Bluecoats Early Years Excellence Centre
A one-stop shop for integrated education, information, advice, daycare and opportunities for children, parents and the wider community.
The Bluecoats Early Years Centre (EYC) is one of 107 Early Excellence Centres springing up around the country as a result of the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) programme to develop models of good practice in integrating services for young children and families.
Early Excellence Centres (EEC) offer high-quality practice in one-stop shop integrated education and daycare for young children, and services and opportunities for parents, carers, families and the wider community both directly and in co-operation with other providers.
Specific features of Bluecoats Early Years Centre include:
- A partnership between local related organisations aiming to be responsive to locally identified needs and to provide a wider vision for the development of care and education for Great Torrington
- Outreach and centre-based work, with drop-in advice, support and training; high-quality multi-disciplinary mobile provision supporting pre-schools and communities
- Seeking to maximise the potential of the natural environment, including the use of common land and the school environment to promote the full potential of the outdoor environment for learning and exploratory play
The EYC is part of the Torrington Vision Project developed by Torrington Community. The other parts of this project are the relocation of Bluecoat Infant School to the site, which is a new building adjoining the existing Junior School, the provision of new community facilities known as the Torrington Family Project and upgrading of the existing Junior School.
The feel of the building is friendly and accessible with the visitor continually being drawn to the central double-height community space. The small, intimate entrance was designed in favour of something grand and helps to welcome visitors. The layout of the building has avoided the use of long corridors and an institutional feel, so smaller rooms and ancillary spaces are grouped around the edges of large communal space. The gallery included on the first floor around the large, double-height communal space has increased the feeling of community within the building and increased the opportunity for interaction between people using the building.
The double-height space has allowed natural light and ventilation deep into the building and has bcome the hub of everything that goes on in the Centre, with a cappucino bar and internet cafe at its heart. A feeing of openess has been maintained along the north-south access with large windows at either end of the building, and spaces divided by internal glazed screens.