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New £2m centre for child development in Wrexham to be officially opened by Deputy Minister

17 March 2011

A £2m university research centre which will double as a working day nursery as part of an innovative new approach to child development will officially open today.

Huw Lewis AM, Deputy Minister for Children, will open the Centre for the Child, Family and Society at Glyndŵr University’s Wrexham campus.

The centre will provide unprecedented opportunities for research into child development which will help to improve the standard of childcare and child and family working practices in Wales.

Its opening marks the completion of a three-way vision between the University, the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) and private childcare provider Active Childcare to create a groundbreaking facility which places the child at its heart.

Funded by WAG, the centre is owned by the University, with space at the nursery operated in partnership with Active Childcare.

Active Childcare currently runs the Little Scholars nursery on the university’s Wrexham campus and will move day care into the new centre, which will provide space for up to 91 children.

Huw Lewis, Deputy Minister for Children at the Welsh Assembly Government, said: “The opening of this Centre is an important step in recognising the importance of the early years in child development.

“One of the Welsh Assembly Government’s core aims is to ensure that every child has a flying start in life and the best possible basis for their future growth and development. Through the work at the Centre I know children will be given the opportunities to develop bringing them and their families longer term benefits in the future.”

Professor Michael Scott, Vice-Chancellor of Glyndŵr University, said: “The centre will combine high level university research in a way which hasn’t been seen before. It’s a hugely exciting development for north Wales and the child and family and sector as a whole.”

The building is centred around five childcare rooms – two baby rooms, a toddler room, two pre-school rooms and a sensory room for children with disabilities and additional needs.

Features of the new centre include multi-surface outdoor play areas, toilets and wash basins at child height and underfloor heating which ensures a comfortable temperature at child height.

Opportunities for research into the development of babies and young children will be provided by seminar and observation rooms, allowing researchers to observe children in their natural environment.

Peter Graham, Director of Active Childcare Ltd, said: “The relationship between Active Childcare and the university is really exciting and it’s one where children are going to benefit. Children will have a first class facility to learn, develop and play in and research will be fed back into the nursery in practice.

“Since the idea for the building was first brought forward we have worked closely with the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales, which regulates childcare in Wales, to ensure high standards are met.

“Security procedures in place and ethical procedures agreed between the nursery and the university will provide added safety and security for children.”

• The new Centre for the Child, Family and Society will be the focus of the next talk in Glyndŵr University’s Inaugural Professorial Lecture Series, on Tuesday 22 March. ‘From Policy to Practice: the Value of Work-based Learning,’ delivered by Professor Karen Graham, will explore how developing skills in the workplace in the childcare sector can promote individual, family and national economic prosperity. The lecture takes place at the Catrin Finch Centre, Wrexham, from 6.30pm.

UPDATE, 21 March 2011: To view a slideshow of images from the event, please click here.

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