First Family Learning Centre opens

The first of three centres

Dr Mary Smith, the Director of Education, Communities and Economy, said: “We’re absolutely delighted the centre has opened and we are planning to develop this approach in Mayfield and Gorebridge over the coming years. The Woodburn centre is a new innovation, a first-class facility where families will work in partnership with a team of professionals in early learning and childcare, family support, the health service and third sector. This model has at its heart the development of family resilience.”

The Scottish Government is providing a total of £2.3 million capital funding to Midlothian between 2014 and 2016 for early learning and childcare for two, three and four year old children. Some of this funding has been used to improve the existing provision in Woodburn and will meet the majority of the costs of the Family Learning Centre.

Communities helped shape design

Communities have been consulted about the design and delivery of services in the Family Learning Centres.

Parents and carers will have access to speech and language therapy for their children. The centre will work in partnership with local parents to design a range of group and adult learning courses. There will be a strong emphasis on encouraging parents’ involvement in their children’s learning and development. This will be supported by the one way viewing gallery installed in the parents’ room where they can observe their children at play.  The children’s space has been thoughtfully planned to promote a rich learning environment with high quality natural materials, including access to a secure garden.

Among those at the opening were Marion Fenwick and her 2-year-old son Michael Connor. Marion said: “It’s a lovely nursery. It’s Michael’s first day but he’s already enjoying it. He loves playing in the mud kitchen.”

Social enterprise made furniture

Some of the furniture at the centre has been specially made by the Grassmarket Community Project, an Edinburgh-based self-supporting social enterprise that gives homeless people work skills.

By taking an integrated approach to a child’s learning and development from before they are born right up until they go into Primary One, the council can support families under one roof in their local communities to make sure their child gets the best start in life.

Intervening early to improve the lives of young people in Midlothian is one of three priorities outlined in the multi-agency agreement signed by the council, the Single Midlothian Plan.

In Midlothian there are three communities where there is a significant gap in the outcomes experienced by residents and the average outcomes for Midlothian and Scotland as a whole. The Community Planning Partnership decided to target closing these gaps and the Family Learning Centres will be part of that work in these key communities of Woodburn, Mayfield and Gorebridge.

Training Academy

The Family Learning approach will also include a training academy to offer modern apprenticeships to young people. This would allow the council to develop a workforce supporting and expanding the early learning and childcare job market.

The picture shows parent Marion Fenwick and her son (2) Michael Connor.

14 Mar 2016