Meet the Mentor - Sarah
Sarah knew that she wanted to be a teacher from a young age and pursued her dream, graduating in 1991. Since then Sarah has discovered a love of early years, working in a variety of settings including schools and children’s centres and is now the lead teacher for the South Bristol Hub.
Sarah has been involved in the Bristol Standard for many years, initially on the journey as a teacher working with nursery and reception class colleagues in a primary school. Sarah describes what a beneficial and positive experience that was, enabling the staff team to come together ensuring there was an ‘opportunity for a shared vision through ongoing reflection to strive towards quality improvement.’.
Having completed a few full cycles of the Bristol Standard whilst working in schools and children’s centres, Sarah’s commitment and passion for the Bristol Standard was recognised and she became part of the mentor and validator team. As a lead teacher, promoting best outcomes for children is at the heart of all that Sarah does and she feels that her role as mentor and validator ‘dovetails beautifully’ with that ethos. Sarah is a wonderful advocate for the Bristol Standard having an absolute belief in the wealth of benefits being on the Bristol Standard journey can offer a setting ‘A wonderful part of being a mentor is seeing each setting travelling on their own journey. I always promote the Bristol Standard as it’s a tool to facilitate conversations’. Sarah appreciates the opportunity to be on the journey with the setting, encouraging them to recognise their strengths ‘It is an opportunity to celebrate the many exciting initiatives that are happening each day in every setting. It is wonderful to see settings acknowledging the impact their reflective practice is having and how these reflections are benefitting the children’. Sarah’s top tip to settings on their Bristol Standard journey would be to always keep the benefits for children at the forefront of their minds ‘I think it’s all about the emphasis on the benefits for children and my top tip would be to always start with the “what are the benefits for children?” and then it will flow into the context of the dimensions.’.
Sarah has seen how the Bristol Standard has developed over the years and acknowledges how successful the move to digitalisation has been, enabling settings ‘to have a more succinct final submission and it’s easier to read as a validator. I think it’s become more accessible for settings’. Another development has been the recent introduction of the two new pathways, ensuring the Bristol Standard journey is less daunting for settings in the future. Sarah shares some of the feedback she has had ‘settings feel it would be more sustainable to be able to use the pathways.’
As well as being committed to the role of mentor and validator, Sarah was also involved in the Bristol Standard for Health project. ‘It was empowering to facilitate discussions with practitioners with a focus on health. Health continues to be an essential strand throughout all the dimensions and even more so with the current situation as we are in a pandemic.’
Sarah recognises the importance of continuing to pursue her own professional development and has gained a qualification in Forest School, increased her knowledge of Adverse Childhood Experiences and is participating in the Trauma Informed Schools Diploma. This validates Sarah’s commitment to the ethos that children are at the heart of all she does ‘this has further equipped me to place the well-being of children, families and practitioners at the heart of everything we all do as we embrace the Bristol Standard journey to improve the quality of our provision for all.