Bristol childminders are very enthusiastic about the Bristol Standard and take part in monthly dimension sessions. This gives them the opportunity to take part in reflective discussions with other childminders. We would like to share some of their stories with you over the coming months.
Joy came to childminding having already accrued a lot of experience working within early years. Joy is an NNEB qualified nursery nurse, has worked in hospital play therapy and gained a degree in Early Years at Bath Spa University. Five years ago Joy gave up running a preschool and nursery to become a childminder. Joy had a young family and being a childminder complimented that well, ensuring she could be around to support her children.
Joy runs a successful childminding setting, being recommended by people and not needing to advertise her services. Joy works five days a week and employs two assistants. Joy doesn’t have a large turnover of children as they tend to stay from babies until they ‘graduate to big school’. The setting is multi-cultural, with children representing a variety of nationalities. Children come from all over the city to attend Joy’s setting.
Joy was familiar with the Bristol Standard, prior to working as a childminder, as she had been involved with it whilst working in a pre-school setting. Joy knew that doing the Bristol Standard for her setting would involve a lot of work, but also knew that her setting would benefit as a result, ‘I like the reflecting and looking for strengths, weaknesses and it highlights gaps’. Joy explains that ‘it’s easy to be hard on yourself, thinking am I doing this alright, are parents happy? There’s always more to be done.’, she continues that she feels it’s a continuous process, with there is always something to learn and changes to be made as children progress and move on.
Joy recognises the importance of working as a team with her assistants, they have regular meetings and feedback daily. This collaboration has ensured everyone’s involvement in working towards the Bristol Standard, working together to appraise the service they provide and make plans for the future.
The parents using Joy’s setting are supportive of her Bristol Standard journey, having received a letter at the outset, explaining the process and receiving regular updates via the setting’s newsletter. Joy has used questionnaires completed by parents, as well as older children attending her setting, to inform her planning and to set targets as part of the Bristol Standard.
The most challenging target that Joy and her team had set, was to improve the outdoor provision. Joy’s garden was sloping so a deck was built to provide a level surface for the children to play on. There are patio doors leading from the playroom, directly onto the decked area, providing free flow for the children. A shed has been installed and children are able to make choices and select and access the resources that they wish to use themselves, enabling them to benefit from a greater independence.
Another target that has had a positive impact, was the introduction of an information corner for parents. This is now an informative area, just inside Joy’s front door, so easily accessible and visible to all. Joy explains that, both the parents and children have benefitted from this, as it encourages continuity of care, sharing and building links between the setting and home. Joy has also started a blog which she feels provides similar benefits.
Joy would recommend doing the Bristol Standard and would advise those embarking on their own Bristol Standard journey, to gather evidence early and as it progresses rather than leaving it to the last minute. She recommends seeking the support of others and expressed how useful the monthly Bristol Standard childminder support meetings were.
Joy will remain on her Bristol Standard journey, continuing to be reflective and is setting new targets that will benefit the children. As a direct result of being on the Bristol Standard journey Joy feels that she has been able to improve her setting, the service she provides and the resources that she invests in. Joy describes the Bristol Standard as being ‘affirming’, a great ‘eye-opener’ and providing her with a ‘confidence boost’.