The consultation and facilitation process is essential for gaining the best understanding of a setting and working towards successful change. It involves consulting all the relevant users in order to gather what the issues are – what works, what doesn't work, what problems or opportunities there are and how they feed into people's hopes for the future. Thus the issues on your site will be fully discovered through gaining opinions and experiences and - importantly - presenting them in a coherent form.
Involving someone from outside the setting allows a fresh look at what the issues and opportunities might be. The experience we have gained from working in both primary and pre-school settings (as teacher, parent and consultant) enables us to appreciate how these complex environments work - for children, staff and parents - and how their needs can be considered in any new thinking about the site and how it is used.
This consultation process may in some cases involve no more than an in-depth discussion, but ideally will also involve some or all of the following methods of gathering information: questionnaires; interviews; group brainstorming/'blue sky thinking' sessions; presentations; workshops involving plans and models of the site; tours and ‘mock-ups' of ideas on the site itself; displays at fairs and open days.
Once sufficient information is gathered, a scheme can be drawn up – whether a training package and/or an outline design or Vision Plan for the site. A final consultation on these will refine what is needed and the result will be a package of work (training or design) tailor-made to your particular setting.
"Jane really focussed our thinking and made us realise that we need to look at what the children enjoyed outdoors before making plans for elaborate static equipment that looked pretty but serviced no-one's needs."
- Early Years Development Manager, Children's Centre, Sheffield