Research from hempsall’s

If you are looking for research that is informed by a sound understanding of early years, childcare, parenting, and children’s centres, combined with robust research techniques, we would like to hear from you.

You will find our reports are written for every audience; public (child, young person, parent, and community) and local authority officers, partners and leadership. We are told our reports are not only well-written, they also contain informed analysis, practical and evidenced recommendations, and operational and strategic policy links for now and the future. More...


Our work has included some of the major initiatives in the sector and has changed over time. We are community focused enough so we can do one-to-one interviews with a sensitive and engaging approach in all communities and situations, with an ability to carefully manage any local political sensitivity. We are big enough for high volume telephone surveys too, such as 2,000 parent telephone interviews started and finished in three weeks.

Currently, our research workload is focused on children’s centre reviews, childcare sufficiency annual reports, matching mapping and demand data to creating two year old places, parent satisfaction surveys, and independent evaluation.

In the recent past, we delivered an extensive childcare sufficiency assessment programme incorporating public consultations (questionnaire surveys, interviews, phone surveys and focus groups), desk research, gap analysis and mapping of provision against demand and need. Looking further back to our own early years we delivered many childcare audits, sure start consultations, local programme external independent evaluations, Children’s Fund evaluations and childcare workforce surveys.

Children’s centre reviews and parent consultations - Show

Having been heavily involved in setting up Sure Start local programmes and children’s centres, and having a long-term role in supporting their regular evaluation and review, we are passionate about ensuring reviews at this stage of the programme are fit for purpose. The best children’s centres fully involve the whole community, have effective outreach work, and change and respond to the needs of their users. What’s clear is that every penny spent on early intervention and the least advantaged families needs to be well-spent. We consider well-sent funding to be that which makes a positive and demonstrable impact for the child, family and community. It is also funding that is efficiently used, so that more can be achieved within budget and that precious resources are not wasted. What’s essential in reviewing children’s centre delivery is that everyone’s voice needs to be included, valued and listened to. What’s important for some, is not always considered by others. Collecting views in a robust and rounded way is vital to ensure reviews are inclusive, real, locally appropriate and inform the best decision-making processes for the future of the programme.

Childcare sufficiency assessments (CSAs) - Show

We can deliver specific elements of a childcare sufficiency assessment or annual report, or manage the whole project on a variety of scales. Over the years we have worked on over 30 CSAs ourselves – some small and some large scale ones – from Rutland to Cornwall, the London Boroughs of Harrow and Southwark, and Sunderland to Stockton. And on behalf of DfE and Regional Government Offices we’ve reviewed nearly 100 reports and fedback to support their legal compliance, effectiveness, gap analysis, and continuous improvement. With changing regulations in this area, many local authorities still recognise the strategic and operational importance of consulting with the market and the sector to inform, target and deliver their early years strategy and funding allocations. We can help by supporting: planning; project management; research instrument design and development; paper and online surveys; on-site interviewing; focus groups; computer assisted telephone interviews; data entry and analysis, reporting, and presentation to all stakeholder groups.

Consulting children – Max the Magic Cat storytelling - Show

We’d been asked many times to include the consultation of young children in childcare sufficiency and other projects. We strongly believe the best way to consult with children is to incorporate high quality observation and discussion, with engaging exercises, that can support children to open up their imaginations and choices. The challenge for a short-term project is that it should quickly establish a relationship with children and offer them something interesting and relevant to engage with. This is where our idea for storytelling came in. We developed our Max the Cat story, using our Max puppet, discussion, questions, actions, sticker activities, and a little bit of magic too. The result has been a highly popular and effective way of introducing a concept or scope of consultation to children, in a way that entertains, includes, captivates and equally importantly collects their views and ideas to help shape the services they use and receive. Ask our clients in Wiltshire, Telford, Leicester, Harrow, Southwark, Cornwall and Derby – they all agree

Accessible and appropriate focus groups - Show

Focus groups are a vitally important element of a rounded research or evaluation project. They are also part of the relationship a commissioning organisation has with its user group. This means the choice of who to present and deliver a group is crucial. Groups need to be designed and delivered sensitively and differentiated for its members. They need to allow participants a sense of control, offer choice, and achieve informed consent. We know, through our experience, and the feedback we receive, that we get this right. We’d be pleased to hear from you if you would like to discuss focus groups with: parents, young people, children, community members, specialist interest groups, disabled young people and adults, partners, or employees.

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