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Quality Improvement and Resources - Inspiration Needed


missdoofus
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We are currently working on the provision within our setting aiming to improve everything - the environment, the materials and resources and the way they are displayed. I have experienced only good and outstanding settings with practitioners who have a similar vision to me.

Unfortunately I am working with a staff team who have not experienced working in a setting with someone inspiring them and it seems they do not understand what I am talking about (this includes my room leaders). We had a great visit from our Early Years Advisory Teacher today who has really given me some ideas on how to show them and now I want to get some more information from you :).

I am looking for resources (online or in print) giving research and practical ideas on what sort of things we should find in an environment. I have in the past used quality improvement schemes like ECERS and ITERS however I feel that at this point in time this is too much as we need to work on the basics (eg. all puzzles are just thrown on the shelf and have pieces missing but no one looks for them). So I am looking for publications I can use to back up what I am saying. Any books would be good as well, so it is not just your manager is telling you, but research says this is what we are supposed to do.

What do you do to show your staff what you expect and help them to visualise it?

I am intending to write manuals and get staff to sign them off and make them use them whenever they do whatever they are doing eg. "How to do a display at LM" and then take pictures of the way a display is supposed to look and what should be included. Then doing another manual like "An outstanding maths area" and then include pictures of the environment and a list of resources that should be included.

Do you think this will work? I will integrate this with the supervision process to ensure that we look at the practitioners work in regards to how we want it done.

Any other ideas and samples much appreciated.

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How to do a display ? IMO wrong wording , displays to aspire to may sound better and enthuse others , lead by example and welcome others ideas , how could we improve , who is this for the children or staff , the whys and wherefores other wise it all becomes very processed .

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Sorry if that came across rude but I have to had the same problem but we can expect everyone to think the same and I have learnt from experience that giving feedback and promoting others ideas is a better way for them to become inspired , build confidence and give others a chance to enhance .

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Just a quick note one, I always find works well you may well have done it already. Get all staff to kneel on floor in different parts of the room, let them look around and see what a child sees from that height ! and could also take pictures to reflect on as a group. Good Luck it's a hard slog I'm still at it years down the line, continually trying to inspire is very tiring ? x

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I would put aside some money and allow your staff to visit good and outstanding settings,

 

Facebook like or search on twitter 'let the children play' they have fab photos of inspiring ideas for setting up resources or look on Pinterest

 

Talk to your staff, get there ideas, they obviously need motivating, if the ideas come from them they are more likely to put it in place and adhere to the changes.

 

And slowly slowly, it all takes time , tackle one area at a time, place it on an action plan and have a member of staff responsible for altering

 

We use Fere leavers well bring and involvement rating to score our areas, works well ( I dislike ECERs )

 

Good luck

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There is a book called A Place To Learn published (I think) by Lewisham Early Years or Lewisham Borough Council. It's quite old so doesn't link to the EYFS but it has lots and lots of photos of good early years environments, loads of lists of suggested resources etc. It isn't an academic book or theory based, its just lots of ideas. I've had a copy for years and still use it when stuck for inspiration.

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I always felt that the staff needed to be inspired to do these things and no matter how many manuals or books you have could do that successfully.

A big plus of being a packaway is having to put all in a cupboard each day gave a really different view on resources, environment etc and all were much more aware of it. never worked in a setting that did not do this so found most things easy to sort out.

We used to have the staff do a small training or group work in an area we wanted to improve, sit down at child level and do some of the things i felt needed addressing... like the puzzles, deliberately give everyone a mixed bag with wrong pieces and ask them to do it, without swapping the pieces around.. also some would be correct but with one piece missing, broken etc.. how did they feel when you chivvy them to finish it but they cannot.. is it fun to not get what you expect, how could they improve the experience then who woudl take ownership of checking that every day...

work out a way to do this in the areas you want to improve, one at a time, then give it time to settle in before moving onto the next.. you could tackle a couple at the same time as in the same way as missing puzzle bits is frustrating this can apply to other areas too.. a game with pieces missing, or wrong pieces.. if big enough a group you couple split them to each doa different thing and then relay the findings of each one.. or rotate around..

If they have hands on experience of what is 'wrong' they are more likely to think about it and try to rectify the issues.

Displays are for me very subjective, what I see as good ( a muddle of children pictures and work put up for all to see, not always neat, tidy but ever changing ) is not how others see it.. for this showing by example may work but I was always aware that we all had our own ideas on what was a 'good' display and varied it until we came up with something we could all work with..

Giving ownership and experience always worked better for me . yes it takes time but was worth it in the end, as it was a team decision and usually became second nature to do it.

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I once worked in a setting that gave me a sheet on 'how we do displays at XXXX'. I took one look and gave it back, explaining -that's not how I do displays! Nothing was ever said again.....

Personally I think if you want staff to respond well, you need to treat them accordingly. If you give to many 'manuals' to follow- where is the incentive to use their own thoughts and ideas?

If I want staff to do certain things, I try and guide them to come up with the same thoughts- as if it was their idea in the first place.

I also follow Inge's way of thinking, getting the staff to see it from a child's point of view.

 

xx

Edited by louby loo
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Hi everyone! Busy day today and thanks for the feedback so far, so much to respond to.

Displays: No worries lashes I didn't think that was rude. I am German we are often perceived as rude when we are just direct :P

I worded this a bit blunt and quick anyways but I am very much on the same page as "displays to inspire.." :D

I think we all have examples of displays that really show off our work and link it to what the children have done and what they think about that. And others are simply there but tell you nothing. So I think I will work a lot with pictures but will have a list of items I would like included in some way or another (eg. staff putting up a display with no title and random items on it..) In addition to wanting to do this our camera has chosen today to die.. Great.

Visiting good and outstanding settings: I have asked our EYAT for ideas on which setting to visit, I have made contact in the local area but not all manager around here are quite as welcoming as I would be. We have a good link with an outstanding setting however I have been there and I do not see the wow factor or find the place inspiring... so still looking in regards to that. All my previous settings are a bit far to travel.

Giving feedback: I have spent basically a whole day today giving very detailed 1:1 feedback to staff one I think understood what I was talking about the other said yes and okay a lot but hasn't really shown she understands or come up with any ideas subsequently.. tough nut that one.

Let the children play: Thanks for that I will check it out for more pictures and see what I can use.

A place to learn: Our EYAT mentioned this one but lost her last copy of it and I have not been able to get hold of one as yet.

I haven't tried making staff sit in areas yet and get them to look around. I will do that on the next staff meeting... that will be fun. I am not trying to use the "manual" solely to give to staff but use them in conjunction with showing aspects of the classroom. I have put up an inspiring display myself and that hasn't inspired any staff to change the displays from 5 months ago or make the one they did put up look inspiring.

I may also try allocating staff to "improving" an area but again will feel that some staff will take this on more than others. So we will need to end up buddying them up.

It is also simple things like they come in the mornings do risk assessments and set out breakfast. Then they take a few toys of the shelf and that's it. No one checks the mark making areas has paper, the pencils are sharpened etc. So for these things I am going to give them another checklist for mornings and evenings as otherwise people only think about going home and not preparing the classroom for the next day.

Still looking for other materials/books/publications I can suggest for people to have a look at. I already encouraged everyone to get onto pinterest. One person did it.. no one else was too bothered to look anything up.

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My staff have an area a term that they are responsible for, ie craft trolley, books , play dough, home corner etc

It is that persons responsibility to tidy clean and top up those areas. Because they only have a term of it and then move on, no one gets bored, each have their own ideas and bring something refreshing each term to the area

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My staff have an area a term that they are responsible for, ie craft trolley, books , play dough, home corner etc

It is that persons responsibility to tidy clean and top up those areas. Because they only have a term of it and then move on, no one gets bored, each have their own ideas and bring something refreshing each term to the area

I do this too, but hasn't worked for me :( I have 1 member of staff who enthusiastically goes for it, cleans, tidies, asks to update/replace items she's fab - the other 4 have the totally opposite approach :(

After 2 years I had to stop doing the rota thing as the poor girl who does the right thing has a huge job each time and whoever got her area next had nothing to do; I do 3 supervisions a year plus appraisal talk about it with each member of staff they all agree but except for my 'superstar' nobody actually does anything!

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I know your pain Thumper!! :( :(

On the whole I have a great team... but sometimes, just sometimes I wish certain people would just get on with things under their own initiative :huh:. When asked- they do things (and they never grumble I have to add) but still they have to be asked/reminded.

I also have the 'do everything person' who is great - but deep down I think the others know she'll do it, so leave her to get on with it!

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At the next staff meeting give out scraps of used paper and broken pencils etc - watch the reactions and then discuss how it feels etc.

xx

Great! I will definitely do that. My next staff meeting is towards the end of october and we will be discussing these things at the staff meeting. I like showing things not just talking about it, so this is a great way of letting them know what it feels when it is unusable.

 

My staff have an area a term that they are responsible for, ie craft trolley, books , play dough, home corner etc

It is that persons responsibility to tidy clean and top up those areas. Because they only have a term of it and then move on, no one gets bored, each have their own ideas and bring something refreshing each term to the area

I have been thinking about trying that - I have not had success in previous settings but think this may work with the people I currently work with. And then this becomes part of their responsibilities and their supervision and I will provide 1:1 discussions and training with that person.

 

I know your pain Thumper!! :( :(

On the whole I have a great team... but sometimes, just sometimes I wish certain people would just get on with things under their own initiative :huh:. When asked- they do things (and they never grumble I have to add) but still they have to be asked/reminded.

I also have the 'do everything person' who is great - but deep down I think the others know she'll do it, so leave her to get on with it!

I have a do everything person but it's not like she is even doing amazing things.. just the basics and I simply want more.

 

This is part of their remit. It's not optional

 

We all work as a team and have a good relationship, my staff are fab but at the end of the day I'm in charge what I say goes

It's like that too and they will do as I tell them. However if they don't understand/don't want to do it well the outcome is not going to be great. They have to want to do well and not just be told.. so I think I will have to make it part of their personal CPD.

 

I did download the other resources from community playthings as I actually really like their look because it is very cohesive. My setting however looks (unfortunately) very different, we have nothing calm and natural. We have pink and blue painted walls and shelves all painted in different colours and they are not easy to maintain and plastic fantastic everywhere as this is the sort of things the owners think should be in a nursery. So I really want to achieve a more calm and natural look.

When I show these things to the staff I can see them looking at it and just being overwhelmed with how nice it looks and then the answer is well we haven't got any of these resources and they don't seem to have the vision to see past that and see which resources we can get to present things in the same way... So I feel like it's a bit of an excuse.

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Hello! Inspiring staff to see things how you do isn't always easy!

Are you able to have very regular staff meetings/ planning meetings? I really try to encourage the staff I work with to gain underpinning knowledge why we do what we do. Like you, I have staff who were unwilling/too busy to research etc when they go home. Apparently there is a world out there where people do not work all hours.

I decided to bring the knowledge to them. I have printed off countless of advice papers from Ofsted on good practice. How other settings do things. We were able to compare what we do and how we could improve. We read Ofsted reports from other settings. By having this regular 'training' enables staff to think about their practice and what the values and expectations we (I) have for our setting.

Like you, it would drive me insane if areas just looked unloved. My example I used was to say was, I would never eat in a restaurant that had no order, I wouldn't sleep in a bed that was unmade or had dirty sheets etc. Never expect less for the children as you would in your own home.

I could go on and on I have a preschool that I'm extremely proud of. I have been at this preschool for 4 years and have received 2 outstandings. (We were inspected on Thursday so sssshhhhh, I can't announce yet! Lol! I can't be identified on here) When I joined the setting it was satisfactory.

See if using Ofsted articles can help you.

 

http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/getting-it-right-first-time-achieving-and-maintaining-high-quality-early-years-provision

 

http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/right-start-early-years-good-practice-films-chelsea-open-air-nursery

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Will be following this with interest - Missdoofus, how about doing a blog to keep us up to date with your thoughts and how you go about it all?
I'm just about to start work at the playgroup where my children have attended (and now gone to school), and I've been on the committee for 4 years (I've got 16+ years Early Years experience) I'm going to be a Senior Practitioner with a Consultancy role, the focus on Ofsted, SEF and Quality Improvement - all of which are my passions.
Get your hands on a copy of Clearly Outstanding by Rebecca Miller - it has lots of lightbuld moments in for building staff confidence, pulling together as a team and creating an environment of 'can do' attitudes. There is a part in there about staff meetings and what individual staff members' priorities would be if money was no object - what would yours be? Better tables and chairs, more books, better storage, nicer curtains? Everyone has different ideas of what good quality looks like.
I'm concerned about my new journey as the staff team are well established and see me as 'the committee' when I'm actually on their side and want to create something exciting and amazing. The one thing I'm going to do is ask the staff what they want - don't choose areas for them to focus on - ask them. Don't give a specialist area - ask them each if they have an area they are particularly interested in, so you can invest time and money (training) in them to make them feel valued.
Our LA do a Quality Improvement Plan system, which is more focussed than the SEF. You pick 2,3,4 areas each term that you want to work on and invest staff, time and resources into those areas. I'll see if I can attach a copy of one of ours (been a long time since I did that on here) so you can see how it breaks down into tiny bits.
Louby Loo - I love the scraps of paper and blunt pencils idea :-)

QIP Oct 2012.xlsx

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Hi there!

Would love to be blogging about it all, but as is I am already investing all of my spare time either into my course or work, so I can't say that I could keep up with that at the moment. I am however trying to get a blog added to the nursery website, so I can start updating about our progress there which would be great. But again website is one of those half-finished jobs on the backburner atm.

So tonight is the first staff meeting and we will start the meeting with the game of broken toys. I will give every member of staff something to "play" with that is basically not functional.

List so far includes:

- Book where the only thing that is left is the cover (so nothing to read)

- Train Sets with pieces that don't go together and no trains

- A box of toys with like only 3 pieces of something inside.

- Puzzles with pieces missing/ no pieces that go with the puzzles.

- Jugs to pour without water

- blunt pencils, and scribbled paper.

 

So let's see how that goes..

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So, how did it go last night?

Sounds like you have a great plan to put into place and you are implementing it in a way that the staff can identify with, rather than an imposing attitude.

My first task in my new role is to get the staff thinking about next steps and being proactive rather than reactive. The supervisor still keeps trying to justify that they are doing what I'm asking as they are always evaluating and noting what the children can do, after they've done it. I'm trying to shift the thinking to planning for the individual children based on their interests.

Going to be an interesting journey!

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It is definitely very interesting!

Well I collected a bag full of useless items just as I found them on the shelves. I then basically told everyone we were going to have a play session and gave them the items I found. We said ready steady play and I asked them to stand up once they were finished exploring and using what I had given to them. After around 30 secs we were done and then discussed what happened and how the item was to play with.

I think they got the hint - whether it makes any differences in practice or their thinking only time will tell..

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