learning outcomes with the identified competencies.
Structure of the framework
Tier 1 – this tier sets out the essential competencies for all parts of the workforce, including the wider workforce and has a number of components which focus on how to conduct a self-evaluation, effective communication with children and families, the basics of child development, safeguarding and multi-agency working.
Tier 2 – this tier describes the essential competencies for all early years practitioners who are responsible for improving children’s outcomes or work with children and families on a daily basis.
This tier has components which focus on:
- child development
- learning and assessment
- engaging with families
- pre-birth and the early days
- the home learning environment.
Tier 3 – this is a leadership tier. In Greater Manchester we want everyone to aspire to have a set of leadership qualities no matter what their role. This tier includes components which set out the core leadership expectations for everyone, but also describes a set of supplementary competencies for those at different levels of their leadership career – including frontline, operational and strategic leaders.
This short animation explain more about the framework and the benefits it will bring to the early years workforce across Greater Manchester.
Case Studies - using the Early Years Workforce Competency Framework in practice
Role: Receptionist / Administrator
Employer: Salford Family Hub
Using the framework in practice
Emma has worked as a Receptionist at a Family Hub in Salford for 2 years. Emma does not have any specific early years qualifications but is often the first point of contact for families, with a large number of those being families with children under 5.
Salford has recently rolled out the competency framework to parts of its early years workforce including the mix of practitioners working in the same Family Hub as Emma.
During Emma’s performance development review, it was agreed with her manager that it would be helpful for her to complete a self-evaluation of her competencies within Tier 1 of the framework. This tier is aimed at the whole workforce including those who are involved in the planning and delivery of services and focuses on competencies around effective communication and engagement with children and families, safeguarding and the basics of child development.
Emma is keen to identify where her existing strengths lie in these areas but also to see where she could enhance her knowledge and skills. She wants to be able to offer the best service to children and families in the community as possible and can see how the framework will enable her to do this quickly and easily.
Next steps following the self-evaluation
Emma was surprised by how confident she felt for a number of the components within Tier 1, despite not having any specific early years qualifications.
Emma downloaded a PDF summary of her confidence ratings and took these to a 1:1 with her line manager. Together they were able to quickly identify the areas in which Emma felt less confident, taking the approach of making a note against the competencies where she had given herself a rating of 2 or below. From this, they were able to explore avenues for appropriate online training and work shadowing opportunities to increase her confidence in these areas.
Supporting career progression
Emma has spent some time shadowing Early Help and Early Years workers in her Family Hub. This has enabled her to gain a deeper understanding and increased awareness of the sources of support available to children and families and has given Emma the confidence to do more of the signposting herself to ensure families feel supported from their first point of contact into the Family Hub.
Emma’s manger said: “The framework has been a great tool for me as a manager as my team members are able to easily access it and see the competencies expected of them. In 1:1 sessions it means conversations about career progression and training can be tailored to their specific needs.”
Role: SLT Assistant
Employer: Northern Care Alliance NHS Group
Using the framework in practice
Nadiya has been working as a Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) Assistant for the last 12 months. She loves her job and is considering accessing some relevant further education and training in the future but at the moment is happy in her role.
Nadiya joined the Greater Manchester Speech, Language and Communication (SLC) Leads group recently alongside her SLC lead where they were discussing the early years workforce competency framework as there is a component within the framework which relates to specifically to SLC development.
After the meeting, Nadiya’s SLC lead suggested she carry out a self-evaluation using the competency framework, focussing specifically on the SLC development component in Tiers 1 and 2.
What difference has the framework made to Nadiya’s practice?
Nadiya found the exercise of completing a self-evaluation against the SLC development components really useful. She felt confident about all of the competency statements within the SLC component in Tier 1, given her experience as an SLT Assistant over the last year.
Tier 2 was interesting for Nadiya to get a clear picture of the areas of SLC development that she hadn’t yet been exposed to her in her current role and provided her with a really clear overview of the competencies in which she needed to access some training to support increasing her confidence levels.
Nadiya also liked that the framework included links to learning materials and resources which Nadiya found really useful, including a link to the GM10 Tips for Talking which she has downloaded and been able to use in her work with families and the DfE child development e-Learning modules which she has completed for modules 1-4 including SLC development.
Furthermore, the framework has helped Nadiya reflect on how much SLC knowledge and understanding she had actually gained over the last 12 months. This has provided the encouragement for Nadiya to explore education and training opportunities to enable her in the future to achieve her ambition of being a fully qualified Speech and Language Therapist.
Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) has recently launched a Short Courses Programme which includes a unit on communication and language development in the early years. This would give Nadiya a taster of higher education training without having to commit to a 3 year degree and she wouldn’t have to pay back the student loan for accessing the training due to her current salary as an SLT Assistant. The training outcomes within the SLC unit have been aligned to the competency framework meaning Nadiya is already familiar with the content the unit will cover.
Nadiya said: “I am so pleased to be working in Greater Manchester as an SLT Assistant. I feel I have been given so many opportunities I wouldn’t have had in another area through the SLC Leads group, the competency framework and now the MMU Short Courses opportunity. Seeing my confidence ratings within the framework, gave me the encouragement to apply to MMU to complete the SLC unit as a starting point to see how I get on. I think this is a great way for someone who is starting out in their career to get a taster for training opportunities before committing to taking out a loan for a full undergraduate degree.”
Role: Public Health Nurse Team Leader
Employer: Manchester NHS FT
Using the framework in practice
Louise has worked in Public Health Nursing for a number of years and has been a Team Leader for a skills mix team, made up of Health Visitors, School Nurses, Community staff nurses and Nursery nurses in the Northwest Neighbourhood team. A number of members of her team are new recruits to the service. The team caseloads include a large numbers of families living in high levels of deprivation. A lot of the families in the local area are eligible for the 2 year funded early education entitlement but take up is low, along with lower child outcomes compared to other neighbourhoods in the locality.
Louise asked her team members to each complete a self-evaluation within the competency framework, looking specifically at the components which relate to engaging with families and the home learning environment (HLE). As take up of the early education entitlement is low, Louise is keen that all members of her team are highly confident in being able to support families to enable them to provide an effective HLE for their children and to fully understand the benefits of funded early education places.
Using the team summary dashboard in the framework, Louise was able to identify that the confidence levels of her team in the engaging with families and HLE components varied significantly.
What action did Louise take to address the differing confidence levels?
Louise downloaded the data from the framework which provided the evidence to show the varying confidence levels amongst her team. She took this to her local Family Hubs steering group where a number of other Team Leaders agreed that this may be an issue across other parts of the workforce. An action from the meeting was for other Team Leaders to ask their teams to complete an up to date self-evaluation of these specific components within the next month.
The Family Hubs Workforce Manager was then asked to pull a report to enable some analysis at a locality level to be conducted to see if there are some shared development priorities within these specific components.
What difference has the framework made to Louise’s team and families in the area?
The locality is planning to use some of the funding received from the Family Hubs Programme to commission some training aimed at different parts of the early years workforce. Analysis of the data found the levels of confidence in relation to HLE and engaging with families varied significantly within and between workforce groups.
Louise hopes that through this training, all members of her team will feel more confident in supporting families in the home and to help them understand why the HLE is so important for their child’s development and understand the benefits of taking up a funded 2 year old early education place.
Louise said: “The framework is an excellent tool to allow team leaders like myself to pull together a case for why training is required for a specific topic or theme.”
Role: Early Years Practitioner
Employer: St Vincent’s Nursery, Altrincham
SENDCo: Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator
SEND: Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
EHCP: Education, Health and Care Plan
Using the framework in practice
Chloe was new to the role of SENDCO within the nursery having worked closely with the previous SENDCo in the setting whilst providing direct support for children with SEND. She holds a level 3 childcare qualification. Chloe was keen to develop her knowledge of working with multiagency teams and the process of applying for Inclusion Fund from the local authority.
Chloe completed a self-evaluation using the competency framework; specifically looking at Tier 1 on multiagency and integrated working. As Chloe worked through the self-evaluation, it highlighted areas where her knowledge of other professional roles needed some further research.
Chloe contacted the local support services within her authority which included the Area SENCo, Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) and the Occupational Health Team. All of these professionals signposted her to the SEND local offer and supported her to work though this to understand how each Local Authority supports families and their children with SEND.
What difference has the framework made to Chloe?
Chloe has now been in the role of SENDCo for 6 months and feels more confident to share information in a timely and accurate way. She now better understands how multiagency working and integrated working ensure that children and their families are at the centre of decision making to meet their needs and improve the outcomes for children with SEND.
Using the framework helped Chloe to reflect on the importance of valuing the opinions of others and the different perspectives of professionals that ultimately support the design, delivery, and review of services for each family.
Following advice from the SLT, Chloe has introduced more visual prompts into the setting and has signed a number of staff up to attend the next “Sign Along” course. She has introduced social stories into daily routines following support from the Area SENDCo and has increasing confidence to disseminate this information to the nursery team.
What difference has the framework made to the family and children with SEND?
Chloe now feels more confident when discussing children’s needs with the family and has gained a good understanding of how other professionals and services are using the SEND Local Offer. This means that she can quickly identify what information is needed to apply for Inclusion Fund and on the development milestones for children with SEND.
This will then help the family and the nursery team to focus on what's needed to achieve the best outcomes. The support received from integrated working has made a difference to how Chloe uses local processes to apply for Inclusion Fund and to coordinate setting based support which responds the views, interests, and aspirations of the child.
Role: Locality Lead for Health and Early Intervention
Employer: Stockport Start Well
Using the framework in practice
I have worked in local authority for several years in various leadership job roles starting with development of the Sure Start centres in 2009 to now working as part of an integrated service and team manging staff from both the NHS Foundation Trust and Local Authority.
I have always worked in areas of deprivation focusing on improving outcomes for our most disadvantaged children and families and had strong links with other partners to ensure less duplication of work and more streamlined services for our families.
In September of this year, I stepped into a new role overseeing integrated teams across the borough with a lead on key workstreams and more strategic responsibility. This has been a big change for me and has pushed me from my comfort zone.
I completed the self-evaluation within Tier 3 of the competency framework looking at specific leadership statements. I was very quickly able to identify my levels of confidence within each area and clear areas of development for my role.
What difference has the framework made to Hayley’s own leadership progression?
I shared the results that were generated through the dashboard in my supervision with my manager. Here we were able to discuss areas of development and key areas of work and training that would support me to build my knowledge, skills and confidence, enabling me to become a more strategic leader. I have recently completed my personal development review and can clearly see areas of growth and next steps for development. I aim to revisit the framework and repeat the self-evaluation to give me a robust comparison of distance travelled during my current leadership journey.
What difference has the framework made to Hayley’s role as a locality lead?
The framework has enabled me to settle in my new role more quickly as I was able to identify key areas of strength as well as development priorities at an early stage. The framework is a strengths-based tool that has enabled me to identify next steps and being able to share this with my manager has enabled us plan together a robust development plan to support me to become a strong and effective strategic leader.
Role: Early Years Practitioner
Employer: Bridgehouse Nursery, Oldham
Using the framework in practice
Jenny joined Bridgehouse nursery as an Apprentice in the Summer. She is enrolled on an Early Years Educator Apprenticeship Level 3, Jenny had never worked in a childcare setting before, but she studied child development as part of her GCSEs which she really enjoyed.
When Jenny joined Bridgehouse, her manager Lisa was keen to understand what her level of knowledge and confidence looked like across the key child development domains to determine where additional training may be needed to support Jenny through her Apprenticeship.
Lisa asked Jenny to complete a self-evaluation using the competency framework; specifically looking at all of the Tier 1 components and the three EYFS prime areas of learning in Tier 2 (Speech, Language and Communication, Physical Development and Social and Emotional Development and Well-Being).
As Jenny completed this self-evaluation soon after starting at Bridgehouse, it meant Jenny and Lisa were quickly able to capture a baseline of her knowledge, skills, and confidence levels to ascertain where her strengths were, and also where she needed training or development to increase her confidence levels.
The baseline identified that Jenny had a strong understanding of the importance of speech & language and physical development (average confidence rating was between 3 and 4) but was less sure in being able to support or identify children’s social emotional development (average confidence rating was 1.7). Jenny also felt she wanted to better understand what integrated working looks like.
What difference has the framework made to Jenny (Practitioner)?
Jenny has been working at Bridgehouse Nursery now for 10 months and is nearing the end of the first year of her Apprenticeship. In this time, Jenny has accessed some e-Learning modules and virtual training focused on social emotional development and wellbeing provided by the Department for Education (DfE) and her Local Authority. Her setting has also started to deliver a programme which aims to improve social emotional development of children aged 3-4. At first, Jenny supported her Level 3 colleague with delivering the programme but now is confidently able to deliver this herself.
Jenny has also spent some time with the setting’s SENDCo and a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) who is based in her setting once a week. She has been able to see first-hand how children who she is a key worker for have scored Red/Amber on the WellComm have been given the additional support of an SLT whilst they are at nursery.
At the end of her first year, Jenny is planning to update her self-evaluation for social and emotional development and multi-agency working components.
What difference has the framework made to Lisa (Nursery Manager)?
Lisa now asks all new practitioners to complete a self-evaluation as soon as possible after they start in their role. It means she is quickly able to identify the confidence levels of new individuals compared to her whole team to ensure the right support is offered to them.
Using the team summary dashboard within the framework, Lisa noticed that a high number of the practitioners taking up a role in her setting were less confident in supporting children’s social and emotional development and well-being. For this reason, the setting has introduced an easy to deliver accessible programme to support children’s social emotional development which practitioners deliver to their key children in small groups.
Rolling out the framework across Greater Manchester
Stockport are currently piloting the framework before it is rolled out across Greater Manchester.
Below is a partner communications pack that can be downloaded to use. As the framework is rolled out to more localities, the pack will be updated with their relevant assets.Tameside communications pack Stockport communications pack