Nursery settings need stronger support for teaching and learning

Early years advisory teachers can make a significant impact on the standards children achieve, but they do not spend enough time modelling good teaching during their visits to settings, according to an Estyn report published today. Inspectors found that a majority of advisory teachers provide more support for management and administration than they do for teaching and learning.

Estyn’s report on ‘The impact of advisory teachers in funded non-maintained settings’ examines the role, responsibilities and effectiveness of early years advisory teachers across Wales.

Ann Keane, Chief Inspector, says,

“Giving children the best possible start to their education and development is vital. The early years advisory teacher plays an important part in supporting delivery of the Foundation Phase and challenging nursery settings to improve.

However, the role and priorities of the early years advisory teacher have changed over time. They need to do more to model good teaching and to improve standards and outcomes for children.

Around 60 advisory teachers offer support to between six and seven hundred nursery settings in Wales. It is vital that local authorities and regional consortia allocate enough advisory teacher time to nursery settings to enable them to demonstrate good practice for practitioners.”

An advisory teacher should spend 10% of the time spent by the setting on providing funded education with each nursery setting, according to the requirements of the Foundation Phase Grant. However, local authorities allocate less time than this to many good nursery settings which therefore do not receive enough support to become excellent.

In the nursery settings where the advisory teacher regularly models good teaching, practitioners are more confident in finding ways to improve and assess children’s standards. Activities like modelling story-telling can have a positive impact on standards.

The report highlights a number of good practice case studies. These include the work of the Education Achievement Service consortium for their use of modern technology to share important messages and provide innovative ideas. They use social media to display pictures of children’s work and share resources and ideas. This helps to inspire those working with young children and advisory teachers promote this communication channel on courses and in their visits to settings.

The report makes a series of recommendations for local authorities and regional consortia, the Welsh Government and for advisory teachers themselves. Advisory teachers should continue to support leadership and management but do more to model effective practice in the classroom and share new ideas with practitioners. Local authorities and regional consortia should ensure that all settings are provided with 10% of advisory teacher time; that advisory teachers visit settings regularly, and that settings receive support and training in the language in which they operate. Finally, the Welsh Government should consider ring-fencing funding to ensure that the 10% support time is available for all settings, with regular training in addition to this.

Notes to Editors:

About the report

The report was based on:

  • visits to 14 settings
  • evidence from 7 local authorities
  • inspection evidence since 2010.

Best practice case studies:

  • Wrexham County Borough Council
  • Flintshire County Council
  • Newport City Council
  • The Education Achievement Service consortium
  • Ceredigion County Council
  • Powys County Council

Publication date

Tuesday, 12 May, 2015