Bristol Standard Case Studies
Brislington Village Preschool was established in 1972 and has been offering care and education to the local 3 and 4 year olds ever since. However, in September 2015, the staff team took over the running of the setting, turning the existing committee run preschool into a private limited company.
Brislington Village Preschool is a packaway setting, run in a church hall, five days each week on a term time only basis. The preschool currently has eight members of staff, including Nicola, the owner and manager. Initially care and education was provided for 3 and 4 year olds, but recently the setting has opened its doors to 2 year olds.
Nicola explains how important reflective practice has been to the setting and uses three different evaluation frameworks including the Bristol Standard. The setting is currently working towards their second interim submission. The Bristol Standard has been a positive addition to their reflective practice strategies, Nicola explains how it encourages cohesion amongst the staff team ‘I think, for us, the Bristol Standard has brought the team together, being able to think, what are our values, what are our strengths and what are our targets?’. Nicola describes how the nature of the preschool is busy, so that it was easy to lose track of what they wanted to do, but that doing the Bristol Standard ensured that the staff team made time to reflect on the setting’s practice ‘it’s made us focus on ways to move forward as a team’.
As Nicola and her team have gone through the Bristol Standard journey they have reflected on targets that have been set ‘As we look back at some of the targets we set and we can see that we’ve achieved, that’s good, it gives you a sense of we’ve done it!’. Nicola describes how not all of the targets have been achieved and how she is then able to analyse why they’ve not necessarily been successful ‘Sometimes I look through the other targets and I think, do you know what, I’ve not achieved that as well as I thought I might, so why haven’t I achieved it? What did I do and why did I lose sight of it, if it was my target? Sometimes I think we lost sight because we went off on a different avenue and that’s fine as well’.
As part of the Bristol Standard journey, the preschool set many targets. The target that has had the biggest impact was to make the change from a committee run setting to a private setting. This involved a lot of work, making changes to the way the business side of the setting was run ‘It was a massive journey, but we’ve achieved it!’. Nicola explains what positive outcomes the changes have brought and that the children are benefitting from herself and her team being able to buy the resources that the children need when they need it ‘we had more access to our accounts to make purchases for the children, we’re now in more control of purchasing what we feel the children need, the staff have a good knowledge of the children and what they need’. Prior to this any expenditure or change would have to go through and be agreed by the committee, which could be a lengthy process. The setting now spends a considerable amount of money on continual professional development training as they understand how beneficial this is for themselves and the children ‘we recognise as a team how important this is’.
Other targets, to come out of the Bristol Standard process were easier to achieve, making the switch to natural resources where possible and making the most of the natural environment. The preschool has their own allotment nearby and the children regularly access this, where they are able to grow vegetables and have recently planted fruit trees. Another target was focussing on parent communication. Parent communication books were being sent home but not contributed to, so Nicola and her team have sought different ways to achieve this. They’re now using a digital system along with ‘My Weekly Activities Book’, the latter being shared between home and the setting ‘so we’re changing things along the journey and hoping it will work.’.
Nicola would recommend the Bristol Standard process to other settings having found the reflective process such a positive experience ‘The thing I liked was it made you look at each area of the preschool more in depth, it makes you think a bit more about what you do’. Nicola has found that looking critically at what they do has been constructive, with her and her team benefitting from the affirmation that what they are doing is good ‘it made us realise, we do so much, it helps you realise that you do a lot, it keeps you striving for what you want to do and it sends you on new journeys’