1 May 2018: The Government announced in January 2018 that the Better Public Services programme would not continue in this form. These pages have been archived.

A community action group's solution to rapidly raising early childhood education participation in Weymouth is simple - if it works, keep doing it, if it doesn't, try something else.

The Ministry of Education's Early Learning Taskforce established the Weymouth community action group to grow demand for early learning and connect local parents and families with local ECE services.

This passionate group includes eight services who have been meeting weekly in their own time since late March to crunch through problems relating to ECE access, and come up with their own solutions. Their expertise and local knowledge has been matched with government support through using a process known as Rapid Cycle Change (RCC) . The resources have been purchased through working with the Counties Manukau District Health Board under the Ministry of Health contracting to provide the right kind of support. Ministry of Education staff have been involved from the beginning.

Not every idea that the group has come up with has worked, and some of the data collection has been challenging, but early indications of success are exciting. Change has indeed been rapid. To take just one of the centres: it filled its roll within three days and nearly doubled its roll in less than two months. Due to a bulging waiting list, the same centre is set to expand even further and has Ministry of Education support to apply for resource consent.

The turnaround for this centre came by thinking outside the square about the reasons parents were choosing to either keep their children at home or send them to a neighbouring suburb for their ECE. First up, the centre offered 30 hours a week of free ECE instead of the usual 20 hours because most local families were entitled to a Work and Income subsidy. Centre management figured that a small drop in the centre's income would be offset by more children attending, and it paid off.

The RCC process led the centre to rethink its staffing policies and for the Ministry of Education to offer targeted help with this work. The process has brought rapid improvements in ECE participation for very little outlay.

 


: The Rapid Cycle Change Project (RCC) creates more innovation in social service delivery such as early childhood education.  RCC relies on fast paced change, with early results determining whether actions should be adopted, adapted or abandoned.

It was set up in early 2013, as part of the Government's focus on supporting vulnerable children. Social Sector Forum Chief Executives promoted it to increase the pace of learning and innovation within priority projects.

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