blog: Ayrshire College leads with innovative early years offer
Ayrshire College are leading the way with an innovative Early Years offer to students which includes the opportunity to support Peep delivery alongside Peep-trained Lecturers. The focus within further education training for early years is child-centred, and Peep offers a practical solution which equips students with the skills to work with parents and carers alongside the child, something the sector have been trying to find a way to include for some time.
Lecturers at Ayrshire College identified a gap in learning opportunities for students who wanted to improve their skills and experience in communicating and engaging with parents, alongside working with children. The Peep Learning Together Programme (LTP) was considered the most effective learning tool for strengthening these skills. Lyndsey Pack, Curriculum Manager for Early Years Education at Ayrshire College explains: ‘Initially, Peep offered us an opportunity for our students to plan and deliver weekly sessions with the involvement of children and families. This was crucial for them to achieve the assessment criteria around 'Play for Children and Young People' and build a portfolio of play experiences based around their Peep sessions. However, over the past few years, it has grown into so much more. The students increase their confidence in the context of family learning which is invaluable to them, parents and carers and children alike. They also develop crucial softer skills such as communication and active listening as well as reflection, evaluation and planning.’
College lecturers became Peep practitioners assisted by ELC students, to support families...
Lecturers became Peep practitioners, and SCQF Level 6 Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) students assisted in the delivery of Peep sessions, which ran every week on each of the main Ayrshire College campuses. These sessions were well attended by parents, carers, childminders and grandparents. The students gained hands-on experience, as well as an insight into the benefits of family engagement. Student Megan comments ‘Peep gave me an amazing opportunity to plan and implement activities for children and their families. One activity in our Peep session was making musical instruments from household items. It was a huge success with the children and demonstrated the importance in allowing families time to engage and have fun with each other. Peep taught me the importance of parental involvement in their child’s learning and how little things can make a huge difference to children’s learning and development.’
The Covid pandemic forced the students to adapt, moving sessions outside and taking precautions to keep everyone safe. For those who could not attend Peep groups during the pandemic, students created a Peep Facebook page as a way to share learning and connect with families. This online community continues to grow and includes a range of students, practitioners, parents and those with a keen interest in Early Learning and Childcare. Students also developed a successful Peep podcast, hosted and developed by themselves, to reach a wider audience.
... then college lecturers became Peep trainers, and trained students to be Peep practitioners themselves
Students on the one year HNC Childhood Practice course had placements in a local authority or private nursery and took part in delivering Forest Kindergarten (FK), run by lecturers. Both placements gave the opportunity to work with children, with students actively encouraged within FK delivery to work with the parents too during these sessions. This hands-on Peep approach was so successful that college students expressed an interest in becoming Peep trained themselves through the Learning Together Programme. In response to this, Ayrshire College set up a Training and Support Agreement (TSA) with Peeple: lecturers became Peep trainers and were able to offer 12 students places on the 2-day Learning Together Programme Training, which also includes on-going access to the programme and post-delivery support. Rachel is a HNC student who took the training: ‘I have loved supporting Peep delivery and have a real passion for the Peep principles and the way it encourages parents to share in and help their child’s learning without costing a fortune. As a student I wanted to do the qualification as it will be something I can use in the future as a tool to support parents. I love everything about Peep but seeing the children getting so excited in play with their parent/carer makes me so happy.’
These highly employable students will continue to help strengthen parent - child relationships and support parents in improving the home learning environment by valuing and extending everyday learning opportunities. Curriculum Manager Lyndsey Pack is equally proud of their achievements: ‘When I became a Peep Practitioner in 2019 I would never have imagined that one day I would be a Peep Trainer. I am so proud of our first cohort of students who are entering the workforce as Peep Practitioners, ready to work directly with families to improve the lives of the children in our community.’
For more information on how Peep could work in your education setting contact Laura Niven, Peeple Qualifications Manager via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @Peeple_Laura.