Since the beginning of 2011 a steering group has been working with the Department for Education and the Department of Health to advise on a new Government vision for the foundation years. Both Graham Allen and Frank Field called for the Government to use the term ‘foundation years’ to signal the importance of the first phase of life in underpinning later achievement and well-being, and we have adopted this term in our recent publications.
The first document has been approached from the perspective of parents, and sets out the Government’s offer to families from pregnancy until their child reaches the age of five. The second is for the sector – for all those who work with expectant parents and our youngest children and for commissioners and funders of services. It builds on Dame Claire Tickell’s review of the Early Years Foundation Stage, Graham Allen’s review on early intervention, Frank Field’s on child poverty, and Professor Eileen Munro’s on child protection, as well as drawing heavily on the insights of colleagues from the sector itself.
The Government committed to ‘co-producing’ this vision, and working collaboratively on the detailed policy and implementation questions which will follow. We want a system that is led by the professionals who understand how best to deliver these services – we have been working closely with experts in the early years sector to produce our publication, collaborating on a new vision for the crucial foundation years of each child's life. This partnership is what we are calling co-production, and we hope to see it continue and gain in strength after publication.
In addition to our steering group, working groups to consider particular policy questions have been established on early education, health and the workforce. Existing groups have also been involved in discussions, including the ACEVO Early Years Taskforce and Children’s Centre Leaders Reference Group.