posted by on Articles, Change, Childcare

3 top tips to get back in love with your work

Get back in love with your work. As a leader in a childcare setting do you sometimes feel that there is just too much to do? Including, keeping staff up to date, fully trained and inspired to be the best that they can be. Dealing with parents requests, making sure that children have the best possible experiences at your setting and that your Early Years Foundation Stage is of the highest standard. As well as making sure that you are ready for your next Ofsted early years inspection. It is no surprise that some leaders are left feeling overwhelmed, stressed out and just not loving their work. If leaders are functioning at their best often positive effects may be seen for the whole setting. If we love our work, staff we are inspired to improve and parents view of the setting may improve. These benefits can also help to improve your setting and your Ofsted inspection outcomes too. Here’s how to get back in love with your work.

1. Ignite your love for your work by being the best that you can be. Always strive to do your best, but realise that sometimes ‘good enough’ is the best that you can do.

2. You can’t change others but you can change yourself. It is a mistake to think that we can change others. As much as we may want to, we cannot change anyone else. However, we can change ourselves and the way that we interact with others. This can have the effect of changing other’s behaviour. It is ourselves that we must work on.

3. Get support you don’t have to do everything yourself. Instead of trying to be super human getting the support of others can really help to lighten the load.
Why not contact us and get your work mojo back.

The Change AgencyGillian Kitchen The Change Agency MA, ILM, is a personal & leadership coach  LinkedIn

posted by on Articles, Change, Childcare, Goals, leadership

The Common Inspection Framework for early years began in 2015. The CIF ensures that there is a much more standard approach to inspection across school, further education and early years inspection. There has been an improvement in the number settings judged to be good but there are still large gaps in achievement for the most disadvantaged children. Here is s brief overview of the changes.

The main changes

Settings will receive notice of inspection by approximately lunch time the day before the inspection is due.

– Safeguarding becomes even stronger throughout the framework

– Explicit requirements to look for evidence that the setting contributes effectively to multi-   agency work to support children and learners who are at risk of or suffering harm.

– Explicit references to implementing the Prevent Duty and keeping children and learners  safe from the risks of radicalisation and extremism.

New Judgements

– Overall effectiveness

– Effectiveness of leadership and management

– Teaching learning and assessment

– Personal development, behaviour and welfare

– Outcomes for children

There are some new areas to watch out for:

– Fundamental British values

– Prompt and regular attendance

– How funding is being used e.g. Early Years Pupil Premium

Throughout the CIF there is more emphasis on:

– Creating a culture of vigilance in the setting

– Contributing to local partnerships working on safeguarding, including supporting multi-agency child in need and child protection plans

If you would like support to get ready for your inspection under the new Common Inspection Framework. Give me a call for a free consultation Tel 07999936086 or email me at



posted by on Change, Change habits, Childcare

When something has to change spring is a good time to review and take stock of the quality of our self leadership and how we manage change at home or at work. Change, whether through choice or not can be a turbulent time. Every day we are faced with many choices, choose one path to go in one direction or choose another path to go in a completely different direction. It is the quality of the choices that we make in responding to change that decide our direction. Some of us fear change and others thrive on making changes.

Achieving change successfully involves a number of factors, including, the degree of success in dealing with individual, team or strategic level change. Important aspects that help to make change possible are; the activities and initiatives you choose to focus on, he quality of the people you have chosen to surround yourself with, the opportunities you have chosen to seize and the kind of thoughts you have chosen to allow in your mind. Change is like walking down a footpath. If you have chosen the right path and have the self-discipline to do so, you will reach where you want to go. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to be”.

We embrace huge changes many times in our lives. People have babies, get married, move house, adapt to new technologies and new jobs. Other changes like giving up smoking or losing weight can be difficult even though we may want to make the change. There are some things that we can’t change, for example, our genes and our human urges, but almost everything else can be changed if we really want to. Changing ourselves is not easy, it takes a lot of hard work and a really good motive.

In order for things to change somebody somewhere has to start to act differently. Maybe it’s you or your team. For change to happen three things need to happen at the same time. You have to influence the environment together with hearts and minds. This is best summed up in a book by Chip and Dan Heath ‘Switch, How to Change When Change is Hard’. They say think of it as a huge elephant and a small rider. The rider is our rational self and the elephant is our emotional self. Each of us has an emotional side and a rational side. If we direct the rider (our rational self) motivate the elephant (our emotional side) and shape the path (our vision) we can change the situation, when the situation changes our behaviour changes. This is the case for organisations and the individuals in them. Success is about behaviour. If we behave in a way that is congruent with the goals we want to achieve it can change everything.



Chip & Dan Heath – Switch How To Change Things When Change is Hard

Gillian Kitchen

Gillian Kitchen

Gillian Kitchen   The  Change Agency  MA, ILM, is a personal &  leadership coach she’s on Twitter @changeagencynw  & LinkedIn




posted by on Articles, Goals

We are now a few days into the New Year… and how are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions?

Goals can be a powerful way to achieve your success. However, once you set your goals, you do need to work at it to make it happen. Otherwise a dream will never become a reality but will always remain a dream without setting a few simple goals. This is true for both our personal and professional lives.

Over the years, I’ve found that it helps to be selective about New Year’s goals and to think about how to implement them. If you want action, you need an action plan. Goal setting is the best way I know to transform woolly resolutions into bottom-line results. Research shows that when entrepreneurs set measurable goals for themselves, they’re more like to achieve them.  That’s why I’ve decided to share with you my 7 top goal setting tips that really work.

Top goal setting tips

1. Record your goals and action plans on paper. Simply writing them down will help you put some meat on the bones of your ideas. Once your plans are complete, you’ll have a detailed map with directions to follow.

2. Review your goals and plans regularly. Make a monthly, if not weekly, appointment with yourself or with a team member to review. This will help to keep you focused throughout the year.  Your work or personal plans can be built around your goals so that you are always moving toward your goals. Goals are integral to your plans, not additional things that you have to do.

3.  Choose goals that excite you and stretch you — but also are within reach. Focus on attainable goals that you can realistically reach within the year. You want to create a habit of being successful in accomplishing your goals. If your goals are always out of reach and unachievable, you risk creating a habit of failure.

4. Develop an action plan for your goals. Write down exactly what you’re going to need to do in order to achieve the goal. If you were going to start a business and wanted to gain funding, you would obviously need to have a business plan to show that you are a serious business person. Why not take the same seriousness and apply it to your goals.

5. Make your goals SMART. Keep your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Example, Rather than ‘have a social media presence’, go for something like ‘gain 500 Twitter followers by March’.

6. Set deadlines along the way with a timeline for completing steps towards a goal gives you an action plan. If you have one big goal, try breaking it down into smaller chunks and setting shorter term goals that will ultimately lead up to you accomplishing the big one.

7. Share your goals with others. Having someone that holds you to account for your goals is a very powerful way to stay on track. This will increase your chances of accomplishing your goal. The best thing is to get a coach, my client’s say that having a coach who holds them accountable for progress towards their goals, really helps them to achieve success.

Good luck for a successful 2015

Gillian Kitchen – The Change Agency

Early Years Consultant, Trainer & Coach MA, ILM, is an early years trainer, consultant & coach find me on Twitter @changeagencynw  & LinkedIn




posted by on Childcare

Self- refection is one of the most important ways of evaluating your setting and self-evaluation is one of the most important valuation tools in the manager’s toolkit. Research including the original Effective Provision of Pre School Provision (EPPE) under pinned the value of self- reflection and evaluation. It supports good practice, drives up standards and improves outcomes for children.  Completing a SEF is not compulsory, however settings are required to show that they are evaluating their practice, consulting with children, users and staff and that they know and understand themselves well. The SEF is a good way of providing all of this in one useful document. The SEF should be a document that is continually developing and evolving. It is not merely a leaflet advertising  your setting but a valuable development tool.  A setting with a good SEF knows its self well and has plans in place for development. It is likely to have a less onerous inspection than a setting without a clear evaluation process. Here are some of my top tips for completing your EYFS SEF.

– The SEF is usually completed online but do keep a paper copy in the setting as sometimes Ofsted inspectors do not have sight of a copy before they come to your setting.

– Do make good use for the Ofsted documents; the Evaluation Schedule and the early years provision SEF guidance. Use the Evaluation Schedule to bench mark your setting with evidence.

– Use short clear sentences or bullet points to write your SEF remember it is not ‘War & Peace’.

– Look at your key strengths and weakness and evaluate these critically. Ask yourself what is it that you need to do to improve?

– Don’t write your SEF on your own in two weeks, do involve your stakeholders , including parents, staff and the voice of the child. Discuss sections of your SEF with staff and ask for their contribution.

– Break your SEF down into small chunks and write it one piece at a time. Don’t be over whelmed by the task.

– Support your judgements with evidence from your practice and be honest.  It is better to be honest about your practice and to show what you are doing to improve, rather than  aspirational  judgements that are not realistic and do not reflect your setting honestly.

Your SEF is a working document and not something that you write and never look at again. Before writing your SEF it is worth taking the time to reflect on your setting and asking yourself what’s working well and what you could do better. Settings where reflective practice occurs find completing their SEF a much easier task.  For further support or an evaluation of your current SEF or for any help in your Ofsted early years inspection contact Tel 07999936086

The Change Agency

MA, ILM, Childcare consultant, trainer, life & leadership coach find me on Twitter @changeagencynw  & LinkedIn




posted by on Articles, Change, Change habits, Mindfulness, Stress

According to a recent survey, bad manners, telemarketing calls and getting stuck in traffic are near the top of the list for women’s top niggles. Other common niggles are, no toilet roll being left in the bathroom, being caught in the rain with no umbrella, missing a delivery and not finding things in your bag. I’m sure that most people can relate to some if not all of these niggles. The survey also found that in general women are niggled about 6 times a day and deal with niggles by having a cup of tea, counting to 10, visiting online forums, reading problem pages in magazines or self help books. They also talk to a friend or they find a coach to support them find solutions to the issues that they face. We all find ourselves faced with life’s little niggles from time to time, but it’s how we deal with them that’s important. If you see every niggle as a massive issue and let it get you down, small issues can turn into much larger ones very quickly and may have a negative effect on our health and wellbeing. Have you ever wondered how some people seem to take life in their stride and deal with their niggles as they come along? Here are some of my suggestions to help fix your niggles for good.

1. Learn from your mistakes – We all make mistakes but it’s how you deal with that’s important. If you can look upon them as learning opportunities rather than dwell on the negatives, you will be all the stronger for it.
2. Unhook from perfect – When you want everything to be perfect it can lead to continual disappointment with life. Small niggles can become big issues if you don’t watch out for your perfectionist side. You don’t have to be superwoman, give yourself permission to be human.
3. Try a new perspective – Recall a positive moment when things went well. What worked well for you that time? Build on your success in the new situation. Taking a step back from the situation and viewing the bigger picture can also help to evaluate your niggles. Ask yourself will it matter in the long run? Also having a role model can really help. When feeling unsure of what to do ask yourself what would your role model do in this situation?
4. Is your glass half empty? – Focus on the positive things in your life. We often tend to focus on the negative things. However, when we actively seek out the positive things we improve our outlook. According to positive psychology research how we choose to think, feel and act is a massive 40 percent of our potential for happiness. So instead of saying what’s wrong concentrate on what’s working.
5. Does your cup runneth over? – If your cup is overflowing and you feel over whelmed by what you have to do. Try a simple ‘to do list’ and prioritise your tasks in order of importance.
6. Be kind to yourself – Be your own best friend and treat yourself with kindness. Look after yourself. Have fun with friends. Slow down and try some simple mindfulness exercises to help keep yourself grounded. You can buy a mindfulness CD, get an app for your phone or find out more at
7. Gain control – How you feel and the way that you deal with situations is a choice. Ask yourself if there is something that you can change about the situation. If so, start exploring ways you can change the situation. We can’t change the past but we can build our future and by keeping a journal and reflecting and evaluating on what has happened we can make conscious decisions about how we might approach a similar situation in the future.
8. When you need uplift – When feeling that you lack confidence. Fake it till you make it and act as if you can. Your brain does not know the difference between actually doing something and acting as if you can do it. So pretending that you can do something releases the same chemicals in the brain as if you were actually confident at doing the thing that you want to achieve.
9. Do you measure up? – Know yourself, what are your strengths and areas for development. Do you live your life according you your values and understand your beliefs? By taking the time to find out more about yourself you will have no need to measure yourself against others. You will discover what you consider is worth standing up for and what is not.
10. Hook up – Develop your support networks. A friend can really help to lighten the load and a trouble shared is a trouble halved. If you are having a bad day with lots of niggles getting on your nerves, sometimes by simply smiling you generate your own positive energy which can soon catch on. Try smiling at others and you will find that they smile back and that you could have a much better day.
Bring a little ‘magic’ into your world, you are more powerful than you know. And if there is anything in your life that is not to your liking, you have the choice to change your mind about it. What we think is often what we do. Fix your niggles for good. Gain control and be a success. What are you waiting for!
Gillian Kitchen MA, ILM, is a personal & leadership coach find me on Twitter @changeagencynw & LinkedIn 

posted by on Articles, Change, Childcare, leadership

Why have the key changes in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) been made? The Government has taken on board feedback about the EYFS in consultation with childcare providers and has decided to make it as simple as possible by removing elements deemed unnecessary or over bureaucratic.

Many elements have now been removed, for example, the requirement to provide staff appraisals has been removed, so too has the requirement for providers to have a named behaviour management coordinator or to have a specific behaviour management policy have now been removed from the framework. However, providers are responsible for managing children’s behaviour in an appropriate way. The inspection framework may have been slimmed down but the requirements certainly have not. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Providers are still required to provide a quality service, but the requirements are not as clear as they used to be. Here’s the heads up on  key changes in the Early years Foundation Stage.

Assessment- The progress check at Age Two has changed. Practitioners must now discuss with parents and/or carers how the summary of development can be used to support children’s learning at home. The EYFS Profile is still mandatory and a new base line check will not come in until 2015.

Staff qualifications – All new early years practitioners at level 3 must now have GCSE Maths & English at lever A-C or above to be counted in the ratios.

Training and support – The requirement for providers to support staff to gain a level 2 qualification has changed to support staff to ‘appropriate’ qualification. At least one person with a current paediatric first aid certificate must be on the premises and available at all time when children are present and must accompany children on outings. Providers must now take account of the number of children and the layout or the premises to ensure that a paediatric first aider is able to respond to emergencies quickly. The requirement for providers to access local authority training in first aid has now been removed from the framework. Providers can now access this training from the providers of their choice preferably one with a nationally approved and accredited first aid provider and must cover the course content as for St Johns Ambulance or Red Cross paediatric first aid training and be renewed every three years

Staff ratios- Apprentices can now be counted in the ratios from age 16 years. Teachers or equivalent are expected to be working with the children for the vast majority of the time under the 1:13 ratio. Before and After School and holiday care providers are now able to decide the staff child ratios for they provide. However there must be sufficient staff for a class of 30 children and to decide which if any qualifications are appropriate for these staff.

Before and after school and holiday provision – Where the provision is solely for children before and after school and holiday care who attend reception class or older during the school day, providers are no longer expected to meet the learning and development requirements. However, providers are expected to discuss with parents and others the support they offer to children.

 SEN- Maintained nursery schools must have a SENCO, others are expected to indentify a SENCO.

Safeguarding- Providers now have a duty to inform the Disclosure and Barring Service when a member of staff is dismissed because they have harmed a child or put a child at risk of harm.

To find out more about how the changes to the Early Years Foundation Stage effects your setting and to book your free nursery consultation. Contact Gillian at The Change Agency email or tel: 07999936086.

Gillian Kitchen

Gillian Kitchen

MA, ILM, is a Early Years Consultant, trainer, & qualified personal & leadership coach find me on Twitter @changeagencynw  & LinkedIn  The Change Agency


posted by on Articles, Confidence, Know yourself, leadership, Motivation, Self leadership

You don’t have to be a leader to understand that the skills leaders use can make a huge difference to motivating others. So why not develop your self- leadership skills and motivate yourself.

If you have experienced a good leader you will know what a difference good leadership makes in the world of work. People embarking on leadership development programmes often want to learn how to lead others more effectively. However, we are all leaders, we may not be a leader in our professional lives but all of us are leading somebody, even if it’s only ourselves.

What is self-leadership? We can define self-leadership as understanding ourselves and using this knowledge to actively manage our lives.

To understand if you are currently engaged in self-leadership, consider the following 3 keys to self- leadership:

Know yourself

Have you considered your values, beliefs, behaviours or outcomes that are important to you? Leaders understand their personal values and know themselves well. They live their lives by their values. They understand their personality and when it helps or hinder them. Self-aware leaders can use this knowledge to find roles that are suited to their nature.

Be present

Being present in your own life is another trait of effective leaders. Most of us tend to be busy thinking about what has happened to us in the past and what we will be doing in the future. Leaders who are present in their own life are not simply watching it go by, they play an active part and make things happen for themselves.

Follow your dreams

In his book ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ Stephen Covey call this the habit of self- leadership, leading oneself, towards your goals or dreams. By developing the habit of concentrating on relevant activities you will build a platform to avoid distractions and become more productive and successful.

Book now for your personal self- leadership programme with Gillian at

The Change Agency


Gillian Kitchen  MA, ILM, is a personal & leadership coach find me on Twitter @changeagencynw & LinkedIn



posted by on Articles, Motivation

Are you continually being distracted from the task at hand? Do you fail to accomplish the things that you want to do? Ask yourself what it is that you are focusing on instead. What is your true goal? What we focus on tends to get done.It is important  to know what you want, why you want it and make sure that every day your actions and behaviours take you closer to your true goal. If your objectives are aligned with what matters to you the most, you are more likely to do it. Do something every day to make sure that you move towards your goals. The trick is to keep your motivation up and not to run out of steam before completing your goal. Think of a time when you did complete something that you wanted to achieve, what was it that kept you motivated that time? If you’re been motivated to stick with something before you can do it again.

Here are some tips that you might find useful to help motivate you at anytime to finish a project or task that you keep putting off.

Know ‘why’

Ditch the ‘should’ and ‘need’. We tend to use these types of words when talking about something we feel others want us to do and not what we want to do for ourselves. ‘I really should do…’ or ‘I need to do …’ Just ask yourself ‘why’ you will succeed – and get ready to do It!


Belief is what keeps you going when others knock you back, it’s what helps keep you going when you are tired, it’s what helps you to overcome unexpected obstacles and to see challenges as surmountable rather than a reason to quit.

 Energize yourself

If it’s a boring task it is difficult to get the dopamine going. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter linked to the expectation of pleasurable experiences. When your brain thinks about a boring task there is no dopamine present. However by doing something pleasurable like listening to music, exercise, watching an inspirational video just before or during the task, you get the dopamine flowing, which helps you get your task completed in no time. So taking your work to your favorite café, meeting up with people you like and ordering your favorite drink will all help you to feel more motivated and upbeat and ready to tackle that task.

 Get real

About your strengths and weaknesses. If you know where your weakest spots are you can plan for them before you get started. If this means delegating some parts of the task to someone else, so be it. If it gets you nearer to your goal it might be worth paying someone else to do something that would take you far longer to do.

 Just do it

Research into procrastination has identified a practical way that can help you to overcome the tendency to procrastinate. The single most important technique is called “the 5 minute takeoff”. It consists, simply of starting to do the thing you have been putting off, no matter how little you feel like doing. Procrastinators often believe that to do something they have to want to do it – to be in the right mood, to feel inspired. This is not the case. Usually, to get the job done, it is enough merely to begin doing it – the initial action kick-starts the process and often brings about more action.

 Imagine the end

Steve Covey in his book the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People talks about beginning with the end in mind. He calls this the habit of personal leadership – leading yourself that is, towards your aims. By developing the habit of concentrating on relevant activities you will build a platform to avoid distractions and become more productive and successful. Define your mission and goals for life and work towards these on a daily basis.

 Gain clarity

Sometimes we don’t know where to start with a task. If this is the case just start anywhere, perhaps starting on something that you like first will help you to tackle the rest of the task.

 Beat overwhelm

If you feel overwhelmed by a task, simply break it down into small bite sized chunks, the smaller the better. Doing something towards your task is better than not doing anything at all.

If you put as much energy into doing what you want to do, as the energy that goes into not doing it, you will surely achieve your goal.

Gillian Kitchen  MA, ILM, is a personal & leadership coach.





posted by on Articles, Confidence

Improve your self-confidence – We tend to think negatively before we think positively, it’s in our nature. There are a number of studies that show that we form negative thought patterns before we can think in a positive way. Confident people, whilst they do have the same thoughts as the rest of us, have learned to focus on their positive attributes rather than on their negative ones. They tend not to listen to their negative self-talk, but they identify and value their strengths. They have a positive attitude and they understand the values that drive them. If you want to improve  your  self-confidence these are some of the aspects of confidence that you can develop too. Here’s how.  

Do you know your strengths? This may seem a silly thing to ask but how well do you really know yourself. Often people go through their lives without ever knowing themselves very well or taking the time to find out who they really are.  To find out what your best qualities are consider what you enjoy doing and what you are good at. Simply list your attributes, start by thinking about what you do well, what comes easily to you. Ask others, if you need some help identifying your strengths. People close to you are often the best people to give feedback on your strengths and you may be surprise what you might find out by simply asking. Once you have identified your qualities get to work on using them, find ways to maximise them, put yourself in a position where you use your strengths and qualities and feel at your best, you develop your abilities still further.

Have a positive attitude, self-confident people have a positive attitude and whilst they are not exempt from negative self-talk they know and understand their strengths and focus on their most positive traits. They simply don’t listen to sabotaging negative self-talk.

Understanding your values and drivers is another way to improve your self-confidence.  Your values define, to an extent, who you are and how you related to the world around you and the people in it. Knowing your values will help you to find a sense of purpose and direction and help you to build your self-confidence.

 If you would like to find out more about improving your self-confidence do get in touch for a free introductory kick start coaching session.


tel: 07999936086