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Building partnerships and effectively engaging stakeholders: Barking & Dagenham and the EYTA


15 Nov 2019

Hollie Stone, commissioning manager for children's care and support at Barking & Dagenham, reflects on their involvement in our Early Years Transformation Academy (EYTA), as the programme reaches the halfway mark.

For more blogs from participating EYTA areas, see also: 

Why did you decide to participate in the EYTA?

The EYTA has provided a great opportunity for Barking & Dagenham to deliver systems transformation with expert support across maternity and early years. This offer of support came at a pivotal point in our development. The potential impact of this work in Barking & Dagenham could not be overstated. With the highest proportion of residents aged 0–4 and the highest birth rate in England and Wales, we owe it to our residents to redesign a system that puts early intervention at the heart of how we deliver our services.

What has been hardest?

The biggest challenge that our EYTA team has faced is delivering the academy alongside the everyday roles that the team members hold. It is hoped that the outputs from the academy will create the momentum for deliverable change outside of our EYTA team, and therefore allow for capacity to be developed for delivering this change.

What have you learned so far?

The EYTA has prompted us to embed use of evidence in planning across our system, empowering local staff from a variety of backgrounds with the skills to critically assess types of evidence and reviewing how this can inform local practice.

Through our academy journey, we have learned that it takes a strong team to build a maternity and early years system. We’ve also learned that the other key ingredients are evidence-based practice, strong adaptive leadership, and the ability to tell a story about the needs of our population.

Earlier in the year, the academy brought together all of the participating EYTA teams for a residential workshop in Watford. The workshop sought to develop individuals as well as teams, empowering team members with adaptive leadership strategies and important team-building exercises. Collectively we have reflected on shared values, which include achievement, integrity, order, recognition, respect and friendship.

Where have you made most progress?

Our main progress has been in building support for change among our stakeholders, understanding our population, and laying the foundations for delivering the academy vision after graduation. Our EYTA journey started with an inspiring workshop with our stakeholders, where we gained support for delivering the academy locally.

On the 10th of June, we held a wider stakeholder workshop, inviting a range of key individuals, from our director of public health to health visitors, midwives and head teachers. There was a great sense of energy in the room, from around 60 attendees with an appetite for change. The success of this workshop was enabled by hard work across our EYTA team, from briefing key workforce members across health visiting, maternity and education, to presenting and facilitating. Strong leadership was shown by our director of people and resilience Elaine Allegretti, who encouraged stakeholders to pledge their support for the academy.

What is your number one priority to achieve by the end of the programme?

For our children and families our priority is that they have a voice in the changes in our system, and know that the changes on the horizon are to ensure children in Barking & Dagenham have the best start in life possible.

For our system our priority is to have system-wide support for transformation across staff with an understanding of current challenges faced and support for change.