How can we ensure that we provide responsive, flexible childcare, which at the same time is respectful of the child’s rights and developmental needs?

Impact Hub Birmingham is working in partnership with Centre for Research into Early Childhood with the aim to grow grassroots capacity through reflective practitioner research.

At Impact Hub Birmingham we have noted a rise and interest in flexible and affordable childcare for nomadic and freelance working parents in the form of co-working & crèche provision. We have been developing our own offer and after a couple of prototyping stints we now run a parent membership which gives access to our co-working space and includes 12 hours of childcare per month. We have found that it provides many benefits for the parents above and beyond the opportunity to get some work done. Many of our parents have used our provision to test out childcare before putting their child into part time of full time nursery provision. For some it has helped them ‘bridge’ the time between their maternity/paternity leave and in going back to work full time, allowing them to start work again in a gentle and more flexible way. It has also given parents the opportunity to continue their patchwork of childcare sharing care between both parents, grandparents and the Impact Hub Birmingham crèche, so that childcare costs are kept down. There has also been more qualitative benefits such as parents telling us that it has helps to beat the feelings of isolation often felt as a new parent by joining a community who can empathise with those thoughts and feelings.

However who is this provision for? Is it solely for the benefit of the parents? As providers how can we ensure that we provide responsive, flexible childcare that at the same time is respectful of the child’s rights and developmental needs? Especially when we may only have a child in our care for 3 hours per week and sometimes on an ad hoc basis?

As part of the #RadicalChildcare programme we want to explore new ways of providing parents with access to flexible childcare models, but we are also very mindful that, whichever models are used, they must always be of the highest quality and the needs of the children are paramount.

For that reason we are working with the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC) to investigate and evaluate how different models impact on the children using these services and to provide these childcare models with tools to help them embed continuous improvement processes and we invite you to take part…

Who is it for?
The full spectrum of staff who care for the children within a crèche setting including; playworkers, early years practitioners, childcare workers, parent / volunteer playworkers / assistants, early years artist practitioners.

Commitment / Dates
Monday 26th February / 10am-4pm
Monday 16th April / 4pm-6pm
Friday 18th May / 10am-4pm

St. Thomas House, 80 Bell Barn Rd, Birmingham, B15 2AF
*A 20 min walk from New Street Station or a 5-minute taxi ride.

The project will comprise 2 days developmental work (with a twilight session in between) within a group of early years practitioners. The aim of these day will be to develop your observational, reflective, and evaluative skills and support you to be a researcher of your own practice. The overall approach will be one of open enquiry and action research whereby we don’t start with a predetermined hypothesis but, through documentation and analysis chart the journey of the project and draw out the successes and challenges of the approach.

The sessions will run as follows:

Monday 26th February / 10am-4pm*
What does ‘quality’ look like? What does the research tell us? Introduction to practitioner research; agreeing parameters of the project and purpose of the research; Methods of documentation and reflective journaling; child observation and child tracking techniques.

Monday 16th April / 4pm-6pm*
Twilight session – reconnection as a group; reflection on challenges and successes; provocations to challenge practice (e.g. Learning environment; child voice; role of adult).

Friday 18th May / 10am-4pm*
Facilitated group reflections of the processes, the challenges, the successes; the learning outcomes for the next phase of the Radical Childcare project.

*All lunch, snacks and refreshments are provided. Practitioners must attend all three sessions.

We would like each practitioner through this process to gather documentation to record their learning journeys and we will use those to create an overarching evaluation of the project. In return, practitioners will be given access to a range of evaluation tools to help them improve the quality of their early years services and the opportunity to connect with other like-minded practitioners looking to create new flexible models of childcare.

The project will be led by Professor Chris Pascal of CREC. Chris has done extensive work at government level to support the development of Early Years policy, sitting on a number of national committees. She has served as a ministerial advisor and as an Early Years Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons Select Committee on Education . She has written extensively on early childhood development and the
quality of early education services, and sat on the Expert Panel of the Dame Tickell EYFS Review. Her passion however is practitioner research and raising the standard of early years services for all children, especially the most disadvantaged.

Travel Bursary
This research is supported by Big Lottery Fund and there is a travel bursary on offer to those travelling to
Birmingham from outside the West Midlands region. Please contact Amy Martin at for more information.

To Book
Spaces are limited, so please register in advance here.

If you have any questions e-mail Amy Martin at or call 07947 633 686.


#RadicalChildcare is an initiative to explore, imagine and invest in bold new possibilities for the future of childcare. Based in Birmingham, we want to work with parents, grandparents, and professionals in the sector; commissioners, policy makers, educationalists, serial entrepreneurs and many others to develop and test radical solutions to enable children and families to thrive. For more information visit