Oxford Early Years




 "How can we work together to address priority needs for children aged 0-5 in Oxford?"


On the 13th of November the lab team got back together as a whole for Studio 5. The focus of the studio was to look into newly codified criteria for the prototypes that the five different groups have been working on and for the groups to meet each other and share what they have been up to and what they are planning to do. The day ended with every group making a plan of action for the coming weeks or for the final studio that will take place 6th of December.  

Below you will find documentation from Studio 5 - Inter-cycle, including: Flow of the day; Prototype Criteria and Mission statements from each team.




09:00 - Arrival & Registration: Meet the Lab Team.

09:35 - Welcome & introductions

The day began with an overview of the agenda and the purpose of the studio. The purpose of the studio was the following:

  • Increase the quality of the prototypes

  • Collaborate across lab teams

  • Ready for the last sprint in this inter-cycle (the time period between studio 5 and 6)

09:40 - Check-in

Check-ins can be thought of as a warm up and a cool down and are often phrased as questions. Check-ins are used to gather participants as the first thing you do at a studio or a meeting where you ask for and allow all voices to be heard and expressed. 

The participants were asked “What are you most excited about for today?” and they shared their answer with everyone.

Among other things, the participants were excited:

  • to reconnect with other lab members

  • to see what new ideas might come up

  • connect to all the people in a room and find out what everyone is doing moving forward

  • seeing where everybody is

  • thinking about the future and beyond the year 2018 and how to take the energy in the group forward

  • to slow down and be in the room

  • get ideas flowing and arrive on the same page as their group

If you want to know more about check-ins you might find the article “Starting And Ending Meetings The Right Way”, from Kaospilot Radar, interesting.

09:45 - Updates & Overview

Given by Sara Fernandez who went over how much we have left, the status of funding and what information the lab participants might have coming their way.

09:45 - Prototype Criteria

The governance team has been working on prototype criteria for the participants to work with. The criteria are based on the needs of the early years system in Oxford and are set up as a self-assessment survey that the participants filled out.

The self-assessment survey is designed to support quality, scale and impact of the prototypes and its interventions to ensure improvement of social mobility in areas of deprivation for children under 5. The questions below is a way of judging the strength and overall balance of different types of impact, and diagnosing where developments or changes are required.

The survey will also indicate what needs to be prioritised in order for each action team to deliver a coherent prototype during the given time left.

The criteria are the following:

  1. Geographics: Blackbird Leys/ Rosehill/ Cutteslowe/ Northway/ Barton

    • How is the prototype serving the needs of one or more of the target areas?

  2. Priority needs of children under 5

    • In what way is the prototype addressing priority needs for children under 5 as identified by A Better Start research, with a particular focus on improving social mobility markers?

  3. Working within the given context

    • In what way is the prototype a necessity within the given context?

  4. Sustainable interventions

    • In what way is your prototype able to sustain over a longer period of time?

Click here to see the full evaluation survey.

After filling out the survey, the action teams got a better picture of where they were at in their work.

To close down this part they were asked the following: “What do you feel, were you surprised by anything and what is a focus area that popped up?”

11:20 - World Café: Cross group discussions

World Café is a method to host open conversations that are driven by the participants and the topics that are relevant to them. The room is set up with 5 different tables, one table for each action team.

The purpose of the World Café was the following:

  • Increase level of collaboration across lab teams

  • Discuss each other’s ideas to bring in new perspectives

  • Increase quality of prototypes

How we did it:

  • One action team member stays at their own table and takes notes and hosts the conversation while the other lab team members shuffle around to the other lab teams

  • Groups (that will go around the different tables) will consist of a mix of different lab teams.

  • Before it started each action team decided on pair of questions they wanted to ask their visiting lab members.

  • After the teams decided on who would host and prepared set off questions, the participants had 15 minutes rounds of discussing the idea and focus points of the team whose table they were at.

  • The host gave a brief introduction, then took notes of what was being said

The participants were asked to try on the following attitude:

  • We’re in this together and want to make each other better

  • “Politeness is the poison of collaboration” - Edwin Land

  • Challenge ideas, not people

  • Focus on the criteria

After three rounds, the action teams got back together where the host shared the insights they harvested during the World Café.

Here are few of the insights the participants shared after the World Café:

  • Really helpful, define their thinking and open up

  • Useful getting feedback from other people, getting different ideas, refreshed my brain

  • Takes you back to the kick-off workshop, going back and remembering why we are doing what we are doing and seeing the links that we might have forgotten

  • What were the topics the people decided on in the kickoff, how does that relate to what people are working on now

  • Struggled with couple of things, now we have a way forward, was really helpful

12:20 - Digest & Refine

To collect, digest and refine the different insights, inputs and processes that the participants got and went through during the studio, they were guided through these steps:

  • What do you want to incorporate [in your design/prototype] from the input you have received?

  • Agree [with your action group] on action plan and next steps until Closing Studio (Dec 6th)

12:30 - Mission Statement Check-Out

Each lab team checks out with a “mission statement” that summarizes in one sentence their focus and priorities until Closing Studio

A mission statement is a one-sentence statement describing the reason the team exists: what the team does and why they are doing this.

See the mission statements of each team below.

12:35 - Evaluation

The participants filled out an evaluation of the studio and the lab work. The purpose of it is to make sure that the participants are getting the most out of their experience and that the work is benefitting the early years system in Oxford.

12:40 - Looking ahead & Networking Event

The facilitator wished the teams good luck and Sara Fernandez closed down the day. Valerie, Anna Thorne, Ellen, Tora and Anna, an ensemble of lab participants and the the Kaospilot team (see more on Studio 4 site), planned a networking event on the 26th of November. The event will be an opportunity to meet in a casual setting, foster conversations and invite external people.

13:00 - End

Politeness is the poison of collaboration
— Edwin Land
Takes you back to the kick-off workshop, going back and remembering why we are doing what we are doing and seeing the links that we might have forgotten
— Lab Participant





Oxford Natural Education Support (OXNEST)

Oxnest is exploring what collaboration adds to our existing mission of developing capacity and remove barriers for those who care for children 0-5


  • Annie Davy

  • Laura White

  • Doireann Lalor

  • Shilpa Bhatt

Action Team 2


Joining the tots

Update, translate and distribute out map before the next studio


  • Dave Tullett

  • Cheryl Huntbach

  • Clare Crossley

Action Team 3



Strengthen the team to have confidence moving forward


  • Ginnie Herbert

  • Ellie Clarke-Jacques

  • Suffia Hussain

  • Nuha Abdo

  • Alice Weaver

  • Tina Gordon

  • Shaz Ajmal

Action Team 4


Little Ones Learning at Home (LOLAH)

LOLAH is committed to designing and resourcing a pop-up prototype to promote parent/child interactions that support language and relational development


  • Siobhan salter

  • Valerie Knight

  • Becca Matthews

  • Daisy Brown

  • Lindsey Hart

Action Team 5



A buddy framework for professionals to support hard to reach families to gain confidence by experiences


  • Anna Thorne

  • Lisa Fern

  • Beth Knighton

  • Carol Lister