Childcare Providers and Wrap-around Care in Schools

In  Children and Young People Now , 07.12.15 – a new announcements on childcare and schools.

Image 5‘Childcare providers could be given the right to apply to deliver wraparound care using school facilities…’, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced plans to offer out-of-school-hours childcare using school facilities. (Picture: Peter Crane)
Under proposals unveiled today, childcare providers will be given the “right to request” that a school allows it to use its facilities to provide care for the children of parents at either end of the school day and during school holidays.

It has proposed that schools manage the “right to request” process and governing bodies take the final decision about what action to take.

A consultation has been launched by the Department for Education that runs until the end of February 2016 to assess how schools and childcare providers can work better together. It will also find out how schools respond to wraparound childcare requests from parents and childcare providers.

At an event to launch the proposals, Cameron said: “This will open up good quality, affordable childcare for parents at either end of the school day and school holidays – taking pressure of budgets and helping them plan for the future.”

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announced plans to give parents the right to request wraparound childcare provision from schools in October’.

SmithMartin Partnership working with providers and schools…

Parent Champions’ Training for Family and Childcare Trust

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Parent Champions’ is a volunteering project established by the Family and Childcare Trust and has become hugely successful in the last seven years.


As one of their trainers for the project I have been in Newham on a cold Friday in February at the Little Sheringham Children’s Centre to work with a group of volunteers who will make contact with parents in the community and provide them with the way to find out information.

‘Parent volunteers who spend a few hours a week linking with other parents, to tell them about local childcare and other family services. Being parents, they can chat in a more informal way and share information and their own positive experiences about using local services. They meet parents in all sorts of places such as playgrounds, markets, libraries and local play groups. They are supported by the local authority, a children’s centre or a local community organisation.’ Family and Childcare Trust website.

Based on the premise that ‘ word of mouth’ is a good way to spread information, this project has proved that it does two things really well; one is to let people know what is possible for the their family, and two, to realise potential in the volunteers themselves as they gain in confidence and in skills.

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As I was about to leave the training in Newham, Stephen Timms, the MP for Newham walked in to the centre. A real accolade for Children’s Centres being at the heart of the community


Sue Martin SmithMartin Partnership LLP- Bringing a light into communities.

Summer redesign…

SmithMartin LLP, project design and delivery...
SmithMartin LLP – taking a refreshing view of your project…

As the summer holidays become a memory in 2013 we have brightened our Autumn reading by installing and loading a fresh new design and layout for ChangeThinking, the news and reflection website for SmithMartin LLP.

We hope we have made browsing the range of our content on the main page easier, with a much more prominent Read more… button to take you to the full articles that interest you.

The individual articles still offer our usual suite of images and downloadable content wherever applicable.

Don’t forget you can check out our other core services at the Partnership, which we have listed below. As the Autumn gets busier and the projects in hand become more pressing as budget finals loom in the Spring, don’t forget that our range of expertise will have some professional support for your social business, school, charity, young people and children’s service or community web need.

SmithMartin LLP:

Project management and development expertise, helping devise governance and management strategy for social business and community projects of all sorts. We have strong expertise in evaluation, social business planning and governance in both charity, education and business settings.


Our community web business, strong in ethical design, hosting and content creation for charities, schools, education settings and social businesses.


You can buy retail children’s books on-line here. We also devise, procure and install all equipment and books for school and community libraries. We can also offer, through the baskets of DolphinbBookShelf , a great way to encourage reading, volunteer engagement and fund raising in any setting. Ask us how.

Books go Walkabout:

Our international authors and young people project. Using new technology to have real time conversations with writers and illustrators across the globe. See more here…

BgW is now a publishing house in its own right – we are always looking for authors with new writing, or  traditional print back-catalogue, coming out of licence, who wish to explore e-publishing and how to get their work into the electronic eco-systems of the major online retailers. Our current theme for 2013/2014 is Writing about AfricaAsk us about eBook publishing here…

Just a flavour of what our Partnership can offer and how our skills mix can help you deliver a development project, capital or revenue. We are alway happy to be the LLP which helps you see your project with new eyes, without any initial commitment.

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Volunteering in Children’s Centres

Children’s Centres and Volunteering is just the start…

Helping each other manage a life(Image courtesy of Pleasent Valley Children’s Centre)

What better way is there for parents to get involved in their local Children’s Centre than through volunteering programmes?

There is a wealth of activities and services for young children and families from Stay and Play sessions to visits to local outside spaces.

Children’s Centres are an excellent place for families and parents to make that first step in involvement. They have well defined systems for volunteering and training programmes to enable parents to know they are doing the right thing!

Many centres are now very encouraging to parents to join their team of volunteers and become active in the life of the centre.

The real beauty of the system is that in all communities, whether a highly populated inner city area or rural countryside, there is a Children’s Centre for all young families.

Involvement does develop even further and all Children’s Centres are enabling a Parent’s Forum to be in place, many are extending this to parental involvement on the partnership board. It is in fact a requirement from government and empowers the parents to have a voice in the direction of their Children’s Centre.

Sure Start Children’s Centres have been in place since 2006 and although some have experienced some changes in organisation and governance, for the most part they are still a supportive presence for local communities.

Their work is undoubtedly recognised and desperately needed, they have become a real zone for support in a friendly and positive role. Their work with outreach and families prevents many problems from developing to more serious issues. The partnership with health teams and Early Years teams gives children a much better chance in life.

SmithMartin Partnership LLP is working on a pilot project with a national campaigning organisation on how volunteering can be extended and the positive role that it portrays to all parents.

The Dept. for Education has recently published a paper;

Increasing Parental and Community Involvement in Sure Start Children’s Centres.

This can be downloaded here…(pdf file).

It discusses ways that parents can achieve even more in the development of the Children’s Centre. It describes ways in which volunteering, parent’s forum and partnership board involvement, can be extended into parents becoming even more involved in the organisational structure of the centre.

Much to be considered and interesting to chart the next stages of Children’s Centre development.

Sue Martin

SmithMartin Partnership – Broadening horizons in communities

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Technological Children’s Centres

A high definition screen in reception at Hornsey RoadWe have recently enjoyed being commissioned by Hornsey Road Children’s Centre in Islington to supply and fit their new IT suite and display screens.

The Team at Family Action were successful in raising funds to purchase from us a suite of new laptops, with an innovative mobile trolley to store and automatically charge them overnight, to add to the facilities in the training room and across the Centre.

Our installation team, led by our Technical Manager Doug Hopkins, also installed a new Promethean display board – allowing tutors in the Centre not only to access the screen with their own laptops, but to join the network with learners and to use the integrated interactive Active Classroom/Inspire learning and teaching suite that we installed on the Centre system too.

Doug also successfully installed a large, high definition screen in the Centre reception area, for which the creative team at Thirdsectorweb, using their design and graphics skills, now supply regularly updated DVD’s which play the Centre timetable and feature activities for all to see.

Sue Martin, a partner at SmithMartin said…

We think display for Centre visitors, that is current, timely and visually pleasing is a really important way to engage and inform people. Our solution, to install a simple DVD player is very, very cost effective and means that staff and volunteers have no complex learning to undertake in order to make our system work.

We use our economies of scale for graphics creation and DVD supply, which is complimentary for the Center with their installation, meaning there is no ongoing cost to the charity for our service. An important consideration in times of tight budgets.

The professional team at Hornsey Road were great to work with on the project, running a very successful Centre with a comprehensive, inclusive and supportive range of activities to support their care of children in the catchment.

If we can help improve your display, IT deployment or web information – then contact SmithMartin LLP for a chat, just to see what’s needed. We are always happy to talk to you.

Forest Schools at Children’s Centres

forest school Bkmark

We’re going on a dinosaur hunt!

We are working with a children’s centre in the London Borough of Wandsworth and developing the Forest school project.

To really fire some imaginations and persuade people to come out of their flats, get some fresh air and exercise, we planned a dinosaur hunt. It was a great success.

From the 6 weeks before we had never had more that 2 or 3 keen young foresters.

But with the lure of a free dinosaur and the Big Bookmarks spreading the word we found that we had over 20 parents and 26 children.



Walking up from the Centre, across the estate, over the main road and into the heath the line just became bigger and bigger. Fantastic!



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We searched for dinosaurs, we found them in all sorts of places, we even met with the ranger and his horse. What a morning.

And best of all was the delight of the children as they ran down the pathways, explored under the bushes and came to terms with the wellie boots on their feet!

What benefits could you find around the corner of your Centre? Ask us to design a Big Bookmark for your special event.

Sue Martin

SmithMartin Partnership – Broadening horizons and inspiring neighbourhoods in the community

Being brave with the budget! Websites…..

eve2Children’s Centres Budgets are getting close to the end of the financial year.

If you want to find a way to spend the last of the budget wisely giving benefit for many years ahead read on about Children’s Centre websites.

March comes round alarmingly quickly after the New Year. Finance officers, bursars and business managers will even now be making plans to make sure the last of the money is spent. That generally means by the end of February spending plans are committed.

This year no one is sure what the new budgets will bring. We can almost guarantee that they will, at best be a continuation budget.

What can be done to ensure that the good work continues? The people in the communities will still be out there, they know how good Sure Start Children’s Centres are.

At a meeting last week, a Dad who had been much involved with his children’s centre was speaking about his journey. From possibility of losing his children following a divorce he had been supported by the fathers worker at the centre. His life had really turned around.

His message was, ” Get the word out there!”

A parent’s forum recently said, ” A good website is the way to go. Everyone has access somehow. But they need to be up to date. We need to know what’s happening”

SmithMartin Partnership is committed to the best in websites for Children’s Centres. We design, host and deliver many sites. They are individually designed, updated weekly or monthly, and have many links, people can spend hours on them. One of the latest is Barclay Children Centre, Walthamstow.They even create a link between the UK and extended families all over the world. Grandparents for instance can find out what’s happening even though they’re miles away. Language is no barrier either, we translate into over 30 languages.

If you would like to talk to us contact

Sue Martin @ SmithMartin Partnership LLP – bringing innovation to communities