Bristol Standard Case Studies

Totterdown Children’s Community Workshop runs from the church hall of Holy Nativity Church in Totterdown, where it has use of two large halls plus a smaller room at the front. The after school club serves children from Hillcrest School and currently has 32 – 40 children attending. The holiday club is open to anyone and takes 20-25 children. The club is 100% funded by parents, several of whom work in London. The area is attractive to commuters because of its proximity to Temple Meads.

The club had previously begun the Bristol Standard for Play a couple of times and not completed it. Kevin found the paperwork in his in-tray when he arrived in post as Play leader. To get the process going again the staff team and Management Committee all met together in order to get everyone on board. At that time the team was stable and the Management Committee were supportive, both of which Kevin felt were essential to their success. It also helped to receive support from BAND on how to complete the process and have a named person to contact if needed.

The team used one staff meeting a month to focus purely on the Bristol Standard for Play, so ensuring it stayed at the forefront of their minds. At each of these meetings they looked at one dimension, addressing the accompanying questions and let a discussion develop naturally. This elicited the club’s strengths and weaknesses, which they then prioritised and turned into targets. Following this the targets plus the admin tasks were split among the team.

The easy part was the great discussions they all had for each dimension and the biggest challenge was in actually putting the folder together. Some turnover of staff, recruitment difficulties and then training staff new to playwork made it challenging to focus on doing the work for the submission.

For Kevin as a manager, the best part of doing the Bristol Standard for Play was seeing his staff team develop. By giving them ownership of the process, with responsibility for specific tasks, staff could show initiative, develop, grow and improve as playworkers, something that is not always easy to do in their day to day role. Kevin believes the Bristol Standard is a good developmental tool and should be written into their staff job description.

The target with the biggest impact was Dimension 4 – Physical Environment. An Ofsted inspection had criticised the club’s book corner, so they decided to make this a priority target. The team consulted the children and in response they had the space re-carpeted and furnished with bright coloured comfortable sofas, tables and chairs. Some of the parents made a successful grant application for acoustic boards to help reduce noise levels and make the space more inviting for all children. They all now have a welcoming and inviting quiet area.

Through being consulted and listened to, children benefited by gaining a sense of ownership over the space. The new resources also made the space more flexible and increased their choice at club.

As part of this space is where children are collected, parents were also consulted to find out what would make their lives easier at collection times. They requested storage systems for shoes, rucksacks and clothes so they could be easily located and these were purchased and put in place. Parents helped with changing the space, though unfortunately some of the offers couldn’t happen because the club is in a rented space.

Overall, the best thing about the Bristol Standard for Play for Totterdown Children’s Workshop is that it provides structure for development and improvement – ‘It does what it says on the tin’ said Kevin. He said the 10 dimensions very accurately reflect what you want playworkers to be reflecting on to create a good play setting, so it effectively becomes a strategic plan for the setting. Giving staff ownership of the process and believing they are the experts, leads staff to reflect on practice and do the thing you want them to, which is improve practice to give children the best possible experience.