Meet The Bristol Standard Team

Nicky Bale

Nicola Theobald

I am one of the Foundation Years Consultants with responsibility for the Bristol Standard. I first came across the Bristol Standard when I was teaching in Reception and my headteacher asked if I’d like to go to a launch of a new reflective framework called the Bristol Standard. From that evening onwards I was a firm advocate and started using it straight away with my team. It helped us to become reflective and to really get things done. One of our big targets was to develop our outdoor area. This became a five year project moved along by our Bristol Standard targets.

I am very proud to be now leading this wonderful framework in Bristol and with other local authorities. The Bristol Standard can be accessed at so many levels. I have seen settings in dire straits on the cliff edge being brought back with increased quality and confidence through using the Bristol Standard. Our outstanding settings also use the framework year on year as we all know that when working with young children there is always more we can do to improve. The Bristol Standard is also a step on the ladder to becoming a researchful practitioner and several people have gone on to do Master studies as part of their Bristol Standard journey.

The Bristol Standard never stands still and we are always developing something new. This includes helpful guides and booklets which work alongside the main document and our recent digitalisation which enables settings to complete their submission online. In addition, we are members of the National Quality Improvement Network which is led by the National Children’s Bureau. This ensures that we keep up to date with all new initiatives and research.

The Bristol Standard has a dedicated team which includes the central team and the mentors and validators.  I hope you will enjoy reading about the other members of this dynamic team here. We all feel very privileged to share in your Bristol Standard journey and to read the wonderful things in your submissions. We look forward to helping you to ‘improve on your previous best’.

Beth Osborne

Nicola Theobald
I am one of the Foundation Years Consultants with responsibility for birth to three. My Bristol Standard experience started over twenty years ago in an Independent School in Bristol. I went on to use it as a leader in a primary and nursery school.
I have found that it really draws teams together on their reflective journey. It is a positive process to work through the 10 dimensions of quality celebrating what you do well and then deciding as team areas to focus on next. Thinking about the benefits to the children enables you think about the impact for the children of everything you do. The Bristol Standard became our Early Years action plan which fed directly into the whole school development plan. As we built on it each year, it felt empowering as we all knew exactly where we were going with our improvement plan.
Now I work as part of the Bristol Standard central team, a mentor and validator.

“Children are at the heart of the Bristol Standard.”


Nicola Theobald

Kaye is part of the central team and has been involved with the administration of the Bristol Standard since 2011. She has worked in local government for over 30 years and so has gained considerable experience working in various secretarial and administrative roles in Bristol and other local authorities.

Kaye has primarily worked in early years in addition to other education settings having previously worked for South Gloucestershire Council for many years supporting a team of School Improvement Advisers and administering a Newly Qualified Teacher database.

Kaye says she ‘Enjoys looking at the Bristol Standard submissions on SharePoint and the settings certainly put in a lot of effort into making their environment so enjoyable for the children’ and ‘I’m looking forward to seeing how digitalisation develops over time’.

‘There is a lot of positivity from using the Bristol Standard and it’s such a friendly and supportive team to be a part of’.


Nicola Theobald

I qualified as a nursery nurse way back in 1986 and have worked predominantly within early years settings ever since. I began my career working in Social Service’s day nurseries and then the enticement of school holidays tempted me over to education where I worked in schools, sometimes in Key Stage 1 & 2 but the lure of early years was too hard to resist and I was always happiest when supporting the reception classes.  In 2002 I registered as a childminder, thinking that I might do it for two or three years, I absolutely loved it and continued as a registered childminder for the next seventeen years.  It was such a privilege to be able to play such an important role in the lives of the children and their families and I treasure some of the enduring relationships that were forged.  My commitment and passion for all things early years included gaining a Degree in Early Years through the Open University.  In 2019, my career took a gentle turn and I became a childminding support worker, this role seemed like a natural progression from childminding and I really enjoy being able to support Bristol childminders and share my passion for quality early years provision.

In 2003, just a year after starting on my childminding career I began my Bristol Standard journey and it has been a key part of all I do ever since.  As a sole provider, running my own childcare business full time, it was quite a commitment but the benefits of doing the Bristol Standard made all that extra work so worthwhile.  I loved how positive it was and how it validated what I was doing and why, helping me to recognise and celebrate my strengths as a practitioner.  It always felt like a meaningful and valuable piece of work, endorsing how I was ensuring the best outcomes for the children in my care.

I am such a big advocate for the Bristol Standard and have relished the opportunity to support childminders on their own Bristol Standard journeys.  I’ve been involved in supporting the monthly discussion sessions for childminders and it is a joy to hear their passion and commitment to the children they care for and how they are using the Bristol Standard to ensure this.  I am also part of the validation team and love to get a glimpse into all the wonderful early years practice that is happening across the Bristol Standard settings, it’s truly inspirational.  Over the past few years, I have been writing case studies on a variety of early years settings and never cease to be amazed by the enthusiasm, passion and commitment of the dedicated practitioners who put the children at the heart of all they do and use the Bristol Standard to achieve this.

The Bristol Standard is such a positive and affirming journey to be on and I am so pleased that my Bristol Standard journey is continuing, albeit in a very different way to how it began.  The Bristol Standard family are a wonderful team and I feel blessed to be a part of that.

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