Bristol Standard Case Studies

Charlton Nursery is an established, family-run business, operating from two sites, one in Flax Bourton and the other on the site of the Imperial Brands offices. The Imperial site are on the Bristol Standard journey. The nursery opened in 2014, offering childcare to the staff of Imperial Brands as well as the local community. The setting is purpose built and has approximately 152 children on role with a maximum of 78 in attendance at any one time. The nursery is open all year round, Monday to Friday, 7.30 am – 6.30pm. Becky, Early Year’s Lead at the Imperial site explains that they employ a manager and early years teachers, alongside a well-qualified team of early years practitioners.

Becky is a strong advocate of the Bristol Standard.  She describes how the nursery, as a whole have benefitted from being on the Bristol Standard journey:

“What I really liked about the Bristol Standard was that it was about everybody – the parents, the children and the staff. I think sometimes in a reflective process we remember the stake holders, the parents, the children and the managers, who obviously fulfil an important role, but sometimes the staff can get overlooked. The Bristol Standard involved everybody, everyone felt included.”

Becky explains that prior to this the practitioners didn’t always appreciate how good they were and that the whole staff involvement had a tremendously positive impact on staff esteem, and how encouraging it was ‘watching the staff blossom and grow in confidence’.  Working as a team through each of the ten dimensions enabled all staff members to engage with all aspects of the provision. “The reflective questions made us aware of what we didn’t know.”

The nursery feel strongly that working through the dimensions of the whole framework has proved hugely beneficial, but that working through Dimension 5 and creating targets has had the most significant outcomes for the children.

“Raising the standard of the educational provision was very much due to the Bristol Standard, highlighting the areas we needed to improve, with the focus shifting from not what we learn but how we learn.”  As part of this the nursery focused on home learning, supporting and facilitating this –  “We now have a lending library including story sacks, with a focus on the characteristics of effective learning.”  The home learning concept was extended and parent ‘stay and play’ sessions were introduced, along with grandparents’ days, all of which have been warmly received and appreciated by all and the children have benefitted from intergenerational learning.  “We are very lucky to have really engaged parents.”

The children have benefitted from all the targets undertaken. The sharing of good practice throughout the setting has proved beneficial to staff and children alike. Practices, such as group/nesting time, have now been extended across the nursery and perceptions have changed as a result, Becky explains that “there was a mindset that maybe this couldn’t be done with really small children.” However, this is working, and the group time allows one to one time with a child and their key worker to plan for their next steps.

The reflective process made the staff team aware of the learning environment and they have consequently made changes, altering the corporate, office style entrance hall to a more welcoming child centred area. The lobby area now has a tepee, cushions and books and is an inviting space. There is also a notice board for parents ‘You said, we did’, encouraging communication and idea sharing and displaying parents’ comments, this all fosters a feeling of positivity and inclusion.

At the outset of their Bristol Standard journey, the nursery chose to cover Dimension 1 first, Values and Aims. Becky explains the rationale behind this.  “For me, it was really important to start with Values and Aims because you need to know who you are, what you want and where you are going and then from that everyone will have a clear idea of what’s happening, then they’ll have the confidence. I think human beings need a sense of direction and routine, to feel comfortable and then that enables them to achieve.”

It is obvious that partnerships with parents are an intrinsic part of the nursery’s ethos, so the staff realised the importance of involving parents in the Bristol Standard process. The parents had already completed a questionnaire regarding the provision they receive from the nursery and these results were used to inform the Bristol Standard and to set targets. The ‘you said, we did’ board on display in the lobby was developed as a direct result of the questionnaire feedback and the Bristol Standard.

Becky explains that, once broken down into the dimensions, the Bristol Standard is less overwhelming.

“It’s do-able, it’s feasible and so beneficial’.

Becky explained that she created a year plan, used photographs from observations as she went and then the task didn’t need to induce panic. Becky explained that for the nursery “it wasn’t a one-person job, if everyone is involved it becomes very manageable.”  Becky attended the network meetings, which provided support and highly recommends them.

“They’re fantastic.  It’s always good to talk to people who are doing the same thing. It was nice as people were at different stages, which was beneficial’.

The Bristol Standard journey has been a hugely positive experience for the nursery, with Becky describing it as ‘amazing’. As a result of the resounding success, the other Charlton Nursery has begun their Bristol Standard journey too.

‘I personally loved the Bristol Standard, so my top tip would be to embrace it’