Bristol Standard Case Studies

Ten years ago Lindsay began childminding, wanting a career which would she could combine with caring for her young family. Lindsay loves her job, ‘I just love having children in the house’ and has developed a passion for childminding, having cared for ‘wonderful families and children’. Lindsay has been providing care for a combination of enhanced provision, two-year old funding and private families. This includes caring for children with special educational needs, something that Lindsay really enjoys and would like to develop further in the future.

Lindsay started on her Bristol Standard journey as part of her commitment to providing enhanced provision care for early years children, ‘I was surprised by how much I enjoyed doing the Bristol Standard’. She is currently compiling her second full submission and describes how the whole process has become a really useful tool for reflecting on and evaluating the work that she does and for the setting as a whole. Lindsay refers back to previous submissions regularly and sees the process as cyclical, changing and evolving as children develop and move on from her setting. This evaluation and assessment of her setting enables her to make changes and adapt her provision, ensuring a bespoke service to families in her care. ‘I can see from my first full submission, how my setting has grown, evolved and developed and for myself, as I’ve gained more experience.

Lindsay feels that all the targets that she has set herself, as part of her Bristol Standard journey, have had an impact on her setting, whether it is small changes, such as pictures of the children on their pegs, or to making significant changes to her outdoor provision. She feels that the target which had the most positive effect for the children and her setting was born from the Communication Friendly Spaces professional development that she had undertaken. Lindsay has a large garden and wanted to ‘make the indoors outdoors’, so set about making a quiet area outside. She obtained a large pub umbrella, mosquito net and cushions and developed a quiet, sensory area. The benefits for the children were that they were experiencing the garden in a different way and the quiet area enabled them to feel secure in the large outdoor environment, the children used it as a space to develop sharing skills, communication skills and imaginative play, even slept in it! This lead to the garden being used more, in a variety of ways, not just for developing the children’s gross motor skills but for enjoying musical instruments and other sensory experiences, hiding things in sand and making an ad hoc mud kitchen. The children have grown their own herbs to eat and smell and have also tied them to sticks to make paint brushes, an activity which was a great success. Lindsay is constantly reflecting and developing her ideas and her next plan for her garden is to build a wooden tepee.

Lindsay shares all of these developments in her practice with the parents. She does this via daily diary entries and regular newsletters. As a result of this parents are aware that she is on the Bristol Standard journey. Some of Lindsay’s parents are teachers, who are familiar with the Bristol Standard and as such, have a greater understanding of the positive commitment involved in doing this.

Like many childminders, Lindsay runs her setting alone, as a sole provider. However, she gets together regularly with other childminders who are also doing the Bristol Standard, to share ideas, support each other and discuss any difficulties they might be having. Lindsay explains how they are often able to inspire each other when trying to choose targets to work on.

Lindsay’s advice to others who are considering doing the Bristol Standard is to ‘give it a go!’ She explains how initially she found it hard not to overthink things and make things too difficult, or make targets too huge and unachievable. Lindsay thought about her strengths and gave herself praise for the work she was doing. She explains that as she was writing her Bristol Standard she’d think ‘Crikey! Wow! Did I do that?’ Lindsay also appreciates the importance of being able to ask for help and support.

Lindsay feels that by doing the Bristol Standard she has grown in confidence. She ensures that she goes on meaningful training, now considering how the children benefit from what she is learning, recently doing the 5 to Thrive course. Lindsay explains that it has been a thoroughly positive experience and she is using the skills that she has gained on the Bristol Standard journey to ensure that she is constantly reflecting and ensuring that she is providing the best service and outcomes for the children that she cares deeply for. ‘It makes me think.’