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Early years education scheme gets global praise

A successful scheme to improve safety education in South Yorkshire is gaining international recognition, thanks to a fire service funding grant.

The education package has been developed by Sheffield Children’s Centre working closely with children, families and carers to help form appropriate, age specific safety messages to reduce deaths and injuries.

An Early Years Practitioner Guide, Fire Safety Song Book and Heroes & Heroines story book have been developed as a result of the £20,000 grant from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s Safer Sustainable Communities Reserve.

Now, a new suite of qualifications for early years practitioners is being developed after the learning package included early years groups and practitioners in the pilot phase, who are members of the Pre-School Learning Alliance, National Day Nursery Association and the Cooperative Childcare sector. The qualifications will seek to set a national standard for teaching fire and other safety messages to young children.

The project has established international links as some of the education materials have been developed with the help of young people from Mexico, who worked with children here in South Yorkshire to bring the early years story books to life through writing and illustrations.

It’s hoped that thanks to these links, and recognition from bodies like UNICEF and Equality and Human Rights UK, the resources will be adopted in Mexico and other parts of the world too.

Chrissy Meleady MBE, Chair of the Sheffield Children’s Centre Advisory Support Group, said: “Through the centre’s outreach work with children and families and services across South Yorkshire, we found that fire safety and home safety resources for early years children and their families lacked real world emphasis.

“The key safe messages were not being fostered as well as they should be for the sake of children and families, and nor were they aligned to meet regulatory requirements. We are pleased that the Centre’s innovative approach to tackling this issue has been recognised nationally and believe this collaborative work will make a real impact in improving the quality of fire safety education worldwide.”

Head of prevention and protection Steve Helps, said: “This project is a perfect example of how a relatively small funding award can quickly snowball into something which has the potential to improve the quality and range of safety education to youngsters worldwide.

“What makes the scheme truly unique is that it’s children themselves- whether here in South Yorkshire or further afield- who have been instrumental in creating resources which are appropriate for young people and their families.”

The first round Safer Sustainable Communities Reserve saw dozens of registered charities, community organisations and partner agencies come forward and apply for grants from the £2 million fund, which had been set aside from the Authority’s reserves.

This content was last updated on August 12th, 2015