Community Nurseries in Strathclyde Region, 1989-1992

Wilkinson, J. Eric (1993) Community Nurseries in Strathclyde Region, 1989-1992. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis is concerned with the development of childcare policy in Britain in the 1990's. It is based on an evaluation of the first phase of Strathclyde Regional Council's policy for developing new types of nursery provision for families with young children. The evaluation is a detailed analytical account of the development of the new provision - community nurseries - from their conception, as described in the Member/Officer Group report Under Fives (1985), to a point in time two years after they first opened. The evaluation employed a range of innovatory procedures over a wide range of issues in order to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the new nurseries and to provide explanations for their successes and failures. Local evaluation groups consisting of nursery staff, parents and other professionals played an invaluable role in maintaining a strong working relationship between the research and nursery staff and families. The thesis begins by examining the theoretical background to pre-five provision and then sets the context of community nurseries by examining a number of contemporary issues pertinent to the task of adapting current traditions and practices in nursery provision to the diversity of family circumstances in the 1990's. After describing the main features of the nurseries, the study examines the extent to which the different types of provision were able to target families in greatest need. The data clearly shows that the new provision was more successful than traditional forms of provision such as nursery schools. A systematic means of examining the progress of the nurseries to achieving their aims and objectives was undertaken in which staff in the nurseries took part. The aims and objective of the community nurseries proved to be extremely ambitious. Whilst many of the aims were realised by the end of the study, progress to achieving others was limited. Through intensive interviews with selected personnel, the development of the nurseries over a two year period was monitored focusing of the features, limitations and feelings of those involved - from parents and professionals to administrators and politicians. The critical issue of 'quality' was closely examined and the new nurseries systematically observed for variations in quality levels over the two years. It is now well known that high quality pre-five provision can have a very positive effect on children's well-being. The study therefore examined the extent to which children benefited from their experience in the new nurseries in terms of their development and their socialisation. The study clearly shows that the community nurseries provided an environment comparable in quality to the best of nursery school provision in Scotland. Not only did the nurseries help specific children showing early signs of socially deviant behaviour to become better adjusted but contributed to the development - intellectual, linguistic, social and physical - of many children. Other issues examined in the study were partnership with the voluntary sector and co-ordination with other professional agencies with a role to play in supporting families in need. The study highlights the enormous difficulties faced by managers of the community nurseries in translating Regional policy into practical reality. The Heads and staff of the nurseries had to battle with considerable constraints arising both from inadequate accommodation, staff turnover and tortuous bureaucratic procedures. The successes of the nurseries are therefore testament both to the leadership and determination of their managers and to the commitment and conscientiousness of their staff. The thesis ends by setting the findings of the evaluation in contemporary thinking on childcare and proposes a way forward for more cohesive services.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: N D C Grant
Keywords: Public policy
Date of Award: 1993
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1993-75601
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2019 09:15
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2019 09:15

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