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 email@example.com Tel 07999936086
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 bemindful.co.uk
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 www.thechangeagency.org.uk MA, ILM, is a personal & leadership coach find me on Twitter @changeagencynw & LinkedIn
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 07999936086.
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 www.thechangeagency.org.uk MA, ILM, is a personal & leadership coach.
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.
We tend to live our lives in the fast lane these days. We rush around seemingly obsessed with instant gratification. We seem to have the lost the notion of slowing down and having the time to stop and stare. Living life in the present and enjoying the here and now can actually help us be more productive and live a calmer existence. We have lost the ability to live our lives in the here and now, instead of focussing on what has happened in the past or may happen in the future. It is no wonder that some many of us are heading for burn out, the way that we rush around. We don’t seem to have the time for so many things anymore including ourselves. Often it is ourselves that stop us from doing the things that we want to, we can get in our own way and stop ourselves from achieving the things that we want to. Could mindfulness help you?
In a study carried out at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore data from 47 clinical trial involving 3,000 participants suggests that mindfulness, which is a form of meditation that helps to focus the mind on the present moment, produces measurable improvements of up to 20% in symptoms of anxiety, depression, feelings of stress and can enhance the quality of life significantly.
So what is mindfulness and how do you do it?
You don’t have to go away to a retreat or monastery to do it and you don’t have to be a monk. You can simply be more mindful in everyday activities noticing and becoming more aware of the world around you, by simply watching your thoughts and feelings, the sensations in your body, turning off your auto pilot and being present in your daily lives. Mindfulness aims to achieve a relaxed, non judgmental awareness of your thoughts, feelings and sensations.
To achieve this more formal time practicing will need to be spent. All you need is a quite space and 15 minutes every day. You sit in an upright position either in a chair or on the floor, whichever is most comfortable for you. Breathe deeply into your belly, pay attention to your body, training the mind to observe, focus and filter out everyday thoughts. This helps to stop the mind from wandering, but it is not easy and like most things worth achieving it takes practice, but the benefits are worthwhile. Being mindful helps to increase the grey matter in your brain, and increases your brain function. You may be able to develop new ways to solve problems that you could not see before and it is the greatest way to increase happiness and clarity. Suddenly you can find that you have choices and every moment becomes filled with possibilities. Being mindful give us the chance to enjoy the moments that we often miss when we are rushing from one deadline to the next. There are many ways to get started including books, CD’s, courses and apps and most people who try it swear by it. So why not give it go. To find out more go to http://www.bemindfulonline.com/
We might think that leadership only applies to those who are responsible for leading large organisations. The idea of running a large organisation or even organising a ‘bring and buy’ sale at the local community centre for the scout fund may even appear unappealing. We do not all want to be the prime minister or the manager of one of the world best football teams. However, many of us do contribute to the daily running of our families, our work or business; we sort out problems, resolve conflicts, motivate others and generally move things along. Have you ever thought of yourself as a leader? You are a leader even if you are only leading yourself. Many of the skills used in daily activities could also be developed in to really useful leadership skills. So what makes a good leader?
The manager of Manchester City football club Pellegrini changed his personality from being a “mad dog” as a player on the football pitch and the calm style that guided his team to win two major championships titles in his first year as manager at the club. He recognised that to be a leader he must change his approach and he has been a serene influence on his team since taking over. When asked if he might have been a mad dog on the pitch he said “Absolutely yes. I decided to change. There is another way of managing than as a player. You have to decide you are no longer a player and have a different approach”. He decided that in order to manage his team, his players needed a calm reassuring influence. He realised that in order to lead his team to success that he must step up to the plate and he worked hard on himself to change his approach.
Ten years ago the Belgium football team were ranked 45th in the world now they are 11th and are tipped for great things in this world cup. This small country (only 11 million people) has come from being a poor team to one to watch in the competition. How have they improved? They took a long hard look at themselves and reinvented their over-all strategy. The coach had a strong vision of what he wanted to achieve and where he wanted to be and how they were going to get there. They revisited how they approached recruitment to their teams, refocusing the emphasis from winning to development and making football fun. They looked at the way that they recruited young players to their football academies and they selected players on six skills. What is astounding is that out of the six requirements, only one of these is what you might call a technical football skill. Most of the requirements are relating to their personal leadership skills. These include; possessing a winner’s mentality, emotional stability, personality, explosiveness (meaning to react quickly to situations as they occur), intelligence (the level of anticipation and decision making) and finally ball and body control.
So what can we learn from football about self leadership? That different skills are required to lead a team or yourself than for a team player or being on the shop floor. Change your approach or upgrade your skills like Pellegrini. Take your lead from the Belgium football team and have a clear vision, know where you want to go and how you’re going to get there, have a plan and develop you leadership skills. Remember that whilst having the technical skills for your particular field are important that it is the self leadership skills that make for the greatest success.
Gillian Kitchen www.thechangeagency.org.uk MA, ILM, is a personal & leadership coach.
The power of questions – In my work as a coach I use many different tools and techniques with my clients. One of the most important tools of my trade is ‘questions’. Our brains love questions, they work hard to solve the most difficult questions and reward us with helping us to find the self awareness and the answers we may be looking for. They also help to move us forward if we are feeling stuck in our lives. Often clients come to coaching sessions with statements about themselves firmly fixed in their heads. They believe that they cannot do certain things and that they can’t change no matter how hard they try. By framing problems as questions it is possible to boost your effectiveness and problem solving instead of merely making a statement about your situation, you can actually move forward.
There are ways of asking questions that can open up your thinking, by asking open questions for example, if you wanted to lose weight, you might say to yourself “I can’t lose weight,” and think about the negative reasons you want to lose weight and what has happened in the past when you have tried to lose weight. However, if you ask yourself, “What will I gain from losing weight?” You may be more inclined to be more future focussed. This question may also help you to move into the realms of possibilities about the future and what you want for yourself, instead of focussing on the past and what has kept you from losing weight. You start to focus on the future and the vision you have created for yourself.
‘Why’ questions can be negative, they can keep you small, drag you back and keep you locked in the problem. “Why do I hate exercising?” “Why can’t I get promotion?” Asking questions in this way assumes that there is something for you to do that you feel that you can’t do. This type of question may help to confirm your lack of self-esteem and can undermine confidence and you may even start to develop other negative thoughts…does my bum look big in this! But ‘why’ questions can be helpful for focusing on a problem. The 5 Whys technique is used for focusing on a problem and drilling down until you get the root of the problem. This can be beneficial for a problem at work such as a when something is not working or technical problem. Basically, you keep asking ‘why’ until you get to the root of the problem.
If you want to focus on the solution ask open questions and use what, when, where, who and how. A question that I often ask my clients is “What do you want?” Now you may think that this is a simple enough question on the surface, but oh my goodness! This simple little question can cause people to stop in their tracks, it really makes them think about what they actually want. I often following this up with, “When do you want it by?” “Where will it be”, “Who can help you?” and “How will you do it?” These questions can really help to move you forward to where you want to be.
Making questions a habit and developing questioning skills with yourself and others is a really useful tool to develop thinking and open up your creative mind. Learn to develop questions as a way of life, practice, keep a note book and write down ideas that appeal to you, develop your questioning style and see what happens.
Gillian Kitchen www.thechangeagency.org.uk MA, ILM, is a personal & leadership coach.
Accentuate your positives and find your strengths. As human beings we tend to focus on the negatives. Positive psychology looks at what we are good at. If we play to our strengths instead of concentrating on disorder and stress, we tend to be negative. However if we focus on what we are good at and find your strengths we can learn to lighten up and give yourself a break. Find out what makes us happy, bring joy into our life and fulfilment will follow. Learn to focus on what you do well.
A simple SWOT/SLOT can be a useful tool in business as a diagnostic it can help to analyse a business at a point in time. This is a simple tool that is often used in the world of work but it can also be used on an individual. I have used this tool with great effect with clients who have added to it over time and used it as basis for job applications or to help in building their confidence.
A SWOT/SLOT is also a great tool to use on yourself as well as your business. It is a way of finding out where you are right now and what you may like to work on. This is a dynamic tool; it is not something that you do and then never use it again. It can be used to grow with you as you change and develop, and can be added too over a period of time. It can be used as a starting point for your future self if you want to make some changes or develop yourself in some way. Start with asking yourself how are you at your best? And start to look at your strengths. Really think about what you do well, what you enjoy doing, what people say that you are good at. Once you have your strengths you can find your weaknesses or learning needs, you probably know these very well so don’t spend too much time here. Then look at what opportunities there may be for you and where are your threats coming from?
S – Strengths
W – Weaknesses or L – learning
O – Opportunities (external)
T – Threat (external)
Say for example that you wanted to find a new job in a new field of work you might start with a SWOT/SLOT analysis, and the ideas below are an example of how it might look. Strengths and weakness are about you, while opportunities and threats are external factors that may impact upon you either directly or indirectly.
- Established reputation
e.g. Good with people
- Acquire knowledge about the new area of work
e.g. Find out about people in the field
- Are you properly informed and organized to deal with these issues, and are certain there are no hidden surprises.
- Can any of your threats be turned into opportunities?
- Where risk is low ignore these issues and don’t be distracted by them.
- Where risk is high assess your options to mitigate the risk.
A SWOT/SLOT can be a powerful tool. Once you have identified your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats you can decide which ones you are going to do something about. Build on this over time. Ask your friends and relatives what they think too.
“You’ve got to accentuate the positive eliminate the negative and latch on to the affirmative. Don’t mess with Mister In-Between. You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum, bring gloom down to the minimum, have faith or pandemonium’s liable to walk upon the scene”
- Johnny Mercer & Harold Arien.
The Change Agency April 2014