Bristol Standard Case Studies
Prior to becoming a childminder Paula had a variety of mainly office based jobs, however once she had her baby she realised that she wanted a career where she could combine work and family commitments, enabling her to spend time with her daughter. Paula explains that the transition from her very different previous career to her new childminding career, was a steep learning curve ‘my background wasn’t in childcare at all so it was very difficult to start with’ but with reassurance from her Ofsted inspector that she was ‘on the right track’ she persevered and has been running a successful childminding setting for the past six years.
Paula works four days a week, predominantly with early years children. The setting has a well-equipped playroom with doors leading to the garden. Paula explains that the children spend a lot of time outdoors ‘my ethos is forest school, we love being outside, just to explore’.
Paula has been on her Bristol Standard journey for over four years, having recently completed her second full submission. She explains that she didn’t find it hard to think of new things to write or targets to set ‘I looked back and thought what haven’t I done that I said I would do, so I put those in’ she explains how she worked with colleagues to bounce ideas around and support each other.
Prior to her most recent Ofsted inspection she read through her last Bristol Standard submission to provide affirmation that she was good at what she does, which proved a great confidence booster. She explains that the Bristol Standard is a great tool ‘it goes into all the detail of what you do, all the detail of the things you do without realising you’re doing it. The Bristol Standard makes you think about the things that you do and makes you realise that you are good at what you do, as a childminder you are doing the right thing.’ She explains that it’s easy to be self-deprecating and that the Bristol Standard provided the reassurance that she is good at her job. Paula regularly looks back at her Bristol Standard ‘to see what I should be doing’ which provides reassurance and keeps her on track.
The target that has had the biggest impact on Paula’s setting has been following the forest childcare ethos. Paula explains how the children have benefitted from spending quality time outdoors ‘just being outside, they learn so much more, it’s something they might not do with their parents’, she also describes how the sessions are child-led ‘we take stuff out, but often the children will find other stuff and that will be the focus of the outing’.
Paula talked to the parents about the Bristol Standard and asked them to contribute evidence to illustrate things that she had found hard to provide evidence for previously ‘I asked them to provide a little bit of blurb of how I provide a homely and friendly environment…..They were all really supportive’. The children were really too young to provide reliable feedback or help with target setting, so instead of asking the children direct questions Paula would ‘when they’re playing or doing stuff, try to guide them down the route of “would you like to do more of this?” or “would you like to do something else?” or “is there something else we could do?”’ This approach has proved successful and enables Paula to take the views of the children into consideration when reflecting on her practice.
Paula’s top tip would be to look at a few submissions from other people ‘at the start it’s really hard to get your head round, so it’s useful to see a few so that you can see how other people have done it.’ Paula concludes by saying ‘I think that the amount of work involved in doing the Bristol Standard is worth it, it’s been so worthwhile’ and that she would certainly recommend the Bristol Standard journey.