Rosie began childminding eleven years ago when her own children were young. Rosie has worked really hard in this time to develop her skills and experience, achieving Early Years Professional Status a few years ago, along with qualifying as a Forest School Leader. Her dedication to her childminding setting has seen it blossom and grow into a thriving business, where the children are at the heart of all they do. As a result of this success, Rosie employed her first assistant 7 years ago. She now has a very dedicated staff team of co-childminders and assistants ‘There are five in the team, we enjoy each other’s company. We can talk about random things, we can talk about spiritual things, about children and life and know that we won’t judge each other and that’s important too.’ Childcare places with Rosie were much in demand and to accommodate continuity of care for children going on to school, she registered, this year as Childcare on Domestic Premises, to cover the periods before and after school. The setting currently has 12 children on role, but Rosie is committed to providing high quality care and to help ensure this, she strives to keep to a ratio of 2:1, although she is eligible to have a ratio of 3:1. She feels a ratio of two children to one adult enables strong relationships to be formed and provides a greater flexibility to cater for the individual needs of the children.
Rosie embarked on her Bristol Standard journey eight years ago, having done at least two cycles. Rosie’s decision to begin the Bristol Standard process was as a consequence of having successfully completed her Early Years Professional Status.
It is very apparent that all that goes on at Rosie’s setting is an absolute team effort and their Bristol Standard journey is no exception ‘I talk with the team and why we’ve done things; we are constantly reviewing how we are working and what works well. Our processes and procedures and aims and values are fairly static, because actually they are so deeply embedded in our setting and the way we work with each other, it’s just part of who we are. We are here for the well being of the children and their families. We’re very much about supporting the whole family, not just the children, because they are so interlinked.’. Rosie explains that as a team, throughout the year she and her staff will be thinking of the Bristol Standard, reflecting, acknowledging their strengths and considering their next steps. Rosie gives an example of how this might be achieved ‘We talk throughout the year, discussing different aspects that would be relevant to the Bristol Standard’. One of Rosie’s assistants recently attended a course and reflected after on how the setting does a lot of in the moment planning and has subsequently devised a new observation record which incorporates this, Rosie explains that this has been a great asset ‘It’s been quite a big thing, so I need to record it for our Bristol Standard’.
Rosie has found the Bristol Standard process a really positive experience ‘it’s the awareness that we’re doing some really good things for the children and I think it’s that thinking about “what’s the benefit for the child?” Which is so important, it’s at the root of everything, and is deeply embedded in everything that we do’. Another positive outcome was that Rosie and her team took the time to reflect on what they did and why they did it ‘taking the time, because how often do we stop and reflect on why we do what we do? We don’t do it often enough.’.
Last year Rosie converted the basement of her property for sole use of her childminding setting, so the physical environment dimension has been very much reflected in her targets. This change has given the children opportunities for free flow play to the outdoor area ‘It’s wonderful to watch how the children are playing, in and out, the way they’ve decimated the gravel path where they sit and scoop and the transference of sand from the sand pit. But it’s been being aware of the physical environment and how that impacts on their play and so they benefit from having that time to explore. So there’s almost a forest school ethos within the setting, even though it’s not in the forest. It’s those open-ended blocks of time, they can do what they want, where they want, so they really get to engage in creative, critical learning. They get the opportunity to extend their line of thought.’ It was obvious that this change to the setting has been a really beneficial and positive experience for children and practitioners alike.
Rosie explains that the children weren’t directly involved in the process however ‘we would watch how they play and respond and then we would reflect on that, so you hear their non-verbal voice, but because of the age of the children and their level of understanding, I’m not sure that asking them questions about dimensions would have made any sense to them’ . Rosie explains that up until now the parents haven’t been involved in the process but acknowledges it would be nice to share the setting’s Bristol Standard success with them in the future, especially the letter written by the validation panel ‘I could explain that this is what I am submitting and then when I get the feedback, letter give them a copy; the letters are lovely, I really love them. It shows that somebody has actually read our submission.’
Rosie really appreciated the monthly dimension training sessions and her top tip would be ‘to go to the monthly meetings, because they really do help’. Rosie hopes to send other members of her team to future dimension training session ‘it would be really good for them to go and come back and share’. Rosie also explains that trying to keep records to refer back to is useful ‘Keeping records helps; keep a little folder that you pop things in and then reflect on and write up later’. Rosie’s final tip would be to ‘enjoy it!’
The Bristol Standard process has been really valuable for Rosie and her team ‘It is good to make you stop and reflect and actually think, “what have we done?” and to celebrate our accomplishments and achievements throughout the year’. Rosie has nothing but praise for The Bristol Standard ‘It’s worth doing, it does focus your attention in a really positive way, on why we do what we do. We don’t do this job for the money, we do this for the children and families, to help them thrive. It’s all about the children.’