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What is self-evaluation?

Self-evaluation is an important part of professional development and should be undertaken regularly in all settings. OfSTED (2008) states that:

Self-evaluation will help you to consider how best to create, maintain and improve your setting, so that it meets the highest standard and offers the best experience for young children.” (Page 4 of Early Years Self-evaluation Form Guidance)

For Children's Centres, self evaluation is also very important, and OfSTED (2010) state:

"Ofsted recognises the importance of self-evaluation as a crucial part of children’s centres’ ongoing cycle of review and planning. The self-evaluation form is designed to be an important tool in this process, enabling children’s centres to capture a summary of their evaluations. It should indicate key strengths and weaknesses, and what needs to be tackled to effect improvement."

Self-evaluation enables you to look at your setting's development, not simply relying on the views and opinions of inspectors and advisers, who may not have the deep knowledge of the context of your situation.

This should help reassure you and other practitioners at the setting tyour strengths, weaknesses and what needs to be done to effect improvement. This reassurance should lead to greater confidence when speaking to inspectors and advisers, as you will be able to explain why things are the way they are at your setting. It will also provide you with key information as you plan for development of the staff within your setting, prepare for inspections and discussions with your Local Authority staff team.

Who is involved?

Everyone in the team! If the setting is a Children's Centre or school it can be useful to involve the Parents Forum, Advisory Board or Governors. For early years settings it It is useful for managers and propreitors to be involved.

How long does it take?

This depends on the size of the team and the organisation. It is likely to take a number of sessions as all evaluation takes time. You can undergo the process in small sections over the course of a year, or in bigger chunks in a shorter period. If the evaluation is going to be successful, you need to allow time as you go through each stage in turn, in order that you can:
  1. Collect information, opinions and observations
  2. Collate and consider these
  3. Decide what the information is telling you
  4. Identify strengths and area for development
  5. Celebrate the successes and address the identified areas for development

Some suggestions for managing this process are:

  • A series of staff meetings
  • Whole staff development days

It is important to identify a person or a couple of people to co-ordinate the process, as they will be responsible for keeping to an agreed timetable for each of the stages above - but it is important to involve everyone!

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What can you do?

I can support settings in a number of ways to self-evaluate, identify strengths and weaknesses and areas for development. These include:
using published tools such as:
  • Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale Revised Edition (ECERS-R) for provision for 3-5 year olds
  • Infant/Toddler Environmental Rating Scale Revised Edition (ITERS-R) for provision for 0-3 year olds
  • School-Age Care Environmental Rating Scale (SACERS) for before and after school care
  • Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale Revised Edition (FCCERS-R)
  • Accounting Early For Lifelong Learning (AcE)
  • Baby Effective Early Learning (BEEL)
  • Effective Early Learning (EEL)

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