Ofsted (2008) state that 'Inspections show that those who take part in a quality assurance scheme (measure) are more likely to provide good or outstanding care and early education'.
These encouraging facts have helped practitioners value the importance of reflection, self evaluation and quality improvements. Attaining a quality award or measure is a fantastic achievement for any setting. It shows their commitment and dedication to raising standards and improving the quality of care and education they provide to the children who attend their setting.
In the past number of years childcare settings have undertaken Shropshire Council's own quality award, Quality Matters. This quality award is valuable and a good indication of commitment to quality by the childcare settings who completed the award and lasts for three years.
Moving forward however, Shropshire Council is promoting and offering two quality measures, Quality Mark which is a nationally recognised award that provides a framework for self-evaluation and continuous improvement, and the Every Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS) and Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale (ITERS) which is an internationally recognised scale for measuring quality.
Quality Mark is a nationally recognised award and comes in Early Years, primary, secondary and extended services editions. It consists of ten elements which the setting works through as a self-evaluation process. There is a self-audit template which can be downloaded for free from the website. This supports the self-evaluation process.
When the setting feels they are ready to be assessed they can contact the Education Improvement Service to arrange for an assessor to visit. It will be a half-day visit, looking at the evidence put forward for the Quality Mark, a walk around the setting, and a discussion with stakeholders.
The Quality Mark is awarded for three years. A plaque can be purchased and displayed and the logo can also be used on all materials.
The cost for the assessor visit is £250.
For more information please look at www.qm-alliance.co.uk.
ECERS & ITERS
The Every Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS) and Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale (ITERS) are internationally recognised scales for measuring quality They have been used to measure quality in major projects in England, such as EPPE and The two year old pilot.
The books that support the process can be bought through any bookshop or online bookshop. The setting can ask for advice and guidance from their quality improvement learning coordinator or development officer at any point in the process.
When a setting feels they are ready to go forward for a quality assessment they can contact the Education Improvement Service and arrange for an assessors visit. This will be a day visit and involve the assessor looking at the setting and rating it on 43/39 assessment scales. This assessment will produce ratings linked to the quality of the provision and an action plan. These ratings, along with the date achieved, can be used on all materials. The cost for the assessor visit is £505.
For more information please look at www.ecersuk.org.
Settings can ask for advice and guidance from their quality improvement learning coordinator or development officer from the Education Improvement Service at any point in the process.