Meet the Mentor - Liz
The whole of Liz’s career has been spent working within early years. Liz studied for a Diploma in Childhood Studies, following that with a degree in Early Childhood Education, which included Qualified Teaching Status. Once qualified, Liz worked in nursery schools, children’s centres and within Reception and Year 1. Recognising the importance of continuing professional development, Liz also studied for NPQICL (National Professional Qualification in Integrated Centre Leadership).
Liz’s initial involvement with the Bristol Standard began when teaching in a school in 2008, back when submissions were in a paper format. Following on from that Liz was invited to become a Bristol Standard validator and subsequently a mentor for the Bristol Standard, so for the last seven years Liz has been a dedicated member of the Bristol Standard family. Liz combines her Bristol Standard work with caring for her young family and has now expanded her role to include helping to write the Sixth Edition, writing guidance for online submissions, updating the mentor handbook and helping to ensure that the website is up to date and current.
The role of mentor is one that Liz really enjoys and at one stage she was supporting over ten settings, mainly schools and preschools ‘It’s a case of keeping in touch. It’s really nice, you build a relationship with the settings and get to know them on their journey. Each setting is at a different place on their journey and you learn how to support them depending on what their need is’. Liz explains how her mentor role has changed over time ‘In the early days I would go in and support settings face to face but now that we are doing things more online, people can upload their work to Sharepoint and this is easier. We can see things straightaway and feedback rather than make an appointment to see them’. Liz still ensures that the initial induction meeting is done face to face and from then can ascertain the level of support a setting might need, with settings uploading a dimension at a time for Liz to review if needed. Settings benefit from tailor made support ‘I want to make sure that people that need extra guidance get it’ this approach ensures that settings stay on their Bristol Standard journey and that their experience is a positive one.
Liz is a big fan of the digitalisation of the Bristol Standard and has noticed that since the introduction of the e-submission the quality of many submissions has improved ‘What I’ve really noticed is that the quality of what people are writing is so much better, than going back fifteen years or so.’ Liz explains that the content is now focused on quality rather than quantity.
The role of validator is one that Liz enjoys, being part of the system of supporting and encouraging settings and seeing the culmination of all of their hard work ‘Seeing the submission as a whole’ acknowledging the effort and commitment involved for settings.
Liz would encourage all settings to do the Bristol Standard ‘I think it’s really good reflective practice, it really makes you improve on your already best, keeping things alive for children’. Liz explains that it prevents settings from getting ‘static in their learning and their environment’. As a mentor Liz would advise settings to involve the whole team ‘it is important to get everyone’s voice’ and that targets should be ‘something that is achievable and actually exciting, so that you will enjoy writing about it and doing it, so that it is a real chance to think outside of the box’.
In summary Liz describes the Bristol Standard as ‘A really good reflective tool to reflect on your practice and the setting’s. To make sure that you are putting the children at the heart of everything you do and to improve on your personal and previous best’.