Early Years Board

We recently announced that an ‘Early Years Board’ has been formed of leading international, national and local early years figures and organisations. The board will be small and focused, and will operate like a ‘think tank’.

It will provide challenge to the local authority team, and will help Oxfordshire County Council to deliver the best quality services possible for Oxfordshire.


The board met on 27 March 2015 and will be overseeing the development of ‘Leaders of Early Learning’ in Oxfordshire.

If you would like to be part of this scheme please read about the opportunities and see how to apply.

Partners on the board

Beatrice Merrick is chief executive of the British Association for Early Childhood Education (Early Education). Early Education provides national and local leadership for early years pedagogy.

Professors Chris Pascal and Tony Bertram offer many years national and international experience in early years, particularly promoting best practice where social and economic need is greatest. The Centre for Research in Early Childhood (Birmingham) has a robust history of operating at the cutting edge of early years pedagogic leadership, and is currently responsible for developing local leaders of learning in a setting-to-setting support models in several other local authorities.

Professor Kathy Sylva, and senior researcher Sandra Mathers work in the Families, Effective Learning and Literacy research group in Oxford University’s Department of Education. Along with the Oxford Deanery, Kathy and Sandra are keen to engage with Oxfordshire’s early years sector. Kathy Sylva and colleagues are responsible for the internationally acclaimed EPPE research and Sandra Mathers heads up the ECERS and ITERS programmes, which Oxfordshire has used to promote improvement in schools and settings in recent years.

Sarah Steel, well-known locally, and with a national voice for private day nurseries, is a member of the early years working group of Oxfordshire’s school’s forum, has extensive experience of sitting on Oxfordshire’s school’s forum overseeing funding decisions, and is the managing director of the Old Station Nurseries chain.

The Ace Centre and Grandpont Nursery School have recently been awarded teaching school status, and as strategic partners of the Oxfordshire teaching school alliance (OTSA), enable early years to be included in the OTSA offer. Headteachers Helen Ruff and Anna Gillespie will sit on the board.

Sarah Varnom, schools and learning manager at OCC, represents Oxfordshire Partners in Learning, OCC’s training offer to schools. Sarah sits on the board to ensure that developments in foundation years link effectively with OCC’s strategy for schools.

Councillor Melinda Tilley, and Rebecca Saunders, chair of Oxfordshire’s early years working group, of the schools forum will be co-opted to the board.


Visit our early education and childcare provider homepage for a lots of useful information on training, best practice, funding, resources, and much more.